Volkswagen has boosted safety and equipment levels across its Caddy line-up and reduced prices for petrol versions of the light van.

The upgrades, which mark the introduction of the 2018 model year Caddy, include the standard addition of autonomous emergency braking (AEB – Front Assist with City Emergency Braking) and driver alert across the range.

Motor insurance research centre Thatcham has branded AEB “probably the most significant development in vehicle safety since the seat belt”.

VW claimed vehicles fitted with autonomous braking systems have an average insurance premium reduction of 10% compared to those not fitted with the equipment.

The new safety feature complements the post-collision braking system VW introduced to the Caddy with the lunch of the current generation in 2015.

Starting from the entry-level Startline, all vans get a leather multifunction steering wheel and multifunction display while 2018 Trendline models now feature climatic air conditioning. Flagship Highline models gain Volkswagen’s Discover Media satellite navigation system.

To encourage take-up of petrol models VW has reduced prices, with the base Startline 1.2 TSI 84hp now costing £13,745 (all prices exclude VAT) – a saving of about £1,000 compared to the previous price.

Two other petrol models are offered, a 1.0-litre 102hp three-cylinder unit and the range-topping 1.4-litre 125hp four-cylinder engine, which is offered with the option of a seven-speed DSG transmission from the mid-specification Trendline trim.

Petrol Caddy panel van prices peak at £20,710 for the 1.4 125hp TSI with DSG transmission.

Prices for the 2.0-litre TDI diesel Caddy span from £14,625 to £23,680.

Sarah Cox, head of Marketing for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles claimed the additional safety kit had made the Caddy the safest light van on the road.