Mov­ing to a new­mar­ket

A re­vi­talised Caddy is hop­ing to at­tract wider ap­peal, writes Craig Duff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

NEW en­gines and a new look are putting the Caddy into new ter­ri­tory with fam­i­lies and up­mar­ket busi­ness op­er­a­tors.

Volk­swa­gen al­ready does big busi­ness with the com­pact ve­hi­cle in both peo­ple-mover and van guises, but is re­ly­ing on a ma­jor up­grade of its driv­e­trains and a move to sedan styling to haul in more ca­pac­ity.

The cars ar­rive in Aus­tralia midDe­cem­ber and VW Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles di­rec­tor Phil Clark says the Caddy is a key growth area for the world’s biggest car­maker.

‘‘Small vans in 2004 were 8 per cent of the mar­ket; now it’s 18 per cent,’’ he says. ‘‘Caddy has done very well for us. ‘‘With this model, ev­ery­thing for­ward of the wind­screen is new.’’

The lat­est range was launched last week in Ger­many, where they proved them­selves ca­pa­ble of reach­ing speeds — even with 350kg of bal­last in the back — that would have you locked away for life in Aus­tralia.

More im­por­tantly, the in­te­rior fabrics and plas­tics look like the soft­tex­ture stuff out of the VW parts cat­a­logue, but have a much more durable feel.

The driv­ing po­si­tion is sim­i­larly sedan style, with the six-speed man­ual shifter easy to drive in peak-hour traf­fic.

The six-speed wet-plate DSG shifter is still the go, but it’s slightly vague at speeds un­der 30km/h, so stop-start op­er­a­tors will have to trade off the pre­ci­sion of the man­ual for the ease of the self-shifter.

Open­ing the bid­ding for bud­get­con­scious fam­i­lies is the five-seat Caddy Life. It’s pow­ered by a 1.2-litre TSI petrol en­gine that has cut fuel con­sump­tion by 21 per cent and in­creased torque by the same amount over the out­go­ing model, with fuel use of 6.6 litres for 100km and out­puts of 77kW/175Nm.

The test drive was no­tably missing hills, but the Caddy punches well above its weight on the au­to­bahns, with se­ri­ous mid-range urge with two peo­ple on board.

We’ll wait un­til it lands Down Un­der for a full re­view, but it looks like a ca­pa­ble en­try-level ve­hi­cle. Pulling power won’t be an is­sue for the long­wheel­base Caddy Maxi Life, which will carry seven with rea­son­able ra­pid­ity thanks to the 2.0-litre TDI diesel pro­duc­ing 103kW/320Nm.

Strip out the seats and buy the Caddy as a van and the DSG will hit the sweet spot with fleet op­er­a­tors and owner-op­er­a­tors who don’t want the has­sle of con­stant gear changes.

Clark ad­mits the man­ual’s biggest buy­ers will be tradies who won’t change their clutch-op­er­ated ways and says the auto ver­sion will be the dom­i­nant player.

‘‘A lot of these guys are couri­ers — they pre­fer a diesel with an au­to­matic and that’s why we’ve done so well with Caddy Maxi.

‘‘If they don’t need a one-ton­ner (the Maxi’s rated to lug 813kg) and are look­ing at car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity, that’s where we have the edge.’’

Dual ap­peal: the new VW Caddy may at­tract fam­i­lies and up­mar­ket busi­nesses as buy­ers.

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