First generation (Typ 7M; 1995–2010)
The name Sharan is derived from a Persian word meaning “Carrier of Kings”. The Volkswagen Group subsequently rebadged the Sharan in 1995, and sold it as the SEAT Alhambra alongside the Sharan. All variants were produced at the joint venture plant AutoEuropa in Portugal, alongside the closely related Ford Galaxy.
Each of the three MPV models had its own subtle differences in exterior, and, for the Galaxy, in interior design. The first generation’s initial design was completed under Greg M Greeson, an American designer employed in Volkswagen’s Advanced Design Studio in Düsseldorf, Germany from 1989 to 1990. It was launched in May 1995.
As of 2007, the annual production for the Sharan is in the 50,000 unit range; it is sold in Europe, South Africa and some Asia Pacific and Latin American countries. In Mexico, it was available with the 1.8L Turbo 4 cil 150 hp (112 kW) with five speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox in Comfortline trim only, while in Argentina it is available with the 1.8L Turbo and the 1.9L TDI 115 hp four cylinder engines, in both five speed manual and five speed Tiptronic transmissions in Trendline trim only.
In total, Volkswagen sold almost 670,000 units of its Sharan over 15 years.
The Sharan is not sold in the United States and Canada. Originally, this was due to an agreement between Ford and Volkswagen, leaving the market free from competition for Ford’s Aerostar minivan. More recently, Volkswagen decided not to introduce the Sharan in North America, ceased developing the Microbus concept, and instead introduced a badge-engineered variant of the Chrysler minivans as the Routan. This was launched in 2009, and replaced the Sharan in Mexico, the only North American country in which it was sold.
Scoring 200 points on the United Kingdom Reliability Index, the Sharan is considered very unreliable when compared to the average vehicle score of 100, while a very reliable vehicle scores 60 or below. The average age and repair cost of the tested Sharan was 5,3 years and covered 63,546 miles.