Like most people I purchased my Sharan 1.9 TDi to cope with my ever expanding family. As you are probably aware the Sharan and Ford Galaxy are virtually the same vehicle. The only reason for opting for the Sharan was because I was told by a mechanic that the VW tends to hold its price better than the Ford.
I would recommend the diesel over the petrol as in my case it was purchased for economy over performance. It is a comfortable car which is nice to drive. The gearbox feels nice and tight and gives a feeling of quality. Also the sharan does have the nice feel of a car and not a rattly old van which can be a problem with some MPV's. I have never had any major faults with my sharan and the servicing costs have always been very reasonable.
If you are looking for a nice family MPV at reasonable running costs then you could do a lot worse than the Sharan.
With some trepidation I have decided to once again enter the world of motoring reviews. I have to admit that my technical knowledge of cars is basic to say the least but I do drive the things, more than I want to really so I do have some experience with them which might be useful to other motorists. So here goes an ‘idiots’ guide to the VW Sharan Turbo Diesel multi purpose vehicle (MPV). HOW AND WHY I CAME TO OWN ONE I bought my VW Sharan two years ago second hand form a private seller. It was then about a year old and had 50,000 miles on the clock. The reason I was looking for a MPV type of car is that my family had recently expanded from 4 to 5 and since we often took foreign motoring holidays I though it would be ideal to have a car big enough to hold all the kids plus the vast amount of luggage we seem to have to carry about with us as well as being able to fit in the odd granny from time to time. The people mover seemed to be ideal for this purpose and having driven and liked diesels before and taking in to account the high mileage we would probably do I knew that a Turbo Diesel was going to be the ideal solution. I looked around and compared prices/performance/maintenance cost between the most popular makes including the Toyota Previa, the Renault Espace and Sharan/Galaxy/Alhambra range. After reading some favourable reviews in motoring magazines the Sharan seemed the one to go for. Before I carry on it is worth pointing out that VW Sharan, the Ford Galaxy and the Seat Alhambra are essentially the same car, the three companies collaborated on the development of the basic design and apart from minor design differences the three model are mechanically identical. STYLING & DESIGN The first thing you notice about the Sharan is that unlike some of the other MVP on the market it doesn’t look like a minibus! It has a very attractive sloped bonnet with a very large windscreen area, which allows e
xcellent visibly. The height of the seats both driver and passengers are such that you get an elevated view of the road, this is excellent from the driver allowing him/her to accurately judge the position of the cars dimension when manoeuvring and is also useful for the passengers especially children allowing them to easily see their surroundings, which is extremely useful to keep youngsters amused during long journeys. The two front seats are very comfortable with adjustable height and back and come equipped with a flip down armrest on one side, which allows the driver to rest their arm while gripping the steering wheel. This is a great advantage on long journeys since the steering wheel position although adjustable, can be rather high for some people. The most attractive feature of the MPV is the adaptability of the seating arrangements. The car comes equipped with 7seat in a 2-3-2 formation. The front two cannot be removed but the rest can, in various combinations. If all the seats apart from the front two are removed than the vehicle becomes a like a small van in terms of it’s carrying capacity. The removal of the seat is straightforward although the seat themselves are quite heavy and cumbersome to carry in and out of the car. All the seats have standard seat belts fitted apart from the middle seat in the row, which comes only with a lap belt. From experience I have found the boot space to be inadequate if you are carrying seven people all with luggage, a roof box would be advisable. If carrying less than seven the removal of one of the back seats would provide the additional luggage space needed. The rear door is quite heavy to open but allows easy entry to the luggage space the car iteslf is not to high of the ground so heavy items can be lifted with relative ease in and out of the boot. The legroom on the front five seats is excellent but the rear back two seats can be a bit tight for adults. The drivers positi
on is very well designed and taking account the size of the vehicle doesn’t feel much different from driving an ordinary 2-litre saloon. As an extra indication of the comfort of the front passenger seat let me tell you that my wife who was 7-months pregnant at the time spent more than 6 hours in the front seat of the Sharan on our way down to southern Europe and experienced no discomfort during the journey! PERFORMANCE & DRIVING The fuel consumption of a diesel engine is far better than an equivalent petrol engine so if fuel consumption is a decisive factor in buying a car I would always suggest the diesel model. Fuel consumption will vary depending how many passengers there are and the weight of the luggage and the presence of a roof box as well as the driving speed but on average I have come to expect around 40-50mpg from my Sharan when mostly motorway driving within the legal speed limit! This compares very well with similar petrol engine versions. The presence of the Turbo unit does allow for greater acceleration, which is needed otherwise the car would seem a bit sluggish. The ride and handling is excellent and the car glides over bumpy surfaces with little juddering. The power steering allows easy manoeuvrability of the car and overall handling even at high speeds around bends I effortless. Again because of the power steering and the great visibility parking is also very easy. On motorways it is very easy to forget what speed you are actually doing since the acceleration road holding and stability is excellent. A diesel engine is louder than a petrol engine but they have come al long way since the first commercial family diesels cars came on to the market. The soundproofing inside the car is such that you wouldn’t be able to tell that you were in a diesel-powered car. The traditional diesel ‘shake’ has also been minimised to the extent that it is virtually unnoticeable. The Saharan can reach a top s
peed of just over 100mph (on a German motorway of course) without effort but it can get slightly nosier in the car at this speed and the radio volume might need to be increased as well as the voices of the passengers. RELIABILTY AND MAINTANANCE & SAFETY I have had the Sharan for over two years and in that time I have added more than 40,000 miles on the clock, in all this time I have had one serious problem to deal with (See below). It has been a very reliable performer never failed to start and apart from standard wear and tear has cost me very little. It is still running on its original clutch although I have had the break pads break discs tyres and a few lamps replaced. In terms of maintenance the cost are comparable to an average VW family saloon. The prices for replacement part being a VW can be slightly expensive as is the servicing if done at a VW dealership. The only major work that needs to be done is a timer belt change every 45,000 miles as standard. I normally have the car services every 12,000 miles with a minor service (basically an oil/filter change) every 6,000 miles. In terms of safety ratings the MPV’s don’t seem to do too well in the regular safety surveys that are carried out by motoring magazines, this doesn’t mean that they are inherently unsafe to drive just that they do not incorporate all the safety features of some of the cars on the market. In terms of MPV’s though the Sharan/Galaxy model consistently comes out on top. PROBLEMS The biggest problem I have had with the car was water penetration at the front of the car if the drainage channel near the pollen filter is not cleaned regularly. In my case after a period of very heavy rain the channels got blocked and the water ran back against the pollen filter and flooded the inside front of the car. Unfortunately the fuse box for all the electrics in the Sharan is housed under the front passenger seats so when thi
s got flooded all the electrics in the car when slightly mad. As I was about to get in to the car I found that the front electric window were sliding up and down by themselves as well as all the doors locking and unlocking themselves. I ended up needing to replace some of the electrics but after letting the whole car dry out no lasting damage seems to have been done. This is a design problem on some of the early cars and on newer models should not occur but if buying and older model second hand bear in mind that the pollen filters should be replace regularly and that the drainage channels should be kept clear especially if keeping the car on the road side. My second minor problem with the car is the durability of the interior. The plastic moulding and fixtures in side the car can be a little brittle, which is surprising for a VW, maybe this is a consequence of their collaboration with Ford on the design. In the time I have had the car tow of the fixtures holding the sun visor have snapped. I also had a speaker cover on the rear door coming loose. The reception on the radio is abysmal on MW setting and I have since learnt that this is a common problem in many models of VW although the company itself deny this. The wonderful visibility in the car due to the large windscreen and all round windows does have the disadvantage of turning the car in to a mini greenhouse on very hot days. My car comes equipped with a sunroof but this does little to alleviate the problem and when the windows are down especially on motorway driving it can become very noisy. I would suggest that if you are thinking of doing lots of driving on the continent in hotter climates you should consider buying a model with air conditioning. TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION For all those technically minded out there… Dimensions: Width1.80m Height 1.73m Length 4.62m Wheel Base 2.8m Turning Circle 11.7m Capacities (fuel
tank) 68litres of which 8 litres reserve Engine Data Diesel Engine Output 66kW/4000rpm Max Torque 202/1900 Number of cylinders: 4 Capacity: 1896 cm3 Stroke: 95.5mm Cylinder Bore: 79.5mm Comp Ratio:19.5 OVERALL If you are looking for a big family car that is reliable and relatively cheap to run then look no further than the VW Sharan. It is a great family car good for transporting hordes of kids around town but really comes in to its own on a long distance motoring holiday where it can comfortably eat up the road miles and leave all the passengers feeling refreshed at the end of the drive. I hope this ‘idiot’s’ guide to the Sharan will be of use to anyone thinking about buying a MPV. Thank you for reading and rating this opinion. © Mauri 2002