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The old adage “cheapest isn’t always best” is obviously ringing in the ears of van buyers at present.

The van on test here, labelled Edition 30 in honour of the three decades that the Caddy has been around in one format or another, certainly isn’t cheap.

It weighs in at a hefty £19,060 ex-VAT against £14,015 ex-VAT for a top-of-the-range Citroën Berlingo Airdream LX 90 ESG 6.

But if it’s quality you want, this Caddy just oozes it from every pore. It has that hewn-from-stone feel and is predicted to keep 23% of its original value against 19% for the Berlingo, so what you lose at the front end will be clawed back to a certain extent later down the line. It also outshines the standard Caddy’s 24% RV.

But that doesn’t tell the full story – this Caddy has a good 50bhp advantage over the Berlingo, so part of the extra cash is paying for performance.

The Caddy’s six-speed DSG transmission is also a more expensive piece of kit than the ESG on the Berlingo, too, and many drivers will prefer its smoothness and lightnig-quick gearshifts compared with the lag-laden sequential manual of the Citroën.

The model on test here offers a more-than-lively 140bhp from its 2.0-litre common rail diesel engine and, with 236lb-ft of torque coming in at a low 1,750rpm, this van certainly won’t be left behind at the traffic lights.

In the back, the Caddy will swallow 3.2 cubic metres of cargo weighing 698kg.

When it comes to standard spec, the list is a long one.

There is a natty set of alloy wheels and roof rails outside while under the bonnet we get electronic stability control (ESC) as standard (unlike in the aforementioned Berlingo), along with ABS, Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Traction Control System (TCS) and engine drag torque control (MSR).

There’s stop-start to reduce idling time and save fuel in traffic, air-conditioning, cruise control, leather steering wheel and upholstery, rubber floor covering in the rear and a rear tailgate to replace the more usual double doors.

To top it all, the Edition 30 has special decals to distinguish it from lesser models.

It’s easy to see where most of the cash goes, although for most big fleet operators, this particular version would not be cost effective as many of the models lower down the Caddy range will cope with the business needs of the owners just as well.

But for smaller businesses, or perhaps owner-drivers who, like me, can’t spend long behind the wheel without yearning for our little creature comforts, it’s a great choice.

Behind the wheel
As one of the judges at this year’s Fleet Van Awards I was heartily behind the decision to name the Caddy Small Van of the Year. You’ve only got to get behind the wheel of one to feel just how well built it is.

The doors all snick shut nicely, the interior is fuss-free and virtually indestructible and once under way, the Caddy glides along as if it’s on rails.

This year the Caddy will come up against the new small rival the Mercedes-Benz Citan and Volkswagen is pulling out all the stops to make the Caddy looks and feel its best.

It has certainly come up trumps with the Edition 30, which looks a treat in those alloy wheels and black and white paint job.

Of course, all this has to be paid for as mentioned above and at the end of the day many fleet buyers will opt for more lowly Caddys. In fact, you can get one for £12,950 ex-VAT at the very bottom of the range.

One of the problems with upmarket versions like this is the colour-coded bumper arrangement.

As most vans get scuffed and knocked about during their working lives, we reckon they are better off with the black plastic variety even if they don’t look quite as good.

We were also surprised that this Caddy didn’t come with reversing sensors as standard.

Once you get used to having them (most of our test vans come with them nowadays), it’s surprising how vulnerable you feel when they are missing.

The engine is whisper quiet and the DSG gearbox is a delight to use, saving lots of unnecessary exertion of the clutch leg.

The fact that this model only comes with a mesh bulkhead did mean, however, that a fair amount of noise from the rear end intruded into the cab.

Verdict
With models like this on offer, Volkswagen is well placed to do battle with the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz Citan.