Entirely inadvertently I've been the one racking up a good chunk of the recent miles recently accrued in the Caddy. It's on nearly 10,000 now, in fact, and will return to Volkswagen pretty soon. In the last few weeks it's been transport to Anglesey for Autocar's Britain's Best Driver's Car feature, to Somerset to pick up the Ariel Atom, back home from the PistonHeads Sporting Tour and to leafy Oxfordshire for a spin (not literally) in the updated F-Type. And helped friends move house. And meant to help other friends move house, were it not for a date mix up. By me. Whoops...
So yeah, it's been pretty busy. And you know what? It's fine. My back isn't in agony, I'm not deaf, the crosswinds of coastal Wales didn't quite manage to blow us into the Irish Sea... It's all been perfectly pleasant. I'm more than happy to jump in it whenever required; in fact, given our travails of the past few weeks, I'm becoming quite fond of the Caddy. Vans, even today, have a bad reputation when it comes to civility, yet even after six hours and 300 miles home from Anglesey the other Wednesday we were still friends. Just.
While the commercial origins can never be entirely escaped - hearing both the fuel slosh around and the constant echo of an empty load space see to that - there are sufficient concessions to comfort to make long journeys tolerable. Bear in mind that this is fundamentally a 15 year-old design now (an MQB-based replacement can't be far off) and you'll get along just fine. Drive it like a car and very quickly some quite ugly limits will be reached but, come on.
Far better to make the most of the Caddy's considerable torque (251lb ft, or 15lb ft more than a Polo GTI) to make mischief off roundabouts, cruise smugly past another petrol station as that huge tank of sloshing diesel slowly depletes and catch up on podcasts with Apple CarPlay. (Worth noting that on a Caddy that costs £150; on a Ferrari 488 Spider it's £2,400. Huh.) Driven that way, with the heated seats toasting your buttocks just so and the engine reasonably subdued at around 2,000rpm, the Caddy is a perfectly acceptable way to cover long distances.
That's not to say there aren't problems, of course. Chief among those, as a (rightly) very angry Skoda Octavia driver will attest, is the Caddy's huge over-the-shoulder blind spot. Of course that's not an issue unique to the VW - it's just a van thing - but how the issue hasn't been mitigated in 2018 with standard fit blind spot monitors is a mystery. Certainly I'd wager it would be more useful than the front assist which, as in other VW installations, is much too paranoid about impending collisions than it needs to be.
In addition, it seems odd given the remit of vans (sometimes carrying a lot of weight; sometimes not) that an adaptive suspension set up isn't used more widely. While it would of course add extra cost, surely the tech isn't that new that it would be prohibitively expensive. The potential is there, presumably, to make a van more usable unladen and more comfortable when full to the brim - though there's probably something obvious I'm missing there.
And that sort of sums up the Caddy. Any issues aren't of critical importance, and it'll continue to complete every task required of it for as long as is needed. It's never going to be a glamorous mode of transport, but for dutifully carrying out everything and anything that you want done, the Caddy has proved just a little endearing. There's talk of an epic track battle with the Up GTI to bid the van a proper farewell, but I'd be surprised if it happens - what if the Up were to lose?
Car: Volkswagen Caddy Highline 2.0 TDI 150ps
On fleet since: January 2018
Mileage: 9,336 (delivered on 120)
List price new: £21,330 (As tested £26,629 comprised of £504 for deep black pearlescent paint with Titanium black upholstery, £600 for Winter pack including headlight washers, heated washer jets, washer fluid level indicator, heated driver's and front passenger seats and electric auxiliary air heater, £252 for rear parking sensors with rear view camera, £78 for lumbar support for driver and front passenger seats, £144 for high beam assist, £114 for electrically foldable and adjustable heated mirrors and £150 for App-connect).
Last month at a glance: Has a Caddy been to Anglesey before?