See vans in a new light
VW’s commercials look snappy, go more smartly and have options galore
GIVEN its 60 years in the delivery vehicle game, Volkswagen has a wealth of experience. A new generation of VW light commercials has just arrived in the form of the fourth generation of the Caddy small van and the larger T6 van.
Each has two wheelbase options and numerous derivatives and, in the latter, different roof heights.
There are so many option packs that you could virtually tailor a bespoke van.
It might take some time to roll down the assembly line — and cost a bit, too.
The Caddy starts from $28,990 and has a firm foothold in Australia. With two-seat, five-seat crew and seven-seat Maxi layouts, it’s at the top of the tree in small van land — and accounts for healthy peoplemover sales in Caddy Maxi-van guise.
The badge has been a loyal and reliable servant to thousands of working people over the years.
The latest generation is built on a new shared VW platform. It comes with a much more stylish exterior appearance and a better interior with access to an astonishing array of comfort, safety and practicality features.
Diesel power becomes available next year but the big news is the Bluemotion 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo (92kW/220Nm) with engine stop-start and regenerative braking.
Most important to delivery drivers dashing and darting in city driving is the torque on tap from a low 1500rpm. It also uses a lot less fuel than the previous, less powerful 1.2-litre, claiming as little as 6.0L/100km for the base model manual.
That thirst increases only slightly in the larger five and seven-seaters, in which the seven-speed DSG transmission helps keep the figure down to about 6.5L.
Load capacity in the working van varies — 773kg-841kg depending on the model and the wheelbase.
Standard items of advanced safety kit include Multi Collision Braking, which autonomously brakes the vehicle after you’ve had a prang. Difficult concept to grasp but VW says it’s better to have the car completely stopped in a multiple collision.
Fatigue detection monitors how you drive and warns if it thinks you are on the blink.
As it’s based on VW’s new small car platform, the latest Caddy gets improved steering and braking .
Thanks to the independent front and rigid axle with leaf spring rear suspension, there is also superior ride. Cruise control is standard but a reverse camera is optional on the working vans, standard on the people-movers. What about the workers?
The upgraded interior includes some passenger car style and function elements but is still cheap looking and hard. — possibly a good thing for a working vehicle that may never benefit from being cleaned.
Handy cabin kit includes roof bins, numerous storage compartments and bottle holders. Depending on the model, infotainment ranges from not bad to pretty good. Not so flash is using phone streaming for satnav.
The exterior styling borrows cues from the Golf and Polo. More angles and a smarter grille dominate.
As expected, the new Caddy is an accomplished vehicle with perky performance from the 1.4-litre engine. We didn’t get a drive in the manual but the seven-speed DSG is a cracking good device, delivering crisp gear changes at the right time.
It gets off the mark smartly and, from behind the wheel, feels much like a Golf, if one with a cheap interior. Ride quality is impressive whether empty or partially loaded.
On our brief test drive, the working Caddy was registering a measly 7.4L/100km in mostly city driving.
It’s easy to operate, has logically placed switches and would be a relatively pleasant environment to spend your working days. Loading is via a side slider or barn rear doors. A tailgate is optional, as is a second slider.
The Caddy is a significant improvement over the previous model on all fronts. It should have a reverse camera standard across the entire line-up. We are sceptical about streaming Google maps through the phone all the time.
Engine performance is impressive enough to make the diesel redundant.