With over 600,000 units sold, Volkswagen Sharan is the favourite vehicle of countless families all over Europe. Coming now, after a world premiere at the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show, is a completely new generation of this best seller. Equipped for the first time with sliding doors in the back, the new Volkswagen Sharan has been enhanced in every area. There are only two parts that the new and the old VW Sharan have in common: the sun visors. That's it! Everything else - every screw, every exterior and interior part and all of the technology, including the TDI and TSI engines (103kW / 140PS to 147kW / 200PS) and transmission systems (DSG optional) - is new. Volkswagen Sharan 3.0, as it were, offering world-record performance in fuel efficiency: at 5.5 litres per 100km (51,4 mpg), the 140PS Volkswagen Sharan 2.0 TDI achieves lower fuel consumption than any other MPV in this class.
The hallmark of the new Volkswagen Sharan is a complete design concept that includes the extremely flexible EasyFold seating system (up to seven easily adjustable seats), high-end quality, uncompromising safety (seven airbags, Light Assist automatic main beam control, bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running and position light) and numerous clever details. Also new to this generation of Volkswagen Sharan are adaptive chassis control (DCC) and a level regulating system. This comfortable multi-purpose vehicle in the upper B segment of the market has been tailored to families with two or more children and high-mileage business users with a need for extra space.
The new VW Sharan's drive and handling matches the levels of comfort and dynamic response provided by the excellent Passat. Added convenience and safety is provided by an electronic handbrake and the second-generation parking manoeuvre assistant. This means automatic steering for parking in even smaller spaces, including on pavements, between trees and even on corners, plus now, for the first time on an MPV, for parking at an angle to the traffic. Cutting edge entertainment systems, a huge, electrically operated panoramic sliding roof (with a 300% bigger opening than with a conventional sliding roof) and a powerful 3-zone climate control system guarantee great travelling conditions at any time of the year. Available in Trendline, Comfortline and Highline versions, even the base model of the Volkswagen Sharan is supplied with features such as semi-automatic air-conditioning ('Climatic') and radio/CD system ('RCD 210'). As the only vehicle of its class to offer this, the third generation of this MPV will again be available with four-wheel drive (Volkswagen Sharan 2.0 TDI 4Motion with 140PS). In the first markets where it is available orders for the new Volkswagen can be placed from as early as the end of March, with the full launch beginning in the summer of 2010.
Four frugal engines
The Volkswagen Sharan's four direct injection turbo petrol (TSI) and turbo diesel (TDI) engines are up to 21 percent more fuel-efficient! The two TSI engines deliver 110kW / 150PS and 147kW / 200PS, while the TDIs develop 103kW / 140PS and 125kW / 170PS. With power outputs of up to 170PS the engines use a start-stop system and energy recuperation (recovery of kinetic energy, which gets temporarily stored in the battery). With average consumption of 5.5 litres per 100km (51.4 mpg, 145g/km of CO), the 140PS version of the VW Sharan 2.0 TDI - top speed 194 km/h (119 mph) - sets a new benchmark for fuel efficiency in this segment of the market! The theoretical driving range is correspondingly impressive: 1,273 kilometres (805 miles) from its 70 litre fuel tank. Both TDIs are also fitted with an SCR catalytic converter (SCR = selective catalytic reduction), which specifically eliminates oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and makes the Volkswagen Sharan, even as a turbo diesel, one of the cleanest MPVs in the world.
For the first time, all of these Euro-5 engines will be available in combination with Volkswagen's agile and efficient direct shift gearbox (DSG) systems - the automatics of the new age! In the case of the 200PS TSI, DSG comes as standard.
Design and dimensions
Thanks to the turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, every version of the new Sharan has gained significant extra agility. Completely new styling reinforces this. Its concise front and rear contours, in particular, plus its prominent wheel arches, create a totally new street presence. The vehicle's relative proportions also has a more dynamic effect, with the new model - at 4.85 metres in length - being 22 centimetres longer than the old VW Sharan. Its width has also grown, adding 9.2 centimetres (measured from door handle to door handle at the front) to now measure 1.9 metres. At the same time its height is now 1.2 centimetres lower, at 1.72 metres. The result is a fascinating interplay of proportions and a very powerful overall impression. The reduced height, however, does not come at the expense of interior headroom.
The third generation Volkswagen Sharan is the company's first MPV range to be designed by Walter de Silva (Group Chief Designer) and Klaus Bischoff (Brand's Chief Designer) based totally on the new Volkswagen design DNA matrix. The design of the vehicle body, which is both appealing and functional, is thus epitomised by clear, horizontal lines. It is fresh, yet certainly not dictated by any transient fashion. The aim of the design is rather to create with its balanced proportions and minimal lines an ideal basis for giving the body an extremely energetic look.
Following the new DNA, the Volkswagen Sharan unmistakably reflects the new era Volkswagen design, especially in the typical VW front end with its strong emphasis on horizontal planes and a clearly defined shape. A very elegant look is created by the gloss black bars across the radiator grille, the integrated chrome clips and the VW logo, also in chrome. The double headlights (with daytime running lights) incorporated into the V-contour of the bonnet can be ordered both in the standard and bi-xenon versions. In addition, as a new feature on the VW Sharan, there will also be a further headlight version with automatic main beam control (Light Assist). Based on a camera system, this dynamic main beam regulator detects both oncoming traffic and the vehicles in front and adjusts the beam such that nobody gets blinded (the headlight is partially masked) and the best possible illumination of the carriageway can also be achieved for the driver. If the Volkswagen Sharan is ordered with bi-xenon headlights, a newly designed LED daytime running and position light is also included within the headlamp module. It is made up of 15 individual LEDs that are positioned inside the module in a concise pattern.
Under the body-coloured bumper is a further air inlet and, on the left and right, fog lamps with optional indicator light function (standard on the Volkswagen Sharan Highline). Varying by equipment line, Volkswagen uses chrome trim in this area as well. If the Volkswagen Sharan is ordered with bi-xenon lights, the indicator light function is integrated there within the headlamp module.
The rear look of the VW Sharan is just as clearly structured as that of the front. The visually dominant elements here are the concise roof-edge spoiler, the very deep tailgate (sill height: 0.67 metres) and the very large rear lights, which match the headlamps and also create an unmistakable appearance at night. The tailgate itself can optionally be opened and closed electrically.
A distinctive feature of the Volkswagen Sharan is its smooth side profile. The background to this is that in designing the VW Sharan, De Silva and Bischoff put particular emphasis on the homogeneity of the vehicle's surfaces, as - allied to the relatively long wheelbase of 2.92 metres and the MPV's overall length - it makes the integration of the sliding doors perfect. The position of the door handles to the left and right of the B-pillar is extremely practical, as it enables the driver or passenger to open the front or rear door with single movement of the hand, without changing position. Anyone with small children in tow will appreciate this feature! The fact that the sliding doors open to the rear also creates an extremely large opening and thus easy access into the back.
The designers also gave a unique feel to the geometric, clearly defined look of the side windows. They sit relatively low on the vehicle, conveying a sense of airiness and transparency. The bottom edge of the row of windows rises dynamically at front and rear, giving the roof's A and D pillars a character of their own.
Volkswagen has developed a totally new configuration of the interior for the Volkswagen Sharan. It includes a choice of three base version interiors with five, six or seven seats. Thanks to the new EasyFold seating concept, the individual seats of the second and third row no longer need to be taken out in order to make use of the vehicle's full flexibility, but instead get stowed away in the floor using an easy-to-operate folding mechanism. Like the front seats, the ones in the second row can also be moved forwards and backwards, while their tilt can be adjusted by 20 degrees. The redesigned rear seat headrests are both highly practical and safe. Not only can they can be fully extended in order to provide optimum protection even for tall passengers, but also pushed down almost flush with the top of the seat backs when not in use.
First row of seats (driver and front-seat passenger)
One of the great strengths of the first two generations of the Volkswagen Sharan was the upright, comfortable sitting position of driver and front-seat passenger. The development engineers have improved comfort on the new model still further. While keeping the seat height almost identical, this has been done by making the sitting position sportier. In conjunction with the extremely clear and elegant dashboard and the positions of the central armrest and gear lever, the best possible ergonomic sitting and driving position is thus assured at all times. For the first time, a 12-way electrically adjustable seat, including driver's side memory function, is now also available as an option for the Volkswagen Sharan.
Second row of seats
The ergonomic design of the seats has been completely revised. Take, as an example, the second row, i.e. the traditional back seats: this comprises individual seats that can be moved 160mm back and forth and which now provide much more legroom thanks to, among other changes, the height of the seats being increased by 58mm. The internal height, meanwhile, has stayed at the same level. An important point for families is that the two outer seats can again be ordered with an integrated child seat. They offer younger passengers optimum safety and comfort. The seats are suitable for children aged three and above. The seat's surface is raised for the children via a simple mechanism, while adjustable seat sides hold them snugly in place. Side supports on the backrests (secured to the head rest guides) also ensure that they remain seated in the ideal position.
It is also very easy to fold down the second row and thus to create a level surface with the cargo floor: simply unlock the seat via a handle on the top of the back rest, fold it into the EasyFold position and let it slide down into the floor.
Third row of seats
Getting into the third row of seats has been made much easier. Firstly, the sliding doors open extremely wide and, secondly, the outer seats on the second row can be pushed forward and tilted. The EasyFold system has simply been supplemented here with an equally intuitive Easy Entry function, which creates ample room to reach the two additional seats in the Volkswagen Sharan - even for adults. In fact, while the two rear-most seats in MPVs of this size are generally reserved for children, the extended wheelbase (75mm longer at 2.92 metres) means that for most journeys these seats in the Volkswagen Sharan are comfortable for adults as well.
Boot / luggage area
No matter which of the seats in the back are folded down, what is produced here is always a totally level surface for loading in luggage. Even if just the third row of seats is folded down via the easy-to-use, single-hand mechanism, that alone provides a space 1.3 metres deep. Loaded up to the bottom edge of the window the luggage capacity is 711 litres. Thanks to an easily fitted mesh partition, the Volkswagen Sharan can alternatively be loaded right up to the roof without any safety concerns. The luggage capacity then increases to 1.167 litres.
The seats in the second row are folded down via an equally easy-to-use folding mechanism. This also produces a continuous luggage space, which - measured up to the backrests of the front seats - is 2.1 metres long. With the luggage area extended to this maximum length the capacity provided when loaded up to the roof is 2,297 litres. Moreover, using a cargo management system that has also been newly developed, the luggage can be securely held in place. The system consists of a net and two movable telescopic rails, which get anchored in the sidewalls. It also provides further retaining elements, allowing items such as bags to be held in place.
The basic layout of the dashboard is a completely new interpretation of that in the previous model, albeit that the key instruments, such as the light switches and air-conditioning controls, are in practically identical positions - only now much easier to see and operate. The entire dashboard area features a strictly horizontal division, with a precision-made dÃ©cor trim running from side to side between the upper and lower sections. All of the materials are also of a quality unequalled by the competition. This is shown, for example, by the frequent use of metal on the vents and switch surrounds.
The centre console has been consciously 'pulled out' a long way towards the gear lever, thus making its controls even easier to operate. It houses the various audio, video and navigation systems, plus - arranged below these - the Climatic or Climatronic air conditioning controls. The entire control unit for these systems has been positioned appreciably higher. All of the elements can therefore be found more quickly and are more intuitive to operate. For the navigation systems (RNS 315 and RNS 510) and premium audio system (RCD 510) a touchscreen display is used.
Located below the display and ideally positioned so that it can be easily reached is the switch for the hazard warning lights. Above it, as usual in the VW Sharan, in all models from the Comfortline up is a lockable storage compartment. The lower-most level of the centre console contains another row of switches for more rarely used functions, such as temporarily deactivating ESP or the Park Assist system. Where the Volkswagen Sharan has been ordered with the Kessy automatic locking and starting system (available on this model for the first time), the engine starter button is located directly in front of the gear lever on the centre console. Integrated in its customary position between the seats is the 'handbrake lever'. However, it is now no longer a lever but - as the handbrake is activated electronically right across the range - an intuitively operated switch.
The new MPVs instruments are more closely aligned to VW's car range than they were in the previous model. The speedometer and rev counter, the two central round instruments, are sporty and elegant, both with silver rims. The steering wheel and steering column levers will be familiar to Volkswagen drivers from current models such as the Golf, Tiguan, Scirocco and Passat CC. Despite being totally family friendly, the door trim - just like the entire front seat area - has also been given a sporty design.
The new VW Sharan will be available in three equipment versions: Trendline (base version), Comfortline (mid-level version) and Highline (the most exclusive version). It will be sold in nine different colours. In standard configuration the MPV is initially a five-seater (2:3). In addition to this, there will also be a so-called '6-seater pack' and a '7-seater pack'. As a 6-seater, the Volkswagen Sharan's second and third rows of seating each get fitted with two seats, including cushioned armrests (2:2:2), with the second row then no longer having a middle seat. Instead, the two remaining seats are positioned more centrally and thus offer even greater comfort. The 6-seater is thus ideal as the business version. Where the customer opts for the 7-seater, the second row again has three seats, as in the 5-seater version (2:3:2). The 6 and 7-seater versions of the Volkswagen Sharan are supplied with several added features across all equipment lines. These include a 3-zone (Climatronic) air conditioning system, incorporating a rear air conditioning unit for separate climate control in the back (the third zone).
VW Sharan Trendline
While the term 'base model' is correct for the Sharan Trendline in terms of model hierarchy, it certainly does not accurately describe the level of equipment - for even this Volkswagen Sharan is already well equipped as standard! In terms of safety, for instance, the standard equipment features seven airbags (including a knee airbag) on the driver's side, the ESP electronic stabilisation programme (including brake assist and trailer stabilisation), tyre pressure indicator, automatic activation of hazard warning lights in the event of sudden, hard braking and electric child locks for the rear doors and rear window. Also a standard component is the electric handbrake with hill-start assistant. On the outside the Trendline equipment includes two chrome strips in the top radiator grille, electrically heated and adjustable mirrors, daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels with 205 tyres, tinted windows and all body-coloured trims.
On the inside the Volkswagen Sharan Trendline is equipped with attractive fabric seats (in 'Titanium Black' with the 'Move' pattern), height-adjustable driver's seat, matt chrome decorative trim, up to 33 storage compartments, height-adjustable arm rest (which can also be moved back and forth and contains a further storage compartment), cargo floor with separate, lockable compartments (5-seater), luggage area cover and automatic door-locking when the vehicle pulls away (can be deactivated). As outlined above, in terms of functional equipment many features come as standard, e.g. central locking with RF remote control, electro-mechanical, speed-regulated power steering, fully adjustable steering column, electric windows all round, ('Climatic') semi-automatic air-conditioning and the 'RCD 210' radio/CD system with four loudspeakers - a long, but by no means exhaustive list!
VW Sharan Comfortline
In purely external terms the more refined Sharan Comfortline stands out from the Trendline model by virtue of features such as its 16-inch ('Memphis') alloy wheels with 215 tyres, a chrome rim around the bottom radiator grille, the side windows' chrome border, black roof rails and a windscreen also fitted with heat reflective glass.
Inside the high quality 'Bridge' upholstery in 'Titanium Black' or 'Palladium Grey', plus seats with sportier contours and decorative inlays in the 'Triangle Titan' design produce a more refined feel. The driver's seat can also be adjusted electrically (height, tilt, forwards and back) and has a manual 4-position lumbar support function. In addition, there are pockets and folding tables on the back of both front seats. For loading long objects, the front passenger seat can also be completely folded over. It too is height adjustable and provides lumbar support.
The tray on the centre console is provided in this range with a cover, while in the roof, in addition to the standard storage compartment, there is also a compartment for glasses and in front of each of the outer seats of the second row there is another storage compartment integrated into the floor. On top of all this on the functional side come details such as the automatic anti-glare rear-view mirror, rain sensor, automatic running light activation (including 'Coming home' and 'Leaving home' function), indirect background lighting and a cruise control system.
VW Sharan Highline
The Volkswagen Sharan Highline cuts an even more elegant figure. Externally features such as 17-inch ('Sydney') alloy wheels with 225 tyres, heated windscreen washer jets and chrome-trimmed roof rails set this top-of-the-range version apart.
On the inside the Highline equipment includes contoured sports seats in leather / Alcantara (available in 'Titanium Black', 'Palladium Grey' or 'Corn Silk'), decorative trim in brushed aluminium, heated front seats, floor lights for the front and second row seats, the 'Plus' multi-function display, a leather steering wheel and leather gearshift knob.
Over and above the three equipment lines and seating configurations the Volkswagen Sharan can also be tailored to satisfy customers' individual demands. Technical highlights include the new Light Assist system (automatic main beam control), electric sliding doors and tailgate, a new generation 2.0 Park Assist (automatic steering function for parking, now even in extremely small gaps, on pavements, between trees and - for the first time - at an angle to the traffic), a 300 watt Dynaudio sound system and the 'Keyless Access' lock and ignition system. Caravanners, horse and boat owners will also be delighted by the new, pivoting tow-bar. In fact, in many respects the Volkswagen Sharan leaves the normal boundaries for this class of vehicle far behind. Not, however, in one aspect: extremely reasonable prices!