ON THE ROAD: A ROAD-trip to Scotland with our three children and my father is not a task to be taken lightly. If we didn't want to come back needing another break or even worse, therapy, then we had to have the right vehicle.

Thankfully Volkswagen came up with the answer - the new Caravelle.

There are many cars that I wouldn't mind keeping hold of, but they tend to be impractical for one reason or another.

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Yes it's expensive, but this seven-seater catered for all our needs and then some and we were genuinely sad to see it go.

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For a vehicle with a van-like exterior it is to my mind pleasing to the eye - so much more than a box on wheels.

The Blackberry metallic paint job - a £606 extra - helped, but even in silver I'd say it would turn heads.

Our test car featured seven-speed DSG gearbox, mate to a 2.0 litre, turbocharged, four cylinder 16-valve engine which was incredibly refined, so much so that I had no problem having a conversation with the kids in the rearmost seats. Yes, there is a little wind noise, but you'd expect that given the shape of the car and the large wing mirrors, but even this could not be called oppressive.

Despite its weight - and bear in mind we were hauling a full load - it didn't lack power and more than kept up with other traffic.

Another plus was the way it handled, nothing like you might expect from something of its size. Only under braking was I reminded of its utilitarian heritage.

ON THE INSIDE: I SAY this a lot, but it's hard to tell the difference when you get inside a VW, no matter what model or genre. All are constructed with care and consideration and possess a quality lacking in some other makes.

You sit high up, but the seat has more than enough adjustment to ensure maximum comfort and the two fold down arm rests are a bonus. The chunky steering wheel adjusts as well and location of the gearstick high up on the dash means you don't have to reach. There's acres of glass so vision is good wherever you look, although the rear screen is a long way away.

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WHAT DO YOU GET: OUR Executive badged car included the likes of Discover navigation system, eight speakers, daytime running lights, Halogen twin headlights, electric side-sliding doors, privacy glass, Alcantara and leather upholstery, climatronic three-zone air conditioning, heated front seats, leather multi-function steering wheel, front electric windows, multi-functional table, storage facilities, dynamic chassis control, parking sensors front and rear, 17ins alloys.

HOW PRACTICAL IS IT: THIS is a key factor in any vehicle for me. Gone are the days when my heart ruled my head. The ability to carry seven in comfort makes the Caravelle highly desirable for those with active families. You can sit all facing forward in the traditional way or spin the second row chairs round to face the back. The adjustable table gives an added dimension to the rear passenger area. Even with a full luggage area there's still plenty of room between the seats and once you've taken your suitcases out you can slide them all the way back to create a huge lounge area. The seats can also be removed, though they are very heavy. The sliding doors make getting in and out simplicity itself as well. In addition, while a big vehicle, I didn't find the Caravelle difficult to manoeuvre.

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RUNNING COSTS: AS mentioned earlier, the Caravelle isn't for all budgets, but I felt there was value for the financial outlay. £60 filled the tank and I got a decent return in the mid-40s. Economy suffered on some of the Highland lanes where gear changes were plentiful, but at a constant motorway speed I had few complaints. CO2 emissions were 155g/km.

VERDICT: CLASSY, adaptable and sadly missed.

ALTERNATIVES: SEAT Alhambra, Ford C-Max