The Auto Trader road test team doesn’t normally review vans. But, the Caddy Sportline isn’t a normal van.

With its 17-inch wheels, spoilers, tinted windows and chrome trim it’s every delivery driver’s pin-up.

A hardcore group of van drivers have been adding their own alloy wheels and go faster bits to their work horses for years.

More recently they have been able to go to commercial Volkswagen and Ford dealers and buy sports-look vans right out of the brochure.

The Ford Transit SportVan is kitted out with wide racing stripes, 18-inch alloys and Ford’s trademark Performance Blue paint.

The Caddy Sportline is less extroverted, but better looking and pretty head-turning if you choose the bright shade of red of our test van, instead of silver or black.

Tornado red paint also makes the Sportline look like Postman Pat’s ultimate set of wheels.

Ten seconds to 60mph

But is it all show and no go? Certainly not. Gone are the days when vans smoked their way up to 60mph and called it a day.

Fitted with the same 140bhp 2-litre TDI engine found in the Golf GT TDI, it accelerates from 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds and has a top speed of 116mph.

Impressive figures which make it one of the quickest vans on sale, and quicker than many cars too, thanks largely to its 236lb/ft of pulling power.

Sat upright at the wheel in black leather seats with red stitching, the sense of speed for a relative van newcomer like me is made even more intense by the raised seating position and amazing view of the road ahead.

Look out of the side window and the tall commercial-sized wing mirrors seem at odds with the rate the scenery is flying past them.

Handling and grip is excellent and the Caddy Sportline great fun to drive on Britain’s twisting back roads.

Steering is precise and the six-speed gearbox is slick and satisfying, making quick progress a pleasure rather than a chore.

Even on track, attacking corners more suited to hot hatches and sports cars, the red Caddy dug into corners with hardly any body roll and remained planted and friendly to steer.

Anti-roll bars are fitted to the front McPherson strut suspension and rigid rear axle with leaf springs.

View our Caddy Sportline car review

Hard work

Unlike many sports versions of cars, practicality is not affected at all. The Sportline has a 1,781-litre load compartment with good access from its twin rear doors and sliding side door.

It’s able to carry a maximum payload of 677kg and can tow a 1,500kg braked trailer or 740kg unbraked trailer.

Drive sensibly and you can expect an average fuel consumption of more than 45mpg, which gives a range of more than 500 miles thanks to its 60-litre fuel tank.

It’s a nice place to sit too. We’ve already mentioned the opulent black leather seats, and you will also find a leather trimmed steering wheel and gear stick.

The stereo glows a cool blue and has four speakers more than happy to belt out the latest chart toppers.

From the outside the opaque rear windows, body coloured bumpers, lower front spoiler and rear roofline spoiler and chrome grilles and side steps give the Sportline an expensive image sure to impress clients.

There isn’t much to go wrong either, the engine is one of the most widely produced in Europe and should be bulletproof, while the rest of the Caddy is simple and well proven.

It might be pricey, but the Caddy Sportline is sure to be a van fan’s favourite, which is fun on the road and makes working look good.

Key facts

Model tested: Volkswagen Caddy Sportline
On the road price: £20,755 (including VAT)
Date tested: November 2008
Road tester: Andy Goodwin

Search for used VW Caddy vans for sale on Van Trader