Volkswagen Multivan: Caravelle and Sharan rebooted

Published: 30 April 2021

► Plush new MPV debuts in 2021
► Set to replace Caravalle and Sharan
► Promises to be more car-like

These not especially revealing images are our first glimpses of the all-new Volkswagen Multivan, a large van-based people carrier that will sit at the top of the brand's MPV line-up.

Although VW has briefly used the Multivan moniker in the UK before, the model's better known on these shores as the Caravelle, a name we wouldn't bet against continuing.

Whatever it ends up being called, the T7 – as Volkswagen aficionados refer to it – will serve a dual role in also replacing the aged Sharan.

2021 Volkswagen Multivan prototype

While the styling of the T7 Multivan has been made more one-box-like, with large triangular windows between the A-pillars and front doors, the rest of the bodywork on these prototypes strongly suggests a continuation of the current model's perpendicularity. 

Van-like, yes, but there's inevitably more space for people and their stuff in something shaped more like a box than an egg. Adults in row three will especially welcome not feeling like poor relations relegated to the cheap seats.

Talking of seats, VW's acknowledged that the current Caravelle's pews do limit flexibility; the rearmost row is a three-seater bench, with a pair of captain's chairs in row two – lift these in and out with a high degree of frequency and you'll have arm muscles like Anthony Joshua.

Design sketch of the Volkswagen T7 Multivan's interior

For the T7 Multivan, all of the seats become individual chairs as well as being significantly lighter – suggesting they will continue to be removeable, rather than folding flat into the floor, as they do on today's Sharan.

Sliding rear side doors continue to feature – a Godsend when getting in and out of the back in tight parking spaces.

2020 Volkswagen Caravelle 6.1

Volkswagen is following recent industry conventions by drip-feeding information about the Multivan over the coming weeks and months; so far there's little we know for sure. However, one line from the company's initial communications is telling, confirming that the commercial vehicle team behind it will be 'transferring the DNA of this iconic vehicle and its associated lifestyle feel into the digitalised and electrified age'.

In other words, expect more of the same flexibility we know from today's Caravelle, with a higher degree of electronic tech from the car division, and hybrid – probably including plug-in – powertrains, underpinned by a development of the MQB platform.

A fully electric Multivan? Unlikely given the production version of the ID.Buzz BEV will go on sale during 2022. 

Additionally, all T7 Multivans will have a DSG transmission, activated by a small lever, as seen in the latest Golf, along with a switch to a space-saving electronic handbrake. Not only do these add to the VW's ease of use, they create dashboard space for a 10-inch multimedia touchscreen, and preserve the space between the front seats to allow access to the rear.

Despite being developed by VW's van division, the new Multivan is unrelated to the joint venture with Ford that will sire the next Transporter panel van, something that should ensure if feels more car-like to drive, with higher-grade plastics used for the interior, too.

2021 Volkswagen Multivan prototype

Keep this page bookmarked for more news on the Volkswagen Multivan T7 as and when we have it.

Further reading

Read our review of VW's sporty T-Roc R

Our rundown of the best hybrid SUVs on sale

Future electric cars: upcoming EVs to look out for

By Keith WR Jones

Managing editor of the Bauer Automotive hub and car brochure library owner