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All-new PHEV People Mover – VW’s Multivan goes electric

Not only has the brand synonymous with being the ‘people’s car’ just launched their first electrified Kombi in NZ but in turn have also released their ‘Way to Zero’ mission statement – a blueprint of respect to all.  

“The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time,” says Herbert Diess, Chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen Group. And of course (whether we care to acknowledge this or not) he’s right.

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

Anyway not satisfied with the expected route of taking responsibility for their carbon output and reducing their share of emissions 30% by 2025 and being neutral by 2050 (neither of these are easy tasks by the way), but VW are out to embrace diversity, be more inclusive and treat everything from animals to the environment with the utmost respect – essentially the people’s car brand is becoming even more for the people and the world they live in. 

As with all journeys (including epic ones like this), it starts with a first step, and for VW NZ’s commercial arm, that first step (or giant leap) is the all-new T7 Multivan PHEV. 

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

The all-new Multivan Plug-In Hybrid represents the very first electrified offering from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, New Zealand and although from the outside it looks like a more modern and slightly larger version of the previous model (and ultimately Kombi DNA), the new T7 is different from the ground up.

Starting with the chassis, it now sits on the MQB platform making it more passenger than transport. It still retains the unmistakable good looks of the world’s best-known van design, but some of the panels have been lightened with aluminium and the large tailgate is now plastic. And while on the subject of plastics, areas such as inner wheel arches, underbody trim and noise insulation are now all created from recycled material, meaning less demand in earth’s raw materials.

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ
There’s even a naughty seat

Don’t panic, it’s still an incredibly versatile 7-seater, actually moreso now all the seats are individual (so can be moved to suit whatever you’re carrying) and the seats are 25% lighter than before, so even I can lift them.

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

The driver’s area has been upgraded with digital screens and more information, including the EV menus (which I’ll get to in a moment) and depending on which model you go for (at launch Family and Energetic) it comes with a panoramic roof and a load of people-friendly treats. Plus there’s more room up front with the handbrake being removed and the ‘drive-by-wire’ gear stub being moved to the dash.

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

Powering this all-new PHEV Multivan is 1.4L TFSI four-cylinder petrol engine producing 115kW and a 13kWH lithium-ion battery and a 80kW electric motor. This equates to a combined power output of 160kW/350Nm through a six speed DSG gearbox. The EV only range is 50km and boasts 1.7L/100km fuel economy (1.1L/100km WLTP-3P Converted) and emissions of 37g/km (12g/km WLTP-3P Converted).

This all sounds fine and dandy, but what we really wanted to know was how did this new front wheel drive Multivan PHEV perform on the road. Well as it turned out, great.

As a taste of the electric people-movers prowess, VW NZ had given us a route from Ponsonby to Cornwallis Wharf (out West). The drive took in a bit of the motorway, plus some city and rural roads, so perfect.

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

Having driven the VW California recently, I wanted to see how the powertrain compared to the 2L diesel and how the FWD PHEV compared to the 4Motion. In all honesty, comparable in both aspects. The T7 is quick off the line and in hybrid mode, switches effortlessly between ICE and battery power. It’s not quite as sure footed as the 4Motion but the suspension is well set up and doesn’t allow the Multivan to wallow in the corners – something your extended family will be thankful for. Plus having the battery sitting low at the rear makes for a very well balanced vehicle, with or without kids/adults/stuff in the back.  

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

The T7 is currently unable to boast any form of towing numbers and in fact has no ability to do so thanks to weights and measures (so the previous model will continue to be available), but thanks to the versatility of the seats, you can go from cargo van to people mover in minutes – or longer if you’re lazy like me.  

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

The infotainment screen is easy to flick though and driving modes can be switched from EV only to hybrid with ease. Also, brake regen can be turned from coast to almost one foot driving to suit your preference.

Eco data and range is there for you to ensure you’re getting the best from the powertrain and although it doesn’t fast charge, the trickle charger will get you from zero to full overnight with ease.

The T7 Multivan is the start of a new era for VW commercial vehicles. Full EVs are on the way in the form of the ID Buzz and ID Cargo, plus a Caddy PHEV is in the making.

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

“The brand new T7 platform has evolved from a long-standing heritage and pays homage to the DNA of its Kombi predecessor while providing an electric solution to suit Kiwi families,” says general manager of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles New Zealand, Kevin Richards. “The iconic design has undergone evolutionary development, that ushers in a new era for the brand and for mobility.”

“This iteration’s high-tech features and flexibility gives busy families especially, solutions to today’s rapidly changing transport needs,” says Richards.

Pricing for the family model starts from $78,800 plus on road costs. Coupled with the government’s Clean Car Discount, the Family variant will qualify for a rebate which ultimately enables a price-point to spec that puts the Multivan head and shoulders above the Competition.

VW T7 PHEV Multivan review NZ

We’re already booked in for a longer review so stay-tuned, or even book your seat – there’s seven up for grabs

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