However, it’s two-wheel-drive only, whereas the 201bhp is four-wheel-drive. Neither model, though, can claim to have more involving steering than the Mercedes. Both are vague, lacklustre and imprecise.
There isn’t much to choose from between the engines when it comes to the economy. Both return around 40mpg after a long journey, although the smaller 148bhp can claim a small victory by being more efficient in and about the town. Moreover, the 201bhp is slightly more expensive to run simply because it has four-wheel-drive.
There is a significant difference when it comes to road tax. Opt for the 148bhp variant and you’ll pay £185 a year, while choosing the 201bhp model will result in a yearly tax bill of £205.
Inside, the premium interior reflects the high price tag. The Volkswagen Caravelle might be based on a van, but it’s impossible to tell once you’re inside and settled. It shares a lot of its slick dials and switches with VW passenger cars, while the high seating position gives you a commanding view of the road ahead.
Rear and front parking sensors are thankfully included as standard, but it’s a shame that a rear parking camera pack and a park sensor display are options.
Still, we have to give the VW Caravelle Diesel Estate 5/5 for practicality. There is an extraordinary amount of space available for seven people. Unusually, access is easy for the rear seated passengers via sliding doors, but trickier for those up front. Storage space is in abundance, while the seats offer lots of support and comfort.
In a useful touch, the second row of seats can swivel a whole 360 degrees so that passengers can either face the front of those behind them. We think it’s a great feature.
Meanwhile, you can remove all the back seats to improve boot space. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you by how much, as VW hasn’t released an official boot volume figure.
Mercedes – £47,235 – £53,965
Volkswagen – £39,500 – £51,600