The previous model Caddy saw the introduction of an environmentally-friendly BlueMotion model which has been revised to further improve efficiency, as well as the extended wheelbase Maxi version, that increases load volume from 3.2m³ to 4.2m³. But new additions this time around include a 4Motion all-wheel-drive model, a compressed natural gas version called EcoFuel, and the option of semi-automatic DSG boxes across the range.
There are three basic trim levels, Startline, Trendline and Highline, as well as a number of special edition models that typically add larger alloy wheels, special decals and sportier seats.
A smooth 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine created specifically for the new Caddy, joins a powerful 2.0-litre unit in replacing the old naturally aspirated 2.0-litre option, with a total of four different powers now available.
We tested a range of the new engines that included the 1.6-litre 74hp unit returning a claimed 49.6mpg which forms the base model and replaces the outgoing 68hp model, and the mid-ranged 101hp option - that is also used in the BlueMotion model. Power from the 2.0-litre engine, which wasn’t available at launch, comes in two guises, a 109hp unit used solely in the 4Motion and the range topping 138hp version.
The pick of the bunch is arguably the 101hp model that demonstrates excellent pulling power in third gear thanks to the 250Nm of torque available from 1,500-2,500rpm; however, the 74hp unit isn’t without a punch. Both demonstrate amazing refinement on the road where the higher powered Caddy felt exceptionally comfortable and quiet at 60mph and 1,900rpm.
Maximum payload for the range now extends from 681kg to for the entry-level Caddy, up to 753kg for the Caddy Maxi which gets twin sliding rear doors as standard. The Caddy is not available as a high roof model, but the two wheelbase options of standard and Maxi still allow load volumes of 3.2m3 and 4.2m3 respectively.
The loadspace is protected by rubber floor matting and half-height side panels for both models, and is accessible via rear doors that open to 180 degrees. A tailgate can be also specified on the regular Caddy.
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The cabin also feels lighter and bigger, and offers a number of useful storage points including large door bins, and smaller compartments for coins, keys or mobiles. We would have liked to have seen a closed glovebox for added security, and the half plastic mesh bulkhead (with solid plastic base) obviously didn’t help reduce road noise in the cabin but it didn’t sully the overall experience.
Material quality is high, and the cabin feels very well made and more than capable of standing the test of time. The layout and ergonomics of the dash are very similar to the larger Transporter, so it’s a clean and structured console that is functional without being inspiring. Nevertheless the Caddy is a pleasant van to spend any amount of time in.
The seats are not the best in the class for comfort – and are a little flat and unsupportive – but there is a good level of adjustability in the seat travel and larger drivers can stretch out their legs a great deal more than in some rivals.
On The Road
Speed dependent power steering, coupled with a new aluminium subframe, anti-roll bars, independent strut suspension on the front and a leaf sprung rear axle, make the handling and ride quality of the new Caddy the best in its class. At slow and fast speeds, and even when fully loaded, the Caddy’s suspension smoothes out the road whilst still delivering high levels of feedback to the driver and plenty of grip through the 15inch 195/65 wheels.
Even the extra 325mm added to the wheelbase in the Maxi version doesn’t adversely affect the quality of the Caddy’s ride and is complimented by the excellent interior that includes a new look centre console that is more modern and robust looking than its predecessor.
Safety is assured thanks to a full height bulkhead, driver airbag, as well as Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). The Caddy panel van is ﬁtted with glazed assymetric rear wing doors as standard, which can be replaced with a tailgate as a no-cost factory-ﬁtted option.
Hill-Holder Assist is standard on Bluemotion-plated vehicles, while Highline customers benefit from Fog and Cornering lights.
Cost of Ownership
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles are backed by a network of over 100 dedicated Van Centres nationwide. Standard warranties of two years/unlimited mileage or three year/100,000 miles can be extended and service intervals are set at 18,000 miles or two years.
Residual values are particularly high for Caddy vans and good condition examples with standard mileage will not only command a premium over competitor models, but will be snapped up quickly too. A number of large fleets, most notably British Gas and Sky, run the Caddy in part due to their smart appearance, but mainly because of their excellent total cost of ownership.
Already a key player, the new Caddy has once again raised the bar for the sector. Euro-5 engines, improved economy and class leading comfort will ensure that the new Caddy stays a firm favourite with fleet buyers, and we can’t disagree.
Running costs and in particular residual values are a major plus point for the Caddy – which also offers a range of engine options including an entry-level 74hp unit. Three trim levels and various optional extras allow you to add considerably to the price of a Caddy, but in standard guise it is a well priced and competitively priced van.
Potential buyers should also consider the Ford Transit Connect, Fiat Doblo Cargo, Renault Kangoo and Citroen Berlingo as alternatives, each of which is more than capable of matching the Caddy for choice and practicalities – albeit without the brand appeal of the VW badge.