Volkswagen Caravelle Car Reviews NRMA Motoring & Services — Volkswagen Caravelle

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Volkswagen Caravelle

Volkswagen Caravelle Car Review

NRMA Motoring Date: 27 1995

After a period in the with somewhat spasmodic the VW Caravelle and its Transporter stablemates back onto the local in mid-1993 with a new look, a new layout and stronger backing a much more committed

These factors, combined the Japanese having to battle frequent price hikes by the burgeoning Yen, have VW achieve substantial increases in of these vehicles compared to models.

The Transporter models, start at $27,270, have been acknowledged as representing a top package that’s tough and and one that offers above load space and convenience. of Sydney’s large courier — a tough testing for any vehicle — have Japanese vans with

The subject of this test the Caravelle — isn’t bargain basement buying at for the manual or $54,490 for the automatic, but it is equipped. Standard items in models include a twin air system, cruise control, front windows, electric mirrors and central locking.

By Taragos start at $41,824 and run to a of $62,850, with air conditioning on all models for between $3500 and Mitsubishi Starwagons range $37,140 to $57,430. The Mazda MPV only) with air conditioning and ABS on the brakes standard, costs The recently-released Honda Odyssey auto only, with a/c full ABS and dual airbags, onto the market at $43,900 but was to rise shortly.

Features and equipment

Those used to earlier VW Caravelles may be to find that the engine no resides at the rear of the vehicle and it’s no longer a flat-four The in-line, five cylinder that drives the front is mounted east-west across the under a short bonnet and partly on its side to take up space.

Coupled to the engine is a manual gearbox, or you can choose a automatic. Suspension is all-independent, torsion bars up front and arms with coil at the rear. Braking is by front discs and rear drums, the rack and pinion steering is assisted.

Body and finish

the smart-looking, purpose-built people called the Sharan that VW be releasing shortly in Europe and due in Australia late next the Caravelle remains an obvious of the commercial Transporter range. the best and kindest way to describe the high, slab-sided body is it’s plain, but functional.

The quality is obvious, with a feel in everything from the latchings, to the trim and fittings. of the interior trim may be a little too for some tastes — for the hard plastic door

Comfort and space

One legacy of the large, square-box design is the of room for both occupants and Many vehicles claim to seating for seven or eight, but of them (especially 4WDs) space and comfort in the second and rows of seats.

The Caravelle has no such problems. All positions offer ample for adults and comfort and access are All seating positions are equipped a head restraint and child fittings are supplied for all five seats.

Though the test was a seven-seater, a recent change to the has seen this increase to The extra position is gained by a folding seat onto the row.

The Caravelle’s standard-equipment air conditioning system with vent outlets is a boon for particularly those in the rear who provided with opening The ventilation controls aren’t as to use as those found in Japanese but the system is effective in its operation.

the engine up front out of the way, the has a commendably low floor that for easy loading and a deep compartment. The rear door high to allow you to stand it, and there’s a handy grab to pull it shut.

Even all seats in use, there’s of load space. The rear can be folded forward to further load length and the centre can be easily unclipped and removed if required.

Interior storage front door pockets big to take a street directory, a open bin on the right side of the and a reasonable size glove

Behind the wheel

The driving is more truck-like than such as the Tarago, Odyssey and Reaching the top section of the non-tilting wheel is a real stretch you have the seat well and then you’re cramped for leg Also a stretch are the low-mounted lever and the radio controls. As in VWs, the Caravelle’s radio is independently of the ignition, but lacks any buzzer as a reminder to turn it off leaving the vehicle.

Another is that the front wheel protrude into the driver’s space and the accelerator pedal is offset at an angle to accommodate

Vision for general driving is good and for parking, is restricted by the rear head restraints. The has a reasonably compact turning for manoeuvring but it is a high, bulky that may prove daunting for people to park.

The Caravelle’s mirrors are worthy of special the left being tall and to provide a much better usual view of what’s up the inside, while the driver’s mirror is turned horizontal to a wide view of overtaking

On the road

The Caravelle’s five-cylinder 2.5 engine has a fairly modest output of 81 kW and when you couple with a vehicle mass of kg, it’s not surprising that from rest is fairly In my timed acceleration runs, the was out-gunned by competitors such as the Mazda MPV and Mitsubishi Starwagon.

However the Caravelle’s engine compensate for its lack of outright by producing its maximum torque at the low engine speed of 2200 This gives good ability, which is desirable in a vehicle, and makes the Caravelle more responsive than it be otherwise.

Fuel consumption is with other people In fact, only the 2.4 litre (which is about 250 kg lighter the Caravelle) showed up better in my which at the time of writing, included the Honda Odyssey. consumption for the manual Caravelle vehicle was 12.8 litres/100 km.

Volkswagen Caravelle

getting out of cars into as high off the ground as the Caravelle, the feels cumbersome at first. But you get accustomed to this, the Caravelle can be along quite quickly, if

The steering is well weighted to positive impressions of what the wheels are doing and the well-sorted wheel drive chassis sure-footed control. The Caravelle is good on unsealed surfaces and only when you tackle corners at excessive speeds understeer becomes apparent.

comfort is good over all of surfaces, with plenty of travel to prevent jarring on bad

I found braking to be a bit of a mixed bag in the On one hand, both normal and braking required a higher-than-average applying the pedal but the brakes well enough. In fact, the pedal effort can be an advantage in braking as there is less to lock up a wheel. In fade the front discs became hot, indicating they doing most of the work, the rear drums remained cool.

The manual test vehicle’s was generally easier and lighter to than previous current Caravelles and Transporters I’ve though finding reverse in a hurry can be frustrating at times.

The displays its commercial origins by more noisily than its The MPV and Tarago are much quieter, car-like interior noise By comparison, the Caravelle generates noise at times, which has you the sound system volume In common with several Caravelles we’ve experienced, the suspension rattled at times, when travelling slowly sharp bumps with the unladen.


The five-cylinder is a fairly tight fit under the short bonnet, with not a lot of left for servicing. However, all check items such as levels, air filter cleaner and plugs, look to be accessible. The oil is accessed from underneath the

After the initial service at km, maintenance is due every 15,000 km or six


VW technical staff say have towed two tonnes with Transporter models, but the maximum towing mass for the is around 1500 kg. Given the available, I would suggest 1500 kg is a bit ambitious if you want to a respectable level of performance touring.


The VW Caravelle is a no-nonsense that impresses for its functional even though it lacks the and car-like driving characteristics of such as the Toyota Tarago, the MPV, or the recently-arrived Honda

I guess it boils down to your priorities are as a buyer. If you the most space for occupants and and like the solid, durable that’s typical of German look no further than the

On the other hand, if you want that looks less something that’s more to park, or closer to a car in the way it drives and then one of the others may suit

By NRMA Motoring, June

Volkswagen Caravelle
Volkswagen Caravelle
Volkswagen Caravelle
Volkswagen Caravelle
Volkswagen Caravelle

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