The Volkswagen Caddy Van has been around for ages – the current generation debuted in 2003. It is one of the best-selling small vans in Australia. This time we’ll have a look at the updated 2018 people mover models, five-seater VW Caddy and the seven-seater Caddy Maxi.
The infinitely customisable van shares its platform with the other VW people mover, the Touran, but has the front suspension from a fifth-generation golf. Perhaps unusual for a family car, the Caddy runs a live axle on leaf springs in the rear. It does, however, give it an impressive payload and, as far as we could tell, does not seriously impact handling (but more on that later).
The two wheelbase options are 2682 and 3006 mm. The LWB version is almost the same as a Hilux (3085 mm) and has a similar turning circle of 12 m. That’s where the parking sensors and blind spot monitoring will definitely come in handy. The overall length is 4408 and 4878 mm for the Caddy and the Caddy Maxi, respectively.
Facelifted in 2015, the Caddy resembles a Golf from the front, with its large chrome grill and a prominent VW logo. Overall, it looks surprisingly fresh for a car that has been around since 2003. Throw in the optional 17” alloy rims, roof rails and halogen headlights with LED DRL, and you got a pretty modern exterior.
Modest at first sight, the the Caddy borrows its interior from the other VW models and can be quite feature-rich if you’re willing to spend the extra money. The 5” touchscreen is standard, however you can have a 6.3” infotainment system with gesture controls, satellite navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Four speakers are standard, six are optional. No leather trim is available, fabric is standard and perforated premium upholstery is an option for the Maxi Comfortline.
Where the VW Caddy truly shines is the interior space. The middle bench has three full-sized seats, with proper side support for the middle passenger, which is rare. The two outer seats are fitted with ISOFIX tethers. The bench folds 60/40, and can be folded up and moved forward to increase cargo room or taken out altogether. The second row is also about 12 cm higher than the first, so it gives the passengers quite a nice view. The third row (which is optional for the SWB version) seats two.
Cargo volume with all the seats in is 750L for the 5-seater, 190L for the SWB 7-seater, and 530L for the LWB model. With just two rows, the LWB model boasts an impressive 1350 litres, and maximum cargo volume is 3030L for the SWB and 3880L for the LWB. That is a ridiculously large amount of space – the Maxi can fit two full standard pallets and have some room left! Buit don’t put bricks on those pallets though: the Caddy’s payload is 830 kg in the short wheelbase and 725 kg in the long wheelbase model.
Safety and driver assistant features are abundant, as is typical of Volkswagens, but some will cost extra. Smart emergency braking, radar adaptive cruise control, hill hold, fatigue detection, and the obvious TCS, ESP and ABS.
The passenger version of the VW Caddy is only available with a turbocharged 4 cylinder 1.4L TSI220 engine from the Golf. It delivers 92 kW and 220 Nm. Coupled with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, it provides excellent power delivery and keeps the engine in the already wide powerband. Fuel consumption is around 7.0 L/100 km, and 5.4 on the highway. The cargo model also comes with a 2.0 litre turbodiesel, rated at 75 kW and 250 Nm and more gearbox options.
Towbar is an optional accessory, and it’s rated for 1300 kg braked or 630 kg unbraked. With 175 mm of ground clearance and electronic differential locking, Caddy could still take you to the nearest camp site. Unfortunately, the all-wheel drive Caddy Alltrack is not yet available in Australia.
The Trendline SWB model costs $37,832 driveaway, and the Maxi Trendline LWB you can buy for $41,183. The top trim Comfortline LWB is $43,655. Option packs such as adaptive cruise control can be fitted to any model.
So is the VW Caddy the vehicle for you? If you regularly move large cargo, for work or recreation, Caddy is hard to beat. Comfort and driving experience of a family car with the capacity of a work van is a combination you won’t find anywhere else. It’s also cheaper than seven-seater SUVs, so if you’re sticking to the pavement it’s a good option to consider.