Having had a chance to spend a bit more time with the new Volkswagen Sharan, we can confirm that it is a long way removed from the outdated model it replaces.
The old one was no supermodel of the automotive world, but the Sharan is another example of why car brands insistence on making all their cars look the same is not necessarily a good thing - given a Golf nose, the Sharan just looks a bit boring.
But in this segment it is the inside that counts, and that is where the Sharan shines. UK cars will come with seven seats as standard, with the option of a six seater, for business users apparently. There is a five-seat car, but thankfully that won't appear on these shores as a five-seater with a boot that big is pointless.
The size of that boot is one of the more impressive things about the Sharan – up to a maximum of 1,297 litres to be precise. That is when all five of the rear seats are folded flat to the floor. They are easily dropped, with just one hand needed, but more fiddly to re-erect. You need to haul the back row up through the rear door then head to the side one to set everything straight. Irritating, but only slightly so.
One very cool trick that the Sharan has is sure to go down well with bored kids on long journeys. A 230 volt plug socket allowed us to charge our laptop while doing a little work on the move. It made us carsick, but children with stronger stomachs and computer game addictions to feed will be able to play far beyond their usual battery lifetime.