It took VW to generate interest in the car-derived van segment, and it now reaps the advantage of holding 60 percent of market share in this category
The small van segment is one of the major features of the European market. Head to any city, and the most common form of light commercial, after the traditional one tonne van, each has at least a slight resemblance to that of a passenger vehicle.
Admittedly, not all small vans look like a car without windows: many use the same floor pan from a passenger car derivative and add a van-like body, complete with barn doors at the rear or a top-hinged tailgate.
It’s a growing segment for the Australian market, with all the front running having been made by Volkswagen with its Caddy. In fact, Caddy, in its van form, actually holds 56 percent of this segment for the first eight months of this year, and grew this hold over the market to 64.8 percent in August.
This small van segment continues to grow, comprising other European brands such as Citroen with the Berlingo, Holden with the Combo, and Renault with the Partner and Kangoo. The other slightly different contender in this segment is Suzuki, where its APV is a cabover design rather than featuring a bonnet.
The Volkswagen Caddy’s popularity is a tribute to the standing within the minds of commercial vehicle operators that VW continues to maintain this position of being number one. It’s also a slight testimony to the inadequacies to the marketing strategies of the main competition, which seem incapable of getting a grasp on the needs and the preferences of the light-commercial vehicle buyer.
Our renewed interest in this segment results from Volkswagen having once again taken the marketing initiative by launching new special edition Runner models to its Caddy and Transporter range of vans.
Available in limited numbers of 200 and 350 respectively, the Runner special edition vans represent exceptional value for commercial vehicle buyers.
Priced at $19,990 drive-away for the Caddy Van Runner Special Edition, and $29,990 drive-away for the Transporter Runner Special Edition, these vehicles offer a new entry-level price for both Caddy and Transporter ranges, previously starting at $21,990 for the Caddy Van Trendline and $36,740 for the Transporter Van.
Interior trim levels have been toughened up for the Runner Special Edition with the inclusion of hard-wearing, heavy-duty ‘Runner’ trim, exclusive to the range, plus unique ‘Runner’ badging.
The sharp drive-away pricing for both Runner variants should attract new buyers to the brand, given both models’ list of features including ESP, hill hold control, ‘climatic’ air conditioning and daytime running lights – along with the performance and efficiency of Volkswagen’s TSI and TDI engines.
The Caddy Van Runner is equipped with a 63 kW/160 Nm TSI 160 turbocharged petrol engine with a combined fuel cycle of 6.9 l/100 km; while the Transporter features a TDI 250 75 kW/250 Nm turbocharged diesel engine, maintaining an impressive balance of pulling power with frugal 7.5 l/100 km fuel economy.
The Caddy and Transporter Runner Special Editions are both backed by the VW three-year, unlimited distance warranty, and offer 800 kg and 1149 kg payloads respectively.
Caddy van buyers looking at the entire range now have a choice of four different four-cylinder engines; two petrol engines, each of 1.2 litres; and two diesels, one of 1.6 litres and the other of 2.0 litres.
Choosing the higher output TS 175 over the TS 160 petrol engine brings in a maximum power output of 77 kW at 5,000 rpm and peak torque of 175 Nm rated from 1,550 to 4,100 rpm. Those looking for diesel economy can option up to the TDI 320 and gain a performance increase to 103 kW at 4,200 rpm and peak torque of 320 Nm at 1,500-2,500 rpm.
All these versions of the Caddy are front-wheel-drive, but, for gear shifting, you’ll be looking at five-speed manuals for both petrol versions. The buyers of the 1.6-litre TDI 250 diesel get the choice between a five-speed manual and a seven-speed DSG automated manual. Those looking at the 2.0-litre diesel can only have a six-speed DSG or can option up for all-wheel-drive and have the VW 4Motion system, which works exceptionally well if you happen to be delivering to Thredbo in winter.
Fuel consumption between these four engines varies – as far as the combined fuel figures are concerned, from 5.7 l/100 km for the TDI 250 to 7.0 l/100 km for the TSI 175.
This year marks 30 years since the release of the first Caddy, and to celebrate the milestone Volkswagen has introduced a further special limited production version, the Caddy Edition 30.
The short-wheelbase is adapted to provide seating for five, as a mini-people mover, and is offered with the same 103 kW engine and six-speed DSG transmission currently featured in the Caddy Maxi Comfortline TDI 320.
Externally, the Caddy Edition 30 incorporates a gloss black roof panel, 17” ‘Budapest’ alloy wheels with black highlights, fog lights, roof rails, twin halogen headlights and painted bumpers. Unique Caddy Edition 30 signatures on the dual sliding doors, at the back of the vehicle and on the doorsills distinguish the special edition from other Volkswagen Caddys on the road.
Inside, the special edition receives high-quality, two-tone Alcantara interior upholstery, as well as leather steering wheel, full interior trim and climate control.
The Caddy Edition 30 brings with it fuel consumption of 6.5 l/100 km on a combined cycle.
Also part of the package for a mini people mover is the safety spec, which adds features such as Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Brake Assist (BA), driver and front passenger front, head and thorax airbags.
The Caddy Edition 30 will be released at the October 2012 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is offering this special edition Caddy in limited numbers and at a very competitive drive-away price of $37,990.