First Drive: Volkswagen Caddy Bluemotion

Date: Tuesday, June 03, 2014   |   Author: James Dallas

The greenest version of VW’s light van range – the Caddy Bluemotion – went on sale in February in the UK, following its unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2013.

The fully fledged Bluemotion is 6mpg more efficient than the Caddy with Bluemotion Technology, which was previously the most economical model in the line-up.

VW claims the Caddy Bluemotion achieves 61.4mpg on the combined cycle and emits 119g/km of CO2.

The Bluemotion is powered by the manufacturer’s 1.6-litre TDI common-rail diesel engine with power output of 102hp and maximum torque of 250Nm. With a 60-litre fuel tank, VW says the van has a theoretical range of 800 miles.

The manufacturer has reduced fuel consumption through a combination of aerodynamic and engineering features such as stop/start, low-rolling resistance tyres, battery regeneration, more efficient engine control and by lowering the ride height by 27mm.

Offered in short wheelbase guise only, the Caddy Bluemotion is available in four trim levels and in panel van, Kombi and passenger carrying modes.

A badge at the rear, unique multi-spoke 15-inch full-wheel covers and painted body-coloured side guard strips distinguish the Bluemotion from its Caddy stablemates.

Standard features include hill hold assist and cruise control.

Based on an annual mileage of 30,000 and an average diesel price of 140p per litre, VW claimed the Caddy Bluemotion delivers a fuel cost saving of £744 over the standard 1.6-litre TDI 102hp model.

 

Excluding VAT, eco-conscious customers can get hold of a Bluemotion Caddy for £14,600 but the panel van we drove has a price tag of £15,195 once the additional optional equipment has been totted up.

Arguably the most useful and practical pieces of extra kit are the rear parking sensors, which for £240 provide valuable protection against the accidental bumps that can occur during a busy working day.

For £210 the van gets body-coloured bumpers and wing mirrors, electrically heated and adjustable mirrors and electric windows. Front fog lights with cornering function come for £195 but keeping cool under pressure requires an £810 outlay on the climatic manual air-conditioning system.

The leather multi-function steering wheel makes life easier for the driver for £300, Bluetooth is a £275 addition and the questionable appeal of metallic paint can be enjoyed for £375.

 

Caddys are renowned for their rock solid build quality and the Bluemotion derivative maintains the reputation. Despite the fuel-saving devices employed, the 102hp engine offers ample power and works well in conjunction with the five-speed manual gearbox – particularly when driving in the city. On the motorway however, it can seem strange not to have a sixth gear when so many LCVs now do come equipped with the extra cruising gear.

The servotronic speed related power steering, is true and dependable and the cruise control is simple to use and efficient. ESP comes as standard, which is thankfully becoming the norm for many manufacturers, including VW and breaking in an emergency situation will trigger the hazard lights to come on automatically.

A reach and rake adjustable steering column aids driver comfort as does the driver’s seat with reach, rake and height adjustment.

There is ample storage space, including a generous compartment in the centre console, and four drinks holders. Typically for VW, the interior is well finished with few frills, but it does look a little dull – particularly when compared to that of the new Ford Transit Connect.

The Bluemotion’s radio and single, MP3 compatible, CD player are accompanied by an AUX-in socket but when travelling at anything approaching motorway speeds without a load in the back, hearing what might have been coming out of the two speakers in our test van was problematic.

This was largely because the load box, which is accessed by glazed asymmetric rear doors and a nearside sliding door, contains no ply-lining whatsoever to counter the wind and road noise. The fact that the full-height bulkhead has a solid lower but plastic mesh upper section to allow a rear-view through the glazed rear doors, means there is little to protect the cabin from the considerable racket coming from behind.

 

Verdict

The frugal Bluemotion retains many of the Caddy’s traditional virtues but we’d recommend a solid bulkhead and ply-lining for the load bay.

 



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