The all-new Volkswagen Caddy has arrived down under with more performance, technology, improved practicality and dynamics. Best still, prices start from as little as $21,990.
Volkswagen is best known for passenger vehicles such as the Golf, Polo and in more recent times the Toureg, Passat and Jetta. Nonetheless, the People’s Car from Germany has a plan to be the world’s biggest automobile manufacturer in the next decade. As a result, it continues to strive for more market share in other segments.
That’s not to say VW is new to the commercial van segment, not at all. Its involvement has spanned over 30 years with the introduction of the very first Volkswagen Caddy in 1980 (which was even available as a ute). The model lasted an impressive 16 years and was replaced with the second generation (1996-2004) and eventually the third generation (2004-2010).
The introdution of the all-new fourth generation Volkswagen Caddy comes at a time when VW Australia is on a so-far-successful campaign to become a big player in the local market.
In a further sign of confidence in its product, Volkswagen has recently addressed consumer concerns by changing its warranty support to an unlimited kilometer 3 year across the 2011 model year range. This applies to all new Caddys.
Long gone are the days when vans were just a tool. The smarter companies and sole traders are now using their vans as outdoor marketing billboards and the Caddy has managed to prove itself as a ‘cool’ choice when it comes to customer perception. Its smart European design and cute (but not girly) character has been a hit with the local market with year on year growth since its launch in 2005.
From the outside one can easily pick the new Caddy as a VW. The family DNA look from the transporter and its passanger cars has caught on and everything from the A-pillar forward is new. At a quick glance you will be forgiven for mistaking the Caddy as a big Golf. From the new daytime running lights to the adaptive cornering lights (option), the Caddy has access to some of Volkswagen’s latest passenger-car technology.
As for the rear-end, Volkswagen Australia has decided to keep barn-doors as standard (no cost option for a tailgate) whilst cubic volume inside the vehicle is the same as before with 3.2m for the Caddy and 4.2m for the long-wheel base Caddy Maxi variants.
In addition to the updated exterior the biggest change is under the hood. Volkswagen has introduced more powerful and fuel efficient engines throughout the range. The existing 1.6-litre MPI engine has been replaced with two new petrol engines: TSI160 for the short-wheel base variants and TSI175 for the Maxis.
To better market and differentiate the new engines, VW has adopted a unique naming convention which makes use of the car’s torque figure. For example, a TSI160 has 160 Nm of torque and a TSI175 has 175 Nm. The numbers have no relation to engine capacity (1.2) or kilowatts.
This also applies to the diesel variants. The outgoing 1.9-litre TDI has been replaced with a 1.6-lire engine which is referred to as TDI250 whilst a bigger 2.0-litre TDI320 is available in cady maxi life models.
For the very first time a commercial van is also available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The 7-Speed DSG is technology one might expect to see in performance cars such as the Polo GTI, nonetheless it’s also available in the Caddy.
To review the new Volkswagen Caddy we started our journey from Kulnura to Cremorne on a Sunny day in Sydney.
First in line was the very base model TDI250 Caddy with a five-speed manual. With just 75 kW and 250 Nm of torque, it’s hard to expect much but it does manage to get going at a reasonable pace.
Given the majority of base model Caddys are expected to spend their life as inner-city vehicles, you wouldn’t hear all that many complaints. In saying that, the 5-speed manual does take some getting use to.
From the base model we moved into a Caddy Life powered by the same engine and transmission. The rear seats are rather comfortable and the interior trim is up to Volkswagen quality. It comes with five seats standard but can be optioned to seven if need be. There is more than enough storage compartments to safely hold the usuals. If you need more space you can always remove the third and second row seats which means your Caddy Life becomes a standard Caddy van in no time (very useful for moving furniture). On the other hand, the Caddy Maxi Life comes with seven seats standard and has a potential load volume of 3,880 litres with no second and third row seats.
Interested buyers looking at a Caddy Life will be happy to know that although it may have commercial van DNA, the interior is spacious and well put together. Based on a short drive in both body types the only minor criticism we can think of is that the manual gearbox and TDI250 engine combination can perhaps do with a little more go.
Despite initial thoughts about the TDI250 engine needing more oomph, there was a pleasant surprise when we got behind the wheel of a DSG variant. Even though it’s powered by the same engine, 7-speed DSG variants are totally different vehicles.
Not only do DSG variants feel significantly quicker than manuals, they’re also much smoother and easier to drive. The gearbox still has the traditional DSG delay when going between drive and reverse (and vice versa) and the momentary lag as the turbo spools up, but flatten the accelerator and it gets up to speed in no time. Even though it’s a $3,000 price hike, it’s worth every cent. Handling wise the Caddy is just as you’d expect. It goes around corners fine but you wouldn’t exactly push it to its limits.
As for fuel consumption figures, there has been considerable improvements over the superseded model. The base model Caddy Manual TSI160 has a combined figure of 6.9L/100km for the city and highway combined. With a TDI250 diesel engine it uses just 5.7L/100km in both manual and DSG. The long-wheel-base Caddy Maxi manual petrol TSI175 chews 7L/100km whilst its diesel brother makes do with just 5.8L/100km in both manual and DSG form. If you opt out for the range topping Caddy Maxi TDI320 DSG, you will be pleasantly surprised with a low consumption figure of 6.3L/100km. Overall, pretty impressive numbers across the range.
One area where the van segment has continued to lag is safety. Models from other manufacturers lack some rather basic safety features such as ABS and ESP as standard equipement and herein is where Volkswagen has the upper hand. It’s hard to ignore safety in commercial vehicles given the amount of kilometres they cover. If you value your safety, it’s hard to take the new Caddy for-granted. It’s the only vehicle in its class that comes with ABS and ESP as standard and it’s also available with front and side airbags. It would’ve been good to see Volkswagen offer side airbags as standard across the range, but alas, they are an option on all variants except the range topping Caddy Maxi Life.
The new fourth-generation Volkswagen Caddy range offers a great option for not only commercial operators but also families looking for that little more extra space for an affordable price. Thanks to its European styling, clever practicality and emphasis on technological innovation, the Caddy remains at the top of our shopping list in its segment.
Caddy Van Pricing:
Caddy Maxi Van Pricing:
Caddy Life Pricing:
Caddy Maxi Life Pricing: