Volkswagen’s current generation Caddy commercial van and people mover were launched in Europe back in 2003 but took some time to arrive downunder.
The current Caddy lineup includes two different sizes of commercial vans and the Caddy Maxi Life 7-seat people mover.
Caddy shares 50 per cent of its parts with the Volkswagen Golf (including the chassis platform), but deserves to emerge from the Golf’s shadow as it is a success story in itself.
While local Caddy sales have declined this year (799 commercial vans and 104 Caddy Lifes were sold locally as at 30 June) the model has become a vital part of Volkswagen’s lineup.
It is not widely know that in other parts of the world, Volkswagen is a major competitor in commercial vehicles right up to large trucks. Locally the commercial vehicle lineup is limited to vans.
Caddy boasts three models – Van, Maxi Van and Maxi Life. The vans are available with either the 1.6-litre petrol engine or a 1.9-litre direct injection turbo-diesel. Maxi Life is only available with the diesel powerplant.
The petrol engine is good for 75kW of power at 5600rpm and peak torque of 148Nm at 3800rpm while the diesel delivers 77kW at 4000rpm and 250Nm at 1900rpm.
Standard transmission is a five-speed manual and the optional automatic is Volkswagen’s acclaimed six-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox).
Front suspension is independent McPherson struts while the rear employs a rigid axle with longitudinal leaf springs.
For commercial operators like courier and delivery drivers, the more important stats for Caddy focus on what is happening out back.
The standard Caddy van has 3.2 cubic metres of load area and a payload capacity of 730kgs. Volkswagen says the Maxi Van is 31 per cent bigger with 4.2 cubic metres and 810kgs (it is also 47cms longer).
Both have a turning circle of 11.1 metres.
Caddy and Caddy Maxi both have standard ‘barn’ doors at the rear and a sliding side door on the left side. A right-side sliding door is an extra cost $695 option.
Standard features include air-conditioning, cruise control, ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Control and Traction Control and a drivers side airbag. A passenger side airbag is a $550 option while side airbags for driver and passenger are an additional $550.
Electronic stability control is a $650 option.
Caddy Maxi Life is the people-mover Caddy. Offering seven seats and priced from only $34,990 it is good buying for large families.
For those heading to the rear, Caddy Maxi Life has two sliding side doors with 70cm openings.
Versatility is the Caddy Maxi Life’s strong point and with the second and third row seats folded it does provide a handy 3950 litres of luggage capacity. However when all the seats are in use, that luggage capacity does drop sharply to 530 litres – a trait shared with some other 7-seaters.
As you would expect from a Golf-based vehicle, even when fully loaded the Caddy Maxi Life delivers good driving dynamics. With so many people in a confined space, reversing does present a bit of a challenge for the driver and so the $790 optional Rear Park Distance Control would be handy.
Currently satellite navigation is not available for Caddy.