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'99 Volkswagen EuroVan MV

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San Francisco:  Okay, everybody knows that VW invented the mini-van umpteen years ago. Only they called it the VW Microbus. But that was yesterday, and yesterday's gone.

Now VW's got something far more modern - the EuroVan MV (MultiVan). I spent a week with the EuroVan and I came away with mixed feelings. It was nice, but as far as I'm concerned,  the EuroVan MV missed the mark.

Let's start with the outside. Although smaller than the traditional full-size American vans, the EuroVan MV has that same square box look. It's not unattractive but it does look more utilitarian than the competition. One thing you can say for VW, any VW, is that there is a look of quality to the fit and finish. The doors close with a reassuring thud and the sliding side door (left side only) works smoothly and effortlessly.

Inside was tastefully outfitted if understated in its differing shades of gray. There was seating for seven comprised of two front captain seats, two rear-facing seats directly behind the front seats, and a triple person rear bench seat. The rear seat converts into a bed (Isn't it nice that your teenagers wouldn't be caught dead in a mini-van?). There were privacy curtains for all the windows so you can catch some zzzz's (or whatever) without being bothered by prying eyes. There was also a nifty little fold away table with its own fluorescent light so you could set up a little office back there.

Powering the EuroVan MV was VW's unique VR6 engine, a 2.8-liter 15 degree V6 (most V6s have either a 60 degree or a 90 degree angle between the cylinder banks, hence the Vee). If I remember correctly, VW designed this engine so that it would fit in tight places easier (it is not as wide as the other designs). The engine puts out 140 hp and 177 ft. lb., not enough in my opinion to pull the 4,348 lb. that the EuroVan MV weighs.

Attached to the engine is a four-speed automatic transmission that should have been a complement to the engine's smooth power delivery. I say should have been because the transmission was very noisy. (I later drove a Jetta with this same combination and it was dead quiet, leading me to believe there was something wrong with this particular transmission.)

Volkswagen says the EuroVan MV will get 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway. Good luck. On an admittedly high speed highway trip (75 mph +) I was lucky to average about 15 to 17 mpg. I can just imagine what the mileage would be like if you pulled the maximum 4,500 lb. trailer (with brakes) or loaded the EuroVan MV to its maximum payload of 990 lb.

I was impressed with the ride and handling. Like many European vehicles, the EuroVan MV does not come equipped with massive tires. But due to good suspension engineering and a rigid body structure that lets the suspension work, the 205/65R15 all season tires were all that were needed. It was nice to drive a van that felt composed on back roads as well as the highways.

So I don't know what to make of the EuroVan MV. On one hand it was very well built with a long list of standard features such as: Privacy glass on the rear and side; fog lights; alloy wheels; front and rear air conditioning; cruise control; a decent stereo; power front door windows; power door locks. On the other hand it was underpowered.

The EuroVan MV was not inexpensive either. It went out the door for $33,015. All in all, if it were my money (and I feel bad saying this) I'd shop around. By Bruce Hotchkiss AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Volkswagen Home Page

Byline:  By Bruce Hotchkiss AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name:  The Great-Grandson of MicroBus
Topic:  '99 Volkswagen EuroVan MV
Word Count:  650
Photo Caption:  '99 Volkswagen EuroVan MV
Photo Credits:  Volkswagen PR
Series #:   1999 - 20



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