Volkswagen is one of the most significant players in the van world, and while the Transporter might be the one that grabs the limelight, the junior Caddy certainly shouldn’t be dismissed. Famed for its car-like appeal, it was a model that continued to be popular even as it started to grow older.
But now Volkswagen is back with a new generation, which brings a range of advancements – many of which are thanks to its similarities with the brand’s best-selling Golf. These include its platform, and more noticeable it's nearly button-free interior. You also get far bolder styling than before, as well as the same level of driver assistance technology you would expect to see on the options list of its cars.
It truly is a van for the 21st century, but is that necessarily a good thing?
Though many of the Caddy’s rivals might be gaining an electric derivative, this Volkswagen remains traditional with a choice of a 112bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine and a raft of diesel units.
Using the brand’s tried-and-tested 2.0-litre TDI engine, you can choose it with outputs of 74bhp, 101bhp and 120bhp, while there’s the option of four-wheel-drive on selected versions too, along with manual and DSG automatic transmissions.
Our test van uses the most powerful of the lot, and is mated to a six-speed manual performance here. Performance is surprisingly brisk for a van, though at the same time it’s also rather good on fuel, too. Volkswagen claims 57.6mpg, with CO2 emissions of 127g/km – figures which shouldn’t be too difficult to match in the real world.
Ride and handling
The Caddy has always offered a car-like feel behind the wheel, and this latest model only takes things up a further notch. It handles well for a van, while this punchy engine delivers more than enough pace to keep pace with traffic.
At the same time, the ride is superb, while Volkswagen’s ‘ErgoComfort’ seats offer plenty of cushioning and loads of adjustment, meaning it doesn’t take long at all to get comfortable. If you spend a lot of time behind the wheel of your van, the Caddy will certainly impress.
It’s not all plain sailing though, as – even by van standards – there’s too much wind and road noise. A bit more soundproofing certainly wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Interior and equipment
The interior is really the biggest change you’ll notice on the Caddy, as it adopts the same minimalist, modern look that you get with the latest Volkswagen Golf. It certainly looks impressive, though the touchscreen itself isn’t the slickest to use, and it can be distracting having to adjust everything on it without any traditional buttons to press.
On a more positive note, there’s noticeable improvements to cargo space and easier loading of heavier items thanks to less intrusion from the wheel arches and wider-opening rear doors. Alongside the standard Caddy Cargo, there’s also the option of a longer Maxi model that adds 21.5cm to the van’s length, and allows for two Euro pallets to be loaded.
In terms of trims, there are three to choose from – Commerce, Commerce Plus and Commerce Pro.
Entry-level models get the basics like cruise control, a 6.5-inch touchscreen and a driver attention alert, but it could be worth making the step up to the Plus version. This then brings more attractive body-coloured bumpers, along with air conditioning, rear parking sensors and the especially comfortable seats we’ve already mentioned.
At the top of the range, the Pro gets you alloy wheels, electric folding mirrors and a large 10-inch touchscreen with enhanced functions.
The Caddy continues to be one of the more premium options in this segment, and its pricing reflects that. Prices for the model kick off from £19,050 (excluding VAT), though our preferable version in a better spec and with this more powerful engine would set you back £22,285.
Prices rise all the way to £28,095 for a top-spec four-wheel-drive van, which is a lot of money for a compact van like this.
The Caddy was really starting to show its age before, and this Caddy really helps to move the give forward in this respect. The interior is every bit as tech-laden as a similarly-priced car, while the way the Caddy drives doesn’t feel much like a van at all.
Though the touchscreen might let the side down, and the lack of electrified option might numb its appeal to some appeal, this remains a great small van and an impressive update.Enquire on a new Volkswagen Caddy