Skip advert
Advertisement

VW Caravelle Startline

Base-level Startline makes MPV a more realistic choice for many

The popularity of Volkswagen’s latest ‘Camper’ is proved by the manufacturing milestone it has just reached. A staggering one million T5 models – the range that includes the Caravelle – have been sold since its introduction in 2003.

With a following like that, there can be little doubt the big VW’s talents run deep. However, your pockets require a similar depth to get one on your driveway. The cheapest SE version will set you back £29,195, while flagship models wear an uncomfortable £35,690 price tag. Go for the five-star campsite-ready California and you can spend up to £40,680!

Advertisement - Article continues below

To bring the Caravelle back to basics, VW has introduced the entry-level Startline from £23,955. That’s a saving of more than £5,000 over the SE, but still £4,125 more than its Hyundai i800 rival…

There’s no doubt the VW wins the first battle of campsite chic. The shape of the popular Caravelle is sharp and classy, but don’t be fooled by the smart alloy wheels on our test car – steel rims are fitted as standard. We’re also not too keen on the Startline decals.

Climb into the driver’s seat, and you will feel instantly at home. In a cabin designed primarily as a functional workspace for the Caravelle’s commercial cousins, every control is perfectly placed. There’s a solid, high-quality feel to all the switchgear, while the seats offer unbeatable long-distance comfort. In comparison, the Hyundai’s dash looks like it’s from the class below.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Further back, though, the VW has plenty of bare metal, a cheap-looking rooflining and a very utilitarian feel. In the case of the rugged rubber floor that’s no bad thing, but it seems at odds with the classy dash.

Slide open the single side door – more costly variants have one on each side – and you’ll find bags of space. The two second row seats are just as comfortable as those in the front, and swivel for any family picnics that are rained off – there’s even a standard removable table!

The sliding third row offers room for three, taking the total number of seats to seven. That’s one less than the i800, but sufficient for most buyers.

Where the Startline struggles is getting off the start line! Part of the model’s cost cutting involves fitting a 101bhp 1.9-litre diesel engine instead of the usual 128bhp unit. Pulling away without stalling is challenging enough, while low-speed acceleration is sluggish at best.

Where the Caravelle makes up some ground is with its more accurate controls. Its steering is more direct than the i800’s, leading to confident cornering. Yet the ride isn’t as smooth as we’d like, and it bounces at motorway speeds. VW has taken the cost out of the Caravelle, but has it removed too much of the character as well?

Details

Chart position: 2
WHY: New Startline version offers plenty of space, but can it match the Korean contender in terms of value for money?

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Car Deal of the Day: sensational BMW M2 is a bargain at this price!
BMW M2 - front tracking
News

Car Deal of the Day: sensational BMW M2 is a bargain at this price!

Our Day of the Day for 18 April is the formidable BMW M2 performance car
18 Apr 2024
New 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe goes on sale with specs and prices announced
New Hyundai Santa Fe - front
News

New 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe goes on sale with specs and prices announced

The big, bold seven-seater starts from £46,775, and is available with full-hybrid and plug-in hybrid power
18 Apr 2024
Best small SUVs to buy 2024
Best small SUVs - header image
Best cars & vans

Best small SUVs to buy 2024

There's a huge range of small SUVs out there, so we’ve picked out the very best
19 Apr 2024