Volkswagen T7 – spy shots of next-generation Transporter family

  • VW T7 spotted testing in Multivan / Caravelle form
  • Promises new technology, but will it still be a van?
  • Prototype fuses T body and dash with longer front end

Wondering what the next generation of Volkswagen Transporter family might look like? Then wonder no more as our spy photographers have sent us more pictures of a new T7 prototype in testing.

Unlikely previous images, which appeared to be undisguised but actually showed a T6 body married to a longer front end (see the gallery above), these heavily camouflaged spy photos seem to show the production bodywork.

But the big question remains: will the T7 Transporter actually be a van? Though that might sound like a stupid question, the situation is rather unclear at the moment.

Keep reading for more info.

Wait. Hasn’t VW only just launched the Transporter T6.1?

That’s right – we’ve just driven the T6.1 Transporter for our first review, and although this goes on sale in late 2019 it isn’t set to reach UK dealers until March 2020. But the T6.1 is a facelifted version of the T6, which is in turn based on the same fundamental platform as the previous-generation T5 Transporter.

So although the T6.1 looks sharp and is packed with plenty of clever technology, it’s not really a very new van any more.

Volkswagen Transporter T7 - 2019 spy photo of 2021/2022 model, front view, towing trailer

The T7 is an all-new vehicle, based on a new platform, and should therefore be even more innovative than the T6.1.

You can also see from the spy photos that it has a longer, less van-like nose, which our informers reckon is a deliberate effort to bring it more into line with Volkswagen’s car range. Though it may also be by-product of the platform it’s based on.

Does the T7 share any parts with other VW models?

We can only speculate as this stage, but rumours suggest that the T7 family will be based on Volkswagen’s latest MQB platform – something that is used throughout the VW Group under a huge range of passenger cars, from the Golf right through to the Skoda Kodiaq SUV and the Audi TT sports car.

Volkswagen Transporter T7 - 2019 spy photo of 2021/2022 model, side view, towing trailer

This is good news in terms of modernity and cutting edge electronics, technology and safety equipment. But our insiders believe that MQB isn’t a great choice for a commercial vehicle, which is where the idea that the T7 might not be a van starts to emerge.

But the T7 looks like a van in the photos?

Well, it looks like a Multivan in the photos – which is the German version of the Caravelle people carrier sold in the UK. Check out all the windows.

Volkswagen Transporter T7 - 2019 spy photo of 2021/2022 model, rear view, towing trailer

This leaves room for the speculation that the MQB-based T7 would concentrate on passenger carrying versions only, perhaps at the top of a family of models that includes the VW Sharan MPV and the VW Caddy Life (the passenger version of the next-generation Caddy van, which is also expected to be based on the MQB platform).

So what would the next VW Transporter van be based on?

The same people suggesting the T7 will be a people mover only are also suggesting the T6.1 will carry on alongside it as the Transporter van model.

Does this make any sense at all?

Well, given how far along the T7 appears to be in these pictures, it does seem odd that we’re seeing it just as the T6.1 reaches the market.

Timing for the T7 going on sale is believed to be around 2021, meaning the T6.1 would only be on sale for a couple of years at best if it’s completely replaced then – and the facelift over the T6 is comprehensive enough that this short lifespan would be surprising (although not impossible).

Volkswagen Transporter T7 - 2019 spy photo of 2021/2022 model, dead-on front view, towing trailer

Adding further fog to the future of the Transporter van, there’s also Volkswagen’s new ‘strategic alliance’ with Ford – a large part of which is about cooperating to build new vans and pickups – and VW’s forthcoming new MEB electric vehicle platform, which is due to form the basis of an electric van.

Previewed as the ID Buzz Cargo concept, this new electric van is not only roughly the size of a current Transporter, it takes retro styling cues from the original versions as well.

So the next Transporter van proper could be either all-electric or built in partnership with Ford?

It is all rather murky at present, so we can’t say anything for sure – except that both the ID Buzz Cargo and the Ford-VW alliance are definitely happening, so will certainly have an impact on the future of the Transporter in some way.

But the ID Buzz Cargo could quite easily exist alongside a conventional diesel-powered Transporter as an alternative choice (even though all-electric versions of the T6.1 Transporter are on the way).

And the Ford-VW alliance plans are notable for not making any specific reference to medium vans – which either means the Transporter falls under the combined firms’ large van plans (meaning they would be engineered by Ford in the future), or that the Transporter and the Transit Custom will remain unrelated and developed independently under the new arrangement.

Like we said: murky.

Will the VW T7 really look like this?

This heavily camouflaged prototype looks much more proportionally correct than the T7 mule in the earlier set of spy photos - as you'll see further below.

Things to note include the lengthened nose (which is less obvious than in the mule pictures), but also the narrow lights and the tapering roofline.

Volkswagen Transporter T7 - 2019 spy photo of 2021/2022 model, side view, driving by T6

This last is especially apparent in the picture above, as there is a T6 Transporter in the background.

Together with the large spoiler at the top of the rear tailgate, we suspect this change has been done to improve aerodynamics, which in turn improves efficiency, reducing fuel consumption.

Volkswagen Transporter T7 - 2019 spy photo of 2021/2022 model, rear view, driving by T6

However, it also takes away some of the load area practicality, adding fuel to the fire that suggests this T7 isn't going to be much of a working van at all.

What's different about the original T7 spy photos?

Out spy shot providers labelled the vehicle in the first set of pictures (below) as a ‘mule’, meaning they didn't think it was the finished product.

Volkswagen Transporter T7 - 2019 spy photo of 2021/2022 model, front view, black, driving round corner

And while there are no obvious signs of cobbled-together bodywork panels (as you’d usually expect in such cases), the prototype does appear to be built from a T6 body with a long nose grafted on the front. This is especially obvious at the rear, where the lights and tailgate are very familiar.

The inside features a T6 dashboard with a number of additional electronic components added over the top – including a new infotainment system.

Volkswagen Transporter T7 - 2019 spy photo of 2021/2022 model, cab interior showing T6 dashboard of mule prototype

When does the VW T7 go on sale?

Understandably, no-one at VW is saying anything at this stage, but whether this represents a new Multivan, Caravelle, Transporter Shuttle or even a Sharan, don’t expect to see it in showrooms any earlier than 2021 – and we suspect not until at least 2022 in the UK.

Also read:

>> VW Transporter T6 and T6.1 review

>> Ford and Volkswagen announce global alliance to build new vans and pickups

>> VW ID Buzz Cargo concept revealed at 2018 Frankfurt IAA commercial vehicle show