By Sala Masindane
The Volkswagen Crafter has been the understudy of the Mercedes Benz Sprinter due to them sharing the same platform. That is in the past now as the relationship with the brands was amicably ended and the Crafter has been handling business on its own terms. The first generation after the separation did well and the German manufacturer recently updated the panel van. We spent time with the Crafter to see if the good that was being done is being maintained.
The standout updates include improved seat upholstery for durability, a revised instrument cluster and control panel, and smart storage spaces. While it misses the familiar large touchscreen infotainment system, the cabin features the old school retractable radio, good quality plastic materials and an extensive amount of storage. This is in form of triple-decker door bins and front seats that fold for more secure storage tray. We do feel that most of it could be more hidden
It also features the largest loading height and payload in its class as well as bigger headroom within the loading area. Our test Crafter was fitted with optional air conditioner, fixed tow bar with trailer stabilisation and LED headlights.
The Crafter 35 is powered by 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine which boasts 103kW/340Nm and is paired to an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Its ride quality is one of the Crafter’s biggest strengths and works well for long-distance travelling.
The 8-speed automatic makes piloting the large vehicle bearable in city traffic and that also means a favourable fuel consumption return in these tough times. We managed a good return of 8.9 litres/100km which is better than the claimed 9.1l/100km.
Although, we didn’t make full use of the load bay as we did with the previous gen and that is still class-leading. Overall, the Crafter is quiet, comfortable and great to be in.
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