I am instructed to pick up the Multivan from Volkswagen's swishy head office in Dubai, where I am met in its leather-seated, coffee house-cool reception area by Denis Schreiber, a young man whose job it is to check vehicles in and out of the car maker's press fleet.
Schreiber is a student intern, temporarily transplanted to this country from Ostfalia Hochschule für angewandte Wissenchaften(a university for applied sciences that is also, uncoincidentally, based in Volkswagen's hometown of Wolfsburg). No doubt before he arrived here he wondered if, in the line of his duties, he might be tossed the keys to an Audi R8 for the weekend, or told to take a Touareg out for a good thrash in the desert. I'm not sure he ever imagined having to explain the complexities of an upmarket people carrier to a slightly sweaty Englishman.
As we walk towards the vehicle in the heat of the midday sun, I tell Denis I am a boring family man who is genuinely looking forward to taking the Multivan for a long drive. He thinks I might be joking.
The Multivan is, you understand, aimed squarely at a certain kind of customer. That man (and yes, there is something distinctly masculine about this vehicle) is probably operating in the middle years of his life, he is definitely married and has at least a couple of children. He is stoic in his approach to adversity. Indeed, the only crisis he has so far encountered in his midlife involved the words "global" and "financial", instead of "sports cars" and "secretaries".
He is the type of chap who, even if he had the money, would disregard a Lamborghini Reventon as "woefully impractical" because it lacks a set of back seats to park the kids in. He thinks a Porsche Panamera looks quite nice but laughs at its titchy boot and its almost complete absence of rear headroom. He worked out some time ago that he is not cool - in fact, come to think of it, he may never have been cool, at any stage in his life - and yet he's perfectly, erm, cool with that. If truth be told, I bear more than a passing resemblance to that man. Schreiber, of course, does not. He is young and restless, while I am old and listless.
Based on VW's Transporter Group T platform, the Multivan's blood lines can be traced back to the split-screen camper van that was the transport of choice for hippies in the Sixties. Quite what those tuned-in, turned-on, dropped-out Woodstock veterans would make of the latest generation model is difficult to know. If the Mk1 had character, the Mk5 has cargo space. Its straight back and sides are unlikely to impress anyone with even a passing interest in aesthetics. Beauty, it is fair to say, is not one of the Multivan's strong suits.
Thankfully, those set-square lines all start to make sense once you hop inside. That high roof and long body deliver an enviable amount of space for passengers. In the Highline specification on test here, you get seven well-proportioned leather seats, arranged in two rows of two single chairs and a rear bench for three further passengers. The middle pair can be rotated to face forwards or backwards, while both second and third rows can be moved up and down the cabin or folded away to extend legroom or storage capacity. An additional rail-mounted fold-out round table and storage cubby, complete with cup holders and magazine rack, sits in this area too.
Predictably, the cabin is peppered with all manner of smart storage solutions, including under-seat drawers and a bottle cubby upfront that's big enough to hold a familysized 1.5L bottle of water. This may all sound like trivial stuff, but these little touches matter a great deal in the family market. As do the Multivan's three-zone climate control, long list of safety features, its DVD unit and its Digital Voice Enhancement system, which deploys microphones and small speakers in the vehicle's roof lining, and means the driver can hold a normal conversation with a passenger in the back of the van without having to bellow at the top of his lungs. Clever stuff.
Those Transporter roots reemerge once you move out on the open road. Drive the Multivan for any distance and you find yourself leaning forward over the steering wheel, hands on its top, your elbows at its base, mimicking the style of deliverymen the world over.
But here's the surprise. You'll end up being impressed by how responsive the Multivan's 3.2L V6 engine is - Volkswagen claims a top speed of 205kph - and you'll allow yourself a wry smile every time you flick its six-speed automatic gearbox into sport mode.
You'll grow to love its workmanlike attitude on the road, its uncomplaining nature, its rock-solid build quality and how unfussy the whole package feels. You'll appreciate its upmarket touches, like its electrically sliding side doors. You'll do this while you reconcile yourself to driving around town in a vehicle that has almost no street credibility. Even your own children will chastise you for looking like a painter and decorator on your way to your next job.
But you will tell them that they are too young to fully comprehend such matters, that they will eventually know better. That one day they too will realise the future of motoring is not shaped like a Ferrari or an Aston Martin but looks, instead, more like a delivery van with windows. Or, to be precise, a Volkswagen Multivan with privacy glazing and integral courtesy blinds.
Price Dh157,000 (base) / Dh195,000 (as tested)
Engine 3.2L V6
Gearbox six-speed automatic
Power 232hp @ 6,200rpm
Torque 315Nm @ 2,950rpm
Fuel economy, combined 12L/100km