The Volkswagen Sharan feels like a overgrown hot-hatch. Which is a good thing, because this 7-seater is made for the grown-up who doesn't want to ... er ... grow up.
Photos: Joel Tam
As a father of three, I always appreciate cars with space, especially if the car has the pace to match the space. The car we have here has lots of room, it packed my boys in with no problem and even had more than enough space for the usual bags and kit we lug around as a family.
It's big on the outside too. Measuring 4.8 metres and weighing in a hefty 1.8 tonnes, it's a large MPV that will swallow almost anything you throw in it. But here's the the amazing thing, it's also packed with the vroom to match the room. Sporting a Golf GTi derived 2-litre turbocharged unit, mated to a 6-speed DSG gearbox, the Volkswagen Sharan is one sporty MPV. Once you get over the intial mass, it will even carve corners and perform like a agile hatchback, albeit with some body roll!
I'm not sure if it was deliberately engineered to be make family men like me happy, but hey, I'm smiling!
The first generation Sharan that we got in the late 90's was a handsome looking MPV, this latest model is no different. Employing an edgy front end of the company's new design language, the whole car features strong, clean and bold lines. It also has lots of glass and a panoramic sunroof that allows natural light in.
The rear lamps also embody the new direction Volkswagen is taking with their characteristic M-shaped lights. A convenient feature we all can appreciate is the remote tail-gate function that can be opened from the key fob, very useful when you have your hands full.
On the inside, the soft materials, leather and wide expanse of space make you feel at ease right away. Switchgear and controls are typical Volkswagen standard, sturdy and user-friendly - they haven't fixed the annoying audio power button though (if you've read my previous articles on VW cars, you'd remember that I'm anal about the fact that the power button sign rotates with the button when you turn it. I know, it's small thing, but it annoys me nonetheless.).
Standard on the Sharan is the RNS 510 entertainment system with GPS. It features touch-screen ease-of-use and an integrated SD card slot for all your external music. An external USB slot would have been welcomed though.
For the first time, space saving sliding doors are found on the Sharan. There are many ways to open them, one of which is via this button on the B pillar. The driver can also control the doors from where he/she is sitting with buttons on the centre console. Safety is not forgotten, with sensors fitted on the electrically operated doors, all you need is a tap on the side to stop a door from opening or closing.
If you've got kids like me, I'm sure there are days that you wished you had the room to just dump all your picnic gear into a huge boot, and still had the space to pack in the wife, kids, maid and your mom into the car. Well, this car will do just that.
All five doors can be operated very easily too. Unlike MPVs of old, you can slide, close, open and adjust the seats with the use of only one hand.
The one-handed operation makes it easy to configure the multiple possibilities of what the flexible seats in the Sharan have to offer. Getting in and out of the last bench in a cinch too, thanks to the wide-opening sliding doors and the second row seats that slide forward.
Rear passengers also get to control their ambient temperature. This works especially well in a large interior like the Sharan. I was running a slight cold during the period Azfar our Associate Editor had the car, and I was snug at the back with the temperature turned up, without affecting those up front.
At Burnpavement.com, performance is key. So the best bit of this car has to be the powerful 200 bhp unit that will propel the car from 0-100 km/h in a mere 8.3 seconds. Spinning the front wheels at the lights is a simple affair. Just floor it, and it'll GO!
The Sharan will take corners unexpectedly well too. Initial body roll is understandable, once the car settles though, it'll hug the bends with the tenacity of a hatchback! Long sweepers are also easily taken at insane speeds, your passengers won't be aware of the fun you're having, unless you can't hold back your laughter!
All in all a great package that ought to sell very well, the Volkswagen Sharan is a winner. If you're looking for something that is both fun and spacious for your family, look no further, this quality German will deliver the goods!