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We doubt the Volkswagen Caravelle needs much in the way of an introduction; after all, you can trace its lineage all the way back to the original split-screen VW bus that was launched in 1950. While that was, in effect, a stretched Beetle with a box on top, the latest ‘T6.1’ is a purpose-built people-mover. This generation was launched with a choice of diesel and petrol engines, but the latter have since been dropped. This is no bad thing, however, as the Caravelle has always been better suited to a grunty diesel motor, especially when loaded up with people and luggage.
Volkswagen has kept the engine line up simple in the Caravelle: you can either have a 2.0-litre diesel with 148bhp or a twin turbocharged version of the same engine, which puts out a whopping 196bhp. The latter engine is also available with a 4Motion all-wheel drive system, but we have yet to sample this specification. The entry-level engine doesn’t feel overly peppy, but as long as you’re not in a hurry, it will see the Caravelle slog up to motorway speeds without too much fuss. And thanks to a prodigious amount of low down grunt (224 ft lb of torque, to be specific), it’s rare that you have to rev it hard and it remains hushed when cruising higher speeds. If you are looking at a heavier long-wheelbase model, or plan on doing some towing, it might be worth taking the step up to the 196bhp variant as it packs some seriously impressive performance. Even when loaded up with people and luggage it delivers performance comparable to some family saloon cars; Volkswagen claims a 0-62mph time of just 10.1 seconds (versus 13 seconds in the 148bhp model).