Launch report: Volkswagen Crafter (4th generation)

“Built to build your business”

Fancy a roadtrip with family and friends through South-Africa and Namibia? Or are you looking for a reliable workhorse to help grow your business? Then the all-new Volkswagen Crafter may just be what you looked for.

The new Volkswagen Crafter will serve as the fourth-generation model and for the first time, 100% manufactured by the German brand. This meant that the brand pulled out all the stops to produce a class-leading commercial vehicle.

First produced in 1975, the initial Crafter model was succeeded by two other models in 1996 and 2006. However, the newest edition marks a new beginning for Volkswagen. Not only will it be a 100% manufactured Crafter range, but also be equipped with numerous new safety- and ease of use packages. Combine this with numerous conversion companies and the Crafter has endless opportunities in, well, the craft market.

The range may only be launching in South Africa as of now, but it has already won the ‘International Van of the year’ (2017) prize, with it being very well received in Europe. After being invited to the launch of this new workhorse, we fully understand why.

A major leap from the previous model is the improvement of basic driver assistance specifications, such as side-wind compensation, hill hold assist, automatic post collision braking and a steering wheel with height and telescopic adjustments. Basically the Crafter now features much of the trendsetter technologies from its passenger siblings. There is more.

The ideology behind the design was with the end-user in mind. The question was asked: “What will make life easier, comfortable and safer for the users?”. It is for this reason that Volkswagen went through endless tests (more than 700 vehicles) with engineers and customers in order to develop the ideal ‘van’. The crafter was therefore crafted and moulded not just by the company itself.

To make the life easier for its inhabitants, Volkswagen has placed prominence on driver aids and safety. This include park assist, trailer assist, automatic post-collision braking, and front- side and head airbags as standard. Optional packages also include adaptive cruise control, front assist emergency braking, reverse camera, rear traffic alert, sensor-based side protection, LED headlights and cornering lights.

Inside the driver will also have new features like LED lighting, 360-degree visibility and even a infotainment system.

The Crafter will also feature three different vehicle lengths: 5986mm, 6836mm or 7391 mm with heights ranging between 2355mm, 2625mm or 2637 mm.

The front-wheel drive versions will cater for a maximum cargo space of 10.7 m³ with a gross weight of 3.5-2.5 tons. The cargo width between the arches will be 1,380mm with a length of 3,201mm. The sliding doors (side) will also give way for a 1 311 mm opening and a 270° opening of the rear doors. The loading sill will also be 100mm lower so as to help with on- and offloading.

The new Crafter also features the best-in-class economical and aerodynamic figures. Secondly it features improved steering manoeuvrability, helping it to reduce its CO² emissions due to less energy consumption. It has the best in class aerodynamic drag coefficient as well.

In South Africa, the 2.0 litre (4 cylinder) (EA288) TDI engine will be available with 103kW (3500 – 3600 rpm)/ 340 Nm (1600 – 2250 rpm) with a choice of front- or rear wheel drive. Fuel consumption will be very good with a claimed figure between 7.3 and 7.6 litres / 100 km (depending on the model).

Everything on the Crafter has been to detail, with even the front bumper scoop being able to detach in order to help serve as a step in cleaning the windows.

Drivers with a (old term) code 8 license will be able to drive the LSV derivatives, with the MSV requiring a code 10. For the moment, the Crafter will also only feature manual derivates in South Africa as per fuel quality regulations.

The ideal plan with the Crafter is to also sell it as vehicles for conversion, such as panel vans for medical use, courier and passenger transport.

One such ‘conversion’ company, which caught the eye on our Crafter ‘craft’ tour, was Cisco. Started in North-America, the name is derived from the city “San-Francisco”.

However, this company opens a new way of transport thinking with onboard wifi, onboard cameras, e-learning systems, engine monitoring, driver behaviour monitoring and even an onboard streaming app, which allows users to watch movies and programs on the move. Another added system will be the vehicle tracking system, which might also help public transport in allowing passengers to see when the transport unit may reach them.

This alone shows that the new Crafter has endless opportunities and has been built purposefully to build your business.


  • Crafter 35 (MCV) Panel Van – R509 700
  • Crafter 35 (LCV) Panel Van – R588 100
  • Crafter 50 LWB (Bus Conversion Ready) – R625 800
  • Crafter 50 LWB (Panel Van) – R625 800
  • Crafter 50 LWB with overhang (Bus Conversion ready) – R635 800
  • Crafter 50 LWB with overhang (Panel Van) – R635 800

The new Crafter comes standard with a 2year/unlimited km Manufacturer Warranty, 5 year/120 000km Genuine Automotion Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 20 000km.

Text: Franco Theron 
Pictures: Galimoto Media

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