Volkswagen Crafter

VW Crafter lr
 
By Tim Saunders

“You can move a house with that mate,” the delivery driver smiles, as he hands over the keys to the green Volkswagen Crafter.

“It’s just as well,” I reply, “because I’ve got loads of furniture to shift.”

There’s no denying that it is a large vehicle, so large it fills the length of our top driveway and is so wide that there is only just enough space to walk down the side of it.

It’s always a little daunting going from driving a car to a van and even more so going to the Crafter because it just looks so huge. But the delight is that once behind the wheel it’s just like driving a car… without the rear view mirror - for the simple reason that you can’t see behind you. VW has got that covered though by fitting an extremely helpful reversing camera that feeds the image to the dash and really boosts the driver’s confidence.

For me the steering wheel is a little too low and I can’t seem to be able to raise it but I can live with this. Reversing off the drive is a little awkward due to our neighbour’s car, as usual, being parked on the pavement outside but fortunately there’s enough space to my right to be able to overcome this problem. As long as you are sensible and consider the width of the Crafter then driving is a pleasurable experience. A little forward planning helps, for instance whether you need to drive head on onto a driveway or reverse. Or whether the tight alleyway leading to my wife’s late aunt’s flat is a sensible place to head or whether parking on the road might be more favourable. A point I ponder as I set the cruise control to 50mph for what seems to be a permanent speed restriction on the M27. The sun is shining and the sky is a lovely blue. As a result I push the buttons on my door to get the windows down a bit. When the speed limit is lifted I discover that I can select sports mode on the automatic gearbox and the revs increase, bringing a little smile to my face. I can’t help spotting other Crafters on the road, in fact a rather worn one from Romania wants to overtake. At traffic lights the engine stop/start kicks in.

We arrive in Ringwood naively anticipating that only a couple of hours of heavy lugging will be required and we’ll be home for lunch. My wife Caroline agrees that we should park by the roadside and she spies a perfect spot, which happens to be directly under the window of the flat. So we park up and put a note in the windscreen for the traffic warden. I fold the driver’s wing mirror in to prevent it getting knocked.

It takes a couple of minutes to walk from the van to the flat, negotiating slow electric gates every time, and walking up a staircase.

We decide to move the largest item of furniture first, a sizeable six foot two door pine cupboard. It’s heavy and awkward. With care, a bit of thought and some heated discussions, we slowly make our way through the pokey flat, along the landing and down the stairs. We can then properly carry it on its side and eventually get to the van where we open the back right door first. I soon realise that I can push the door right back and it will helpfully hold itself open without smashing back into me. This is particularly handy as we are parked on a slope. It takes me a minute or so to figure out how to open the left hand door – there’s a black sort of lever on the inside of it that you move to do this. Again, push it out as far as possible and it holds itself open. Good design. We are able to lift the cupboard inside and slide it to the back. First item of furniture safely in. As we make more trips back and forth we begin to use the helpful side door, which slides back and can be accessed from the pavement. The heavens soon open and it rains continuously all day long. Our arduous task goes on and on until eventually the van is stuffed with furniture but it’s almost dinner time now.

Time to strap it all down. There are helpful recessed hooks in the floor and door handles at the front and side to attach ropes and we make use of these. The furniture is as secure as it can be.

Six hours of hard graft and we have quite a lot to show for our efforts. Surely a more appropriate name for this vehicle would be Grafter…

Volkswagen Crafter CR35 Trendline MWB 2.0 TDI 8spd automatic, 4MOTION

Facts at a glance
Price: £52,181 OTR incl VAT
Top speed: 110mph
0-60mph: 15secs
Power: 177bhp
Economy: 33mpg
Payload: 1,076kg

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