Available as Van, Crew Cab, Window Van, Chassis Cab, Chassis Double Cab, Dropside, Tipper, Luton | Engine Options 2.0TD 109/136/143/163hp | Load Volume (m³) 7.5 – 17.0 | Payload (kg) 1,044 – 2,693 Our Verdict A marked improvement on its predecessor and VW’s commercial vehicle dealer network is one of the best in the business.
Volkswagen’s large panel van contender, the Crafter, received a mid-generational revamp at the end of 2011. Out went the old 2.5-litre five-cylinder diesel, which required periodic doses of a mixture of urea and water called AdBlue to control its emissions, and in came a selection of VW’s impressive 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI diesel instead.
Deployed throughout the rest of the manufacturer’s LCV line-up, including Amarok pick-up, and meeting the EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle) standard as well as Euro 5, it is on offer at 109hp, 136hp, 143hp and 163hp. The last mentioned features twin turbochargers and is designated BiTDI. All engines drive the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
Crafter is also available in low emission BlueMotion guise in conjunction with all the engines bar the 136hp. Blue TDI models carry a price premium of just £300 over the non-Blue equivalent; bit of a no-brainer, really. BlueMotion brings with it an automatic Stop/Start system, a longer rear axle final drive ratio, cruise control and battery regeneration from the recovery of braking energy.
As well as slotting in a new engine range, VW took the opportunity to soften Crafter’s front-end styling and make a few detail changes to the cab interior. Payload capacities have been increased too.
Grossing at from 3.0t to 5.0t, Crafter van offers load space from 7.5m³ to 17.0m³ while gross payload capacities extend from 1,044kg to 2,693kg. It can be had as a short-, medium- or long-wheelbase and there’s also a Maxi option which adds a 400mm extended rear overhang to the LWB.
Produced as a chassis cab and a chassis double cab as well as a van, seven-seater Kombi van and window van, Crafter is up for grabs in Tipper, Dropside and Luton guise under the Engineered to Go banner. Conversions for more specialised applications can be ordered under the auspices of the Engineered for You programme.
Well-put-together, Crafter handles well, is quiet and fuel-frugal and is livelier on the highway than its immediate predecessor, despite the fitment of a smaller capacity engine. The gearchange is not always as smooth or as user-friendly as it ought to be, unlike on it’s smaller brother the Transporter, and the cab interior remains uninspiring in appearance, although highly functional.
VW no longer builds Crafter; that task is undertaken by Mercedes-Benz. Crafter shares a great deal of its DNA with Sprinter thanks to a joint development deal dating back to the original launch of the two model line-ups.
Good to see that a three-year unlimited mileage warranty comes as standard. Under VW’s LongLife maintenance regime service intervals depend on how Crafter is driven and the task it’s fulfilling.