The Volkswagen Caravelle has been around for decades — and its predecessor, the Samba, is considerably older than I am.
It’s never been the last word in luxury, though — until now. Volkswagen has just launched a new version of its evergreen seven seater minibus, the Caravelle Business.
Seating has been cut down to four rear passengers plus one front passenger (ideal for your secretary…) and the driver, but luxury has been cranked up to full executive transport levels. According to VW, it’s “designed to be a mobile conference room with state of the art technology, including Wi-Fi internet connectivity and Bluetooth”.
The rear lounge configuration includes four individual seats and an adjustable table. Like every Caravelle, the two middle seats swivel to face forwards or backwards, but the Business is upgraded with the full ‘wood and leather’ treatment. The upholstery is Nappa leather and the usual rear bench seat is replaced by an twin seat console which is multi-adjustable and heated with an integrated fridge between the seats.
The interior of the Caravelle Business is enhanced with elegant burr wood inserts in the rear passenger compartment, plus the added safety of curtain airbags, while for the driver’s convenience there is cruise control, satellite navigation with 6.5 in colour screen and 30GBhard drive, a leather multi-function steering wheel, lane change assist to warn of vehicles in the driver’s blind spot, and a programmable heater to ensure the interior can always be ready at the desired temperature.
A second battery with cut-off relay ensures the rear seating area can be powered independently.
Externally, Volkswagen describes the Caravelle Business as “discreet yet stylish”. In other words, it has the pimped look that’s so popular these days: privacy glass, 17in alloy wheels, darkened rear light clusters, electrically folding door mirrors and a laminated windscreen for improved noise damping.
More practically, it also has front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera and Xenon headlights with automatic activation, LED daytime running lights, headlamp washer system and heated front washer jets, while electric sliding side doors provide easy access and exit for rear passengers.
Naturally, a vehicle like this needs a decent engine, and VW is not short of fast diesel engines. The Caravelle Business is powered by the company’s most powerful 2.0-litre 180PS bi-turbo TDI engine. This Euro 5 engine delivers 400 Nm of torque from 1,500 rpm, has DSG (automated) transmission as standard and will manage 34.9 mpg on the combined cycle with Co2 emissions of 214 g/km.
The Caravelle Business is now on sale with retail prices starting from £53,856 (plus VAT), or £56,069 (plus VAT) with 4MOTION transmission.
Unlike a big people carrier, this vehicle can actually carry five people plus luggage in comfort — so it sounds tasty, especially if you operate at the top end of the private hire market and need to be able to transport four passengers in one vehicle at a time, with luggage space.
For more information, visit www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk.