The Crafter, which was produced in cooperation with Mercedes Benz until 2016, will not only go into the 2017nd generation as a completely in-house and new development from 2, it will also do this from a new production site. In Wrzesnia (Poland), the new Crafter rolls off the assembly line after less than 28 months of building the factory. The second plant after Poznan-Antoninek in Poland was built exclusively for the production of the new “load donkey” with an area of 220 hectares (comparable to around 300 soccer fields). At full capacity, VW will employ up to 3.000 people there. Detached from the cooperation with the Swabian car manufacturer, this should be the starting signal for further models of VW commercial vehicles. The portfolio of body, engine and drive offerings is intended to enable customers to choose from a total of 69 derivatives. As in the passenger car sector, driver assistance systems that are precisely tailored to the user will ensure more safety and comfort in everyday use. The Cratfer starts its basic package at a net starting price of 29.800 euros.
The new VW commercial vehicles Crafter in the driving report
The strong buddy
With their new development, the Hanoverians would like to give their existing - but also new customers - the opportunity to use their fleet of vans economically effectively through variability and functionality. Through an extensive and meticulously conducted customer survey, helpful details were collected and analyzed during the development of the new Crafter. For this reason, VW Nutzfahrzeuge is able to start with four basic models, each with three different lengths and heights. This optimized dimensional concept is used for maximum suitability for everyday use. There is also a modified 2.0 liter diesel engine with three power levels, driver assistance systems that are ideally suited for delivery services and material with low maintenance and wear costs. Its external appearance adapts to the 6th generation of the Transporter series. We can see the LED headlights closing on the long side, which are connected to the narrow radiator grille with chrome trim. The large brand logo appears offset from the center. The end of the headlights ends in a bead that runs straight back. Both the front and rear views allow the Crafter to stand powerfully on the road.
Despite the high box he shines with a very good CW value of 0,33, which should clearly affect the consumption values. The entire range of the Crafter family with all its derivatives did not compare, but we got a first impression last weekend with the "small" box and flatbed "DoKa" at the gates of Almeria in Andalusia.
Driving as in a car
The optimized driver's workplace with high benefits and comfort was discussed in the previous discussions with the VW managers. With these details in mind, we went from getting into the crafter from a truck seat and feeling. Fallacy! As in a conventional car, we experience steering wheel and display of the transporter. The handling with the steering wheel does not give us the feeling to sit in a van, which surprises us positively. All necessary information is summarized both in the display in front of us and in the navigation system in the middle of the dashboard. Neither too little info, nor does it seem overloaded. When maneuvering into parking spaces or loading zones, we not only receive help from the parking sensors at the front and rear of the vehicle, which have been used for years. The "flank protection" used for the first time facilitates the view on the sideline. Markings, for example, are visually and acoustically recognized and also displayed in the navigation system display. With the redesigned "cab" and its front-wheel drive, the Crafter achieves a loading volume of 18,4 m3 and a maximum loading height of approx.2,20 meters. Further best values in its vehicle class C / D segment are the permissible total weight of 3,0 - 4,0 tons, as well as a through-loading width between the wheel arches of approx. 1,38 meters and a maximum loading space length of approx. 4,85 meters.
Transporter with a diesel engine
The Crafter presents itself with a diesel engine. The advanced 2.0 liter TDI engine "EA 288 Nutz" is equipped with a Euro-6 label and can be ordered with three-speed front-wheel drive. Customers can choose between 75 kW (102 PS), 103 kW (140 PS) and BiTurbo 130 kW (177 PS). This 1.968 cm3 Displacement machine is installed transversely and tilted eight degrees forward. While the “smallest” power level is only available with a six-speed manual transmission, the 103 kW and 130 kW variants can also be combined with an automatic transmission. From the middle of next year, VW Commercial Vehicles would like to add the 4MOTION all-wheel drive with a transverse engine and rear-wheel drive with a longitudinal engine. The dynamically tuned chassis of the Crafter, combined with the electromechanical power steering, gives us a permanent positive feeling of not breaking out of the car, even when cornering at faster speeds. Unfortunately, the lowest consumption values of 7,4 liters presented to us cannot be checked on the days of the event.
For the first time with flank protection
When it comes to safety, the Hanover-based commercial vehicle manufacturers are not only right on trend, they are also setting new standards. Customers who know driver assistance systems from their private cars do not need to do without them just because they are driving in a commercial vehicle. This means that the transporter can be used even more economically. As an absolute novelty in the segment, VW Commercial Vehicles claims the flank protection described above. In addition, for the first time in its class, there is an active lane departure warning system, a parking and steering assistant and a trailer maneuvering assistant. Systems such as the automatic distance control, the crosswind assistant and the emergency braking system are optionally available. The latter provides support at low speeds below 30 km / h. If the driver overlooks an obstacle, the system brakes automatically. In any case, however, it reduces the impact speed.
Prices in the modular principle
With the many individualization possibilities of the Crafter, it is difficult to give exact prices. For this purpose, VW Nutzfahrzeuge offers two different permissible gross weights with a high roof and a wheelbase length. At the entry of net 29.800 Euro the future transporter customer receives a vehicle with 102 horsepower and a permissible total weight of 3,0 tons. For 500 kilos more permissible total weight, he will have to accept a surcharge of about 2.500 euros in purchasing. The basic equipment list ends with the Crafter with a weight of 3,5 tons and an engine power of 130 kW (177 PS). This vehicle will then be available for 35.870 Euro.
Conclusion: Transporter with driver assistance systems
The Crafter with all its body and drive variants offers maximum ride comfort for the modern service company. The bar is set very high by the available driver assistance systems.
With these customization options, the Crafter is always an option.
Text: Stefan Beckmann, Photo: Stefan Beckmann and Benjamin Brodbeck