Monday, 16 September 2013

The week we had a Volkswagen Sharan!

We had a new friend for a week! Guess who? The Volkswagen Sharan! :) Volkswagen Singapore had so kindly offered us a week's loan of this fantastic family car, for us to try it out and blog about it.

The kids were all excited and asked "How come have new car?" We were quick to emphasize that we were allowed this privilege for only a week - we didn't want them crying and throwing tantrums when we have to go back to using our own car!
Even though we have a family sized car of our own, we happily jumped onto das wagen when we were offered this opportunity to try out the Sharan for a week. I'd always loved (toy) cars as a child, and when I was finally old enough to take the driving test, I passed it on first try :) My father's cars have all along been manual cars, so I was very proficient with driving with manual controls too. It's fun!

We were told that the Sharan has manual controls as well, if we so choose to activate it. We didn't try it though, being a little jitterish about driving a car that didn't belong to us. We had a whole load of other cool features to try out though, so it was all great fun!

Here are the kids giving a thumbs up! A seven seater car, the Sharan has three rows of seats. We like to install the kids in the second row so that it gives us lots of boot space. Two child seats and a booster seat fits into our own car just right, as Isaac is quite slim and can fit in between the two child seats. but with the Sharan - he has almost double the space! We could even fit in another proper car seat for him, if we wanted to.
Of the three kids, Isaac was the most excited about the "new car". Being the observant 6 year old he is, he started noticing many automatic functions the car had, stuff which could be done with just a touch of the button on the dashboard, without the driver even leaving his seat. 

For example, the side sliding doors on both sides AND the back door to the boot, can all be closed automatically by just pressing the appropriate button on the dashboard. The sun roof can be opened with a touch of the button... and when hubbs told Isaac that the car could even park itself... He exclaimed:"What?! Really?! Wow! This is such a relaxing car!"

Yes, it is true! The car can park itself! When we went to pick the car up, the Volkswagen sales manager gave us a quick run through of the car's functions, and gave us a demo of the car parking itself, vertical parking. We were suitably impressed as it looked so easy! We managed to give it a try ourselves, setting the car on it's Park Assist mode to park the car... in a parallel lot! And it did it! With great ease, I might add! Way cool!

Can you see behind the boys what we have in the boot? Bicycles! That's right!
With a simple flick and push, the back row seats can be pushed flat down to reveal an enlarged boot space. It's huge!!! All in, we managed to fit in a full 20" mountain bike, a foldable Brompton bicycle, two skate scooters, a box that had hubbs' inline skates and all the guards etc in it, and a bag of boardgames (oh, we always have some boardgames in the boot) - and there was still space to place stuff if we really wanted to bring more stuff.

In fact, with the spacious legroom in the middle row where the kids were sitting, we could even place their school bags in the same row as them. As such, there were times when we simply picked the kids up early from childcare, and drove straight to the park - with all our barang already in the boot!

If you're wondering why I don't have many external shots of the Sharan in this post - it's because I hardly took any! And no, it is not because the car ain't pretty - it IS a very handsome car (take a look at it from all angles here, by shifting the slider)... The reason why I took so many pictures of the interior of the car, is coz I'm a very practical sort of person. I value the function of an item, more so than its looks. And if you're thinking if that is why I took so many pictures of the boot... yes, I think that's the car's greatest asset! hehehe pun intended! :p
For me, as a mother of three young kids, and wife to a husband whose second love is the great outdoors - having a car with a humongous boot, is truly an asset. We are the sort of people who go camping with an 8-men tent, a huge ice box, a real telescope, 2 foldable deck chairs, and enough food to have a steamboat for five grown men - on a two day one night camping trip. It's a pity we couldn't get to go camping with our Sharan."Our Sharan" ? See, feels like ours already :p

 With our normal cargo for the week, the boot is massive. So we can afford to bring the back row seats up (middle bottom picture below) - the back row which could comfortably seat 3 people even though they meant it for two. They must be German sized ;)

We can also choose to just bring down one seat (bottom extreme right pic), and have more boot space. But actually, we do that so that our helper can get into the car through the back, instead of us having to shift the kids' car seats in front to let her in by the sides.Hassle free, this way.
There are also a number of other automatic features which are new to me, and which I think is a boon, for convenience as well as safety.
  • The head lights are sensor driven and come on by themselves. I liked this as it was sometimes easy to forget to turn on the lights when driving in the evening, or when it rains heavily. It even comes on when you enter a dark carpark in the day time.
  • Windscreen wipers turn on automatically and would go faster if it was raining heavily. Which is cool, coz when it is raining heavily, the roads are slippery and vision is poor - I don't have to worry about fiddling with the wiper controls, and just concentrate on driving safely.
  • Side mirrors automatically tilt itself downwards when we are doing reverse parking - so that we can see the curb. I confess I never ever bother to do this with my own car, so it was very good that the Sharan would do it automatically! 
  • When reverse gear is on, the music (be it radio or CD) would switch off. I thought it was a very good safety feature - one less distraction!
  • Again, when in reverse gear, the LED display would show a view of the back where you are reversing to. It also shows the outline of where your car is expected to move to if your wheels were turned in whatever direction it was in at that time.
Even if you used the automatic parking feature the car has, you still retain some measure of control of the car because the Sharan does the steering, but you control the brakes and hence, the speed. Also, nothing beats a careful human eye to watch out for running children/pets or protruding structures when reversing into a lot. 
So, I was asking everyone the best one or two things they liked about the Sharan...

Shawna loved the built in sun shield in the sliding car door (above, extreme left). Frankly, I loved that she loved it because I didn't need to put up make-do sun shields for her as she complains about the sun shining in at her everyday! She also liked the control button at the side door which allows her to close the automatic door - she wouldn't be able to open the door though, coz we turned on the childlock.

Asher liked the sunroof. He would always ask us to open the shades to the sunroof which will leave the sunroof's glass panes closed, but the "ceiling window" clear, so that he can look through it at the trees and buildings we pass (above, extreme right). At first, we would resist doing so if it was the middle of the day - "It'd be so hot!" hubbs and I protested. But we agreed to bring back the shades as we are firm believers of learning from experience - so we figured that when the shades are withdrawn and when Asher feels the heat from the sun - he would learn his lesson and ask the shades to be put back on. But to our surprise, even though it was around noon time, it didn't feel hot at all! Apparently, the glass is tinted in a special way to admit the light, but reflect the heat! Miraculous! It made the car feel bright and cheery, without being hot. After that day, we would often drive with the ceiling shades withdrawn.

Isaac, when I asked him, said he liked the sunroof, the built in GPS navigation system( He liked seeing where we were going.) and, surprise surprise his three-point seat belt. I didn't expect him to name the seat belt as one of his favorite features, though it certainly is a feature I liked. If you see the second picture in this post, you can see that Isaac, even though being seated in the middle of the centre row, has a three-point seat belt - instead of a two point-just-across-the-waist seat belt that most cars have for the middle seat. Paranoid Mummy Pam, me, always fears that one day, Isaac might come flying out of his seat belt towards the windscreen. I pray that never happens, and was suitably pleased to see that the Sharan had a three point seat belt for all its seats.

Hubbs, as men would be, I suppose, said the car picked up pretty quickly (for such a big heavy car), and said that he was very impressed with the automatic parking system. We only used the automatic parking feature a couple of times, so it wasn't so much that we couldn't park the car ourselves, but that we were simply amazed that the car could park itself!
As for me... gosh, I am so gonna be revealing my inner Auntie-ness in this response... and lest I sound like I am gushing, I shall try to be brief in my description of the features I like which have not been mentioned above...

I love the keyless door opening system All I need is for the key to be in my pocket, and I can just slip my hand into the door handle and unlock the car. This is supremely handy since I am usually carrying ten million bags of the kids' stuff, or from the supermarket, or struggling with holding the umbrella while trying to carry one of the twins in a heavy down pour. I can even open/unlock the car from the passenger side door or the back (boot) door. Very handy.

The steering wheel has the radio/CD volume and chapter controls on it! This is immensely useful since I tend to always adjust the volume due to the kids' request to do so, or I also often lower the volume to hear what the kids are saying to me when they talk to me. They are at the stage where they get irritated if they are asked to repeat themselves, and yet very annoyed when they think we are not listening to them. They  have also started being aware of different songs and would like to request for specific songs at times. Thus, these controls on the steering wheel ranks as a safety feature with me - coz it keeps my hands on the wheel!

I also like it very much that I can flip up and down the back row seats with such ease that requires neither herculean strength, nor a genius engineer brain, and it doesn't put any of my fingers in danger of being crushed or snapped off. Very very much appreciated, thank you.

I also found it pretty incredible how the front seats can be adjusted in any and every way using those three controls on the side of the seat (bottom middle picture in the above collage), simply amazing. As such, I could achieve the very height, tilt or angle of the driver seat to my exact preference.
Last but not least, (my most auntie moment is here) I love it that because of the way the middle row flips up (see left hand side picture on the second last collage above) - it's very easy to clean!!! I can find the toys, and pick up the crackers the kids drop. I can easily vacuum away the crumbs of bread and other dirt that accumulates on the floor of cars... I can keep the car clean! Easily!

All too soon, the week came to an end. It was like having a friend come stay with us for a week long holiday. And now we say goodbye! With the Volkswagen Sharan going at $230k (including COE) as a recommended retail price, it's highly unlikely we'd be driving the Sharan again anytime soon. But if we should have this range of budget for a car in future, the Sharan is definitely a car which we will consider.

Meanwhile, thank you Volkswagen Singapore, for this week - the week we had a Volkswagen Sharan! :)

1 comment:

  1. oh gosh, i'd totally love the park assist! it should come in handy trying to park such a big car!


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