Entry-level vehicles: 2008 Volkswagen Crafter

2008 Volkswagen Crafter Taking a break at the Rakaia Gorge 2008 Volkswagen Crafter
2008 Volkswagen Crafter With the roads to ourselves, it was easy to pull the Crafter over to take in the scenery 2008 Volkswagen Crafter
2008 Volkswagen Crafter With all the gadgets and gizmos, the 'van is well kitted out for the road 2008 Volkswagen Crafter
2008 Volkswagen Crafter The VW Crafter is ex-Apollo with attractively reupholstered seating, front and rear 2008 Volkswagen Crafter
2008 Volkswagen Crafter The 'van proved to be a smooth ride the whole way 2008 Volkswagen Crafter
2008 Volkswagen Crafter Simple, easy, elegant 2008 Volkswagen Crafter
2008 Volkswagen Crafter We usually opted for non-powered sites as the Crafter is so well set up and certified for self-containment 2008 Volkswagen Crafter
2008 Volkswagen Crafter 2008 Volkswagen Crafter

We take a look at a 2008 two-berth VW, and pronounce it perfect for a long weekend getaway — even if things did not go entirely to plan.

The Easter 2014 weather forecast was ominous. No matter where you were in the country, a big ugly low pressure system was threatening to pour cold water over any getaway plans.

I was in Christchurch, hoping to head to Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook, but watching the news it was obvious we needed to be flexible about our destination and departure day. The bad weather intensified as Good Friday came and went, before we finally set off on the Saturday.

Storage options and self containment

The 'van was swiftly packed. And here's the thing: everything was quickly and easily consigned to a place. Storage options are logical and plentiful. Packing everything away was a breeze. We were finally underway, nosing our way towards Rakaia Gorge in a sullen gloom, which soon gave way to a delightful sunny morning.

We had the roads almost to ourselves and the Crafter gobbled up the roads with nary a squeak. It was like that the entire trip— which is significant, as we covered almost 1000 kilometres on mostly metal, but also the occasional shingle, roads.

A second first — if you get my drift — was getting off the grid. The vehicle is certified for self-containment; however, we stayed in campgrounds, unusually opting for non-powered sites because the Crafter is exceptionally well set up with a 12-volt fridge/freezer and gas water and heating, together with 12-volt lighting and water pump.

Non-powered sites are cheaper, of course, but it was also great to be so self-contained and able to take a more remote site — far from the madding crowd — during an especially busy holiday weekend. Brilliant.


Crafter's kitchen

Our first night in the 'test' kitchen of the Crafter was at Twizel's beautiful Lake Ruataniwha, where the autumn trees were blazing with sunset colours above the mirror lake. Whipping up a meal was a breeze, with plenty of bench space for preparation and a three-burner hob with rangehood.

Not having power to make use of the microwave posed no problems. I don't have a microwave at home and, when on the road, only use it to heat the plates for serving. Everything else was on hand for cooking up a storm.

Serving it, however, highlighted the only real problem we encountered. The pole connecting to the swivel table was very long and we could find no way to alter it to fit the height of the squabs where we sat for dinner.

We felt like children as we reached up to eat off our elevated plates. When we returned the vehicle, we mentioned this to Rob Floris at UCC, who was selling the vehicle on behalf of Deluxe, and he couldn't offer any explanation.

Whether the mistake was ours and we failed to put it together properly, or whether it was indeed a design fault, was inconsequential as the pedestal could easily be cut to fit.

Bed and bathroom

Making up the bed on the cosy rear squabs presented no problems and there was an elegant sufficiency of room for the two of us to spread out, as well as good block out curtains to maintain our privacy and total darkness.

The bathroom was compact, but adequate. The swivelling cassette toilet made good use of the space; however, I cannot comment on the overhead shower as I enjoyed a wickedly warming and indulgent long shower courtesy of the campground.

Nor did we make use of the 18" LED TV ( with built-in Freeview) or the 240-volt air conditioner, although it is obvious that all of these things, together with the 160-watt solar panel trickle-feeding the battery, and Winegard satellite dish, that this 2008 VW Crafter was well kitted out.


I've mentioned before my belief in the value of buying a refurbished ex-rental vehicle. The VW Crafter is ex-Apollo with attractively reupholstered seating front and rear, and a removable carpet mat that is in as-new condition. It was covered in a plastic shield for the duration of the test.

This is a very economical vehicle to drive, though we were naturally mindful that diesel costs might be offset by road user charges of $55 per 1000km.

Overall, this is an impressive entry-level vehicle, well suited to two people for extended travel in any season. We experienced no trouble maintaining 100kph on the open road, overtaking, or keeping up with the flow when we encountered heavy traffic on the return journey.

For more information contact Deluxe Group, Blenheim on (03) 578 3310, or UCC, Christchurch on (03) 348 2247



  • Weight: GVM 3550kg
  • Length: 7m
  • Engine size: 2461cc Turbo
  • Transmission: six-speed manual
  • Fresh water: 100L
  • Grey water: 100 L
  • Electrical: WOF to 2016
  • Gas: 1 x 4.5kg
  • Price: $62,990

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