After selling more than 600,000 units in 15 years of the Sharan's first generation, Volkswagen introduced its successor at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show.
Volkswagen and Ford formed a joint venture to build MPVs and resulted in the Sharan and Galaxy, respectively, but in 2010 the blue-oval badge brand dropped the ball, and Volkswagen had to decide if it would continue the project on its own. And it did it, launching the second generation of the Sharan, which was still produced at the same factory as its predecessor.
Since it was left alone on this project, the German carmaker used the same PQ46 platform used on the Passat. The design was sharper, with clear lines and angular-shaped headlights that resembled a similar look as the rest of the Volkswagen's range, following a common design language. Even though it looked more like a taller station wagon, the Sharan featured rear sliding doors fitted as standard. Moreover, it was fitted with LED daytime running lights and offered with an option for bi-xenon headlights.
Inside, the seven-seat cabin, with a 2-3-2 layout, provided enough room for adult-sized passengers on the first and middle rows, while the third was more appropriate for children. The dashboard's design was inspired by the Passat, with a tall center stack that was continued on the center console. It comprised the infotainment unit placed on top. The instrument cluster featured two larger dials for the speedometer and tachometer that flanked a small TFT display for the onboard computer. By folding all the seats, apart from the driver's one, the Sharan could reach up to 2,430 liters (85.8 cu-ft) of storage space.
Under the hood, the carmaker installed a wide choice of diesel and gasoline engines paired to either a six-speed manual or a 5- or 6-speed automatic.
Volkswagen revealed a facelifted version for Sharan's first generation in 2000, four years after the model's introduction.
When Ford and Volkswagen joined forces to produce a seven-seat minivan, the two carmakers shared platforms, parts, interiors, and engines. Over time, the German carmaker started to think that it should build the minivan under its own rules and design language, and the first changes appeared on the 2000 Sharan.
The bio-design era was at its dusk, and the new-edge-design was at its dawn. Volkswagen saw that and reshaped the headlights in a more angular style with sharp lines. The Sharan's grille resembled the one installed on the Passat with its four horizontal slats. Also, the steep hood and the lower bumper followed the same improved design, with straight angles and clear lines. At the back, there was a new design for the taillights.
Inside, Volkswagen installed a new dashboard heavily inspired by the Passat's fifth generation, with a half-round instrument cluster and identical dial layout. In the center stack, the carmaker made room for a new sound system and a small storage area. The car was now offered with seven seats as standard, with an option for six individual seats. Its second and third rows were folding and removable, resulting in a cavernous, van-like storage volume.
Under the hood, the German carmaker installed a new engine generation ranged between 90 hp and 204 hp. Depending on the version, the Sharan offered an option for a manual or an automatic transmission.
Volkswagen joined forces with Ford to fight on the European MPV market against the Franco-Italian dominance in the segment.
While Renault was the leading carmaker in the segment, PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) and Fiat joined to build the so-called Eurovans (Peugeot 806, Citroen Evasion, Fiat Ulysse, and Lancia Zetta). Ford and Volkswagen allied and produced the Ford Galaxy, Volkswagen Sharan, and Seat Alhambra on the opposing corner. But the Europeans didn't have a big taste for MPVs, and soon they started to shift their preferences towards the SUV segment.
The Sharan featured a sloped front end, with the raked windshield that followed the same line as the hood. Its narrow, raked headlights were swept-back on the sides with corner-mounted turn signals. Between them, the carmaker installed a black-slatted grille, which sported the chromed VW badge in the middle. A small, triangular window was mounted between the A-pillar and the door opening.
Inside, the Sharan featured standard with five seats on the base trim level but was available with seating for up to seven in a 2-3-2 configuration. Despite being slightly longer than a regular compact-segment station wagon, it offered plenty of room for them. The remaining trunk was big enough for seven Subway sandwiches with all seats in place in the seven-passenger option.
The Sharan offered a choice of four engines built by Volkswagen. There were two gasoline versions and two turbo-diesel. The latter was the preferred one on the European market.