As the popular Volkswagen Caddy enters its fifth decade, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has pulled the covers off the fifth generation – and at the same time taken a trip down memory lane of the story so far.
The Caddy – originally known as the Rabbit pick-up - first rolled off the production line in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1978 and has since gone on to sell over three million models across four generations – with over 200,000 sold in the UK alone.
For the past 40 years, the Volkswagen Caddy has been the perfect companion for families and businesses – big and small – all over the world.
The story continues with the fifth generation Caddy unveiled to the world’s media in February 2020, featuring advanced technology, more safety systems than ever and dimensions perfect for deliveries.
To celebrate the new model, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has created this historic walk through the Caddy’s distinguished heritage from North America to Poland via South Africa and Spain.
Caddy 1: 1978-1992
- Total UK sales: 6,730
- Total worldwide sales: 207,000
The Caddy story begins in the USA, where it was launched in 1978 as a pick-up known as the Rabbit and produced at the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The versatile vehicle was brought to Europe in 1982 and built in Sarajevo where it was rebadged as the Caddy.
With an impressive load bay of 1.83m, customers could opt for a cargo bed hard top made of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), turning the pick-up into a small urban delivery van.
Also already being offered in the 1980s were caravan-style add-on units that turned the Caddy into a compact camper.
In Europe production of the first Caddy – based on the Mk1 Golf – ended in 1992 but it continued to be produced at the South African factory in Uitenhage until 2007.
Worldwide more than 207,000 of the first-generation Caddy were produced.
Caddy 2: 1995-2003
- Total UK sales: 26,089
- Total worldwide sales: 520,000 (inc. SEAT Inca/Škoda Felicia)
The second Caddy debuted in 1995 and was based on the SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo.
It was twinned with the SEAT Inca and made on the same production line at the Martorell plant near Barcelona.
Following the success of the hard-top conversions of the original, the Caddy 2 was made as a panel van and high-roofed estate, making it ideal for everyone from couriers to manual trades and service providers.
Volkswagen offered the Caddy 2 exclusively with wing doors and an increased cargo capacity of 2.9 m3. In 1995 with the ‘Vantasy’ concept vehicle, Volkswagen unveiled a first conceptual taste of subsequent Caddy campers.
In 1996 the Caddy pick-up launched, a sister vehicle to the Škoda Felicia and produced in the Czech Republic. In 1997 there followed the Caddy Family, a forerunner of the later compact MPVs.
By the time it was discontinued, around 520,000 drivers had opted for a second-generation Caddy or an almost identical SEAT Inca or Škoda Felicia model.
Caddy 3: 2003-2014
- Total UK sales: 110,836
- Total worldwide sales: 1.6 million
The third generation of the Caddy was a completely new model when launched in 2003, based on the Mk5 Golf and original Touran, and production moved to its current home in Poznan, Poland.
Featuring a 3.2m3 cargo bay, it was the first time the Caddy had a choice of rear wing doors or a large tailgate.
The Caddy developed from a panel van and estate into a compact MPV with a flexible seven seat configuration ideal for young families.
The Caddy Tramper followed in 2005 – the first compact camper – while the Caddy Maxi arrived from 2007. With its extended length from 4.41m to 4.88m, the larger load capacity proved a hit.
At over 856,000, Caddy 3 sales figures soared between 2003 and 2010. With this success came a major model update featuring a new design and the latest technology.
All versions now came fitted with ESC, while optional 4MOTION all-wheel drive was a first in its class. In 2013, the Cross Caddy, was launched as a compact MPV/SUV crossover with robust exterior panels and all-wheel drive.
When the third-generation Caddy made way in 2015 for its successor, it had achieved total sales in 11 years of over 1.6 million.
Caddy 4: 2015-2020
- Total UK sales: 63,225
- Total worldwide sales: 722,000
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles launched the fourth generation in 2015 with panel van, estates and compact MPV options, and a range of two, five and seven seat configurations for complete customer versatility.
The all-wheel drive Caddy Alltrack – a successor to the Cross Caddy - followed soon after alongside the Caddy Beach.
The Caddy 4 was a big step forward for comfort and safety enhancing driver assistance systems, including City Emergency Braking, ACC Adaptive Distance Control and Driver Alert.
In March 2018, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles broke through the two million mark for Caddy 3 and 4 models produced in the Polish Poznań plant. Up to the end of 2019, around 722,000 of them were accounted for by the Caddy 4.
Caddy 5: 2020-
The latest Caddy was unveiled in February 2020, over 40 years since the original USA launch and three million units later.
The innovative Caddy 5 features a big upgrade in technology, connectivity and safety and is built from the ground up on an all-new platform.
In Caddy, Cargo and Maxi form, load space ranges from 3.3m3 to 4.0m3 – enough for two Euro pallets loaded sideways.
The new ‘Innovision Cockpit’ provides smartphone connectivity while six of the 19 driver assistance systems are new.
Find out more about the VW Caddy Van range.