The varieties of new VW Crafter are coming thick and fast over the coming months, with eight-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive versions joining the rear-wheel-drive model we test here.
When developing these different versions, the engineers aimed to keep them as indistinguishable from one another as possible – the theory being that a driver could jump from one to another and not feel a discernible difference. In many ways this is the case, and the all-wheel-drive model feels remarkably similar to the front-wheel drive version in real-world driving.
The differences are minor – the layout of the front-wheel-drive model lets it offer a slightly lower loading height, and its lower overall weight means it can carry a higher payload than the all-wheel-drive model. The latter makes up for it with improved traction on tricky terrain.
The model that does stick out from the others in a noticeable manner is this rear-wheel-drive version. The ride and handling are practically identical, but the drivetrain running under the cabin made a noticeable and intrusive noise on the model we tested, even under moderate acceleration. A fair amount of vibration made it into the cabin, too, even through the fantastically comfortable ‘ergoComfort’ driver’s seat. The seat’s suspension, massage function and vast array of adjustment means that it is a wonderful addition for drivers that spend hours in the cab.
There are clear benefits to the RWD version, though, because it is much more of a towing workhorse than the FWD model. Final figures are yet to be confirmed, but the towing capacity is claimed to be ‘in excess of 3,000kg’, which is a boost over the front-wheel drive’s 3,000kg maximum. Putting a heavy load over the rear wheels helps boost traction, too, without you having to go to the expense of the 4WD system, which adds more than £3,500
to the already hefty price.