First Drive: Volkswagen Caddy Bluemotion

Date: Monday, June 6, 2011

The Caddy Bluemotion Technology 1.6-litre TDI 102hp is the green card in Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ pack.

It has claimed combined cycle fuel economy of 55.4mpg and CO2 output of 134g/km.
Volkswagen reckons the model has a range of 735 miles on a tank of fuel and indeed it does seem to take a concerted effort to get the fuel gauge to budge.
The manufacturer claims the Euro5 Bluemotion package has pushed down fuel usage and harmful emissions buy 11.7% and 10% respectively compared to its Euro4-standard predecessor.
Devices to boost the Caddy Bluemotion’s frugality include a stop/start system to cut out wasteful engine idling at traffic lights and when stuck in congestion, automatic battery regeneration when braking, aerodynamic wheel arch spoilers and low rolling resistance tyres.
The stop/start system works extremely efficiently, the engine cuts out promptly when the van draws to a halt and kicks-in again without any fuss or delay, unlike one or two other systems on the market, when pulling off.
The five-speed manual transmission on the van we drove worked smoothly in urban driving settings but on the open road the engine tended to labour when put into high gears without having built up a full head of steam beforehand.
Our van also had a slightly disconcerting tendency to coast along in third and fourth gears at a briskish pace without any throttle applied.
Servotronic power steering gives plenty of feedback and contributes to the Caddy’s precise handling.
An upright driving position offers reassuringly good vision and the ride is firm but comfortable, if a little unforgiving over speed humps and the craters and potholes that litter the capital’s road network.
On the inside there is a three-spoke steering wheel like the one on the larger Transporter. The décor is sober and sensible with black plastic and grey upholstery but the overall affect is a little dreary.
It’s not an innovative cabin but it is put together with quality materials and the controls are laid out in a straightforward and easy to use way.
There is ample storage space with a deep, full width shelf above the windscreen, a generous, open fronted glove box and bins in the doors with mouldings for drink containers.
The driving position can be adjusted to accommodate all shapes and sizes by way of a driver’s seat with height, reach and rake adjustment and a steering column which we were pleased to find is rake as well as height adjustable.
The 3.2 cu/m load area is easily accessed through a pair of asymmetrical rear-wing doors with heated rear window as well as a sliding nearside door.
There are six cargo tie down points and a full height bulkhead. The lower half is solid but the plastic mesh upper segment does mean that noise levels from the back can be intrusive in the cabin.
Safety is a strong point with ESP anti-skid control incorporating ABS, electronic diff lock and traction control coming as standard. The hazard lights come on under emergency braking and daytime running lights are now included.
Standard equipment in cab is not spectacular but does include cruise control and hill hold assist.
The van we tested includes options such as 15-inch alloys with 195/65 R15 tyres plus a steel spare for £470, Climatic air-conditioning for £775 and DAB digital radio for £135.
Most useful and highly recommended are the rear parking sensors, which provide excellent visual and audible guidance for £225.


An economical and well put together light van that sets a benchmark in its sector


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