Sharan 1

A funny thing happened recently when l looked in my diary to see Sharon at 5pm. I duly turned up at my dear friend Sharon’s house to be greeted with a look of surprise as she was not expecting me. At that exact moment, my phone rang and it was the delivery driver from VW delivering my Sharan test car to the office. We laughed a lot and l have since learnt the correct spelling and pronunciation of the cars name.

The VW Sharan does what David Blane, Paul Daniels and Sigfried and Roy spent years learning - how to trick the brain. This is a full size MPV but sitting inside you just do not feel it at all. It tells you it is a nippy standard SUV whereby it is really a full size, well equipped people carrier that will move not just your kids but the entire school, half the contents of your house and the odd planet, if you are so inclined.

The Sharan comes with a choice of four engines – one petrol and two diesel. The sellers will be the diesels l guess, although one wonders how long that will last – 2.0-litre units with a choice of 148bhp and 181bhp outputs. Although the 181bhp unit is quicker, it’s less refined around town, with marginally more noise and vibration being evident from the driver’s seat. It also offers the temptation to be driven in a less economical fashion. Both, however, are impressively refined on the motorway.

The only available petrol engine is the 148bhp 1.4 TSI which, like the diesels, is now familiar across the Volkswagen Group’s ranges. It is extremely smooth and refined, although lacks torque lower down the rev range; it can feel underpowered with a full load of passengers on board and requires frequent gear changing to keep the revs above 4000rpm when you want to make progress or overtake.

DCC adaptive chassis control is available as an option and l would heartily recommend it. It individually adjusts the dampers at each wheel to give better body control yet improves ride comfort. The system works well and also offers drivers the option to override the Normal setting with a Sport or Comfort mode.

There’s plenty of room for seven adults inside, with access to the rear seats provided by optional electric sliding doors and this is another optional l would certainly take - if for no other reason that they endlessly amuse the kids. Boot space isn’t brilliant in seven-seat mode, but then no car in this class can carry seven passengers and all of their luggage. In five-seat configuration the boot space rises to 711 litres, and then to a serious 2297 litres if you fold both rear rows of seats and load to the roof. Still not enough? Then the back of the front passenger seat can be folded flat, allowing nearly three metres of load length. All rear seats leave a flat load floor when folded and the rear row can be folded and repositioned with one hand.

Being a VW, the interior is quality and you might recognise the layout and, although there are several variants, the entry level 

S offers you plenty of kit such as electric windows, automatic wipers, ti-zone climate, Bluetooth, USB and a 6.5 inch screen and it is all easy to use and close at hand.

On the road it has impeccable manners, plenty of poke if you are not fully loaded, it is pretty roar free on the motorway and it is incredibly easy to drive. The steering is light but sensitive, the clutch is a breeze and the brakes progressive so really, anyone could drive this car.

As to its looks, there is not much to say but then in this sector, that is pretty universal. It is not ugly at all but it plays to its strengths and its sector demands and in that regard, it is pretty much up there amongst the best in class. It does have a problem with the Seat Alhambra which does everything well too and is cheaper but having tested both, l would plump for the VW as it feels more solid, more planted.

And it’s a Volkswagen.

TECH STUFF

  • Model Tested: 1.4-litre TSI
  • Engine: 1,395 cc turbocharged
  • Power: 150bhp
  • Performance: 0-60mph 9.9 seconds
  • Top: 124mph
  • Economy: 56.5 combined
  • Price: £27,355

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