RIDING high on a blend of comfort, safety and immense practicality, the latest Volkswagen Crafter van certainly has the power to impress.
Pitched against a potent rival like the Ford Transit, the Crafter has to go the extra mile to fill the order books, and this it does by being so intensely Volkswagen.
Unlike its predecessor, which shared a platform with rival commercial Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the latest Crafter has been produced in house and, in my view is certainly the better for it.
Wherever you look there are features familiar to other Volkswagen products giving this vehicle a highly individual character of its own.
This vehicle was a Trendline panel van CR35 MWB 2.0 TDI 140PS six-speed manual and powered by that VW star of an engine, the transverse-mounted 2.0 turbo diesel.
This four-cylinder 16-valve common-rail unit has a lot of punch with 140PS on tap and could whisk this large van through its six gears in fine style.
Bearing in mind that this is a large van with a 1,244kg payload, the fact that where permissible it could wind itself up to 98mph is a credit to this fine engine which returns a combined mpg figure of 38.2mpg. Again, pretty good for large load-lugger.
This is one of those vans where you have to make a slight climb to get into the driver's seat and once there the view of the surroundings is excellent.
Once settled and in command of this capacious vehicle you cannot help but be impressed by VW's driver's seat which features two-way lumbar support and armrest - very accommodating and comfortable.
For the driver's convenience there are such items as cruise control, heated door mirrors and a multi-function steering wheel.
And to prove that the new Crafter has what it takes, an international jury of commercial vehicle specialists from 24 European countries chose it as the best transport van of the year for 2017.
Just one of the reasons why it picked up these laurels was the fact it was designed to meet customers' wishes and has many innovations as well as extensive assistance systems. Crafter actually won this coveted award before it had even been launched.
Safety was always one of the priorities with Crafter and the Trendline features Front Assist with city emergency braking, anti-lock braking, automatic hazard lights activation when under heavy braking, Cross Wind Assist, Electronic Stabilisation Programme and more.
The load area is massive, large enough to host a parish council meeting and features a wooden deck.
It was a remarkably easy van to drive, but sharp attention must be paid to the vehicle length, especially when parking.