Drives just like a Golf, sturdy and practical passenger cabin, strong range of engines and variants
Unprotected bodywork in the cargo bay, electric door release is annoyingly sluggish
What is it?
It’s the smallest, cheapest, lowest rung on the VW vans ladder. But if that makes the Caddy sound like a runt – a bit of a cop-out – then think again. What we have here is a van with the powertrains and many interior fittings from the Golf family hatchback. To be the VW Golf of vans would be nothing to sniff at.
What can a Caddy do?
It can carry your family, if it’s the Caddy Life MPV – a van with windows and seats. It can be your home from home, if it’s the Caddy California motorhome. And it can carry a ruddy great pile of Stuff, if it’s the Caddy Cargo. That’s the version we’re going to concentrate on here.
What versions of VW Caddy are there?
The base model is simply the Caddy Cargo Commerce. It has Bluetooth, cruise control, and all the air in the back as standard. Then there’s the Caddy Cargo Commerce Plus, with air-con, parking sensors and an armrest, plus – ooh – body-coloured bumpers. And the range-topper, the veritable Phaeton of small Volkswagen vans, is the Caddy Cargo Commerce Pro, festooned with goodies like power folding heated door mirrors, an alarm, LED tail-lamps and a heated windscreen.
Within those trim lines, there are different wheelbases. It just goes to show how versatile VW’s MQB platform is: yep, the Caddy lives on the same foundations as the VW Golf, the Audi TT, and Skoda Octavia.
There’s a standard short wheelbase which itself is now 73mm longer and 93mm longer overall than the old Caddy, or a ‘Maxi’ version with another 215mm of space between the axles plus a 138mm-stretched rear overhang. That ups interior space from 3.1 cubic metres to 3.7 cubic metres, so the Maxi can carry two Euro 3 pallets end-to-end.
There’s a slight turning circle penalty, and you’ll hang further out of a parking space, but that’s an awful lot of room in a ‘small’ van. We’ve been testing a base-spec Caddy Cargo Commerce in XXL ‘Maxi’ size.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
VW’s been selling the Caddy in the UK since the early 1980s, so it knows what its customers are after by now. What those customers might not be ready for this time is just how civilised and comfortable the new Caddy is.
The move to the MQB platform, along with a totally redesigned rear axle and new front and rear suspension has resulted in a vehicle which would genuinely embarrass a few German and Japanese hatchbacks, saloons and crossovers when it comes to proper road manners.
We’re not talking about Rolls-Royce levels of squidge here, but a quiet-riding, untaxing driving experience – when teamed with a solidly built cabin and a commendable range of powertrains – goes a long way to making life (and work) in the Caddy pretty agreeable. The Golf of vans? More so than ever.