On the road
A wet winter morning in Hannover is – believe me – not the ideal time and place for testing a new van.
But even the mighty Volkswagen conglomerate doesn’t have the right connections to order up a sunny day, so I found myself peering warily through a rain-soaked screen as I cruised the neat suburbs of the German city while my co-pilot barked directions from the passenger seat.
It could have been a lot worse – the Caddy is no mean performer and in 2005 won the title of Fleet News small van of the year, so at least if I had to drive around in the rain on the wrong side of the road, I could do so with a certain amount of panache.
The Caddy DSG is such a smooth operator that it is difficult to believe this vehicle is actually a commercial one.
Gear changes are totally seamless and there is no perceptible loss of power when they occur.
Despite the bad weather, I felt totally relaxed behind the wheel.
The box can either be used as a full automatic or, nudging the lever sideways, the driver can paddle up and down through the gears manually.
Personally, I can’t see the point of all that old malarkey, but Volkswagen points out that at least it’s there if you want it.
Squeaks and rattles simply don’t exist and the Caddy’s general demeanour exactly mirrors that of its car brothers.
Under the bonnet, the 1.9-litre 103bhp turbodiesel engine offers plenty of power and mated to this new box, it is more silky and smooth that any other van I’ve driven.
Fuel consumption is reckoned to be 51.3mpg with no load aboard – that’s no mean feat for a van.
If I was an owner/driver I would consider £1,000 a bargain for the stress relief this DSG box brings.
As a fleet operator I would have to think long and hard.
But whatever the arguments are now, in the future auto boxes like this will be the norm, as they already are in North America, so it’s hats off to Volkswagen for taking the plunge first.