As an MPV, the Sharan is truly excellent. As a tow car, with this engine at least, it doesn’t quite hit the mark. The trouble lies with the 138bhp diesel engine. In the lighter VW Passat saloon, it can feel a little underpowered. With the Sharan’s extra weight to drag around, it struggles. The 30-60mph time of 19 seconds is tardy. Braking power is also disappointing – 11.5 metres to stop the outfit, even on a dry track.
We’ve no complaints about the Sharan’s stability, though. Steering corrections were only needed in a strong crosswind. In the lane-change test the big VW showed the caravan who was boss, even at high speeds.
The Sharan’s auto-hold feature held the outfit still on a 1-in-6 slope with no need to use the push-button parking brake. Climbing to the top needed some clutch slip and plenty of revs, but nothing untoward.
With or without a caravan, the Sharan’s cabin is a comfortable, quiet place to be, with plenty of space in all three rows and seemingly endless ways to slide and fold seats.
Tuck seats six and seven into the floor and there’s enough space for a family’s holiday luggage. Our practicality judge was also impressed by the car’s Trailer Stability System and the self-sealing tyres, which are designed to remain usable after a puncture.