Former Disney imagineer designs awesome go-anywhere KiraVan for his daughter
Volkswagen Caddy 1.6 TDI DSG: month two
Model: Volkswagen Caddy 1.6 TDI DSG
On fleet since: June 2011
Total mileage: 1,011
Official combined mpg: 48.7
Actual mpg: 42
Engine: 1.6-litre turbodiesel
Trim: C20 1.6 TDI 102PS DSG
Performance: 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds, 104mph top speed
Power/torque: 102hp/184lb ft@1,500rpm
Insurance group: 5 E
List price: £17,989 OTR inc. VAT
Options fitted: Electric windows/mirrors (£280), alloy wheels (£470), radio upgrade inc. aux-in (£125), DAB radio (£135), rear doors with opaque glass (£0), bulkhead deleted (£0), alarm (£140), trip computer with multi-function display (£190), passenger airbag, driver and passenger side airbag (£345), rubber load floor covering (£80)
Price as tested: £19,745
Pros: Engine is getting smoother and smoother, economy improving too, practicality is quickly becoming indispensable, relaxing to drive
Cons: DSG gearbox can get confused when parking, pedal positioning, lack of parking sensors proving an issue
Where have I been?
I've actually been using the Caddy quite a bit, the daily commute a chance to bond with my little van and get to know its quirks and a quiet spell of roadtest cars meaning more day-to-day use than I might have expected.
With the warm weather I've also been encouraged to get out on the bike a lot too so it's been kept busy at weekends ferrying bikes and kit down to my regular riding spot in Surrey, a mixed hour's journey taking in motorway and lanes.
All of which means I've been driving the Caddy on all sorts of roads, giving me plenty of opportunity to get into the groove and explore its abilities across the board. And, you know what, it's pretty damned impressive.
I've also found myself adopting a surprisingly chilled out driving style too with, whisper it, something of an obsession with maximising my mpg. Maybe it's the fuel prices or perhaps I'm just not rushing so much but it's quite refreshing.
It's telling how many vans get used for stuff like this too. The car park up at my local riding spot of Aston Hill (the hillclimb Aston Martin is named after) is full of moonlighting commercial vehicles and you'll see the same at any surf spot or similar.
The Caddy might not be quite as cool as the VW camper I snapped it with there but in van terms it's clearly very high up in the pecking order, VW vans very popular among crossover buyers. My Caddy also made an amusing pairing with a similarly orange Unimog that lives on my road.
What do I like?
The practicality is a biggie. Being able to just sling the bikes in whole and go opens up more opportunities for after-work riding trips, especially with the long evenings. And that has to be a good thing.
The Caddy already feels like an indispensable part of my life and I'm dreading it going, even though that's some months away. I'm also really impressed with the engine and gearbox combo.
It was smooth to start with but with 1,000 miles now on the clock it's now even better and fuel consumption on the commute has improved by around 10% with a few miles on the clock and close to the 48.7mpg official figure.
On the move the DSG gearbox is great too, smooth in auto and satisfying to use in manual, which I'm doing more than more to short-shift earlier than it does in auto to maximise the diesel torque and keep the mpg score healthy.
What don't I like?
Parking can be a bit heart in mouth at times, the DSG gearbox sometimes a little slow to engage on slopes meaning the Caddy can roll away with itself and then suddenly lurch off in the opposite direction.
As such it feels like the DSG transmissions of a generation ago in VW group passenger cars, which seem to have lost this quirk. The seven-speeder is bang up to date though so perhaps it's a case of simpler software for the van.
This, the blanked out rear windows and the lack of parking sensors (a stupid oversight of mine when I specced it) is proving a bit of a worry. My usual habit of left foot braking in autos seems to confuse the gearbox too and isn't comfortable given the pedal's height off the floor.
What next for the Caddy?
Another option I suspect I may regret not going for is air con, especially given that the Caddy's next major assignment will be a trip camping to France for my honeymoon. Much as I want the good weather to hold I fear it might be a bit hot in the van.
Before that the wedding itself means there'll be plenty of call for the Caddy's load carrying ability as I ferry boxes of wine and other bits and bobs to the wedding venue ahead of the big day. Though I do have something else in mind for the proper wedding car...
And then there's the news that the race Caddy's driver, VW commercial vehicles boss Simon Elliott, has moved on to bigger and better things. Could there be an opportunity to have another go in the racing Caddy, this time in the heat of competition? We'll see.
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