Fam­ily trips made easy in VW sta­ples

ROAD TRIP/ The Caddy and Car­avelle prove that diesel power is still king for those fam­ily road trips, writes De­nis Droppa

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

There may be a strong an­ti­diesel sen­ti­ment in Eu­rope af­ter the sor­did Diesel­gate saga that cost Volk­swa­gen a lot of money and caused rep­u­ta­tional dam­age, but oil-burner en­gines aren’t ready to exit stage-left just yet.

Though VW, along with the mo­tor in­dus­try at large, has com­mit­ted to an elec­tric-ve­hi­cle fu­ture in the mid- to long-term, com­bus­tion en­gines will still power most ve­hi­cles for years.

What­ever harm it may be do­ing pol­lu­tion-wise, for now it’s still hard to beat the com­bined per­for­mance and fuel ef­fi­ciency of a diesel en­gine a fact I was re­minded of dur­ing a road trip with VW’s Car­avelle and Caddy in the Eastern Cape last week­end.

I have been asked, as a mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist, which of the umpteen num­ber of en­gines avail­able gives the best com­bi­na­tion of power, drive­abil­ity and econ­omy. My an­swer has been a 2l turbo diesel. No brand in par­tic­u­lar, but I am quite par­tial to BMW’s and VW’s TDIs.

In the road trip that VW SA staged in the Eastern Cape, it was the mid­dle-spec 2l TDI that pow­ered the Caddy All­track I was al­lo­cated for the 260km PE to Graaf Reinet trek. The en­gine is avail­able in a num­ber of out­puts and this ver­sion de­vel­ops 103kW of power and 320Nm of torque, which puts it in the mid­dle of the fam­ily.

Those num­bers don’t sound ter­ri­bly ex­cit­ing but the ap­peal of this TDI is its gutsy, easy-to­drive na­ture.

With its min­i­mal turbo lag en­sur­ing brisk and pause-free pulloffs, the Caddy All­track sliced and diced ef­fi­ciently through PE’s ur­ban traf­fic. Then, when we hit the open road, the car swept ef­fort­lessly through the Ka­roo car­ry­ing four peo­ple and their lug­gage. It’s a smoothvoiced car, gulp­ing dis­tance with­out any dron­ing, and the rated 6.2l per 100km fuel con­sump­tion com­pletes an ap­peal­ing per­for­mance-re­fine­mente­con­omy tri­fecta.

The Caddy range in­cludes Panel Van and Crew Bus de­riv­a­tives cater­ing to com­mer­cial buy­ers with needs for loads of pack­ing space. The more fam­ily-fo­cused Caddy Trend­line comes in five-seater short­wheel­base or seven-seater Maxi lengths, while the short-wheel­base All­track com­bines util­ity with more style. It comes stan­dard as a five-seater but for ex­tra money you can opt for a two-seater rear bench as well. Both rows of rear seats can be folded, or re­moved al­to­gether, to cater for vary­ing-size loads.

Priced at R426,900 for the man­ual and R461,000 for the au­to­matic, and well-equipped with lux­u­ries, the All­track makes a prac­ti­cal “mini-Car­avelle” for fam­i­lies.

Our drive back from Graaff Reinet to PE was in the ac­tual Car­avelle, per­haps one of the best long-dis­tance fam­ily haulers there is. With its seven seats and stretch-out cabin space, com­bined with a full deck of com­forts, VW’s lux­ury bus has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the world’s most cov­eted lux­ury peo­ple movers.

I drove the Car­avelle Com­fort­line base model if one can use such a term for a ve­hi­cle priced at R911,500. Still, it’ sa use­ful 108 grand sav­ing over the flag­ship High­line 4Motion de­riv­a­tive which sells for R1,020,100.

The Com­fort­line is not short on lux­u­ries, and I was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with how ef­fec­tively the cli­mate con­trol sys­tem was able to cool that big cabin in Graaff Reinet’s 39ºC heat. There are a host of ex­tra-cost fea­tures if you go down the op­tions rab­bit hole, my favourite be­ing the R33,289 Her­itage dual-colour metal­lic paint which harks back to the orig­i­nal mk1 Kombi.

An­other ex­tra fit­ted to the test ve­hi­cle was the R5,245 mul­ti­func­tion cen­tre ta­ble for the mid­dle row of seats, which can be slid fore and aft on guide rails in the floor. It tends to rat­tle but it’s a handy piece of fur­ni­ture, and the ta­ble also con­tains stor­age nooks and cuphold­ers. Ac­cess to the Car­avelle’s mid­dle and rear seats is made easy with slid­ing doors on both sides, and for an ex­tra R14,527 they can be elec­tri­cally pow­ered.

Haul­ing this bus is a more pow­er­ful in­car­na­tion of VW’s 2l TDI en­gine, this one mus­ter­ing 132kW and 400Nm. The same unit used in the Amarok bakkie, and paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, it’s an en­er­getic and re­fined per­former with plenty of low­down torque and easy­go­ing cruis­ing pace.

VW quotes a 188km/h top speed for this bus, along with a mod­est thirst of 8.8l/100km (we just about matched that on the long open-road cruise), which gives it a range of more than 900km on its 80l fuel tank.

One day our grand­chil­dren in their elec­tric cars will prob­a­bly look back on these diesel-pow­ered relics with dis­may, but for now there’s no bet­ter way to tackle long fam­ily road trips.

The Car­avelle adds a splash of colour to the Ka­roo with its Her­itage redand-white paint job. Be­low left: If the bud­get doesn’t stretch into Car­avelle ter­ri­tory, the VW Caddy is a smaller but still ver­sa­tile al­ter­na­tive with up to seven seats.

The pop-up ta­ble is a R5,245 op­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.