There’s no doubt the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Van is built to haul copious amounts of gear around. As a courier van its prowess is unquestionable – but is it versatile enough to handle both work and play, and handle both of them well?
CarAdvice handed the keys to outdoor-sports enthusiast Mark Hardy and set him the task of putting it to the test over a weekend.
Both are clearly nothing like a Caddy Van, but that was the exciting part for him. He’s an avid mountain biker and windsurfer and having a vehicle bigger than the M135 would certainly make it easier to lug gear around.
While he dreams of adding a BMW i8 or Alfa Romeo 4C to his list of garage inhabitants, the fact of the matter is neither would look good with roof racks and cargo space is pretty much limited to a hatbox, or in the i8’s case, bespoke Louis Vuitton luggage only large enough to accommodate at least one change of clothes.
Small and sporty cars typically serve the company director and his wife well. It’s just the pair of them – no kids in tow – so they’re free to cruise around in any car they desire without having to consider rear leg-room or space for a pram.
The exception being extra-curricular activities that include plenty of equipment and a means to carry it all.
The Caddy Maxi Van seemed like a plausible option, so with a mountain bike race booked into the calendar for the weekend and with a spring in his step, Mark loaded up the van and headed for Jervis Bay.
When it comes to finding a car that suits his active lifestyle, the non-negotiable factors include the capacity to carry bikes and windsurfing gear easily.
‘The Caddy was excellent in that respect. Plenty of room inside and it drives like a regular car,’ he said. Though he found the driving position and seats comfortable, parking proved to be a bit problematic.
Thanks to the lack of windows, he thought a reversing camera would be a welcome addition.
‘The version with the side windows would be better, I expect. Definitely needs a rear camera and parking sensors.’
The sensors with audible warning signal can be added as an option, as can front side airbags, a five-inch touch screen with satellite navigation and steering wheel controls.
When it comes to technology and safety features, cruise control, hill hold, CD/radio and Bluetooth are all standard, as are driver and front passenger airbags.
Ergonomically, Mark found the dash layout and instrument panel to be simple and easy to understand, with all the controls positioned where you’d expect. As he pointed out, a strong engine and good fuel economy is also important if you’re spending a lot of time on the road.
‘It drives well and the engine is a good match for the car, though a little more power would be nice. If it were my own car I would customise the space so the bikes and board could be secured for safer travel and better use of the space. It was great that I could get all that in without needing to put anything on the roof.’
‘Ground clearance was good which is important and most MTB venues are accessed by rough dirt roads which challenges the clearance of my M135.’
The Caddy Van is good at doing what it’s made to do, but can it lead a double life? Mark admits the basics are covered, but would add a few options and customise the cargo space.
‘It really is a bare bones courier vehicle. Definitely has huge potential as a recreational vehicle.’