The recreational van
Say the name “Volkswagen Caddy” and two cars from my youth spring to mind. First was my father’s 1,800 Sport which brother-dearest and I used for Dad’s business and our own pleasure – the front tyres lasted 12,000km. Then there was my buddy’s Sport which eventually became a 250kW turbo monster around Tony Rust.
The cars I’m referring to are, of course, the Golf Mk I pick-up which battled Ford’s Bantam and the Nissan 1400 / Champ in the evergreen small bakkie segment. The Caddy pick-up was also available overseas but soldiered on in local production long after Volkswagen used its name for a new product.
The car you’re looking at is that new one which, two models down the line, we finally got back in southern Africa. I’m sure that VW fans and young entrepreneurs would love to see another ½ ton pick-up from Volkswagen but now the name Caddy refers to this practical box on wheels; which can carry up to 800kg.
It’s available as a hardy panel van, comfy crew bus, luxurious family van or chic urban crossover. Throw in various wheel bases, multiple seating and interior combinations, a petrol and two diesel engines, manual or DSG automatic gearboxes to come up with an impressively wide net for catching customers.
Engine-wise, one size kinda fits all with the trusty 2-litre turbo-diesel doing duty in all Trendline, Maxi and Alltrack models. It spits out 81kW (110hp) or 250Nm but those numbers hike up to 103kW (140hp) and 320Nm when you opt for the DSG double-clutch automatic gearbox in Maxi or Alltrack trim.
Our test car was a regular Caddy Maxi Trendline 81kW with five manual gears and a delicious chocolate brown metallic coating over an otherwise sensible vehicle. A few niceties included 16-inch alloys, a third row of two seats, touchscreen infotainment system (optional) and snazzy Bi-Xenon headlights (ditto).
Even if you go for a bog-standard Caddy, it pitches up for work with practical goodies like a full-size alloy spare wheel, power windows and mirrors, two rear sliding doors with sliding windows, leather steering wheel, countless storage nooks, cargo hooks and a comprehensive display between the stylish instruments.
Worried about safety? Caddy has your back with six airbags, fatigue warning, daytime running lights and a whole raft of driver aids like ESP, ABS with post-collision brake, traction control and hill-start assistant. For your peace of mind, Volkswagen includes a 3-year/120,000km warranty and 3-year/60,000km service plan.
As for driving this brown little helper, just a few miles and smooth gear changes showcased that this is a practical commercial vehicle with a thick veneer of Volkswagen quality. I wouldn’t call it luxurious but the car’s fit and finish is as polished as its ride and passenger comfort. Close your eyes and it feels like a car.
We’d only advise passengers to do so, obviously. They may also delight in the ridiculous amount of head-room and luggage space. With all seven seats up, you get a whopping 530L of boot space. Flatten row three and that number rockets to a massive 1,350L which is big enough for any recreational trip, DIY run or school project.
With that amount of space, a high ceiling, low floor and two side doors, the Caddy makes an unbelievably strong case for itself as the ultimate multi-purpose vehicle. This Maxi Trendline claims average Diesel use of 5.8L/100km and while we saw daily averages around eight, a 6.3 was easily achieved on the highway. Wunderbar!
Some might say that “the catch” is this MPV’s lack of performance; don’t listen to these haters. VW alleges 0-100km/h in 12.8 seconds (we got 12.92) and top whack of 170km/h, all of which is plenty for a suave and useful box on wheels. In fact, its torquey self-igniter didn’t feel that pap and kept up with any traffic we subjected it to.
Like its namesake, the golfer’s assistant, a good Caddy takes an unassuming but important background role. This applies to those trusty old bakkies as much as it does to this more recent range of Volkswagens. They work hard, play nicely, hardly make a fuss and won’t cost you the Earth. We approve – two thumbs up!
0-10km/h: 0,60 seconds
0-20km/h: 1,44 seconds
0-30km/h: 2,14 seconds
0-40km/h: 3,19 seconds
0-50km/h: 4,20 seconds
0-60km/h: 5,35 seconds
0-70km/h: 6,76 seconds
0-80km/h: 8,86 seconds
0-90km/h: 10,77 seconds
0-100km/h: 12,92 seconds
0-110km/h: 15,55 seconds
0-120km/h: 19,26 seconds
0-130km/h: 22,98 seconds
0-140km/h: 27,78 seconds
0-100m: 7,99 seconds @ 75,30km/h
0-200m: 12,16 seconds @ 96,53km/h
0-300m: 15,63 seconds @ 110,32km/h
0-400m: 18,76 seconds @ 118,61km/h
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0,57G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box