A decade-and-a-half is a long time in anyone’s book, especially when it comes to cars. Quite how Volkswagen’s Sharan got away with being with us for so long is beyond us. Granted it may have had the odd nip and tuck here and there, but up until now it was essentially the same car underneath.
Launched in 1995 as part of the Galaxy/Sharan/Alhambra triplet, time has marched on a bit too quickly for the Sharan and with the competition growing ever more stylish it was time for a rethink.
Ford has parted company from the VW platform sharing deal, leaving VW and sister firm Seat to strike out on their own.
While the new Alhambra is due to hit dealers any time now, the new Sharan is the first to arrive – and Car Dealer has climbed behind the wheel.
At 6ft 3in wide and almost 16ft long (yes, really), the new Sharan is bigger than the car it replaces. The interior boasts seven seats and, the rear five can fold completely flat into the floor simply easily or be removed all together.
In fact the rear compartment is so cavernous it feels like you’re driving around in a branch of WH Smiths.
Prices kick off at £22,980 for the 1.4-litre TSI ‘S’ model which is generously equipped with extras including stop/start, an electronic parking brake, a six-speed gearbox, electronic climate control, aux-in socket, and mirrors that are heated and electrically adjustable. The range topping ‘Executive’ weighs in at £30,580.
However, while the 1.4-litre TSI S may look good on paper, on the road it is a different story.
The supercharged and turbocharged petrol unit may be good in other VAG products – like the Seat Ibiza Bocanegra tested in a couple of pages time – but in the Sharan the 150bhp motor is simply too lethargic.
Not only does the whirring noise of the supercharger seem odd in a car this size, but constantly matching the revs to the turbo gets quite tedious after a while. The only really good bit is the DSG gearbox.
Selecting the 140bhp, 2.0-litre TDI is what the majority of customers will do. It may have 10bhp less than the 1.4-litre petrol, but the extra torque of the TDI unit makes for a more relaxed ride and it gets to 60mph only 0.2secs behind the 1.4-litre petrol, while returning 50.4mpg over the petrol’s 39.2mpg. The SE spec is better too as parking sensors are included – a much needed option in such a large car.
Other engines in the range include a 2.0-litre TSI petrol that produces 200bhp and a 2.0-litre TDI producing 170bhp. Considering its size, you wouldn’t expect the Sharan to handle that well. And you’d be right.
However, while there is a fair amount of body roll, the Sharan never feels too unwieldy as an abundance of understeer is tamed neatly by the direct and well-weighted steering.
Overall the return of the Sharan to the MPV market is a welcome return. The Sharan is a competent car, if slightly dull to look at, but it is bound to walk out of the showrooms by both fleet and private buyers alike.