Friday 2 December 2016

Lapping it up: from Caddy to Golf R

Published 17/06/2015 | 02:30

Irish Independent Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham drives the VW Caddy van at Mondello
Irish Independent Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham drives the VW Caddy van at Mondello
Irish Independent Motoring Editor Eddie Cuinningham drives the VW Golf R at Mondello
The SEAT Leon 1.8-litre TSI in action at Mondello

YOU'D think I'd be getting a bit of sense at my age but not a bit of it.

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Imagine me getting into a van - yes a van - and barrelling around a race track in it.

The stuff of madness. But the stuff of fun too - if you can take coming last.

I think I was mere hundredths of a second behind on the 'scoreboard' - at least I was when I left.

And it was the stuff of the serious too when we came to talk about it.

Just think of the safety, structural and technological advances in the likes of the Caddy over the past 20 or 30 years. Could you imagine doing what I did with it way back then?

Possibly, but I'm not so sure you'd have as much reassurance or as wide a margin for error as I enjoyed.

Mine was rock solid and never slipped an inch or threatened to roll or skid on me despite my choppy driving. I'm only sorry I didn't trust it a bit more and lash it harder.

That van took some abuse in the course of the Volkswagen Group open day at Mondello on Monday, I can tell you.

For the record it was the Caddy Edition 30, 2-litre TDI 140bhp version with nothing added - except me and a patient companion.

It was still there to the good when I left.

By then I had swept around in a rally-like SEAT Leon 1.8-litre TSI 180bhp. I was second fastest in that last time I looked. Plenty of pep there; I was fully strapped in and could have gone on and on.

And then there was the Golf R, all 300bhp 2-litre TSi 4MOTION of it.

I've been spoilt this past week getting a chance to drive it and the Honda Civic Type R (last week in Slovakia) .

I drove the Golf around Mondello at pace but it didn't feel mad fast. That is not meant to be a criticism of it at all. It is just how the car drove. It always seemed to have more in reserve than I could call on.

No straining, no screeching of tyres, just more and more power every time I asked. I felt it would take something awfully stupid from me (always capable of that, of course) to discommode it in any way.

Funny feeling, you know, cracking around like that and feeling quite secure and emboldened to go faster all the time.

I was behind the SEAT Leon Cupra (a real engaging drive where there is a more immediate sense of speed) and the lead car and felt I always had plenty left.

The R is, I reckon, one of those understated powerhouses. It was almost dismissive of the stresses and strains I contrived to place upon it around what is a technical course and one that will find a driver's and car's weakness in no time.

Away from the track itself ranged a large number of other Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and Skoda models.

There for driving and perusal were some interesting additions to existing, and extensive, lineups.

The new Passat estate in black - a few people remarked that they prefer it to the saloon - looked the part. I'm coming around to thinking the front is a lot smarter looking than I have given it credit for.

And there was the tasty little Skoda Fabia in a good vibrant colour - not black which takes from it.

And the Cross Caddy people carrier.

And the Audi TT, which I reviewed recently, was getting plenty of drives.

The Volkswagen Group Day is a means whereby motoring writers like myself can catch up with all the models - in advance of the upcoming 152-reg starting from July 1.

And there were lots of models as the group is responsible for the VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands - passenger and commercial vehicles.

Sales generally for the 152 period are expected to be well up on last year.

And that includes vans.

Indo Motoring

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