It's expensive, but the Highline variant tested here adds more than a dollop of extra luxury for its hefty price premium.
- Quality: While the seating, trim and general ambience is appealing, the Multivan's blue-collar origins are evident in the dash design and the hard (but durable) plastics. The floppy glovebox lid simply doesn't belong in a $74,000 vehicle.
- Comfort: The front captain's chairs are comfortable for long stints and the pivoting centre-row captain's chairs and sliding third-row bench allow the cabin layout to be customised. Rear cabin accommodation is almost business-jet like (particularly with the nifty fold-out table), and there's plenty of sprawling space.
- Equipment: Cruise control, three-zone climate control, a trip computer, fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, tinted rear windows, 17-inch alloys, nifty power-operated dual sliding doors, sat-nav and a reversing camera are standard on the Highline.
- Storage: Luggage space behind the third-row bench can be expanded by sliding the seat forward, creating enough room for a few full-sized suitcases. Standard roof rails enable luggage to be carried externally.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: It may be a large van, but the Multivan has near car-like handling and an acceptable 11.9 metre turning circle. The steering is light, and the twin-turbo diesel has loads of torque.
Thanks to the standard DSG gearbox, gearshifts are near-seamless.
- Refinement: With its extra sound deadening, the Multivan's cabin is better isolated than the Transporter and Caravelle. That said, there's still plenty of wind noise from the wing mirrors as well as tyre roar on coarse asphalt.
- Suspension: The ride is nicely damped for passengers in the first and second row, however the rear axle's firmer suspension settings favour load-carrying over comfort.
With a load in the back the rear suspension becomes noticeably more compliant.
- Braking: The Multivan 132 TDI is fitted with four wheel disc brakes. We found them a little ‘grabby’, but will nevertheless haul the 2.3 tonne Multivan to a quick stop without issue.
- ANCAP rating: 4-Stars (not tested since 2008 Transporter model)
- Safety features: Front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags are standard for the Multivan, as is stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist and three-point seatbelts on all seats.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: Three years/100,000km, including roadside assistance.
- Service costs: Service intervals occur every 15,000km/12 months. Basic services cost anywhere between $350 and $650, while major services cost around $1250.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Mercedes-Benz Viano Ambiente ($71,884) - The Viano's powertrain and drivetrain may be showing their years, but its cabin fit-out is more opulent and it boasts more interior space. Also, an expensive options list quickly erodes its price advantage.
- Toyota Tarago Ultima ($72,644) - Toyota's top-tier Tarago lacks Euro brand-cachet, but it packs a lot of equipment for the money and is powered by a punchy 3.5 litre petrol six. It lacks a diesel though and is not as roomy inside.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If you’re looking for a luxurious corporate shuttle, the roomy Multivan Highline offers easy accessibility and comfortable accommodation. It is also a practical solution for larger well-heeled families, one that includes a generous features list, good driveability and strong resale values.
While it is slightly more expensive than its direct competitors at the luxury end of the segment, the twin-turbo diesel and DSG automatic make for a unique and convincing people mover package.
The Highline variant’s generous standard equipment list is another plus, and, though it comes at a premium, we think it is the best value buying of the current luxury people movers.