The new Volkswagen Crafter now has its own identity and equipment. Picture: QUICKPIC
The new Volkswagen Crafter now has its own identity and equipment. Picture: QUICKPIC

Volkswagen SA has launched the latest Crafter commercial vehicle range and with it come a few new aspects for the German offering.

For starters, while the previous model shared not just a platform with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, but also engines and drivelines, the new model was designed and built in-house by VW and resolutely sees a discontinuation of the platform sharing that occurred between 2006 and 2016.

We recently attended the launch of the latest model in Gauteng to see the various applications for which it can be utilised. This means that the model can be adapted from the stock panel van body form to other industrial applications such as ambulances, commuter buses and even a mobile office, all dependent on what the customer’s requirements are and if those fall within the remit of the South African Bureau of Standards, who will certify any workmanship done.

The new Crafter is available in various lengths ranging from 5,986mm to 6,836mm for the bus conversion-ready models, while the panel van can be up to 7,391mm. Heights vary from 2,355mm to 2,625mm for the bus-ready derivatives and 2,637mm for the panel van.

The interior has good space and equipment but surprisingly there is no auto box yet. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK
The interior has good space and equipment but surprisingly there is no auto box yet. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK

In the front-wheel drive version, it offers a maximum cargo capacity of 10.7m3 with a permissible gross weight of 3.5-3.55 tonnes. The cargo width between the wheel arches measures 1,380mm, while the maximum cargo compartment length of 3,201mm gives it the best package dimensions of its vehicle class.

THE MODEL CAN BE ADAPTED FROM THE STOCK PANEL VAN BODY FORM TO OTHER INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS.

Loading the new Crafter is easy thanks to the 1,311mm opening of the sliding door, a minimal sill height of 570mm on the front-wheel drive versions and optional 270° opening of the rear doors (standard on the Crafter 50 LWB with overhang).

Powering the model is the company’s tried and tested 2.0l TDI engine with 103kW and 340Nm driving either the front or rear-wheels — depending on model and application — exclusively through a six-speed manual transmission as there is no automatic gearbox offered. This, according to a company spokesperson, is because there hasn’t been demand for a self-shifting gearbox but if demand dictates otherwise, then it could be offered in the future.

The various vehicle sizes all provide good cargo space which can be adapted to suite different requirements. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK
The various vehicle sizes all provide good cargo space which can be adapted to suite different requirements. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK

What the company was at pains to convey was the standard and optional safety equipment that can be offered with the Crafter. It includes standard equipment like Automatic Post-Collision Braking System (essentially prevents secondary collisions from occurring by activating the vehicles brakes after the first collision occurs), side wind assistant and driver alert system. Available passive safety systems include front, side and head airbags for the driver and front passenger.

In addition, there are a number of optional safety items including active driver assistance systems, such as Park Assist and Trailer Assist, ACC (adaptive cruise control) that monitors and maintains the following distance with the car ahead and Front Assist emergency braking. You could also opt for full LED headlights.

The model is priced from R509,700 for the Crafter 35 panel van to R635,800 for the Crafter 50 LWB with overhang panel van.

The new Crafter will cater for various applications and comes with a suite of driver assistance items not yet available in this segment locally. Of course, the new Sprinter will arrive in 2019 and it will be interesting to see how it stacks up against its rivals, including the Crafter.

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