The Volkswagen Sharan is one of the finest MPVs money can buy, with massive practicality, impressive quality and a comfortable, family-friendly driving experience. However, this ability doesn’t come cheap, because the Sharan is rather expensive to buy.
There’s no getting away from the fact the Sharan is an expensive car, and costs a good slice more than many of its seven-seat competitors. The extra space the Sharan has over most of them will be worth the cash for some buyers, but for others, one of the VW’s smaller, cheaper rivals will probably do the job. And even if they won’t, the Seat Alhambra – which is essentially the same car as the Sharan – will, and for a bit less cash. On the plus side, resale values will be strong for the class, and the Sharan’s range of efficient engines mean that running costs won’t be too steep. The competitive CO2 emissions will be music to the ears of company car drivers, and that’s important when around 70% of Sharans are sold to fleets.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Volkswagen Sharan
Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index shows the Sharan as having a rock-bottom score, but we wouldn’t read too much into that. The study only carries data on the first generation of Sharan, which bears very little resemblance to the car on sale today. Volkswagen’s place in the lower half of Warranty Direct’s manufacturer standings isn’t all that impressive, either, but the owner reviews on our own website are all very positive about the car’s reliability in the real world. Rivals like the Kia Carens do offer over twice the warranty cover though, with seven years of manufacturer guarantee, versus three in the VW.
Expert rating: 3/5
Safety for a Volkswagen Sharan
Obviously, this area is of utmost importance for cars designed to carry families, and the Sharan does a decent – if not exactly ground-breaking – job. As you’d expect, it’s got shedloads of airbags and a whole host of electronic driver aids including stability control and a system that locks the brakes on after an impact to prevent further collisions. Automatic emergency braking in urban traffic is now standard across the range where it was once confined to the fancier models, Isofix mounts for all three seats on the second row among the family-friendly features setting it apart from regular hatchbacks. The SE model adds radar-monitored cruise control capable of maintaining a gap to the car in front in traffic plus an alert system to detect driver fatigue and front and rear parking sensors.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Volkswagen Sharan
So far, we’ve only driven the latest Sharan cost-option adaptive suspension and in all three modes the ride is comfortable with enough body control to stop it rolling around too much in the bends. We can only hope the standard suspension setup is as accomplished. The impressive suppression of exterior noise make the car a calm, relaxed environment for you and your family, while the light controls mean this a very easy car to drive as well. Sure, the steering is a bit slow, and could do with a self-centring action that’s a shade stronger, but they’re only minor criticisms of what is otherwise a very impressive package.
As per the Sharan’s role the interior doesn’t try too hard to be needlessly elaborate. The simple dashboard layout makes it easy to find all the various controls, and although some of the buttons are a wee bit small, they’re all very clearly marked. The medium touch-screen infotainment system – standard on all versions of the car – is very simple to operate, too, and the big windows and flat sides mean you have brilliant visibility in all directions. The quality of the cabin is also pretty impressive, with a solid, robust feel and lots of appealing materials and finishes on display throughout.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Volkswagen Sharan
All versions of the Sharan have plenty of kit, the entry-level S car coming with the touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth and three-zone climate control as standard. That said, we still reckon it’s worth upgrading to SE trim, if only for the front and rear parking sensors it adds. Yes, the visibility is good, but this is still a very big car to try and park without them.
As you’d hope for an MPV cabin is simply massive, with plenty of space for adults (or lanky teenagers) in all seven seats. Sliding rear doors also make getting in and out of any of the seats a doddle. Each seat is an individual chair, and all the chairs behind the front row can be folded down flat into the floor in a number of different configurations. The three in the middle row will also slide and recline individually. The boot is still a useful size with seven seats in place, absolutely massive in five-seater mode. What’s more, there are storage spaces and handy touches dotted around all over the cabin, making the Sharan one of the most practical and versatile cars on sale at any price.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Volkswagen Sharan
The engine choices for the Sharan are refreshingly straightforward, comprising a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel in 150 and 177 horsepower form, the latter reserved for the higher trim levels and available exclusively with the six-speed ‘DSG’ automatic transmission. All other models are available as a manual too.
The petrol is perfectly sufficient and will appeal to those avoiding diesel but, based on our experience, will likely feel strained with any more than two people on board. The mid-range 150 horsepower diesel is probably the best all-rounder, being flexible enough to preserve the Sharan’s impressive level of refinement. There’s seemingly little point spending extra for the more powerful version, given it barely feels any quicker.