Volkswagen’s Caddy gets a new makeover with better engines and new trim levels
In Europe they’re called car-derived vans, and pretty much each vehicle manufacturer has a few different types available. They’re popular, they’re easy to park, they’re fuel efficient and they’re just about everywhere you look as they carry out a wide range of jobs from courier deliveries to office cleaning.
Volkswagen has stuck to its guns, from day one, with the marketing support of the Caddy, and it’s finally paid off with 2010 being the best year of sales on record, with 2243 Caddy variants registered nationally. It’s currently the leader in this segment, but the picture advances when you look at its success globally, where close to 800,000 Caddy’s have been sold in the six years from 2004 to 2009.
Now, as we move into 2011, Volkswagen is stepping up the activity and the competition against other small van alternatives such as Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen, Holden and Suzuki.
The Caddy for 2011, and beyond, now benefits from new engines, new transmissions and new trim levels. Safety levels increase with the inclusion, for the first time, of ESP (Electronic Stability programming) as standard, together with Hill Start Assist and daytime safety running lamps.
If the idea of driving with your lights on in the daytime doesn’t particularly float your boat, then ponder on the statistic that your risk of accident rate can be reduced in the daylight hours by up to 28 percent. That’s the findings of research completed in Europe, and it more than justifies the inclusion on the grounds of added safety. It’s also now mandatory for new cars in parts of Europe.
The new engines for the entire Caddy range start with the choice of two petrol and two diesel alternatives. All are turbocharged, with the petrol versions using direct fuel injection and the diesels using high-pressure common-rail fuel injection with a diesel particulate filter to lower emissions.
The four-cylinder, TSI petrol engines develop 63 kW or 77 kW from a diminutive cubic capacity of 1.2 litres, and offer fuel economy improvements when compared against the previous petrol engines of up to 14.6 percent. The 77 kW version is claimed to return a combined fuel economy consumption of 7.0 l/100 km with emissions output of 163 g/km.
Over to the diesel camp, and power options here come in at 75 kW and 103 kW, both again from four-cylinder engines. The fuel injection system here has now switched from unit injectors to common-rail, and, with capacities of 1.6 litres and 2.0 litres, both engines bring a change of performance, fuel economy and emissions levels.
The 1.6-litre, 75 kW engine brings a fuel consumption level of 5.7 l/100 km, and the van with the higher output 2.0-litre, 103 kW engine uses 6.3 l/100 km and returns166 g/km of emissions. In terms of torque output, the 1.6-litre is rated at 250 Nm with the 2.0-litre rated at 320 Nm, both from as low as 1,500 rpm.
Volkswagen has been pushing its DSG twin-clutch transmission in just about every model it produces, and the Caddy Van is no exception. The standard van comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, and this is available with the entry-level petrol 1.2-litre or the 1.6-litre diesel. Those looking for an automated manual will find their choice extends to a seven-speed DSG with the 1.6-litre diesel.
Buyers of the larger capacity Caddy Maxi Van, which is powered by the 2.0-litre diesel can select the six-speed DSG transmission, or downsize to the 1.6-litre diesel for the seven-speed DSG, or drop back to a five-speed manual with either the 175 kW petrol engine or the 1.6-litre, 250 Nm diesel option.
If you are looking for true dual-purpose vehicle capability, then the Caddy Life might be the perfect choice. With fully glazed windows and sliding doors on both sides, the Caddy Life comes with the choice of a second centre row of seats, plus a further third row of seating in the Maxi Life, each of which can be removed if you want to concentrate on load carrying for the day.
With the Caddy Life or the longer Caddy Maxi Life alternative, the engine and transmissions options provide the buyer with the choice of the 250 Nm, 1.6-litre diesel as a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG for the Caddy Life, and the 1.6-litre with seven-speed DSG, or the 2.0-litre with six-speed DSG for the Caddy Maxi. There’s no manual gearbox option for the Caddy Maxi at this stage.
It’s our view that once you’ve decided the Caddy fits your needs exactly, then the engine and transmission choice will probably be dictated by price. The cost equation all starts at $21,990 for the 1.2-litre petrol engine Caddy Van and its 63 kW of power and 160 Nm of torque rated at 1,500-3,500 rpm. Moving up to the 1.6-litre diesel and manual gearbox brings the cost up to $26,650, and the inclusion of the seven-speed DSG adds a further $3,000.
If you intend to run fairly low annual distances, of under 20,000 km per year, around the city, and keep the Caddy for a five-year replacement, Delivery’s suggestion would be to stay basic and run with the petrol engine with manual transmission. If you are running high distances interstate, covering +100,000 km per year, the diesel manual looks the better option.
Having owned and operated our own Caddy within the Delivery company fleet, we can vouch for the excellent performance, reliability, comfort and general behaviour of the Caddy. The latest upgrades add nice additional storage touches inside the vehicle, and with electro-mechanical power steering now across the range, the directional stability of the Caddy is even better than on the original. The new engine range has added more life and liveliness to driving pleasure, but, in overall terms, it remains a solid, well built and pleasing vehicle to drive.
In basic trim, as a standard van, we would stay with a manual transmission, but we’d suggest those interested in the Caddy Life or Maxi Life try both the manual and DSG versions, as there is a significant difference in performance and acceleration between the two.
The safety aspects of Volkswagen are well documented, and the Caddy range is no exception with ESP, ABS, ASR, MSR, EDL and Hill Holder as standard, plus the availability of additional airbags in further locations around the vehicle. The warranty cover is now three years, unlimited distance, with 24/7 roadside assist throughout that period.
As happens with European imports, when you let your imagination run riot, the price increases accordingly. At the top of the spectrum, the Caddy Maxi Life comes in, with 2.0-litre diesel power and the six-speed DSG transmission, at a price level of $41,990.
The additional options of satellite navigation ($2,990), metallic paint ($790), alarm system with back-up horn ($490), rubber floor mat ($490), right-hand sliding door for the Caddy SWB only ($690), dark tinted glass in the passenger area ($490) and 17-inch alloy rims for a further $790 all add to the finance repayments, while not contributing to the vehicle’s earning capability. It’s your call.