TRIED AND TRUSTED
Across a strenuous 20 000 km, the easy-going Caddy Alltrack again proved itself a dependable all-rounder Volkswagen Caddy alltrack 2,0 tdi 103 kw dsg
HYL 190 EC is the second consecutive Caddy Alltrack and the third Type 2K Caddy to be a member of the CAR long-term fleet. Throughout a busy 12 months and 20 732 km, the Caddy has solidified its reputation as a dependable yet versatile all-rounder. The easygoing van proved to be a robust workhorse and adequate family hauler, too. From Sunday drives to towing duties, and assisting with a house move, it tackled all jobs with little fuss.
Our test unit included an optional removable towbar with trailer stabilisation costing R7 300, front and rear park-distance control with rear-view camera (R9 350) and metallic paint (R3 700). Bi-xenon headlamps with separate LED daytimerunning lights and blacked-out taillamps cost a further R11 950. However, not fitted to this vehicle and unlike the previous Alltracks that ran in our fleet, for an additional R8 300 the Caddy can be made into a seven-seater. The R11 950 for those optional bi-xenon headlamps may seem steep; however, they offer much better night-driving visibility than halogens and do so without dazzling other road users. The LED daytime-running lights gave the Caddy some added kerbside appeal, too.
For ease of use for our photography crew, we did not opt for the R1 650 rear swing doors. The larger standard tailgate, however, is hefty and needs a fair amount of room to open fully. Often you would have to double check whether the tailgate was closed completely as it needs a firm shunt to get it latched the first time round. The swing doors may be the more practical option if needing to open the rear when you have your hands full. This setup, however, comes with a caveat as the rear-facing parking camera is then unavailable.
As its chief role was to assist the CAR photography and video crews, over the past 12 months the Alltrack acted as a behind-the-scenes workhorse on countless first-light photoshoots, providing a cavernous, secure and smooth-riding platform
for our photographers to work from. When the need arose for both photography and road-test equipment to be transported from Cape Town to Port Shepstone for Performance Shootout 2018, the Caddy was the obvious choice to undertake the 3 800plus km road-trip.
In preparation for the trip, we removed the rear pews to accommodate the necessary consignment of luggage. It’s an exercise that can be done by one person, but the seats are hefty. The chairs were hoisted out and, with some tetris-like packing skills, we succeeded in getting the Caddy to swallow the many boxes of kit needed for the trip. The 759 kg payload meant the suspension was not noticeably affected by the added mass. The 55-litre fuel tank was brimmed, the trip computer indicated a range of more than 750 km and tyre pressures set to a rather high 3,2 psi as recommended by the vehicle’s handbook.
While heavily laden, the Caddy’s performance was not significantly affected thanks to its rich torque delivery and fast-reacting six-speed DSG transmission. This made overtaking manoeuvres a stress-free exercise when the opportunity arose. Standard-fit cruise control assisted in keeping a constant speed, reducing both fatigue and fuel consumption.
On the more twisty sections of the journey, the extra load did induce an increase in lateral body roll and it required slowing down well before bends to ensure safe and predictable handling though these sections of national freeway. The many hours behind the wheel on this journey did highlight the fact that, despite the standard fitment of manually adjustable lumbar support for both the front driver and passenger seats, the Caddy’s front pews could do with additional lower back support.
Having to follow 3 487 kw worth of performance cars on unfamiliar KZN back roads did leave the VW somewhat undergunned and frequently dropping off the pack but, in highway convoy, the Caddy kept up without breaking much of a sweat thanks to the readily available 320 N.m and 103 kw.
Once at Dezzi Raceway, the Caddy’s workhorse duties
continued. The Alltrack assisted with tracking for photography and videography and ferried the media crew around the track, while providing a much-needed USB charging port for the drone camera-operator to charge his battery packs between drag races. Hot and humid KZN South Coast temperatures also meant we made frequent use of the vehicle’s nine cupholders to store water bottles.
Following the trip to KZN, the Caddy was due for its first service at 15 000 km. On the whole, the service experience was a slick and efficient affair. I had managed to complete the booking online and dropped the vehicle off at a bustling Barons VW Claremont at around 07h30. After a complimentary coffee, I was shuttled to work and, six hours later, the service advisor called to notify me that the vehicle was ready for collection. Thanks to the three year/ 60 000 km maintenance plan, the oil/oil-filter change and fluid top-up came at no additional cost. The vehicle’s interior was cleaned and vacuumed but, as explained by the dealer, due to the Western Cape’s severe water shortages, the Caddy’s exterior had not been washed.
Two months after the oil service, however, the onboard computer indicated a vehicle inspection was due. This seemed peculiar considering the Caddy’s mileage. We took the Caddy to Volkswagen N1 City, a VW commercial service centre where we’d taken our Caravelle longtermer last year and were told the previous service centre had failed to correctly reset the service notification. Some 20 minutes later, the onboard computer was reset by the technician and I was on my way. It was worth noting the service adviser’s advice that, as the onboard computer was now reset after 15 000 km, there was no guarantee that the service notification would be activated at 30 000 km when the next service was due.
Along with the maintenance plan, the Caddy comes with 24hour roadside assistance. It was a service employed over December by CAR journalist Nikesh Kooverjee, who had lost the Caddy’s key during a frolic on Langebaan beach. Within a couple of hours, VW Assist had arrived to help and a tow-truck was dispatched to collect the vehicle and drop him at home safely. Meanwhile, the spare set of keys was sent from Port Elizabeth from the VWSA head office a few days later.
The Caddy Alltrack DSG successfully melds the traits of a workhorse and leisure vehicle in a way that belies its commercialvan roots. The ride is suitably comfortable regardless of the relatively low-profile rubber and the interior, while by no means the last word in luxury, is furnished with surfaces that proved to be durable and easy to keep grime-free.
At R446 200, there is stiff competition out there, with a few options even offering AWD. Once you factor in a few of the choice options, the Alltrack moves further into territory occupied by more polished competition.
However, that’s ignoring the sheer charm and versatility of the Caddy. With the demise of the MPV, this VW has endured as an all-rounder for both work and family needs, and will certainly leave large shoes to fill in the CAR long-term fleet. We look forward to seeing what the next-generation Caddy will offer; if it’s based on VW’S lauded MQB platform, it should be even better.
Alltrack combines crossover styling cues with MPV practicality.
A ride height of 155 mm, lots of torque and practical sliding doors to a big cabin meant the Alltrack was in constant demand.