What is it?
Small but spacious vans have commanded a strong presence in the market for a couple of decades now, and the increased demands for home delivery, coupled to their car-like dynamics, have driven their popularity even further forwards. The VW Caddy has long been one of the best small vans on the market and now in its latest guise, with a new platform, looks set to shake things up even further.
Underneath, the Caddy has a lot in common with the Mk 8 Golf and uses VW’s credited MQB platform for more space and flexibility. There are several new features inside, too, with a vastly improved touchscreen infotainment system and a clever interior set-up, allowing it to be a three-seater van or a six-seater crew cab or leisure vehicle. There’s even a factory camper van version.
What’s under the bonnet?
There are several engine options for the Caddy and those looking for long-range commercial use may still favour diesel, but our test model used a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol TFSI unit. with 112 bhp and 220 Nm of torque allowing for reasonably brisk performance – 0-60mph takes 11.7 seconds, with a top speed of 113 mph. In terms of fuel economy, it offers a claimed consumption figure of 42.2 mpg and CO2 emissions of 151g/km. Power is sent to the front wheels through a smooth seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
What’s it like to drive?
If you can imagine a big, mid-range Golf with a huge boot then that’s essentially what you get – a no-frills but extremely well made and reassuring vehicle to drive. It’s a van, but it’s also a refined and comfortable companion and that’s ideal for long distance and courier work, as well as making it a terrific leisure vehicle in family-friendly six-seater format. The ride is good, while the handling safe and predictable.
How does it look?
Volkswagen has gone to town with the looks of the Caddy, imbuing it with some of the features that really suit the latest Golf, but applying them to the boxy dimensions of a van. The Caddy also avoids looking too slab-sided thanks to plenty of cuts and angles -it’s handsome and well-proportioned, making it arguably the best-looking small van on the market. For small businesses, that’s a real plus as it projects a really strong image.
What’s it like inside?
Much as you’ll find in the Golf, the Caddy uses a largely button-free layout with the majority of functions housed inside its central infotainment screen. It’s well-finished, too, with durable cloth trim and a range of seating options. The load bay is impressive – it’ll easily accommodate a Euro Pallet, while the load bay itself will take a length of up to 1,797mm and a payload of up to 637kg depending on spec.
What’s the spec like?
Caddy models in Life trim – like our test model – kick off at £27,870 and for that, you get a generous amount of standard equipment. The list of driver assistance systems is most impressive; a driver alert system, emergency braking and front assist with pedestrian monitoring are all included as standard, helping to cement the Caddy as a safe way of getting yourself and your goods around. The main infotainment setup comprises an 8.25-inch display housing a number of touchscreen controls, though it does take a while to find your way around it all.
As a van, the Caddy is one of the best – modern, handsome and equipped with some incredible safety features and decent standard equipment. As a people carrier, its brilliance is in its functionality, while it is more refined than many of its van-based rivals. It’s a great vehicle, designed with a clear purpose in mind and entirely fit for it.