Eco this and green that, every industry’s marketing departments seem to be jumping on the environmental bandwagon, but when it comes to vehicle manufacturers there’s actually a valid point. We may not exactly be saving the planet by driving ‘greener’ light commercials — there needs to be a dramatic reduction in human breeding rates for that to happen — but we can save money by running about in more efficient vehicles.
Volkswagen’s take on this efficiency drive is BlueMotion and the latest LCV to join the line-up is the Caddy. The approach is simple; take a standard 104hp (250Nm @ 1,900rpm) 1.9-litre direct injection short-wheelbase Caddy with a 3.2m3 load volume, fit a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter), modify the gear ratios and strap on low rolling resistance tyres — in this case Michelin Energy Savers.
In addition you also get cruise control, a trip computer and a tyre repair kit — to save the weight of the spare wheel — over and above the standard van’s specification.
The result is an official combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 45.6mpg — an improvement of 5.3 per cent — and a 10g/km reduction in CO2 emissions, taking it down to 149g/km.
Some other interesting changes also enter the mix. Gross vehicle weight is down by 81kg and kerb weight by 2kg which reduces the gross payload to 641kg. Overall height is reduced by 27mm, making the rear loading height 560mm. Braked towing weight, however, is up by 75kg to 1,500kg.
Blue Caddy comes with ABS — including traction control — remote central locking with deadlocking, driver’s airbag, full bulkhead with a solid steel lower half topped-off by a plastic mesh grille and a sliding side load door.
There is bags of storage space provided with an overhead shelf, lidless glovebox, two trays in the facia, four drinks holders and a bin in the centre console, as well as deep bins in the doors.
Thanks to a height-adjustable seat and a steering column with reach as well as rake adjustment it’s easy to set up just the right driving position.
The hydraulic power steering is excellent with plenty of feel and a good weight to it. Turn-in is sharp and Caddy corners flat thanks to a ride veering towards the hard side, but not uncomfortably so.
There’s more than sufficient torque provided and the gear ratios remain well spaced with a positive feel to the floor-mounted gearchange. All-in-all there is no perceptible difference between the performance of the standard Caddy and the BlueMotion version.
The only thing we would suggest changing is switching the upper mesh section of the bulkhead for a solid steel or composite plastic one; the latter would be lighter and more in line with the BlueMotion ethos. This would help cut down the noise emanating from the load area.
Like all Caddys, the BlueMotion is covered by a three-year/100,000 mile mechanical warranty which includes breakdown assistance in the UK and mainland Europe.
At a basic price of £13,270 (excl VAT) BlueMotion adds £950 to the cost of the standard 104hp Caddy and even at today’s cost of diesel, its going to take a fair old mileage to recoup it. We would rather forego the BlueMotion badge and spend the money on a DSG semi-auto gearbox instead.