VW’s new tradie focused machine
A major upgrade has transformed one of the German brand’s workhorses bringing plenty of tech and handy features.
Caddy is a great name for Volkswagen’s compact van – it’s related to Golf, carries stuff for you and avoids the spotlight. While the Golf hatchback and Amarok ute are Volkswagen’s best-known vehicles, the Caddy is relatively anonymous.
But this latest model is a big deal for the brand. As the first Caddy based on VW’s new MQB platform – the core of its passenger vehicle range – it shares much with the latest generation Golf.
That makes it a far more modern workhorse than the more popular Amarok, whose cabin belongs in the previous decade.
Inside there are optional twin 10-inch wide-screen displays, capacitive-touch controls and sophisticated driver aids rarely found in commercial vehicles.
As long as you’re prepared to pay for them.
Priced from $34,990 plus on-road costs (about $40,000 drive-away) with a six-speed manual (a seven-speed dual-clutch auto adds $3000), the VW comes with an 8.25-inch infotainment system, auto emergency braking, cruise control and a reversing camera as standard.
Customers pay $5000 for “Travel Assist” driver aids including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance and rear cross-traffic alert, plus $1600 for the 10-inch touchscreen with satnav, $1990 for adaptive LED lights that help you see around corners, $800 for heated seats that make chilly mornings much more tolerable and $1100 for metallic paint.
If that sounds too dear, consider $25 for a bin to tuck into the driver’s door pocket.
Then there will be no excuse for apprentices hiding chip packets in the centre console.
The Caddy is backed by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and servicing for automatic models costs a slightly steep $2731 for five years.
The complex range has three body sizes, plus auto and manual transmissions for petrol or diesel engines and cabin layouts for two, five or seven occupants.
Cargo-minded Caddies carry up to 754 kilograms in 3.7 cubic metres of storage space accessed through larger openings than the previous model.
Long-wheelbase versions have huge sliding doors and enough space to accept two Euro-standard pallets.
The cabin has clever touches including an overhead storage shelf above the windscreen and a flat space tucked into the top of the dashboard that can help you stay organised.
Twin USB-C power points join 12-volt outlets on the dash top and in the load bay.
Folks who want to move people can pick a seven-seat Caddy Life model priced from about $55,000 drive-away.
Removable chairs add welcome flexibility when required.
The standard engine at launch is a 2.0-litre turbo diesel that makes 75kW/280Nm in manual trim, or 90kW/320Nm when paired with the auto.
Both drive the front wheels using a claimed 4.9L/100km of fuel, which was close to the 5.5L/100km we saw in the real world. A 1.5-litre turbo petrol option with 84kW and 220Nm is on the way.
We tested the car in diesel cargo van and seven-seater trim, coming away impressed by car-like driving manners that make the Caddy a far more liveable proposition than enormous dual-cab utes. And you don’t need to worry about people pinching goods out of the tray, or tweaking your back heaving goods into the higher tub.
Compact dimensions make the Caddy easy to place around town, and though its ride comfort isn’t on par with the Golf, it is a fair sight better than high-riding utes.
Light steering, powerful brakes and a swift-shifting gearbox make light work of urban deliveries.
Though diesel is out of vogue in the passenger car class, the Caddy’s unit delivers long-legged range and effortless punch while meeting the latest Euro emissions standards.
We’d like a little more refinement from the cabin, which is noisy at highway speed. And the Caddy makes less sense as a people-mover, as more refined and spacious passenger vans are available for a similar price.
Volkswagen’s Caddy delivers modern tech and an easy driving experience for commercial operators but family friendliness isn’t a strong point.
VOLKSWAGEN CADDY VITALS
Price: From about $43,600 drive-away
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 90kW/320Nm
Warranty/servicing:5-year unlimited km, $2731 for 5 years
Safety:6 airbags, auto emergency braking, driver fatigue monitoring
Spare: Full size
Originally published as 2021 Volkswagen Caddy review
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