To say that the Volkswagen Sharan is spacious does not really give you the full picture of the interior. The amount of glass – forward, rearward, sides and even on top – lets in plenty of light that in turn makes the interior feel airy. Which is much like a properly designed living room, that’s if living rooms had forward-facing seats and four wheels. And the amount of glass in here also gives ample view of the world outside which is handy when manoeuvring this rather large MPV.
Yet, the Sharan does not look humongous from the outside. Volkswagen has done an impeccable job of fitting all that space in a tight package. The Sharan has the squinty headlamps of current generation Volkswagen cars and its roofline tapers ever so slightly at the rear. The Sharan measures 4,854 mm in length, 1,904 mm in width and 1,720 mm in height. It is not until you park it side by side with a Vellfire that you realise the Sharan is slightly longer and broader but not taller, and without sacrificing any headroom.
OK, back inside. The People’s Car people mover can accommodate up to seven adults, and I do mean seven L-sized adults, seated in a two-three-two formation. Notably the furniture consists of individual seats and not the usual park bench. The individual seats also bring their own set of advantages, more on that later. There’s also an optional special headrest that turns the seat into a child seat.
Another thing to highlight is the third row seats – they’re far from useless. Usually, one has to practically assume a foetal position just to fit into the last row. In the Sharan, well, it is still claustrophobic at the back but the legroom isn’t as cramped as you’d think. Still, best used for short distances.
With all seven seats up, the Sharan only yields a piteous boot space. Take down the rear two seats and you’ll earn a more respectable space of 885 litres. Fold the middle and last row, which packs flat, and you’ll extend the cargo hold to 2,430 litres.
Is it easy to fold down the seats? Well, the rear takes a bit more effort than the middle seats. You need to release the seat base first, which is inside, before moving to the boot to pull down the backrest. Honestly, it is quite a hassle.
The real magic here is found in the individual seats that allow you to fold just one seat instead of mashing down an entire bench. This also means that you have more freedom of carrying more things without needing to cull the number of passengers you can take with you. Besides the large space, there are also 33 other places within the MPV in which you can stash your bits and bobs.
With the Sharan fully loaded, the next concern would be power. With a normal load of four people and the weekend’s travel bags/shopping, the Sharan can still be a rapid big thing. Not that it is light, mind; the MPV’s unladen weight is 1,838 kg. Yet, for the 2.0 litre TSI, it is not a big ask.
The turbocharged lump produces 200 PS at 5,100 rpm, so there’s plenty of mid- to top-end speed to be had. The engine also gives out 280 Nm of torque between 1,700 to 5,000 rpm, which gives it plenty of acceleration across the torque band. 0-100 km/h is accomplished in a claimed 8.3 seconds. Far-fetched? Maybe, but mash the accelerator pedal and you’ll squash all doubt that the Sharan is a sloth.
At high speeds, the Sharan feels stable and assured, and not easily swayed by cross winds or the rippling road. The ride is more rigid than the rest of the MPV crop, which are usually of Japanese origin. Still, the chassis is able to shake off all but the deepest bumps and holes.
The rigid suspension also bestows the Sharan with high levels of agility compared to its rivals. Body roll has been dialled back and you’d have to purposefully throw the MPV into a corner to get it to roll. A slight steering input is all the MPV needs to change directions quickly and accurately, even if the steering feels numb.
The test Sharan came armed with the Tech pack that, for RM24,000 more, includes the Adaptive Chassis Control that allows you to soften or harden the suspension to your liking. The difference between Comfort, Normal and Sport is miniscule at best and trying to tell them apart is like trying to differentiate which cup of coffee is mixed with white, brown or artificial sugar.
Ah, but that’s not the only thing you’re getting for RM24,000. The Sharan with Tech pack (RM269,888 nett) also gets a 300 W eight-speaker Dynaudio sound system, keyless start and entry and Lane Assist, which is VW’s lane departure warning system.
If you don’t want to spend more, no problem. The base Sharan (RM245,888 nett) already has plenty, such as all the important safety aids you need – traction control and anti-slip among others – and plenty of airbags for emergency cushioning for all three rows. The standard spec MPV is also fitted with Park Assist, which automatically works the steering while you work the gear lever and pedals when slotting the Sharan into a parking space.
So it does not have a DVD player and a 12-inch LCD to go with it, but in terms of everything else, it is hard to fault this MPV. With the Sharan, you’ll own a quality MPV that is not only easy to drive and relatively comfortable, but also has the potential to be the family’s favourite vehicle.