I almost bought a Golf R
You can see it didn't go to plan
Now many will judge me for this and I fully understand the many reasons why they would, but before I go on about my "Donkey", let me explain my strange buying choice for a daily driver and why I ended up with this instead of the Golf GTE or Golf R (if lucky) which I'd planned for over three years to buy.
It was about October last year that I started needing a daily driver for work, at first I thought about something like a VW Touran as it would be handy for the parents business when I wasn't using it (because it could, well, double up as a van) But after some wise words from my mother saying "get yourself something for you and f#@k everyone else" that I decided to ignore all ideas of long-term practicality and buy myself the car I'd wanted for a while now, a performance Golf. I had driven every variation of fast Golf through work by this point and narrowed it down to a very strict criteria that could not exceed £20000 (not buying new obviously).
Sadly Clubsport S was not on the list, as I'd have to sell a kidney to buy one (photo from Volkswagen)
So off I went to the City to look around all the dealerships and immediately noticed the recurring theme, there was a LOT of under two year old GTDs for sale and they were way cheaper than a lesser spec GTI (nobody seems to want a performance Diesel VW for some reason) and I've said it before that a GTD would be the only diesel car I'd ever want to buy, but I resisted the temptation and proceeded to look for the actual choice I'd intended, but I could only see one base model GTE, a 16' plate for £16950.
After about 3 hours of looking (there was a McDonalds in the middle of all the dealerships, I got side-tracked) I decided to go see what was on the VW dealer's forecourt.
When I got there I found plenty of GTI, GTD and GTEs to choose from but they were all more than my budget, except at the far corner was a red Golf R 64' plate for £20550 (I could haggle). It was perfect, apart from a scuffed alloy and a manual box (one I could use to haggle, the other I was fine with). I couldn't believe my luck.
It's got windows and the back is lined with wood, proper van things... apparently
So I turned round, already deciding this was my car, that I would be driving it home by the end of the week, when I walked past a Silver Caddy van as I went to the forecourt door. "Yes that would be handy for stuff, I know it's way cheaper, of course every family in Scotland should own a van (it's one of five unspoken laws)" - I'm walking up to the salesman, YES I WANT TO TEST DRIVE THE CADDY, God Dammit!
Still couldn't believe what I was saying, my brain was screaming Golf R, I'm politely saying VW Caddy, the rest you can guess. I took home this Silver, VW Caddy Trendline TDI which the previous owner paid extra for A/C and parking sensors. Now for the first week I had some regrets but very quickly I've come to love it. It's the most well built and honest vehicle I've ever owned. There have been many good reasons to have the van since getting it... but a few drawbacks. I'll list them below.
The shopping trip is both effortless and a bloody nightmare, many eggs have been lost so far
PRO - IT'S A VAN
There's nothing I can't do with it; load the back up with a year's worth of groceries, not a problem. Want to take the dogs somewhere to walk them? Fine, throw a sheet down in case they leave a mess and we're good to go. Need to take stuff to the tip? Done with ease. The number of times it's been handy to have and proved its worth to me has been remarkable.
CON - IT'S A VAN
Going to the Supermarket for a big shop is fine, going for some bits and pieces not so good (remember Clarkson going shopping with a Ford F150 decades ago, yep it's like that) By the time I get home the bags have been destroyed and their contents scattered all over the place, if I'm lucky I find everything.
Taking dogs for a walk, fine, but why do I need to take them miles away from here and have my van stinking like an old Volvo when we already live in the countryside? Because apparently me having the van gives us the option to take them somewhere they've never been. They're dogs! They just want to run around a field, poop in the long grass and jump into a river... we have all those things literally at our doorstep, why waste fuel!
As for going to the tip, Jesus. I take stuff from my own shed to dump in a van and I'm accused of being a tradesman of some kind and money is demanded from me by a clipboard waving nincompoop who's just let a plumber dump a whole load of "stuff" for free because he was driving his wife's Kia Sportage and so it must be from their house.
PRO - YOU'RE EVERYBODY'S BEST FRIEND
Having a van makes you popular, case closed.
CON - YOU'RE EVERYBODY'S BEST FRIEND
As soon as I got the van and word got out, I was getting the phone calls. "Alright Steve, you fancy a run into town this weekend?" Why? "Well the washing machine packed in and well, Curry's have deal with one in their back warehouse, so... I'll give you Diesel Money."
That word is a myth! Diesel Money means you'll be given the amount they think it costs to drive to wherever they're dragging you; it never adds up. It's always £20! And not just friends - family too (remember my wise mum, she's the worst offender at times!)
Also just because there's room for two old dishwashers and a flat screen TV from the 90's doesn't mean it's going to be safe putting them all in at once!
The inside looks like this, except mine's got a radio. Nothing else to add really
PRO - REFINEMENT
The most surprising thing about it is that it feels like I'm driving a Golf. I expected it to be well built but I was also expecting it to still feel like a van, I've driven it some long distances by now and I've never felt uncomfortable when I got out of the drivers seat afterwards. It doesn't hold to the road as well in the corners as my old VTR (nothing has to be honest) did but it still handles a lot better than I expected (though I did notice a sizeable difference when cornering with a Cooker and Chest Freezer in the back).
CON - REFINEMENT (THERE'S A PATTERN FORMING HERE)
It's a van and even though it weighs a lot less than an empty Range Rover when it's fully loaded, I'm only allowed to do 50mph on the open roads. Problem is that it's so comfortable and smooth that 50mph feels so static. It's that easy to creep up to a speed that it can safely do and not have any indication unless you look at the speedo. The really annoying part is that if someone buys a heavier Caddy Life (because it has back seats and windows) it's allowed to do 60mph because it's classed as a car. What's wrong with this country? I've disk brakes all round and only 105PS, the only time I wouldn't be able to stop it is if I drove it off a cliff!
Found this online (www.gtecustomvans.co.uk) I'll admit it's given me a few temping ideas
PRO - IT'S A MODERN TDI
More importantly, a 2.0TDI (The 1.6TDI is dead; let's never speak of it again). Mechanics or 1.6TDI owners will understand what that means. I know diesel's a dirty word even in this new modern guise. But it drives perfectly for what I've ended up using it for, and if serviced properly (it will be) it'll run forever.
CON - IT'S A MODERN TDI
Dieselgate, let's face it, has buggered diesel into the ground. I'm fully aware I've bought something that's eventually not going to be welcome in all major cities and by the time I come to trade it for something else, it'll be worthless. So I'll be keeping the van until it dies or I do.
Not forgetting AdBlue - if you ever wish to remove DNA from a crime scene that's the stuff to use. I get its purpose and fully support it but trusting the public with it, as I've seen in my line of work, has been very problematic (pour it in the wrong tank, bye-bye warranty).
NOT THE VAN'S FAULT THOUGH
To be fair every time I've gotten annoyed by something, it has been due to someone else. In truth I'm happy I bought the van and the only problems with it are to do with society and people. I'm fully intending on going electric but for now I'm happy with the van.
The only question is how do I improve the van to truly make it mine? I've got different ideas, most make it useless as a van however.