The biggest news about the latest Volkswagen Caddy is that the glovebox now has a lid – previously it was just a gaping hole in the dashboard. Which sounds like a strange way to open a story, but it illustrates the new direction in which VW is aiming the Caddy. That is, moving it mildly upmarket.
The complete driving area of the Caddy has been given a working over to make it less van like and more in the manner of a car. Good idea, we’ve never understood why van drivers should be treated like second class citizens just to keep down the cost of vehicles in which they generally spend many hours every day.
Caddy also has a new, more powerful 1.4-litre TSI turbo-petrol engine that gives it close to car-like performance while it reduces fuel consumption and emissions. It produces 92 kW of power and torque of 220 Newton metres between 1500 and 3500rpm.
This petrol powerplant will be joined by new turbo-diesel engines in 2016. We are assured these will meet all emissions standards at all times.
Transmissions are either six-speed manual or seven-speed double-clutch DSG.
VW Caddy comes in a huge range of bodies, everything from a bare two-seater van to seven-seater people movers. The latter, tagged as Caddy Maxi, are extremely practical vehicles that should be a big success in the sales race. However, the appeal to macho looking SUVs of many buyers means the Caddy isn’t likely to achieve much success in Australia. Pity…
There are different wheelbases and heights.
The load area is accessible from the left side of the vehicle. Two asymmetrically split rear wing doors allow loading cargos of up to 1134mm in height. Cargo volume in the van ranges from 3200 litres in the SWB version, to 4200 litres in the Maxi. The compartment length is 1779 mm in the standard van and 2249 mm in the Maxi. The maximum height of the cargo space is 1259mm.
The first all-new Volkswagen Caddy since 2006 has done a lot of catching up in the technology field, incorporating a large number of safety and driver assistance systems. There are combined side/head airbags for Caddy vans and second-row curtain airbags for people movers.
Safety is taken to another level if you choose the optional Driver Assistance Package that includes City Emergency Braking that works at speeds under 30km/h. If the driver isn’t paying attention it automatically applies the brakes, hopefully to avoid a crash, if not then to reduce the speed of the impact.
Fatigue Detection recognises any deviations from normal driving behaviour and recommends the driver takes a break.
A reversing camera is standard for the new Caddy people mover and can be optioned on the van.
An optional 360-degree optical parking system (OPS) gives a graphic representation of the vehicle from above on the colour display of the infotainment system. By means of yellow and red signals the driver can see whether the Caddy Maxi has a sufficient gap from any obstacles at the front and rear.
Such is the success of the Caddy in Europe that the design budget has permitted engineers to tailor the suspension to suit differing loads. There’s independent wheel suspension on the front axle and the rigid rear axle on leaf springs with load sensitive shock absorbers, which alter their displacement characteristics depending on the spring’s level of compression. Stabilisers on both axles reduce the vehicle’s angle of roll.
Our initial drive program was carried out on courses set by Volkswagen Australia as part of the official media launch. Tackling the seemingly endless Sydney traffic was tough on us folks accustomed to more peaceful conditions at home on the Gold Coast. But, it was easy work for these VW vans thanks to a semi-high driving position, large side mirrors and aid from the driver assistance items when required.
Engine performance is good thanks to the high torque figures and good spread of grunt from the turbo-petrol unit. Indeed, so good are the latest VW petrol engines from VW that we wonder if buyers won’t switch away from diesels.
Immensely practical, the Caddys have storage drawers under the front seats and bins in front of the gear lever, as well as in the door panels. The latter are large enough for upright 1.0-litre drink bottles. A roof shelf stretches above the windscreen across the full width of the cabin.
Ride comfort isn’t to the standard of small to midsize cars, but isn’t all that far short of them. Handling wasn’t really able to be tested, but is hardly a subject of consideration of buyers in this field. It certainly felt fine and we are confident Caddys will look after careless drivers who push to the limit.
AT A GLANCE
Caddy Van TSI220: $28,990 (DSG automatic)
Caddy Maxi Van TSI220: $28,190 (manual), $31,190 (DSG automatic)
Caddy Maxi Crewvan TSI220: $29,690 (manual), $32,690 (DSG automatic)
Caddy Van Trendline TSI220: $32,490 (DSG automatic)
Caddy Maxi Trendline TSI220: $34,990 (DSG automatic)
Caddy Maxi Comfortline TSI220: $37,990 (DSG automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Volkswagen dealer for driveaway prices.