After a comparatively short teaser campaign, Volkswagen has ended years of speculative reports pertaining to the new T7 “Kombi” with the unveiling of the all-new model in top-spec Multivan guise.
Replacing not only T6.1 in certain parts of Europe but also doing away with the Caravelle name, though it remains to be seen whether South Africa would be included, the seventh generation Transporter has been designed from the ground up as the first brand-new model in almost two decades given that its predecessor stemmed from the T5 that debuted in 2003.
Inspiration from the the past
Touted as being one of the most dramatic makeovers in the T-series’ 71 year history, the T7 takes inspiration from the past with Volkswagen attributing certain aspects of the new design to the T3 that bowed out in 2002 as the last rear-engine Transporter model.
Blend of new and old styling traits
Riding on an extended wheelbase version of the MQB platform, the T7 measures 4 973 mm in overall length with the option of specifying a long wheelbase that stretches 5 173 mm. Standing 1 903 mm tall, the wheelbase has been increased to 3 124 mm and the width to 1 941 mm.
As well as the T3, the T7 boasts styling from the ID range of all-electric vehicles, the ID Buzz concept that will become a reality next year and from the rear, the departed Golf Plus with the integrated spoiler now running vertically down the bootlid all the way to the window line.
Like the T6.1, it retains the short bonnet and comes as standard with Volkswagen’s IQ.LIGHT LED headlights with the option of upgrading to the Matrix LED diodes, while riding on up to 19-inch alloy wheels.
Interior familiar but more tech savvy
Just as radical is the interior which while still identifiable as that of a Kombi, has been brought up to update with the fitting of a new ten-inch touchscreen infotainment system, the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster and for the first time ever on a T-series model, the option of a Heads-Up Display.
In addition to the dashboard being new, Volkswagen has also ditched the floor mounted handbrake and gear lever mounted on the lower end of the dash with the former now being a toggle switch-like button and the latter a button operated shift-by-wire system located to the right of the steering wheel on left-hand-drive models.
As well as the new climate control panel, a storage cubby has been integrated into the lower half of the centre console with a wireless smartphone charger again featuring.
Spacious, versatile and capacious
Providing seating for seven like in the T6.1, the T7 Multivan has a claimed boot capacity of 469-litres with all three rows up, which enlarges to 1 844-litres with the outer folded down. With the optional panoramic roof, an additional six-litres becomes available. With the second and rows down though, the capacity increases to 3 672-litres or in the case of the long wheelbase model with the panoramic roof, a whopping 4 053-litres.
The redesign of the interior has not stopped at the front as Volkswagen has also improved the table console located between and second and third rows, allowing for its complete removal if not being used.
Along with the dual-sliding electric doors and electric tailgate, the second row captain’s chairs can once again swivel 180-degrees with a further specification option being a specifically designed 840-watt, 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a 16 channel amplifier.
A quantum leap over the T6.1 is the safety and driver assistance system on offer, namely a surround-view camera system, the semi-autonomous Travel Assist that works in conjunction with the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Assist, Cross Wind Assist, Exit Warning that alerts to a vehicle or bicycle coming from the behind when the rear door is opened, Traffic Sign Recognition and City Emergency Autonomous Braking.
Hybrid motivation joins petrol and diesel
Underneath the stubby bonnet, the T7 will derive motivation from a 100 kW version of the familiar 1.5 TSI Evo engine, a 150 kW 2.0 TSI and from next year, a 110 kW 2.0 TDI. As indicated previously, all will be paired to a seven-speed DSG as a manual gearbox is no longer offered.
The biggest powertrain addition though is the new eHybrid that combines a 110 kW 1.4 TSI with an 85 kW electric motor for a total output of 160 kW, 26 kW more than the 2.0 BiTDI that headed the T6.1. A plug-in hybrid setup, the unit is hooked to a six-speed DSG but surprisingly, devoid of any other details including the claimed range.
On course to debut later this year in Europe, the T7 Multivan has, for now, not been confirmed for South Africa, but chances are it will arrive either towards the end of this year or in early 2022 with diesel power and without the option of the eHybrid.