Caravelle-2004

The latest generation Caravelle went on sale in the UK in November 2003, joining the Touran and Sharan at the top of Volkswagen’s MPV line-up.  Unlike the previous generation Caravelle, this model is part of Volkswagen’s passenger car range, and is marketed to retail as well as traditional business customers.

The Caravelle has always been a purpose-designed people carrier with all-independent suspension, good performance and car-like driving characteristics.  This model is aimed at customers who need an MPV that can cope with seven occupants as well as their luggage.

With a range of first-class engines, running gear designed to meet the expectations of all customers, and a range of fittings to satisfy the most discerning of buyers, the Caravelle is most definitely an MPV without compromises.

Key to the vehicle’s versatility are the slide rails integrated into the floor.  They allow stand-alone seats, a bench seat and a multi-function table to be mounted in any desired position in the rear cabin, presenting an astonishingly wide spectrum of potential interior use.  Sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle give the Caravelle added user-friendliness.

Volkswagen launched the Caravelle at a time of growing demand for multi-use vehicles.  Sales of MPVs in the UK have soared recently from 89,000 units in 1998 to around 245,000 in 2003.

SUMMARY

  • front-engined and front-wheel drive
  • available with six or seven seats
  • all models have two sliding side doors
  • two TDI PD engines with 130 and 174 PS; plus one 3.2-litre V6 235 PS petrol engine
  • six-speed manual transmission and optional TIPTRONIC six-speed automatic
  • driver and front passenger front, side and head airbags fitted as standard
  • completely new front suspension system with isolated chassis subframe
  • four-channel ABS (anti-lock brakes) standard across range
  • sold through selected Volkswagen passenger car retail network as well as Volkswagen Van Centres as part of a range of MPVs
  • manufactured in Hanover and Poznan (Poland) plants; production shared according to model type and demand
  • most popular engine is the 130 PS TDI PD, accounting for around 60 per cent of sales

DESIGN

Exterior

Though clearly an entirely new model, the Caravelle was designed to look unmistakably like its predecessor thanks to several touches, including its efficient one-box design and the short, streamlined bonnet.

However there are many external design features which distinguish the Caravelle from its predecessor. The purposeful stance combined with a high shoulder line, flush-fitting panels, high-quality engioneering and clean, precise proportions lend the Caravelle a look that echoes the latest trends in luxury car design.  

The theme is emphasised by the clean nose incorporating a prominent Volkswagen badge intersected by three blade sections.  The grille itself and bumper are formed in a single mould and finished in the vehicle’s exterior colour.

The external dimensions of the Caravelle are greater than before, making the vehicle still larger than Volkswagen’s other people-carrying derivatives:

  Caravelle Sharan Touran
length, mm 4890 4634 4391
width, w/out mirrors, mm 1904 1810 1794
height, mm 1945 1759 1635
wheelbase, mm 3000 2841 2677

Anti-corrosion systems

A raft of anti-corrosion measures were taken into consideration from the initial design stages, not least the avoidance of creating any potential rust ‘hot spots’.  For example, the entire perimeter of the sliding doors fits flush with the outer skin of the bodyshell when closed and is thus protected from water spray and gravel impact from the front wheels.

Volkswagen has taken a new approach to under-body protection against corrosion.  Whereas underside protection is conventionally spray-applied, the Caravelle features multiple-section polymer panelling which makes the use of wax sealants unnecessary.

A positive side-effect of this full-coat solution is the reduction in road noise, especially since polymer materials are also used to line the wheel housings.

The entire under-body structure of the Caravelle is galvanised using the hot-dip technique.  The bodyshell’s outer skin, as well as the doors, bonnet and mudguards, are subjected to electronic galvanisation in order to ensure enhanced surface quality.

Compared with the procedures used in the past, the Caravelle’s bodyshell sealing system is a major advance, both in terms of efficiency and environmental friendliness.  The robotically-controlled process is far more targeted and reduces waste, while the paintshop process uses only water-based colour lacquers.

Cavity sealing is done using a Volkswagen-patented sealant flooding method which does away with the need for spraying.  Instead, sealant is flooded into the cavities and then removed.  Protective foil is employed in several different areas to protect the bodyshell from gravel or human handling.

Thanks to this quality engineering, the Caravelle is able to boast a three-year paintwork warranty and class-leading 12-year corrosion warranty.

Interior

The Caravelle is whatever the customer needs it to be – a family car, a mobile office or a recreational vehicle.  With a few adjustments, aided by the wide range of optional extras, the Caravelle can quickly be customised for individual use.

Driver comfort has not been overlooked either: the driver’s seat is multi-adjustable and tautly cushioned with generous side support and an integrated lumbar cushion.  The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and rake so that an ideal driving position can be easily attained.

The clearly structured dashboard layout facilitates driver comfort and safety.  Round, easy-to-read instruments offer the driver information on speed, revs, fuel level and coolant temperature, and there is a central display offering additional information, such as that from the multifunction computer.

The Caravelle comes equipped with a large number of handy and secure storage areas, providing a home for all the paraphernalia which inevitably is required for a family or business vehicle. 

There are two fold-out cupholders with an integrated ashtray and coin compartment mounted on the dashboard, as well as a range of easy-access tray areas with anti-slip inlays.  Large drink bottles may be kept in a door panel compartment, and there is also a lockable (and, if desired, cooled) glovebox.

Key to the Caravelle’s seating versatility are the four floor-mounted slide rails on to which all the interior furnishings are fixed.  The front-most row of the rear cabin comprises two swivel seats, both of which are mounted on to the slide rail.  They can be independently and easily moved and fixed into the desired position.  The system allows the seats to be swivelled around to face the rear bench or to be moved well back to increase passenger legroom.

The rear bench seat is also mounted on to the slide rails and can therefore be locked into place in any desired position within the cabin.  All three seats on the bench are fitted with integrated three-point seat belts; the outside seats are also equipped with Isofix fixtures to allow an appropriate child-seat to be safely fitted.

The bench is easily converted into a large, almost completely flat bed by pulling a lever and pushing the recliner back and down.  The headrests mounted on to the bench, as well as the fold-down recliners of the stand-alone seats opposite, provide additional bed space.  The alternative six seat layout has two individual rear seats in place of the three-seat bench.

A variety of trays and cupholders are fitted in the rear cabin.  The rear wheel housing liner has a compartment which accepts larger drink bottles and has a removable, lidded box.  Additional trays and stowage compartments have been integrated into the side panelling.  Stowage room is also provided by a removable bucket and three drawers integrated into the base of the bench seat, with a further drawer contained in each of the stand-alone seats.

All Caravelles come with two sliding doors with integrated sliding windows.  They feature a highly functional central table which can be folded out into a variety of sizes.  It features two flat map drawers (accessible even when the table is not folded out), two fixtures for drink bottles, a drawer, a tray for small items, four cupholders and an ashtray.

Because the seating is so versatile, the rear cabin can be set up to suit a huge range of applications.  In fact, it can be transformed into anything from a normal boot to a large-volume luggage area.

When there is a need for a large amount of luggage space in the mid or back section of the Caravelle, the seats can be pushed into a row, one behind the other.  Alternatively, any or all of them can be removed completely.

The Caravelle offers a maximum cargo volume of over 5474-litres.  The level floor features six integrated lashing eyelets; while an optional cargo net can be used to divide the load and passengers for additional safety and comfort.

Heating system

Passenger comfort is all-important in a vehicle such as the Caravelle.  To that end, Volkswagen designers paid considerable attention to climate control systems.

Manually controlled air conditioning is standard across the range.  Conditioned air is fed into the passenger compartment through a number of dashboard vents and via individually adjustable outlets located in the B pillars which guide the air to the rear cabin and to the middle window panes for defrosting.

There is an additional heater installed in the right-hand side panel, with separate outlets close to floor level.  The rear cabin heating system is controlled via a separate switch in the roof lining.

 

RUNNING GEAR

Superior and safe handling are the key characteristics of the Caravelle’s dynamic set-up. This was achieved thanks in large part to the rigidity of the bodyshell and careful enhancement of the previous model’s running gear.

The main focus of efforts to enhance rigidity was on the under-floor bracing which forms the main carrier of loads and which needs to deform in a predictable way in the event of collision.  Splash and closing panels have been used to make the side members more rigid the further they extend towards the passenger cell.  In the event of a crash, the bodyshell crumples and absorbs much of the energy of the collision.

The Caravelle boasts highly effective lateral impact protection.  Large-size body sills, lateral impact members incorporated into the doors and the elevated seating position provide protection for occupants in the event of side impact.  Additional reinforcements in the pillars further improve the bodyshell’s endurance limit.

Front axle

The Caravelle’s front suspension system features a separate front subframe.  Unusually, the track control arms and anti-roll bar are attached to a subframe rather than being directly linked to the body.  Vibration-absorbing mountings are used to attach the subframe to the body, leading to extremely effective insulation from vibrations and enhanced ride comfort.  The subframe also serves as a second energy absorbing platform in a head-on collision.  MacPherson struts are employed, as is an anti-roll bar.

Rear axle

At the rear there is a semi-trailing arm arrangement with compact ‘miniblock’ coil springs and separate dampers, as well as an anti-roll bar.

Steering, tyres and wheels

The power-assisted rack and pinion steering system - only 3.3 turns lock to lock - offers the Caravelle driver the twin benefits of easy manoeuvrability and precision.  The Caravelle’s turning circle is 11.9 metres.

Braking system

The Caravelle has a four-channel ABS (anti-lock brake) system as standard on all models as well as ASR traction control and an electronic differential lock (EDL).

All models are equipped with single-piston sliding-calliper ventilated disc brakes.

Volkswagen’s Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) with Brake Assist (BAS) is also standard on all models.

Brake Assist

Working in conjunction with the other elements of the braking system, Brake Assist recognises from the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed whether it is a ‘normal’ braking situation or an emergency stop.  In the event of an emergency stop, it automatically increases braking pressure, activating the ABS and ensuring the level of braking meets the needs of the conditions. 

The application of brake assist makes it possible for the average driver to reduce braking distances by around 25 per cent.

Electronic Stabilisation Programme – ESP

ESP is a sophisticated system that automatically senses any tendency for the vehicle to slide.  Should this situation occur, ESP reacts by applying the brakes to one, two, three or all four wheels and adjusts the engine’s power.  In this way, it is possible that a skid is corrected even before the driver is aware that one has started.

This can be useful if a tendency to understeer or oversteer develops in a bend.  In such circumstances ESP can help prevent skidding or spinning off the road and is particularly helpful in wet or icy conditions.  ESP uses the sensors and systems associated with the traction control system, the electronic differential lock (EDL) and the electronic brake-pressure distribution system (EBD).        

EQUIPMENT AND TRIM

The Caravelle is available in two trim levels, SE and Executive.  Both have a high level of standard equipment as the following list of highlights shows.

SE:      2.5-litre TDI PD 130 and 174 PS (manual and tiptronic)

Standard features include:

  • seven seats, plus rail system for adjustments
  • ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme)
  • ABS (anti-lock brakes)
  • driver and front passenger front, side and curtain airbags
  • deactivation switch for front passenger airbag
  • three point seat belts for all occupants
  • eight-speaker Volkswagen-branded Gamma stereo
  • remote central locking plus alarm with interior and tow-away protection
  • two sliding side doors
  • power latching bootlid
  • body-coloured bumpers and mirror housings
  • driver and passenger comfort seats with height adjustment, lumbar support and armrests
  • heated front seats
  • rear sunblinds on all side windows
  • a multi-function table
  • electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors
  • front electric windows
  • front and rear fog lights
  • sports suspension
  • manual air conditioning
  • trip computer
  • leather steering wheel, handbrake grip and manual gearknob
  • 16” ‘Miyato’ alloy wheels with 215/65 R16 tyres and anti-theft bolts – not V6

Executive:      2.5-litre TDI PD 130 and 174 PS (manual and tiptronic)

                        3.2-litre V6 235 PS (tiptronic only)

Executive trim adds:

  • centre armrest on rear seat bench
  • climatronic automatic air conditioning, front and rear
  • rear privacy glass
  • leather/alcantara upholstery
  • electric side sliding doors
  • cruise control
  • rain sensor and automatic dimming rear view mirror
  • 16” ‘L.A.’ alloy wheels with 235/60 R16 tyres and anti-theft bolts – not V6
  • V6 only – 17” ‘Solace’ alloy wheels with 235/55 R17 tyres

ENGINES

The Caravelle features a range of diesel engines employing Volkswagen’s proven ‘Pumpe Düse’ or unit injector technology.  The line-up comprises two five-cylinder, 2.5-litre TDI PD engines producing either 130 or 174 PS – making them the most powerful in this sector.  Also available is a 3.2-litre V6 petrol powerplant with 235 PS.

Petrol engine

3.2-litre V6, 24 valve, 235 PS

Technically related to the 3.2-litre engine found in the Volkswagen Phaeton and Touareg, the Caravelle’s six-cylinder unit features four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts and variable inlet and exhaust camshaft timing control to ensure high torque levels throughout the engine speed range.  Maximum torque is 236 lbs ft.

Diesel engines

Volkswagen has for a long time been at the forefront of diesel technology.  Its latest system is known as ‘Pumpe Düse’ or ‘PD’ technology.  ‘Pumpe Düse’ translates as ‘unit injector’ and describes a fuel injection system which can operate at pressures of up to 2,050 bars or 30,000 psi.

Higher injection pressures mean better mixing of fuel and air.  In turn this allows more fuel and air to be burnt cleanly in each cylinder of the catalysed TDI engine to provide an industry benchmark power unit.  PD technology combines the injector and pump into one unit for each cylinder and is operated by the engine camshaft – with the outgoing TDI engine, fuel is pressurised by a distributor injector pump which feeds the individual injectors.  A finer adjustment of the fuel injection process with a much higher pressure results in higher torque yet little or no change in fuel consumption or CO2 emissions.

2.5-litre TDI PD, 10-valve 5-cyl, 130 and 174 PS

Among the chief benefits of the Caravelle’s new 2.5-litre TDI PD unit are its exceptionally compact dimensions and weight.  One of the keys to this is the tight packaging of the gear drive system for the valve gear as well as the peripheral units such as the alternator, the water and oil pumps, the brake servo pump and air conditioning compressor.

There are two versions of this engine available, each mated to a six-speed transmission.  The 130 PS version provides maximum torque of 251 lbs ft at 2,000 rpm, while the 174 PS unit provides an exceptional 295 lbs ft at similarly low revs.

Gearboxes

Caravelles equipped with the five-cylinder diesel and petrol models are fitted as standard with a six-speed gearbox specially developed to handle high torque loads.  The adoption of six speeds provides a more comprehensive set of ratios which benefits both performance and economy.

Available as an optional extra is a six-speed TIPTRONIC automatic transmission system.  This offers the driver the choice of making manual up or down gearshifts by tipping the gear lever forwards or backwards.  The system features an ‘S’ setting with a ‘sports’ shift programme.

Servicing

Service intervals for the Caravelle have traditionally been set at fixed time or mileage parameters, but the development of new engines and LongLife synthetic oil has changed this.  New generation Volkswagen engines have built-in sensors that continually monitor oil quality, so a smart chip decides when it needs changing and flags up a service reminder on the dashboard monitor.  Service intervals are therefore determined by driving style and patterns, and can vary from a minimum of 9,000 miles or one year, up to a maximum of 18,000 miles or two years.

These long oil intervals are possible thanks to the use of Castrol SLX LongLife II engine oil.  This is a fully synthetic SAE 0W-30 oil that has been specially formulated to be compatible with the longer service intervals of both petrol and diesel engines, and in particular, Volkswagen’s PD units.

By removing this oil and using traditional lubricants, it is still possible to have servicing at fixed intervals of one year or 10,000 miles.  The choice is made at PDI (the vehicle’s pre-delivery inspection), and can be changed at a major service. 

There are no strict rules on which to base the decision of which servicing regime will be most beneficial to a customer.  LongLife oil protects for up to three times the distance of standard oil, but it costs roughly three times as much.  However, cost savings are available from reduced servicing, and the potential of improved fuel economy: operators can expect an average reduction of 2.7 per cent on their fuel bills by using LongLife oil.  What’s more, as less oil has to be disposed of with less servicing, there are clear environmental advantages.

Operators interested in the LongLife service regime can learn more from their retailer.  Each has a computer programme that can take account of individual situations and illustrate the potential savings over fixed servicing, in terms of both maintenance and fuel costs.

FACTORY FIT OPTIONS

A number of factory-fit options are available on the Caravelle, allowing buyers to customise further their vehicles.  These include an electric tilt/slide sunroof, a towbar, alternative alloy wheels and upgrades, metallic or pearl effect paint, and different suspension set-ups.

Electric side sliding doors, which are standard on Executive models, are available on the SE; as are cruise control, rain sensing wipers, an automatic dimming rear view mirror and heated washer jets.

Optional features on all models include parking sensors, up to four integrated child seats, rear curtain airbags and a ‘sleep pack’.

Parking sensors

Available across the range is a parking distance control system which simplifies tight parking manoeuvres.  The system uses four ultrasonic sensors, integrated in the rear bumper, to pinpoint parked vehicles or other objects behind the car.  Automatically activated when reverse gear is selected, the system produces an audible warning signal to guide the driver up to a safe distance to any objects behind.  Not only can this prevent car park knocks, it may also help prevent accidents, for example, if a child runs out who may not have been seen.

Integrated child seats

Up to four integrated rear child seats are also available as an option.  They look and can function like a normal seat, but, if required, the bottom part can be lifted up to form a booster cushion.  This gives extra height and improves visibility and safety for children weighing around 15 to 36 kg.  If they are not fitted, all Caravelles have four Isofix child seat mountings into which a compatible child seat can be safely attached. 

Sleep pack

The Caravelle’s rear seats can be folded down to form a bed.  The optional sleep pack comprises of a mattress cover to add to the rear seats along with a bed extension and even curtains to make the Caravelle into a cosy and comfortable nest when required!

Self-dimming rear view mirror and rain sensor

Standard on Executive but an option on SE, this ‘thinking’ rear-view mirror uses LCD technology to sense when the lights of a vehicle behind are likely to distract the driver.  The mirror reacts by dimming automatically, in a similar way to light-sensitive sunglasses.  Sensors in the front and rear of the mirror monitor changes and re-adjust when appropriate. 

In conjunction with this option are automatic windscreen wipers.  A rain sensor positioned behind the interior rear-view mirror on the windscreen activates the wiper system as required.  An infrared beam is reflected in different ways according to the pattern of moisture landing on a windscreen sensor.  Signals from the sensor are used to control the wipers.  When the wiper control is set to the normal ‘Intermittent’ position the wipers are automatically controlled from ‘off’ when the screen is dry through different delay intervals of intermittent wipe through to two speeds of continuous operation.

SAFETY

All models in the Caravelle range are fitted as standard with driver and front-passenger front and side airbags, as well as head airbags.  The front passenger airbag can be deactivated via a key-operated switch in the glove compartment to allow a forward-facing child-seat to be carried safely.  Also available as an option are rear curtain airbags.

Another important driver safety measure is a steering column equipped with deformation crash elements which ensure that, in the event of head-on impact, the steering wheel ‘telescopes’ and is not pushed into the cabin.  If the driver should nonetheless collide with the steering wheel, a special mechanism moves it away by as much as 50 mm.  Energy-absorbing polymers help to minimise the risk of head and body injuries.

Tests have shown that head restraints are often set too low, so that in a collision they are pushed back into their lowest position, leading to whiplash.  To minimise such risks, the Caravelle’s head restraints cannot be adjusted downwards until they have been deliberately unlocked.  The tilt angle of each restraint is also adjustable.

Active safety features include ABS with ASR traction control, an electronic differential lock (EDL), ESP and Brake Assist are  standard on all models

SECURITY

Security is of primary importance to all customers.  To ensure the Caravelle meets the standards expected, the following features are fitted:

  • remote control central locking including deadlocks
  • transponder-based engine immobiliser
  • factory fitted alarm system with interior and tow-away protection
  • steering wheel ‘freewheel’ lock
  • child locks
  • internal release for rear tailgate (emergency exit)

Line-up with insurance groups

The Caravelle has the following ABI (Association of British Insurers) insurance group ratings:

SE

2.5-litre TDI PD 130 PS                       14

2.5-litre TDI PD 174 PS                       15

Executive

2.5-litre TDI PD 130 PS                       15

2.5-litre TDI PD 174 PS                       16

3.2-litre V6 235 PS                              16

WARRANTIES

All Caravelles sold through the manufacturer’s UK network have a three year bumper-to-bumper warranty.  The first two years with no mileage restrictions are manufacturer operated, while the third year (and up to 100,000 miles) is a network warranty.

In addition, all have a 12 year anti-corrosion guarantee, a three year paintwork warranty and a three year comprehensive recovery and assistance package. 

The result of this final warranty is fully trained technicians on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to diagnose and repair most problems at the roadside using Volkswagen equipment and genuine parts.

The latest generation Caravelle went on sale in the UK in November 2003, joining the Touran and Sharan at the top of Volkswagen’s MPV line-up.  Unlike the previous generation Caravelle, this model is part of Volkswagen’s passenger car range, and is marketed to retail as well as traditional business customers.

The Caravelle has always been a purpose-designed people carrier with all-independent suspension, good performance and car-like driving characteristics.  This model is aimed at customers who need an MPV that can cope with seven occupants as well as their luggage.

With a range of first-class engines, running gear designed to meet the expectations of all customers, and a range of fittings to satisfy the most discerning of buyers, the Caravelle is most definitely an MPV without compromises.

Key to the vehicle’s versatility are the slide rails integrated into the floor.  They allow stand-alone seats, a bench seat and a multi-function table to be mounted in any desired position in the rear cabin, presenting an astonishingly wide spectrum of potential interior use.  Sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle give the Caravelle added user-friendliness.

Volkswagen launched the Caravelle at a time of growing demand for multi-use vehicles.  Sales of MPVs in the UK have soared recently from 89,000 units in 1998 to around 245,000 in 2003.

SUMMARY

  • front-engined and front-wheel drive
  • available with six or seven seats
  • all models have two sliding side doors
  • two TDI PD engines with 130 and 174 PS; plus one 3.2-litre V6 235 PS petrol engine
  • six-speed manual transmission and optional TIPTRONIC six-speed automatic
  • driver and front passenger front, side and head airbags fitted as standard
  • completely new front suspension system with isolated chassis subframe
  • four-channel ABS (anti-lock brakes) standard across range
  • sold through selected Volkswagen passenger car retail network as well as Volkswagen Van Centres as part of a range of MPVs
  • manufactured in Hanover and Poznan (Poland) plants; production shared according to model type and demand
  • most popular engine is the 130 PS TDI PD, accounting for around 60 per cent of sales

DESIGN

Exterior

Though clearly an entirely new model, the Caravelle was designed to look unmistakably like its predecessor thanks to several touches, including its efficient one-box design and the short, streamlined bonnet.

However there are many external design features which distinguish the Caravelle from its predecessor. The purposeful stance combined with a high shoulder line, flush-fitting panels, high-quality engioneering and clean, precise proportions lend the Caravelle a look that echoes the latest trends in luxury car design.  

The theme is emphasised by the clean nose incorporating a prominent Volkswagen badge intersected by three blade sections.  The grille itself and bumper are formed in a single mould and finished in the vehicle’s exterior colour.

The external dimensions of the Caravelle are greater than before, making the vehicle still larger than Volkswagen’s other people-carrying derivatives:

  Caravelle Sharan Touran
length, mm 4890 4634 4391
width, w/out mirrors, mm 1904 1810 1794
height, mm 1945 1759 1635
wheelbase, mm 3000 2841 2677

Anti-corrosion systems

A raft of anti-corrosion measures were taken into consideration from the initial design stages, not least the avoidance of creating any potential rust ‘hot spots’.  For example, the entire perimeter of the sliding doors fits flush with the outer skin of the bodyshell when closed and is thus protected from water spray and gravel impact from the front wheels.

Volkswagen has taken a new approach to under-body protection against corrosion.  Whereas underside protection is conventionally spray-applied, the Caravelle features multiple-section polymer panelling which makes the use of wax sealants unnecessary.

A positive side-effect of this full-coat solution is the reduction in road noise, especially since polymer materials are also used to line the wheel housings.

The entire under-body structure of the Caravelle is galvanised using the hot-dip technique.  The bodyshell’s outer skin, as well as the doors, bonnet and mudguards, are subjected to electronic galvanisation in order to ensure enhanced surface quality.

Compared with the procedures used in the past, the Caravelle’s bodyshell sealing system is a major advance, both in terms of efficiency and environmental friendliness.  The robotically-controlled process is far more targeted and reduces waste, while the paintshop process uses only water-based colour lacquers.

Cavity sealing is done using a Volkswagen-patented sealant flooding method which does away with the need for spraying.  Instead, sealant is flooded into the cavities and then removed.  Protective foil is employed in several different areas to protect the bodyshell from gravel or human handling.

Thanks to this quality engineering, the Caravelle is able to boast a three-year paintwork warranty and class-leading 12-year corrosion warranty.

Interior

The Caravelle is whatever the customer needs it to be – a family car, a mobile office or a recreational vehicle.  With a few adjustments, aided by the wide range of optional extras, the Caravelle can quickly be customised for individual use.

Driver comfort has not been overlooked either: the driver’s seat is multi-adjustable and tautly cushioned with generous side support and an integrated lumbar cushion.  The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and rake so that an ideal driving position can be easily attained.

The clearly structured dashboard layout facilitates driver comfort and safety.  Round, easy-to-read instruments offer the driver information on speed, revs, fuel level and coolant temperature, and there is a central display offering additional information, such as that from the multifunction computer.

The Caravelle comes equipped with a large number of handy and secure storage areas, providing a home for all the paraphernalia which inevitably is required for a family or business vehicle. 

There are two fold-out cupholders with an integrated ashtray and coin compartment mounted on the dashboard, as well as a range of easy-access tray areas with anti-slip inlays.  Large drink bottles may be kept in a door panel compartment, and there is also a lockable (and, if desired, cooled) glovebox.

Key to the Caravelle’s seating versatility are the four floor-mounted slide rails on to which all the interior furnishings are fixed.  The front-most row of the rear cabin comprises two swivel seats, both of which are mounted on to the slide rail.  They can be independently and easily moved and fixed into the desired position.  The system allows the seats to be swivelled around to face the rear bench or to be moved well back to increase passenger legroom.

The rear bench seat is also mounted on to the slide rails and can therefore be locked into place in any desired position within the cabin.  All three seats on the bench are fitted with integrated three-point seat belts; the outside seats are also equipped with Isofix fixtures to allow an appropriate child-seat to be safely fitted.

The bench is easily converted into a large, almost completely flat bed by pulling a lever and pushing the recliner back and down.  The headrests mounted on to the bench, as well as the fold-down recliners of the stand-alone seats opposite, provide additional bed space.  The alternative six seat layout has two individual rear seats in place of the three-seat bench.

A variety of trays and cupholders are fitted in the rear cabin.  The rear wheel housing liner has a compartment which accepts larger drink bottles and has a removable, lidded box.  Additional trays and stowage compartments have been integrated into the side panelling.  Stowage room is also provided by a removable bucket and three drawers integrated into the base of the bench seat, with a further drawer contained in each of the stand-alone seats.

All Caravelles come with two sliding doors with integrated sliding windows.  They feature a highly functional central table which can be folded out into a variety of sizes.  It features two flat map drawers (accessible even when the table is not folded out), two fixtures for drink bottles, a drawer, a tray for small items, four cupholders and an ashtray.

Because the seating is so versatile, the rear cabin can be set up to suit a huge range of applications.  In fact, it can be transformed into anything from a normal boot to a large-volume luggage area.

When there is a need for a large amount of luggage space in the mid or back section of the Caravelle, the seats can be pushed into a row, one behind the other.  Alternatively, any or all of them can be removed completely.

The Caravelle offers a maximum cargo volume of over 5474-litres.  The level floor features six integrated lashing eyelets; while an optional cargo net can be used to divide the load and passengers for additional safety and comfort.

Heating system

Passenger comfort is all-important in a vehicle such as the Caravelle.  To that end, Volkswagen designers paid considerable attention to climate control systems.

Manually controlled air conditioning is standard across the range.  Conditioned air is fed into the passenger compartment through a number of dashboard vents and via individually adjustable outlets located in the B pillars which guide the air to the rear cabin and to the middle window panes for defrosting.

There is an additional heater installed in the right-hand side panel, with separate outlets close to floor level.  The rear cabin heating system is controlled via a separate switch in the roof lining.

 

RUNNING GEAR

Superior and safe handling are the key characteristics of the Caravelle’s dynamic set-up. This was achieved thanks in large part to the rigidity of the bodyshell and careful enhancement of the previous model’s running gear.

The main focus of efforts to enhance rigidity was on the under-floor bracing which forms the main carrier of loads and which needs to deform in a predictable way in the event of collision.  Splash and closing panels have been used to make the side members more rigid the further they extend towards the passenger cell.  In the event of a crash, the bodyshell crumples and absorbs much of the energy of the collision.

The Caravelle boasts highly effective lateral impact protection.  Large-size body sills, lateral impact members incorporated into the doors and the elevated seating position provide protection for occupants in the event of side impact.  Additional reinforcements in the pillars further improve the bodyshell’s endurance limit.

Front axle

The Caravelle’s front suspension system features a separate front subframe.  Unusually, the track control arms and anti-roll bar are attached to a subframe rather than being directly linked to the body.  Vibration-absorbing mountings are used to attach the subframe to the body, leading to extremely effective insulation from vibrations and enhanced ride comfort.  The subframe also serves as a second energy absorbing platform in a head-on collision.  MacPherson struts are employed, as is an anti-roll bar.

Rear axle

At the rear there is a semi-trailing arm arrangement with compact ‘miniblock’ coil springs and separate dampers, as well as an anti-roll bar.

Steering, tyres and wheels

The power-assisted rack and pinion steering system - only 3.3 turns lock to lock - offers the Caravelle driver the twin benefits of easy manoeuvrability and precision.  The Caravelle’s turning circle is 11.9 metres.

Braking system

The Caravelle has a four-channel ABS (anti-lock brake) system as standard on all models as well as ASR traction control and an electronic differential lock (EDL).

All models are equipped with single-piston sliding-calliper ventilated disc brakes.

Volkswagen’s Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) with Brake Assist (BAS) is also standard on all models.

Brake Assist

Working in conjunction with the other elements of the braking system, Brake Assist recognises from the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed whether it is a ‘normal’ braking situation or an emergency stop.  In the event of an emergency stop, it automatically increases braking pressure, activating the ABS and ensuring the level of braking meets the needs of the conditions. 

The application of brake assist makes it possible for the average driver to reduce braking distances by around 25 per cent.

Electronic Stabilisation Programme – ESP

ESP is a sophisticated system that automatically senses any tendency for the vehicle to slide.  Should this situation occur, ESP reacts by applying the brakes to one, two, three or all four wheels and adjusts the engine’s power.  In this way, it is possible that a skid is corrected even before the driver is aware that one has started.

This can be useful if a tendency to understeer or oversteer develops in a bend.  In such circumstances ESP can help prevent skidding or spinning off the road and is particularly helpful in wet or icy conditions.  ESP uses the sensors and systems associated with the traction control system, the electronic differential lock (EDL) and the electronic brake-pressure distribution system (EBD).        

EQUIPMENT AND TRIM

The Caravelle is available in two trim levels, SE and Executive.  Both have a high level of standard equipment as the following list of highlights shows.

SE:      2.5-litre TDI PD 130 and 174 PS (manual and tiptronic)

Standard features include:

  • seven seats, plus rail system for adjustments
  • ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme)
  • ABS (anti-lock brakes)
  • driver and front passenger front, side and curtain airbags
  • deactivation switch for front passenger airbag
  • three point seat belts for all occupants
  • eight-speaker Volkswagen-branded Gamma stereo
  • remote central locking plus alarm with interior and tow-away protection
  • two sliding side doors
  • power latching bootlid
  • body-coloured bumpers and mirror housings
  • driver and passenger comfort seats with height adjustment, lumbar support and armrests
  • heated front seats
  • rear sunblinds on all side windows
  • a multi-function table
  • electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors
  • front electric windows
  • front and rear fog lights
  • sports suspension
  • manual air conditioning
  • trip computer
  • leather steering wheel, handbrake grip and manual gearknob
  • 16” ‘Miyato’ alloy wheels with 215/65 R16 tyres and anti-theft bolts – not V6

Executive:      2.5-litre TDI PD 130 and 174 PS (manual and tiptronic)

                        3.2-litre V6 235 PS (tiptronic only)

Executive trim adds:

  • centre armrest on rear seat bench
  • climatronic automatic air conditioning, front and rear
  • rear privacy glass
  • leather/alcantara upholstery
  • electric side sliding doors
  • cruise control
  • rain sensor and automatic dimming rear view mirror
  • 16” ‘L.A.’ alloy wheels with 235/60 R16 tyres and anti-theft bolts – not V6
  • V6 only – 17” ‘Solace’ alloy wheels with 235/55 R17 tyres

ENGINES

The Caravelle features a range of diesel engines employing Volkswagen’s proven ‘Pumpe Düse’ or unit injector technology.  The line-up comprises two five-cylinder, 2.5-litre TDI PD engines producing either 130 or 174 PS – making them the most powerful in this sector.  Also available is a 3.2-litre V6 petrol powerplant with 235 PS.

Petrol engine

3.2-litre V6, 24 valve, 235 PS

Technically related to the 3.2-litre engine found in the Volkswagen Phaeton and Touareg, the Caravelle’s six-cylinder unit features four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts and variable inlet and exhaust camshaft timing control to ensure high torque levels throughout the engine speed range.  Maximum torque is 236 lbs ft.

Diesel engines

Volkswagen has for a long time been at the forefront of diesel technology.  Its latest system is known as ‘Pumpe Düse’ or ‘PD’ technology.  ‘Pumpe Düse’ translates as ‘unit injector’ and describes a fuel injection system which can operate at pressures of up to 2,050 bars or 30,000 psi.

Higher injection pressures mean better mixing of fuel and air.  In turn this allows more fuel and air to be burnt cleanly in each cylinder of the catalysed TDI engine to provide an industry benchmark power unit.  PD technology combines the injector and pump into one unit for each cylinder and is operated by the engine camshaft – with the outgoing TDI engine, fuel is pressurised by a distributor injector pump which feeds the individual injectors.  A finer adjustment of the fuel injection process with a much higher pressure results in higher torque yet little or no change in fuel consumption or CO2 emissions.

2.5-litre TDI PD, 10-valve 5-cyl, 130 and 174 PS

Among the chief benefits of the Caravelle’s new 2.5-litre TDI PD unit are its exceptionally compact dimensions and weight.  One of the keys to this is the tight packaging of the gear drive system for the valve gear as well as the peripheral units such as the alternator, the water and oil pumps, the brake servo pump and air conditioning compressor.

There are two versions of this engine available, each mated to a six-speed transmission.  The 130 PS version provides maximum torque of 251 lbs ft at 2,000 rpm, while the 174 PS unit provides an exceptional 295 lbs ft at similarly low revs.

Gearboxes

Caravelles equipped with the five-cylinder diesel and petrol models are fitted as standard with a six-speed gearbox specially developed to handle high torque loads.  The adoption of six speeds provides a more comprehensive set of ratios which benefits both performance and economy.

Available as an optional extra is a six-speed TIPTRONIC automatic transmission system.  This offers the driver the choice of making manual up or down gearshifts by tipping the gear lever forwards or backwards.  The system features an ‘S’ setting with a ‘sports’ shift programme.

Servicing

Service intervals for the Caravelle have traditionally been set at fixed time or mileage parameters, but the development of new engines and LongLife synthetic oil has changed this.  New generation Volkswagen engines have built-in sensors that continually monitor oil quality, so a smart chip decides when it needs changing and flags up a service reminder on the dashboard monitor.  Service intervals are therefore determined by driving style and patterns, and can vary from a minimum of 9,000 miles or one year, up to a maximum of 18,000 miles or two years.

These long oil intervals are possible thanks to the use of Castrol SLX LongLife II engine oil.  This is a fully synthetic SAE 0W-30 oil that has been specially formulated to be compatible with the longer service intervals of both petrol and diesel engines, and in particular, Volkswagen’s PD units.

By removing this oil and using traditional lubricants, it is still possible to have servicing at fixed intervals of one year or 10,000 miles.  The choice is made at PDI (the vehicle’s pre-delivery inspection), and can be changed at a major service. 

There are no strict rules on which to base the decision of which servicing regime will be most beneficial to a customer.  LongLife oil protects for up to three times the distance of standard oil, but it costs roughly three times as much.  However, cost savings are available from reduced servicing, and the potential of improved fuel economy: operators can expect an average reduction of 2.7 per cent on their fuel bills by using LongLife oil.  What’s more, as less oil has to be disposed of with less servicing, there are clear environmental advantages.

Operators interested in the LongLife service regime can learn more from their retailer.  Each has a computer programme that can take account of individual situations and illustrate the potential savings over fixed servicing, in terms of both maintenance and fuel costs.

FACTORY FIT OPTIONS

A number of factory-fit options are available on the Caravelle, allowing buyers to customise further their vehicles.  These include an electric tilt/slide sunroof, a towbar, alternative alloy wheels and upgrades, metallic or pearl effect paint, and different suspension set-ups.

Electric side sliding doors, which are standard on Executive models, are available on the SE; as are cruise control, rain sensing wipers, an automatic dimming rear view mirror and heated washer jets.

Optional features on all models include parking sensors, up to four integrated child seats, rear curtain airbags and a ‘sleep pack’.

Parking sensors

Available across the range is a parking distance control system which simplifies tight parking manoeuvres.  The system uses four ultrasonic sensors, integrated in the rear bumper, to pinpoint parked vehicles or other objects behind the car.  Automatically activated when reverse gear is selected, the system produces an audible warning signal to guide the driver up to a safe distance to any objects behind.  Not only can this prevent car park knocks, it may also help prevent accidents, for example, if a child runs out who may not have been seen.

Integrated child seats

Up to four integrated rear child seats are also available as an option.  They look and can function like a normal seat, but, if required, the bottom part can be lifted up to form a booster cushion.  This gives extra height and improves visibility and safety for children weighing around 15 to 36 kg.  If they are not fitted, all Caravelles have four Isofix child seat mountings into which a compatible child seat can be safely attached. 

Sleep pack

The Caravelle’s rear seats can be folded down to form a bed.  The optional sleep pack comprises of a mattress cover to add to the rear seats along with a bed extension and even curtains to make the Caravelle into a cosy and comfortable nest when required!

Self-dimming rear view mirror and rain sensor

Standard on Executive but an option on SE, this ‘thinking’ rear-view mirror uses LCD technology to sense when the lights of a vehicle behind are likely to distract the driver.  The mirror reacts by dimming automatically, in a similar way to light-sensitive sunglasses.  Sensors in the front and rear of the mirror monitor changes and re-adjust when appropriate. 

In conjunction with this option are automatic windscreen wipers.  A rain sensor positioned behind the interior rear-view mirror on the windscreen activates the wiper system as required.  An infrared beam is reflected in different ways according to the pattern of moisture landing on a windscreen sensor.  Signals from the sensor are used to control the wipers.  When the wiper control is set to the normal ‘Intermittent’ position the wipers are automatically controlled from ‘off’ when the screen is dry through different delay intervals of intermittent wipe through to two speeds of continuous operation.

SAFETY

All models in the Caravelle range are fitted as standard with driver and front-passenger front and side airbags, as well as head airbags.  The front passenger airbag can be deactivated via a key-operated switch in the glove compartment to allow a forward-facing child-seat to be carried safely.  Also available as an option are rear curtain airbags.

Another important driver safety measure is a steering column equipped with deformation crash elements which ensure that, in the event of head-on impact, the steering wheel ‘telescopes’ and is not pushed into the cabin.  If the driver should nonetheless collide with the steering wheel, a special mechanism moves it away by as much as 50 mm.  Energy-absorbing polymers help to minimise the risk of head and body injuries.

Tests have shown that head restraints are often set too low, so that in a collision they are pushed back into their lowest position, leading to whiplash.  To minimise such risks, the Caravelle’s head restraints cannot be adjusted downwards until they have been deliberately unlocked.  The tilt angle of each restraint is also adjustable.

Active safety features include ABS with ASR traction control, an electronic differential lock (EDL), ESP and Brake Assist are  standard on all models

SECURITY

Security is of primary importance to all customers.  To ensure the Caravelle meets the standards expected, the following features are fitted:

  • remote control central locking including deadlocks
  • transponder-based engine immobiliser
  • factory fitted alarm system with interior and tow-away protection
  • steering wheel ‘freewheel’ lock
  • child locks
  • internal release for rear tailgate (emergency exit)

Line-up with insurance groups

The Caravelle has the following ABI (Association of British Insurers) insurance group ratings:

SE

2.5-litre TDI PD 130 PS                       14

2.5-litre TDI PD 174 PS                       15

Executive

2.5-litre TDI PD 130 PS                       15

2.5-litre TDI PD 174 PS                       16

3.2-litre V6 235 PS                              16

WARRANTIES

All Caravelles sold through the manufacturer’s UK network have a three year bumper-to-bumper warranty.  The first two years with no mileage restrictions are manufacturer operated, while the third year (and up to 100,000 miles) is a network warranty.

In addition, all have a 12 year anti-corrosion guarantee, a three year paintwork warranty and a three year comprehensive recovery and assistance package. 

The result of this final warranty is fully trained technicians on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to diagnose and repair most problems at the roadside using Volkswagen equipment and genuine parts.

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