Volkswagen Sharan 2020 review

Find out more about the Volkswagen Sharan in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

£13,738
Average price
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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Spacious cabin
  • Practical layout
  • Solid build quality

Cons

  • Rather dull styling
  • Limited engine choice
  • Pricey alongside rivals
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model Review

The Volkswagen Sharan is one of the oldest options in the MPV market. It was launched back in 1995 and was a joint project with Ford and Seat who used the same platform to produce the Galaxy and Alhambra respectively. 

At the time, MPVs were a popular choice for larger families who wanted something spacious, practical and hard wearing – something that could take the kids and their friends to school, but also on long trips away and tip runs too. 

The first generation was so successful that production ran for 15 years, with a model upgrade in 2000 which saw some much-needed cosmetic updates as well as subtle tweaks to the interior. 

In 2010, the second-generation Sharan was launched – this time only sharing a platform with the Seat Alhambra after Ford decided to develop its own take on the Galaxy. Underneath it was based on the VW Passat and it had a modern, conservative look, improved interior and range of new engines. 

However, as time moved on, so did the demise of the MPV with many manufacturers focusing their attention on more desirable seven-seat SUVs. 

Latest model

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The second-generation Sharan was updated in 2015, and with it came cosmetic tweaks that included a slightly redesigned front end, upgraded interior and a much-needed improved infotainment system. While the tweaks gave it a more modern look, it’s not exactly what you’d call a style icon. In fact, you could say that Volkswagen has played it safe with the looks, making it a more conservative offering, rather than pushing the boundaries in this class.

There isn’t a huge engine offering, which is somewhat surprising considering the wealth of options in the Volkswagen Group arsenal, with only one petrol and two diesels to choose from. 

Overall, the driving experience is what you’d consider capable rather than outstanding. It’s not at engaging as the latest generation of Galaxy, but for most, it will be more than enough. It tackles corners without any issue and the ride isn’t too firm. 

With no replacement planned, the Sharan is likely to be dropped from Volkswagen’s range in the next couple of years. Those wanting a VW seven-seater should then look at the smaller Touran MPV or Tiguan Allspace SUV.

Value for money

The Sharan isn’t particularly cheap with prices starting at £34,230 – especially when you consider there are more stylish seven-seat off-road offerings available for under £30k. The only positive about the price tag is that you shouldn’t need to add too many optional extras as the Sharan is pretty well equipped even in standard form.

There are no shortage of used offerings out there and you can pick up early examples for a few hundred pounds. But be warned, many have been used as minicabs so you may find there are some with a lot of miles on the clock and lived a very hard life. If you want the latest generation, these are available from as little as £4,000 for a high-mileage example, and double that if you want to find one with around 70,000 miles on the clock.  

Looks and image

As we mentioned, Volkswagen has played it safe with the styling of the latest Sharan. It’s not a car you buy for its kerb appeal. If you want something more stylish then the Citroen Space Tourer or one of the many seven-seat SUVs might be worth considering. Even the Ford Galaxy might be considered more desirable, but if you do go down this route, it’s probably worth avoiding a black Sharan as you might get mistaken for a mini-cab.  

On the inside, the Sharan has a rather plain cabin, which is really starting to show its age –unsurprising given the model is now a decade old.  However, the quality remains excellent, and it feels both premium and hard-wearing, with the latter being important on an MPV.

Space and practicality


One of the biggest selling points for the Sharan is not only the space it offers, but the way it’s all packaged. You get space for seven passengers, all of them are usable, even the rear most seats which can offer more legroom by sliding the middle seats back and forth – plus when the third row isn’t needed, they fold quickly and easily into the floor. It’s worth noting though that the roofline is slightly sloped, so while you can adjust how much leg room there is, taller passengers might struggle for head room. 

The siding doors are also on runners rather than hinges, which means there’s no tight gaps to squeeze through if someone has parked too close. You can opt for a powered door to make the process of getting in and out of the back doors easier, but we wouldn’t necessarily go for it. It’s an expensive option and the doors are quite light anyway.

Overall, the space on offer is better than rivals like the Citroen Space Tourer, Ford S-Max and sibling Volkswagen Touran, but very much on a par with the Ford Galaxy.

Needless to say, there’s van-like proportions if you want to convert it from a minibus into a load lugger, and all the seats slot nicely into the floor.  

Engines


You’ve got three options when it comes to powertrains, one petrol or two diesels. Starting with the petrol, it’s a 148bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol. Overall, its smooth and refined but you will need to work it harder than the diesels.

There are two options on the diesel front, both 2.0-litres with either 148bhp or 175bhp. The lower powered version makes the most sense as it’s got the best blend of efficiency and straight-line performance. The 175bhp version is quicker but there are few benefits, and it’s generally a bit harsher to live with. 

In terms of gearbox options, the 1.4-litre petrol and 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel are both available with a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic transmission, while the top-spec 177bhp is auto only.

Running costs

Given the size of the Sharan, it’s not surprising that this isn’t the most efficient of choices. Even the cleanest engine – the 148bhp diesel – will only return a claimed 43.5mpg, with high CO2 emissions of 170g/km. The petrol engine is the thirstiest option – returning just 37.2mpg (34.4mpg with the automatic), with CO2 emissions of 173g/km (187g/km if automatic).

Things to look out for

Given the Volkswagen Sharan utilises parts seen widely across the Volkswagen Group, you’d expect it to be pretty reliable. However, there are new issues to be aware of without it, including faults with the DPF and AdBlue heater, while the DSG automatic transmission isn’t known for its reliability. We’d recommend having any Sharan that’s outside of its three-year manufacturer’s warranty mechanically inspected before buying.

Rivals

The seven-seat MPV segment isn’t as competitive as it once was, with many manufacturers now focussing on more stylish and desirable multi-person SUVs. 

There are some options out there though if you want the practicality of an MPV, though. The Citroen Space Tourer is well worth considering, as too is the Ford Galaxy. If you don’t need quite as much space, then the slightly smaller Volkswagen Touran might be a better option.  

While these offerings are very car-like in the way they drive, there are a few van options out there that have been made to suit family life. These include the Citroen Berlingo and siblings Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life, as well as the Ford Tourneo Connect.

Depreciation

As we mentioned, the Sharan is expensive to buy and this segment doesn’t have the same attraction as it did before the arrival of the more desirable seven-seat SUVs. Nevertheless, because of its high levels of equipment and superb build quality, the Sharan does make a good case for itself, but expect initial steep depreciation if buying a new model at the list price.

Trims explained

Trims explained Two trim levels are available on the Sharan – SE Nav and SEL. Equipment highlights and pricing are as follows.

SE Nav

Standard equipment on the Sharan includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, tinted rear windows, automatic lights and wipers, an eight-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and three-zone climate control. It also comes with plenty of safety kit, such as adaptive cruise control, a driver attention alert, lane keep assist, front and rear parking sensors and blind spot monitoring.

From £34,230

SEL

Upgrade to SEL spec and you’ll get bigger 17-inch alloys, front fog lamps and Alcantara and leather sports seats. Other features include heated front seats, a heated windscreen and a panoramic sunroof.

From £39,260

Summary

  1. Excellent build quality
  2. Conservative styling
  3. Expensive compared to some seven-seat SUVs
  4. Capable on road manners
  5. Limited engine choice
  6. Good standard equipment
  7. Optional extras expensive
  8. Upmarket interior
  9. Poor safety rating
  10. Not as engaging as some rivals

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