What is it?
A van that has been given a thorough once-over to make it more appealing to the family-of-seven man. It has been spruced up with rear seating, modern car features and a fairly plush interior.
Sounds familiar? Vans disguised as MPV’s ain’t new. We had the Mitsubishi L300, Fiat Doblo Panorama and the Renault Kangoo. Further up the price bracket, huge family monsters such as the Hyundai Starex and Mercedes V-Class.
A giant box isn’t the nicest looking vehicle on the road, but where vans fight back is practicality. There is nothing more useful than a van.
Ordinarily, MPVs are designed from the ground up as a people carrier, such as the popular Honda Odyssey/Toyota Wish, or a stretched from an existing car’s underpinnings, like the Honda Mobilio which is based on a stretched Brio.
MPVans are popular in Europe as a more affordable alternative to car-based MPVs. And the Caddy is priced just right. A little over $121k for the standard Caddy and $5k more for the Maxi Caddy, it’s VW’s lowest-priced MPV on sale in Singapore.
Is it the Daddy’s Caddy?
On paper, it certainly is. Despite looking a lot smaller than most regular MPVs, the Caddy has enough space for 7 fully-grown adults. Don’t believe is? We chucked a large laser printer in the rear row and there was still space for an adult back there. More to that, there is decent legroom in the third row of seats.
While the regular Caddy has sufficient legroom, the Caddy Maxi, which is 47cm longer, has even more, plus extra space for some luggage behind the third row of seats. It might poke out of several older parking lots and parallel parking would be quite a challenge.
Perhaps the only winge we have about the rear seats are that they don’t offer any form of tilt adjustment. The seating position is okay for short to medium trips, but they are too upright for those long distance drives.
Sliding doors are a big welcome to a car of this size, knowing that MPV’s with swing out doors usually have large rear doors to create some form of easy entry, but may ding the car next it. The rear windows don’t wind down, but hey, less things for the kids to fiddle with, less things to break too.
Lots of space?
Having a tall profile adds to the illusion of space in the Caddy, with a cabin that is bright and airy. Everyone does gets a front view from the sloping seating height arrangement – hence the highest third row of seats has a tiny bit of storage area under it.
There is so much headroom, one could even install a ceiling cargo net to create even more storage space in the cabin, in addition to the front ceiling storage pocket.
One can stuff the storage bins in the door panels and the large glove compartment, but for those who need maximum space, may chose to remove the second and third row of seats completely.
How does it drive?
The 1.4 TSI engine has 125hp and maximum torque of 220Nm. A 7-speed automatic gearbox (DSG) allows the regular Caddy goes from 0 to 100km/h in 10.9 seconds, the Caddy Maxi does the same in 11.3 seconds. VW claims a fuel efficiency of 17.24km/l, but with our tendency to be a little bit faster than the VW engineers, returned an average of 15.3km/h instead.
There is definitely no problem with daily commuting, and it exhibits a very controlled ride characteristic on the open roads, even at cruising speeds up to 110km/h. It’s very car-like.
Ahem. Is this a Sportsvan?
With the punchy running gear, it is possibly one of the most fun vans to drive in a straight line – the impression of driving a regular hatchback is right there. However, the rear end isn’t as communicative and it tends to be a tad bouncy over bumps, which can lead to a few moments of terrifying mid corner vagueness.
The Caddy does feel better with some form of payload – a 490kg payload was the ticket to remove some of the rear-end bounce. On another note, vans are not well known for their excellent body roll control, and the Caddy is no different. Still, it will tackle most corners at slightly unreasonable speeds without a problem. Besides, there *are* lowering kits for a reason…
More car things?
The infotainment system features a big colour touchscreen and sits in the centre of the dashboard. The updated front and rear design brings it closer to the current generation of VW cars, and the interior styling, although plain, is functional.
Safety is kept in check with airbags for driver and front passengers, and curtain airbags for everyone including side airbags at the front. Active systems include the Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP).
You’ll find more car-like features like the rear view camera, rain sensor, automatic dimming interior mirror and almost unheard of in vans: A cruise control system. Van + Car = Can, indeed.
Sounds like the perfect MPV?
Not so fast. There is one big issue we faced, and that is with the height of the Caddy. At slightly above 1.8 metres tall, it can be extremely daunting to drive into multi-storey or basement carparks – we faced the same issues with giant MPVs like the Alphard.
Still though, the Caddy gets the formula right with essential creature comforts, and only a few minor omissions like a third row air conditioning outlet/blower and rear seat tilt adjustment. The Caddy well deserves a consideration for those looking into a compact MPV for the whole family!
Volkswagen Caddy 1.4TSI
Engine: 1,395cc, Inline 4, Turbocharged
Transmission: 7-Speed DSG
0-100km/h: 10.9 seconds
Top Speed: 183 km/h
Fuel consumption: 5.8L/100km
Availability: Now (www.volkswagen.com.sg)