CADDY LIFE: Compact van an enduring commercial favourite with its car-like driving manners and economy, and secures half the market share of its segment in Australia
CADDY LIFE: Compact van an enduring commercial favourite with its car-like driving manners and economy, and secures half the market share of its segment in Australia

Shacking up with VW’s Caddy Van, road test and review

REMEMBER when you could carry a knife? Not like Crocodile Dundee, but the small ones which used to fit snugly into a pouch on your belt.   

Grandfathers would never leave home without these trusty allies.  

Consider this humble van the Swiss Army knife equivalent of the Volkswagen brigade.   Nothing flashy on the outside, it morphs into a range of uses. It can be a van or a people mover...or both. Starting from less than $30,000, it's one versatile offering which will please the bank manager. 

2016 VW Caddy van
2016 VW Caddy van

Considering these are built with work in mind, it's a far cry from commercial vehicles of old.  

Thankfully improved safety has been atop the priorities list and the Caddy now comes with combined side/head airbags, fatigue detection functionality and multi-collision braking, which automatically engages the brakes if the driver is no longer able to take action, are now standard. Although some of the other gear like autonomous braking which help avoid frontal accidents is not included, but option packs are there to boost safety.  

You still have a lot of hard plastics throughout the cabin, yet it's designed to survive a tough and rugged life. The design is much like you'd find in everything from a Golf or a Passat through to the Amarok ute.   

The driver has an analogue tacho and speedo gauges hugging a digital display. Buttons on the steering wheel enable scrolling through various trip and vehicle information, although our preference would be for a digital speed read-out.   

Like drivers likely to be wielding the Caddy, across the dash it's a no nonsense set-up. Little analysis is required, and even the tallest of steerers will have no issue climbing inside with masses of headroom.  

The cloth seats are fairly basic yet comfortable in the right spots.   

VW Caddy van
VW Caddy van

On the road

Feeling lively, there is a real sense of urgency about the Caddy.  

It uses the same powertrain as found in the Golf - a handy upgrade on the previous derivative which borrowed a Polo donk. More diesel versions are on the way.   

With no load in the back the 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol provides ample motivation, whether in traffic or on the highway. Without a load the steering can feel light, although overall it's remarkably car-like, but needs some care when facing corners and under braking.   

Your traditional strut style suspension, used in most cars, is implemented on front, but to handle larger loads leaf springs feature on the back. Things are certainly less flustered with a load in the rear yet there is a reasonable amount of road noise.   

Given the Caddy will likely spend the majority of its time in urban surrounds, the slick seven-speed automatic is a boon and a key selling point for the van which already dominates the segment.   

VW Caddy van
VW Caddy van

What do you get? 

Goodies include air conditioning, cruise control, 5-inch colour touchscreen and bluetooth. There are a range of optional extras for improved safety and tech, where the packages provide best bang for buck.   

Other options

The Caddy dominates the small segment, but also worth a look are the Citroen Berlingo HDI ($26,990), Fiat Doblo 1.6 ($27,000), Renault Kangoo 1.5 ($26,990 drive-away) and the basic Suzuki APV ($18,990).  

Practicality

Barn doors which open at 90 degrees hinged and 180 unhinged offer brilliant loading flexibility. No wonder the Caddy is a clear winner in this genre.   

There's 3200 litres of space in the back and a length of 1.77 metres, along with ample tie-down points and a 773kg payload.   

VW Caddy van
VW Caddy van

Car-like handling, light steering and a length of 4.4 metres make parking simple and rapid. If you don't option the fixed side windows changing lanes does require some close checking before committing.   

Rear parking sensors at $590 are also a good investment.  

There are a pair of cup holders in the console, along with good storage via a compartment under the front seats, roof shelf, door pockets, central dash storage compartment and one above the lockable glovebox.   

Running costs

Achieving average fuel consumption of six litres/100km is impressive for a petrol, but the Caddy does run on premium unleaded.  

Capped price servicing is available for your Volksie van too.   

Funky factor

Not quite date night material, the Caddy doesn't light your fire. It has workmanlike appeal, runs on 16-inch steel wheels…although our test machine did come in a flash "luminous orange". There are 11 different colours available, so there's a shade sure to match just about any business (metallic and pearl effect cost $890).   

VW Caddy van
VW Caddy van

The lowdown

When it comes to getting the job done, it's easy to see why professionals turn to the ever-popular Volkswagen Caddy.   

It's a remarkably adept performer with impressive dexterity on the road…but you might see the bottom line rise sharply once you get the desired specification.  

Vital statistics

Model: VW Caddy TSI220.  

Details: Three-door two-seat short wheelbase front-wheel drive compact van.  

Engine: 1.4-litre four cylinder inline turbocharged petrol generating maximum power of 92kW @ 4800rpm and peak torque of 220Nm @ 1500-3500rpm.  

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.   

Consumption: 6.2 litres/100km (combined average).   

Payload: 773kg.   

Bottom line plus on-roads: $28,990.     

VW Caddy van
VW Caddy van

What matters most

What we liked: Zesty performance, thrifty fuel consumption, rear and side loading options.   

What we'd like to see: Access to apps such as Apple Carplay and Android Auto as standard, windows in the rear or blind spot warning functionality.  

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist for the same period. Capped price servicing applies to the first six standard scheduled services of your vehicle required every 15,000 km/12 month interval. Average costs is $449.    

The verdict

Driving experience  17/20  

Features and equipment  15/20  

Functionality and comfort  15/20  

Value for money  17/20  

Style and design  15/20  

Total  79/100      

VW Caddy van
VW Caddy van

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