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

Car (South Africa) - - TEST -

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.

Test sum­mary

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.

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