Volkswagen's recently-launched in-house-designed large panel van, the Crafter, has won the top award at the UK magazine What Van?'s van of the year awards.

The Crafter also won the Large Panel Van award, while the smaller Caddy with DSG gearbox took the technology award.

A strong engine line-up, a major emphasis on safety, a huge range and standard six-speed manual gearbox all contributed to the judges' decision.

They said: "The Crafter represents the pinnacle of current large panel van design and drivetrain implementation."

The largest van in the Volkswagen range, the Crafter earlier this year replaced a long-running model line developed and built in co-operation with DaimlerChrysler whose Sprinter line shared some components.

The Crafter is offered with a choice of four five-cylinder diesel engines, delivering 88, 109, 136 or 163 PS. A six-speed manual gearbox is fitted as standard, and automated manual transmission is optional.
A driver's airbag is standard. Three wheelbases, four load compartment lengths and three roof heights are offered.

A window van model is due in mid-2007, chassis cab and double cab versions are also built.

Maximum load capacity is 17 cubic metres, and the five tonne MWB panel van version can carry approximately 2,630 kg.

The awards came the same week as Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles' UK sales arm broke the 24,000 unit barrier, surpassing last year's total sales in ten and a half months and setting a sixth consecutive record for the brand in this hard-fought market.

VW commercial vehicles sales rise