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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.9

The Volkswagen Sharan is a modern take on the traditional MPV. It has a huge and highly flexible seven-seat interior and competes well against the best in class.

Reasons to buy

  • Flexible interior layout
  • Relaxing and quiet on the road
  • Economical engines
Best on a budget
Sharan 1.4 TSI S
Smooth and quiet engine make this a fine choice
Best seller
Sharan 2.0 TDI 138 SE
Powerful and economical, with plenty of equipment
Blow the budget
Sharan 2.0 TDI 168 Executive
Luxurious cabin aimed at business users

How good does it look? 2/5

The Volkswagen Sharan is a modern take on the traditional people carrier recipe, with styling to match. A strong horizontal grille and clear headlight lenses give the nose a technical appearance. Viewed from the side, the Sharan is dominated by its large windows, which give the car a less top heavy appearance.

What's the interior like? 4/5

Those large windows dominate the interior too, letting lots of light into the cabin and adding to a sense of spaciousness. It’s certainly no illusion, there’s acres of room and seating for seven. The dashboard is typically Volkswagen, fitted with high quality plastics and a sensible layout which works well. It’s not the most exciting cabin, but it feels as if it will be just as good in five years as it is when it rolls out of the showroom.

How practical is it? 4/5

The Sharan is 220mm longer than its predecessor and 92mm wider, a significant increase in size. Fold down all the rear seats and the load area measures 2.1 metres long and holds 2,297 litres, slightly more than the Ford Galaxy. Changing the positions of the rear seats can be carried out with one hand, and once stowed there is a flat boot floor.

What's it like to drive? 3/5

Unlike Ford’s S-Max, the Sharan isn’t portrayed as a ‘sporty’ people carrier. Its light steering and relatively soft suspension doesn’t reward hard driving, but suits its role as family and business transport perfectly. Extra sound deadening and comfort suspension settings give it a quiet and smooth ride, which eases away the miles.

How powerful is it? 3/5

The Sharan is available with a 2-litre TDI diesel in 138 or 168bhp guise, a 1.4-litre petrol with 148bhp or a 2-litre petrol with 198bhp. Most UK customers are expected to go for the diesel engines, and both provide smooth and plentiful acceleration, even with every seat occupied. The 1.4-litre is an interesting alternative and makes the Sharan particularly quiet to drive.

How much will it cost me? 5/5

All the diesel models average more than 60mpg and emit less than 139g/km of CO2, with the 1.6-litre managing 65.7mpg. This puts it ahead of the efficient BMW 318d Touring. We couldn’t quite match these figures during our test, but were still impressed by just how thrifty the Passat is. BlueMotion Technology helps, most noticeably by cutting the engine at traffic lights. The 1.4-litre petrol is economical too, averaging 47.9mpg and emitting 138g/km of CO2.

How reliable is it? 4/5

Using engines and other components which are found throughout the Volkswagen range, there should be no surprises with the Sharan. We expect it to be a solid and reliable performer, which stands up to the knocks of family life.

How safe is it? 5/5

There are an impressive nine airbags fitted in the Sharan as standard. Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and Anti-lock Braking (ABS) help to prevent skids. These features help towards the Sharan’s five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, with a high 96 per cent score for adult occupant protection.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

Four trim levels are available, namely S, SE, SEL and Executive. The first features three-zone climate control, an eight-speaker stereo, iPod connectivity, DAB radio and a tyre pressure monitor. SE adds a multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, auto wipers, under-seat drawers, fold-flat front passenger seat, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, chrome trim and 16-inch alloy wheels. SEL models get sport alcantara heated front seats,tinted rear windows, aluminium trim, CD autochanger, front fog lights, panoramic sunroof, chrome roof rails and 17-inch alloys. Aimed at the business market, Executive cars have six leather seats with individual armrests.

Why buy? 5/5

The Volkswagen Sharan is equally at home transporting the family or shuttling business executives, and has a broad enough spread of talents to excel at either job.