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VOLKSWAGEN CADDY MAXI 2.0TDI

MAXI-MISING PRACTICALLY |

If your fundamental motivator for buying a new car is practicality, then forget the Tiguan and its siblings; the new Caddy Maxi is all you need.

Arguably the most practical vehicle in VW’s line-up, the Caddy has made a name for itself, both in the home and business sectors. While the van has received several facelifts over the years, none has been as significant as the most recent, which sees the fourth-gen Caddy adopting the MQB platform shared with the likes of the Tiguan and Golf. Seeing how this platform has spawned successful models through its applications, we were eager to discover how it would benefit the Caddy.

UPDATED DESIGN

The new Caddy boasts unique design tweaks that give the van a modern appeal. The most recognisable changes are at the front, which features VW’s modern headlight shape and a redesigned grille. VW has all but closed off the grille’s upper section, making do with a perforated lower section, as witnessed on the ID range. The side profile is very much Caddy, with other notable changes evident on the elongated tail lights, making it look like the love child of a Golf and a commercial van. To us, the Caddy’s best angle is the front end, with the rest of the van reminding us of the vehicle’s commercial underpinnings. 

PRACTICAL AS EVER

The Caddy has always been practical, and this new generation is no different. Thanks to the adoption of the MQB platform, this practicality is complemented by better equipment. The cockpit is well designed, with its car-like setup reminiscent of the Golf. While the choice of material favours hard plastics, this is easily forgiven thanks to its ergonomic execution. Front occupants can tinker around with an 8.25” infotainment system that includes app connect and works with the reverse camera. You will find the dash devoid of buttons in keeping with VW’s efforts to modernise their vehicles. Even the climate control system that services the two front-row seats has to be adjusted via the touchscreen. Thankfully there is a dedicated button for this purpose, although one cannot help but wonder if form has been pursued at the cost of function. Other amenities include a multi-function steering wheel and cruise control, giving the van a more consumer feel.

The rear cabin is accessed via dual sliding doors, revealing a three-row seven-seater configuration. Access to the third 1+1 row is relatively simple, enabled by collapsing the three-seater middle bench. VW designed the cabin to be as versatile as possible, which means removing all of the seats is effortless. However, this means that when you have the seats in place, there is no option to slide them around to increase legroom. What you see is what you get. The headroom is more than sufficient, coupled with giant windows, which help make the cabin feel airy and spacious.

Unlike most seven-seaters with a cargo space deficit, the Caddy boasts a healthy 446 litres of storage with the third row folded up. Should you remove the third row, the space increases to 1,720 litres, with a whopping 3,105 litres achieved at the expense of all passenger space.

A REFINED DRIVING EXPERIENCE

The Caddy Maxi is powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that delivers 81 kW and 300 Nm between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm. Stick shift fanatics will be pleased to know that the Caddy is only available with a six-speed manual transmission due to supply constraints. While city drivers might wince at the thought of manual shifting in city traffic, we found the clutch and shift action to be smooth and easy to navigate.

We were also pleasantly surprised by the generous torque available at the low end. This gives the Caddy an urgent response to throttle inputs, instantly propelling the vehicle forward without having to rev the engine. This is ideal at pull-away or when overtaking. Another benefit of the low-end torque is the car’s fuel efficiency, seeing us return around 7.5-l/100 km on our daily commute. 

Driving the van around town is made easy by its excellent visibility and light steering setup. The general ride quality is compliant, and the Maxi adequately dealt with rough surfaces. The MQB platform also brings car-like handling dynamics, which reward the driver when exploited within reason. 

LAST WORD

The Caddy Maxi excels as a people carrier, with ample legroom and impressive cargo space. The driving experience is commendable, leaning more towards a car than a van. We are, however, not convinced that families would enjoy the scant amenities and commercial vehicle aesthetic, making the Caddy a better proposition for shuttle or business services. Be that as it may, at R601,100, the Caddy offers a high level of practicality and versatility.

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU & Images © VOLKSWAGEN SOUTH AFRICA

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