Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Loads of storage space
  • Lots of the latest gadgets
  • You won’t feel short-changed

The Caravelle is largely a comfortable vehicle to drive – there’s a good range of adjustment in the steering and seating positions, and you sit very high so get a great view of the road ahead.

However, it is something of a 'bus-like' driving position, meaning that the steering wheel is generally more horizontal than in a conventional car. We didn’t find it difficult to get used to this, though.

Quality of materials is up to the usual high Volkswagen standard. Instrumentation is also very clear, with easy-to-read analogue dials on T6 models and now VW's 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit display fitted as standard on the T6.1 Executive.

Buttons on the steering wheel and the dashboard are clearly labelled and easy to understand.

The updated dashboard for the T6.1 facelift (pictured above) is also much sleeker and stylish to look at, making the Caravelle feel more like a car and less like a van.

In other words, you are unlikely to feel short-changed compared with buyers of regular VW cars. Given the amount of useful storage dotted through the cabin, and particularly in the immediate vicinity of the driver, you might even come to feel rather smug about your big 'van'…

All the latest VW infotainment

The Caravelle can be equipped with all the latest VW infotainment, too – meaning that alongside the easy-to-use touchscreen sat-nav options, available with traffic alerts and dynamic routing to avoid the worst jams, it also offers a significant amount of smartphone integration.

VW has its own suite of apps that go with this, designed to offer additional entertainment and improve your driving.

For the T6.1 version, this goes further still, with VW's newest MIB3 infotainment getting a 'Hey Volkswagen' voice control system, a proximity sensor for some modest hands-free 'gesture control' functionality, and a built-in SIM card for connectivity.

When used with the Volkswagen We Connect smartphone app, this means you can check the Caravelle's health and fluids remotely, as well as locate it - although given its size it probably won't be difficult to spot in a car park.

Upgrade to We Connect Plus, and you also get a remote lock and unlock feature via your phone, as well as additional anti-theft features.

The T6.1 infotainment also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's use of USB Type C sockets may be a pain for older smartphone users, though adaptors are readily available.

Passenger comfort

While it is most certainly quieter than the equivalent van, the original T6 Caravelles are not on a par with the hushed experience you get inside many modern cars. Engines are loud when accelerating, and there’s more wind and road noise than you get in some more conventional people carriers.

But the seats are comfortable front and rear, the floor is flat throughout so no-one has to put up with straddling a transmission tunnel, and there’s good visibility for every passenger.

Owing to the need to combat bodyroll in corners, the suspension on original T6 models is on the stiff side, too, and these Caravelles tend to batter their way over lumpy surfaces rather than smooth them out. It’s far from unbearable, however, and the trade-off is well worth the stability the firm suspension brings at speed.

Our initial experience with the T6.1 suggests VW has managed to make the facelifted Caravelle quieter and a little more compliant, but we need to test it more extensively on UK roads to be sure.

For details of the seating inside the rear of the Caravelle see the Practicality section of this review.