The vehicle I’ve just been road-testing has air conditioning, heated front screen, satnav, alloy wheels, cruise control and assisted emergency braking.
Could be any upmarket family car. But it’s not. It’s a van. The latest Volkswagen Caddy proves that just because it’s a van, it doesn’t have to be noisy, uncomfortable or short on creature comforts.
Van drivers often spend most of their working day in their vehicles, which means comfort becomes as important as practicality. The Caddy takes this on board, so the cab environment is not that different from any other car.
The biggest difference is that instead of having seats behind the driver, you have the cargo area. My test car had a mesh upper bulkhead, so you still get the booming and rattles you expect from a van. But apart from the noise, you could be in any vehicle.
The Caddy is comfortable and pleasing to drive. I tested the Highline model with increased height in the cargo area, giving a payload of 643 kilograms.
The load area has a hardboard roof trim and half-height side panels which all help control noise. There is a single nearside sliding door. The rear doors are asymmetric, and unlike some vans they are glazed so you still get good rear visibility, though it is somewhat compromised by the mesh bulkhead. Rear parking sensors come as standard, though.
Driving position is good – quite high if you raise the driver’s seat – and instruments are simple and clear. Despite its height this vehicle still handles well. Cornering is crisp and positive and the ride is soft without being too wallowy.
I drove the Caddy Highline powered by a 1.4 litre 125 bhp turbocharged petrol engine linked to a pleasant six-speed manual gearbox. It’s more than adequate for the purpose. Inside the vehicle it feels refined, with good flexibility and power whenever you need it. Fuel consumption is good – around 47.9 miles to the gallon in mixed driving.
There’s plenty of cabin storage space in this vehicle. As well as glove-box, dash storage and big door pockets, there is storage space over the windscreen and under the front seats and four drinks holders. The load compartment has six lashing eyes and lighting. My test car had the option of a rubber load floor cover (£114) as well as a winter pack which included heated front screen (£552).
Standard equipment on the vehicle which I tested includes 16 inch alloy wheels with a full-size steel spare, touch-screen DAB radio/MP3 player and Bluetooth, with steering wheel-mounted controls, electrically adjustable door mirrors, remote central locking, cruise control, automatic wipers and electric windows.
The Caddy gives you a lot of van for your cash – which is just £16,790 plus VAT for this specification. My test car also came with satellite navigation (£606) and metallic paint (£456).