How I learned a lesson from a colourful Volkswagen Caddy
It's a bit flash and fun, but expensive
You live and you learn. I certainly did so with the Volkswagen Cross Caddy. This is a beefed-up people-carrying version of the well-known van, with five seats and a large cargo area.
Bearing in mind I had an imminent lesson, let me take you through the thought processes that accompanied my first hours in this.
I just loved it. Loved the look of it, the bronze/orange colour, the front seats, the three good-size ones across the back and the sliding door to get into them, the huge boot, the excellent 1.6-litre diesel engine, the sat nav, the interface, the exceptional driving-height position, 17ins Canon alloys and much more.
Here, I felt, was one of the great combinations of stout-van practicality, family carrying comfort, and bit of flash.
I wouldn't say it was great over bumpier roads or was anything other than decent on the better ones, but by golly it was solidly comfortable.
Ideal, I felt, for a family who'd like to save money on buying a second car and use this as a combination of load-lugger and MPV.
By the way, the basic Caddy is one of the great workhorses and I'm fond of the Caddy Life series - I like the people-carrying models.
What they have done with this Cross version is given it some of the coolest looks a van-derived motor has received in a long time.
They have cleverly, with the Cross body styling pack, bestowed an off-road look with different bumpers, side skirts - as well as better ground clearance, 17ins alloys etc. There is an all-wheel-drive 4Motion version too, though perhaps it is more suited to the larger 2-litre diesel. And, for €810 more, you can get a seven-seater version. Not bad.
It so happened I had a longish couple of drives down the country; one, sadly, to a funeral. My Cross Caddy - because of its colour I'd christened it Motorwork Orange - cruised down the motorway (say what you like but we have a great major road network now).
One of the lessons I've learned is that you can never leave early enough for something like a funeral or a flight. Anything can happen to delay you.
On this occasion, thankfully, it didn't and I found myself pulling into a parking slot an hour early. I've come to treasure such saved time and the feeling of no pressure and not rushing. I often get a nice bit of work done as well.
This time, it also meant I had loads of time for a cup of tea, a leisurely stroll and, as luck would have it, meeting up with a colleague also on his way to the church as I emerged from the Caddy after putting in another parking slip.
That's when I got a bit of a shock and learned my lesson. He pointed out that the price was €36,000 (I should have checked more closely - it is usually the first thing I look for) and the car didn't even have air con (I'd wondered about that).
Suddenly my plan to proclaim this as the answer to Middle Ireland's tandem family/business transport needs began to wither.
Yes, it is too expensive at that price. You can get more conventional people carriers (MPVs) for that money. I was deflated. But I'd learned a lesson. And I had a couple more to pick up.
One was that the price didn't change or affect the strengths of the core car as I cruised along later. The same principles applied: it was still impressively versatile and sturdy. I had plenty of room all over. And so did my passengers on subsequent spins.
Another was to realise this is a flagship, albeit pricey, of sorts and there are less flamboyant, but equally effectively, Caddys out there that cost less. They make more sense, even if visually less impressive. So maybe there is still hope for Middle Ireland's two-in-one car.
All is rarely as it seems in life or in cars. The thing is to realise that and learn from it. As I certainly did with the Cross Caddy on a number of fronts.
Now for my next lesson...
Facts & figures
Volkswagen Cross Caddy diesel (1,598cc, 102bhp, 147g/km, road tax €390, 5.8litres/100km).
Standard equipment included: Bluetooth, centre console with adjustable armrest, cruise control, radio navigation system, Bi-xenon headlamps with separate LED daytime running lights, Park Assist, front/rear parking sensors, rain sensitive wipers, 17ins alloys, silver roof rails, rear privacy glass, Cross body styling, front fogs.
Price: €36,745 (VAT €5,669, VRT €6,422). Remember: delivery/related charges are extra.
My side of the road
It's always that bit more risky when you are driving/holidaying abroad so let me just warn you of one area to watch out for.
People come out of side roads when they have no right to. It is a cultural thing, I think. They expect you to slow down. So if you see a bonnet protruding prepare to brake hard because it's likely they'll take a chance. Have you had any close encounters abroad?