What is it?
They say that variety is the spice of life and that’s definitely the case when it comes to the world of vans. Take the new Volkswagen Caddy, for instance, which can now be specified as a regular panel van in the Caddy Cargo, a go-anywhere camper as the Caddy California and with additional seats for more passengers in the regular Caddy that we’re looking at today.
This model focuses more on being a passenger-friendly van as opposed to the more utility-angled Caddy Cargo. Both, however, sit on a new platform and get plenty of new features, but is the Caddy a van you should consider? Let’s take a look.
Things have come on in leaps and bounds in the Caddy world. While the previous generation van – which first arrived in 2014 – was really starting to creak with age, this latest version has arrived atop a new platform and with a range of new features – this is no facelift. So underneath you’ll find similar underpinnings to the latest eighth-generation Golf, with this MQB-badged platform giving greater space and flexibility.
In this Caddy, we’ve got a three-seater bench in the middle and a huge 1,213-litre boot. If you need more space, then those middle seats can be removed entirely, freeing up 2,556 litres of load area – more than you’ll find in any conventional hatchback.
What’s under the bonnet?
Though there are several engine options to go for with the Caddy, our particular model used a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit. It’s a flexible engine, with 112bhp and 220Nm of torque allowing for reasonably brisk performance – though the claimed 0-60mph time of 11.7 seconds feel entirely believable out on the road.
You could do 113mph flat out if you had the space and ability to do so, but this isn’t a van for lap times. No, economy is more what it’s about and in that sense, it does well with a claimed consumption figure of 42.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 151g/km. Power is sent to the front wheels in this version too, driving through a smooth seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
What’s it like to drive?
Piloting the Caddy is a largely zero-frills affair. As we’ve already mentioned the progress that the 1.5-litre engine under the bonnet endows the Caddy with is plenty enough for the job in hand and this combines with the relatively softly-sprung suspension and small wheels to provide a comfortable and reasonably supple ride. Request more of the engine and it can become a touch grumbly, but it’s not too bad.
You get a certain degree of wind and road noise circulating through the Caddy’s broad cabin and this is more noticeable at motorway speeds. That said, given the Caddy’s basis on a regular van, this is to be expected. The wide windscreen and large side windows give plenty of visibility while contributing to a bright and airy experience within the van itself.
How does it look?
Volkswagen has really gone to town with the looks of the Caddy, infusing it with some of the sharp features that we’ve seen on the latest Golf but applying them to the boxy dimensions of a van. We’d say it was a success; the Caddy looks really good in the metal, with the chrome strip running along the ‘nose’ giving it a rather futuristic edge.
The Caddy also avoids looking too slab-sided thanks to plenty of cuts and angles. We particularly like the large section of glass at the rear of the van, too, giving the Caddy a slightly more premium edge.
What’s it like inside?
Much as you’ll find in the Golf, the Caddy uses a largely button-less layout with the majority of functions housed within the central infotainment screen – which we’ll get to shortly – but the remainder of the Caddy’s interior is focused around practicality. It’s why the front seats are large, square and comfortable, while those sitting in the second row are treated to boatloads of legroom and headroom.
The finish is good, with some scratchier plastics found in occasional areas. However, everything feels robust and up to the task of transporting a number of people and their goods day-in, day-out. Like we’ve already mentioned, the ability to remove the middle seats and free up additional space only adds to the Caddy’s flexibility, while the rear tailgate’s huge opening makes access to the boot a breeze – just don’t park the van too close to a wall.
What’s the spec like?
Caddy models in Life trim – like our version – kick off at £27,870 and for that, you do get a generous amount of standard equipment. The list of assistance systems, for one, is impressive; a driver alert system, emergency braking and front assist with pedestrian monitoring are all included as standard, helping to cement the Caddy as a really safe way of getting around.
The main infotainment setup is covered by an 8.25-inch display. As we’ve mentioned, many of the controls are housed within the system and, though it helps to de-clutter the cabin, the lack of physical buttons or dials for the heating and ventilation makes even slightly adjusting the temperature more of a chore than it needs to be. It’s just the same issue as we have in the Golf, in fact, where you’ll find a similar setup.
If practicality sits as your main requirement above all else, you’ll really like the Volkswagen Caddy. But whereas the previous-generation van felt a little rough-and-ready in its transition to a people carrier, this is a far more polished affair thanks to an upmarket feel and plenty of standard equipment.
The Caddy also brings a comfortable and refined ride that’ll make longer journeys feel less of a chore. Add all of these aspects together and you have a genuinely impressive package and one that’ll no doubt fit the bill for many drivers.