A Change From Our Usual Programming

It is hilarious that we need to use the car to take all the animals to the kennels, not the Van. Yet here we are. And here I am doing my annual drive to work in Van Gogh.

Once a year, I hand off the Hyundai Kona in neon green to my husband. And I drive Van Gogh to work instead. It's a 171 VW Caddy. In a dark grey. This is crucial because I do not qualify for White Van Privileges. I have decided that my Christmas post will review the Volkswagen Caddy van.

My day begins with pushing the wrong button on the key fob. The switch to open the door on the Kona is the backdoor opening button on the Van. Once five minutes of that pass, I got into the Van. Like almost all vehicles, you have to have the clutch in to start. Like every feature like this, it was probably put in place because of a child. The Caddy provides another brief moment of panic before the rumble of the 1.9ltr diesel engine kicks in.

The Kona serenades you with a jingle when you get in, a beep for a temperature warning, another beep if the service is due, and, if you're fortunate, another one for fuel. The Van turns on with no fanfare. This is a win for me as it's not assuming you're an idiot from the get-go. Everything that has happened to this point is because I am an idiot.

I love the driving position in the Van and the steering wheel. The wheel is not entirely round; it is flat across the bottom, and the rim is more of a rounded triangle. This is much better than the smoothly round grip in the Kona. I feel much more about the Van when I am driving.

The drive to work is half in the cold and half in unbearable heat as it is tough to maintain a comfortable temperature in a metal box, despite this particular Caddy having a bulkhead. The speakers, though trying their best (aren't we all), still sound like a 1990's Alba stereo from Argos, in a church, playing my first Meat Loaf album.

My dad once test-drove a Land Rover Discovery in the early 2000s. And I loved the salesman. “I'm not going to lie. It has the aerodynamics of a brick”. This is the same for the Caddy. You cannot make a box on wheels aerodynamic. Then you lose the reason you have a box on wheels. The Van can probably do 0-10km faster than a Koenigsegg, but then you run out of gear and slow right back down as second gear catches up (yes, I know that first gear here is a towing gear but remember how I drive this guy once a year). The centre of gravity is at the level of the roof brake light, and even with 300kg of firewood in the back, you cannot hit a corner at 100km/h. Even if the Kona can. Every Day Is A Learning Experience!

Once I got to 120km/h on Cork's South Link, I had to return to 100km/h because the engine noise was uncomfortable. I missed having the 6th gear, sound-insulated cabin, balance, and alignment... Finally arriving to work, I was let into the staff car park despite people saying security might have a problem with a random van. But really. What could I nick? Fill the back of the Van with electricity?

I would rate Van Gogh a solid 3.4 out of 7. The 0.4 added for the creative additions to the bodywork: The bite mark from a horse, and a chip in the windscreen.

Beir bua agus beannacht.