Caddy Shack

A 2016 up­date of the Volk­swa­gen Caddy sees the de­par­ture of diesel and a new plat­form for the lit­tle best-seller. Let’s take a closer look at the new pint-sized petrol-primed panel van

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS MATT W OOD

The petrol-driven Volk­swa­gen Caddy up­date sees the de­par­ture of diesel and a new plat­form

“There are some very in­ter­est­ing vans at the lighter end of the spec­trum that are worth more than a pass­ing glance”

There was a time, many years ago, when all I wanted in life was to paint pic­tures of naked women and starve in a bo­hemian gar­ret. Ap­par­ently the best way to do this is to hang around art gallery open­ings for the free cask wine and talk about art in breath­less hushed tones, (this tends to sound like a cou­ple of gig­gling fiveyear- olds try­ing to blow up a whoopee cush­ion be­hind a sofa).

Or, al­ter­na­tively, elab­o­rate ex­pan­sively on the ex­hi­bi­tion with a plas­tic wine glass in hand while try­ing not to douse other peo­ple with luke­warm moselle. As I found, it’s ac­tu­ally pos­si­ble to do both. The only bit of that am­bi­tion that I had any real suc­cess with, how­ever, was the starv­ing bit.

One thing I did learn, though, was the con­cept of nega­tive space. The artis­tic idea of nega­tive space is where the space around the ob­ject in ques­tion is of more in­ter­est than the ob­ject it­self. And that, in a nut­shell, tends to sum up most peo­ple’s view of light com­mer­cial vans.

I reckon this is a lit­tle un­fair, how­ever, as there are some very in­ter­est­ing vans at the lighter end of the spec­trum that are worth more than a pass­ing glance. And the hugely suc­cess­ful Volk­swa­gen Caddy is one of them.

DON’T MEN­TION THE WAR

Last year’s ex­er­cise in emis­sions em­bar­rass­ment, oth­er­wise com­monly known as ‘Diesel Gate’, saw the tem­po­rary with­drawal of a cou­ple of VW’s diesel plants both glob­ally and in Aus­tralia.

But a new Volk­swa­gen Caddy emerged for 2016 with a new 1.4-litre petrol en­gine that was not only touted to be cleaner and more fuel ef­fi­cient than the oil-burn­ers, but of­fered more grunt and pulling power.

Emis­sions hic­cups aside, the Caddy con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the sub 2.5-tonne van mar­ket in Aus­tralia. Ac­cord­ing to FCAI VFACTs fig­ures, the VW Caddy ac­counts for over 50 per cent of this seg­ment. Its clos­est erst­while com­peti­tor, the Re­nault Kan­goo, is the next down the tree at more than 26 per cent.

The new Caddy uses the same plat­form as the Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle, Jetta and Tiguan and fea­tures some new stan­dard and op­tional an­t­i­crash­ing de­vices, brake energy re­cu­per­a­tion and as be­fore is avail­able in both short and long wheel­bases.

FROM THE ASHES

And it also comes with a por­ta­ble ash­tray as stan­dard equip­ment. I don’t know why I feel the need to point this out, but there’s some­thing quite quaint about the fact that Volk­swa­gen list a por­ta­ble ash­tray on the spec sheet as stan­dard equip­ment.

Some man­u­fac­tur­ers dropped ash­trays from their ve­hi­cles years ago. Yet some­one at VW was charged with cre­at­ing the per­fect por­ta­ble ash­tray. It’s like find­ing a per­fectly crafted Edi­son globe hang­ing in the in­te­rior.

As men­tioned pre­vi­ously, for the time be­ing, the front-wheel- drive Caddy re­lies solely on a 1.4-litre turbo charged petrol en­gine for power. This rather so­phis­ti­cated lit­tle unit puts out quite im­pres­sive 92kW (123hp) and 220Nm. And that twisty force is on tap from 1500 to 3500rpm.

A pos­si­ble down­side for com­mer­cial buy­ers is that it needs a diet of pre­mium unleaded to keep the home fires burn­ing. The 1.4 TSI BlueMotion en­gine also uses en­gine stop/start to help with fuel economy.

MAN­UAL OR AU­TO­MATED

Trans­mis­sion choice is be­tween a six-speed man­ual or the seven-speed self-shift­ing DSG unit. The claimed fuel fig­ures for this lit­tle panel van are pretty good too. The petrol has a claimed com­bined fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure of 6.0L/100km for the DSG equipped Caddy, and 6.2L/100km for the man­ual ver­sions.

A dou­ble wish­bone McPher­son strut irons out the bumps at the front end and a tra­di­tional leaf spring ar­range­ment takes care of the rear. Steer­ing is an elec­tro-me­chan­i­cal rack and pin­ion set up.

Short wheel base vari­ants have a pay­load of up to 773kg, LWB vari­ants are up to 840kg, while LWB crew ver­sions have a max pay­load of 733kg. SWB Cad­dys have 3200 litres of cargo space and LWB ver­sions have 4200 litres. LWB Crew ver­sions with fold down sec­ond row seat have only slightly less room at 4130 litres.

For buy­ers who have a con­stant load in the back (rack­ing, tools, cof­fee etc.), there’s a re­in­forced rear sus­pen­sion op­tion. This is rec­om­mended for vans with a con­stant load of 150kg (SWB) and 200kg (Maxi). Clearly, this is

a way of keep­ing the ride a bit nicer for empty run­ning, yet hav­ing the op­tion of a bit of beef in the rear end. And the roof will take 100kg of load if you want to whack some racks on it.

PACK­AG­ING

VW has made the myr­iad of op­tions a lit­tle eas­ier to wade through by group­ing them into packages. The Driver As­sis­tance pack is full of safety fea­tures, in­clud­ing adap­tive cruise, for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing and cor­ner­ing lights amongst oth­ers.

The In­te­rior Com­fort pack adds a few crea­ture com­forts in the cab and the Ap­pear­ance pack is just that. There are also a bunch of win­dow op­tions, as well as the choice of 60/40 split barn doors or a lift up tail­gate. And the van it­self sits on 16-inch steel or al­loy wheels.

We spent a bit of time with the Caddy re­cently to catch up on where the diminu­tive lit­tle hauler was at post- diesel. The last Caddy we’d had the keys for was a 1.6-litre diesel Maxi, which proved to be a very nice lit­tle jig­ger to punt around ur­ban and coun­try roads. This one is a very orange 1.4-litre, short wheel­base va­ri­ety equipped with the sev­en­speed DSG ‘ box.

The ad­di­tion of the In­te­rior Com­fort pack did take away some of the stern cold­ness that of­ten seems to be a fea­ture of these lit­tle load lug­gers. There’s plenty of dark dash­board, but this was bro­ken up by the multi-me­dia unit that dis­plays the re­verse cam­era as well.

As much as I hate us­ing car ref­er­ences when talk­ing about vans, the cock­pit of the vee- dub is car-like and comfy. The ana­logue in­stru­ments are well placed and easy to read and a sim­ple dig­i­tal menu dis­plays all the usual info from fuel economy to dou­bling as a dig­i­tal speedo – some­thing handy in this day and age of ro­bot speed en­force­ment.

As per pre­vi­ous mod­els, there’s just enough stor­age for a work day. The over­head con­sole is an ob­vi­ous place for turf­ing pa­per­work and clip­boards, though it may be a bit of a chal­lenge to ex­tract those items af­ter a drive around a few cor­ners. There are also enough cubby holes to lose pens, phone charg­ers, lol­lies, and bot­tles if needed.

NEW PLAT­FORM

With the ad­vent of the new model, the Caddy did cop a new wheel­base. How­ever, in­te­rior dimensions re­main un­changed, which makes life eas­ier for owners of pre­vi­ous mod­els when it comes to fit­ting their pre- ex­ist­ing rack­ing, shelv­ing and equip­ment.

There’s al­ways go­ing to be a bit of road noise thrum­ming through the cargo area of a van, though less so in a front-wheel drive. But the 1.4 is a will­ing lit­tle unit that seems both happy to rev and lug at the same time.

The car/SUV plat­form that the Caddy is based on also makes it a very civilised lit­tle panel van to punt through city traf­fic. Vis­i­bil­ity is great, and the op­tional rear view cam­era and park­ing sen­sors are a sen­si­ble box to tick for those who tackle the ur­ban hurly burly on a daily ba­sis.

The 1.4 TSI has more than enough grunt to hur­tle the Vee­dub along at a re­spectable rate of knots with sur­pris­ingly min­i­mal lag off the line. And even though it has in­ner city

de­liv­ery writ­ten all over it. The Caddy is a happy high­way cruiser that han­dles in a way that be­lies its com­mer­cial in­ten­tions.

I know it’s not cool, but in this SUV-rid­dled world, I’m still sur­prised more peo­ple don’t opt for the peo­ple mover vari­ants of these things be­cause they are a great lit­tle unit to pi­lot.

RO­BOT SHIFTER

The DSG tranny, how­ever, doesn’t per­form to ex­pec­ta­tions when ne­go­ti­at­ing the ur­ban jun­gle. As far as robo­tised man­ual ‘ boxes go, the DSG is a good one, but while clutch en­gage­ment from a stand­still is fine, it does have some an­noy­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics.

For ex­am­ple, rolling up to a round­about look­ing for a break in the traf­fic can see some hes­i­ta­tion be­fore the DSG finds the gear it wants and gets power to the ground. This fum­ble tends to be ex­ac­er­bated if you for­get to turn the start/stop func­tion off.

By the time the en­gine fires up and the van is in gear, you can lose valu­able mil­lisec­onds when try­ing to slot into a busy stream of traf­fic. Plus, while tak­ing off when ei­ther

“The fu­ture’s look­ing rather pos­i­tive for VW’s baby van”

loaded or empty, the Caddy can seem to have trou­ble de­cid­ing how long to hold on to a gear be­fore an up­shift.

As pre­vi­ously stated, the lit­tle petrol en­gine has quite a bit of oomph for its size. Yet, in con­junc­tion with the DSG, it some­times takes off like a scalded cat or bogs down. Con­sid­er­ing how slick most Euro man­u­als are these days, I’d opt for a stick shift.

The Aussie mar­ket’s pref­er­ence for au­tos is a bit of a frus­tra­tion for many Euro man­u­fac­tur­ers. Much of the buy­ing pub­lic doesn’t dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween a self-shift­ing man­ual like the DSG cog ‘ box and a torque con­verter au­to­matic. To most, they are both ‘au­tos’ and ex­pec­ta­tions of per­for­mance are the same.

FRU­GAL AP­PETITE

But, even with the DSG, the Caddy is a nice drive. The pint-sized petrol power plant is also a fru­gal one, with VW claim­ing 6.0L/100km com­bined for the DSG- equipped Volksy, and 6.2L/100km for the man­ual.

I cer­tainly wasn’t able to ex­ceed those fig­ures dur­ing my few days in the lit­tle Honey Orange beastie. Maybe I wasn’t try­ing hard enough.

Even with­out the tra­di­tional diesel, the space oc­cu­pied by the Caddy isn’t nega­tive at all. In fact, the fu­ture’s look­ing rather pos­i­tive for VW’s baby van.

Volk­swa­gen’s baby van copped a new plat­form and a new en­gine for 2016

Top: A pleas­ant of­fice for work or play

Above left: The Caddy needs a diet of pre­mium unleaded

Below: In­te­rior dimensions re­main un­changed

Above right: A por­ta­ble ash­tray is stan­dard equip­ment

Bot­tom: Plenty of room for a mod­est pal­let in the back, though you’ll have to go for barn doors for fork­lift ac­cess

Below right: The new Caddy even gets a proper glove­box

Mid­dle right: Plenty of cubby holes for bot­tles

Top right: The re­verse cam­era and park­ing senor pack­age is a sen­si­ble op­tion box to tick

Below left: The 1.4 TSI has more than enough grunt

Below left: Trans­mis­sion choice is be­tween a six-speed man­ual or the seven-speed self-shift­ing DSG unit

Above: The new 1.4-litre en­gine is a strong per­former

Top:

Lift up tail­gate is an op­tion. The re­verse cam­era pack­age isn’t com­pat­i­ble with the 60/40 split barn doors.

Op­po­site above:

It’s ac­tu­ally quite a hand­some lit­tle jig­ger in metal­lic orange.

Op­po­site below:

One slid­ing door is stan­dard, a driver’s side slider is an op­tion

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