The Caddy is a van-derived car that offers the versatility to transport people or to carry loads with the seats folded down. When not used for work, it can seamlessly adapt into being the family vehicle.

Having driven diesel variants of the new Caddy Cargo, the main reason we were keen to get behind the wheel of the short-wheelbase Caddy Life was to try out the 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine.

The new Caddy is based on Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Matrix platform, which produces passenger cars such as the Golf, and the resulting level of comfort is enhanced by the smooth, quiet and responsive 114hp powertrain. This combines well with the enduringly slick seven-speed DSG transmission, which is available with the most powerful 2.0 TDI 122hp diesel unit as well as the petrol engine. The petrol unit is equipped with ACT technology that shuts off two of the engine’s four cylinders when possible within an engine range of 1,300rpm–3,200rpm. Efficient start/stop functionality further aids fuel economy in busy traffic.

The manufacturer replaced the old leaf spring rear suspension with a coil spring set-up and claims this is largely responsible for the Caddy’s comfort and superior ride quality. A more direct steering ratio than on the previous Caddy, together with new electrically assisted power steering, results in responsive handling that matches the best in the sector, including the Ford Transit Connect.

A payload of 506kg is not to be sniffed at in the passenger-carrying version of the Caddy (payloads in the Caddy Cargo panel van start at 606kg). You also get a useful load capacity of 1.9m3, compared with 3.1m3 in the single-cab Cargo.

The new digital cabin is clean but bare, and we are not convinced that the new controls are any more intuitive than the old buttons and switches. There is plenty of storage space though, including a lockable glovebox and an overhead shelf.

Volkswagen Caddy Life SWB 1.5 TSI 114PS 7spd DSG 

Price (ex VAT) £23,225

Price range (ex VAT) £17,800-£26,850

Insurance group tbc

Warranty 3yrs/100,000mls

Service intervals 10,000mls

Load length 1,707mm

Load width (min/max) 1,230mm/1,614mm

Load bay height 1,272mm

Gross payload 506kg

Load volume 1.9m3

Engine size/power 1,498cc/114hp

Combined fuel economy 42.2mpg

CO2 151g/km