Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has always had a knack for creating cool work vans that successfully doubled as people movers when they weren’t hauling goods or tools: think of the iconic Kombi.
There’s also the city-sized Volkswagen Caddy. While it’s only been around for 42 years, never has it looked as good as the new fifth-generation model that’s just landed.
Although it may not have the same cachet as the Kombi or more recent Transporter, the Caddy has been no less of a success. More than three million have been built, with more than 30,000 sold in Australia since launching in 2004.
And while the Transporter remains the best-selling vehicle in the Volkswagen’s commercial range, the Caddy has earned its own silverware as the best-selling city van in Australia since 2005. It’s also got the highest market share of any Volkswagen model in the country, with the previous-generation car claiming a staggering 70 per cent in the city van segment in 2019.
The latest Caddy is revolutionary by comparison, as the first such model to built on the latest MQB passenger vehicle platform – meaning it shares its underpinnings with the likes of the Mk8 Golf hatchback.
That’s more important than you might imagine. Along with its slick new design, it brings efficient Euro 6 petrol and diesel engines, the latest interior technologies, and a suite of 17 driver assistance systems, mirroring Volkswagen’s passenger cars and SUVs.
There’s a tonne of choice, too, with the Caddy now available in three models: the Caddy Cargo, Caddy Maxi (people mover), and the Caddy California, the latter of which is expected to arrive early in 2022.
Depending on model, buyers can choose between short and long wheelbases, new petrol and diesel engines in various states of tune, manual or auto transmissions, and a stack of options and packages depending on individual requirements.
In all, the new Volkswagen Caddy is offered in seven model variants, across four cargo vans, two people movers, and one California camper. All models are front-wheel drive, even the Caddy California.
For this review, we’re focusing on the entry-level 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Maxi people mover. Instead of the standard TSI220 petrol engine, our tester was equipped with the more powerful TDI320 diesel motor.
The Volkswagen Caddy people mover is branded the Maxi, and is available in Maxi or higher-spec Maxi Life guises.
The Caddy Maxi TDI320 on test here is priced from $48,140 before on-road costs, putting it near the top end of the range based on price.
2022 Volkswagen Caddy pricing:
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo TSI220 manual: $34,990 (NEW)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo TSI220 automatic: $37,990 (NEW)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo TDI280 manual: $36,990 (+$2000)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo TDI320 automatic: $39,990 (+$2000)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Maxi TSI220 manual: $36,990 (NEW)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Maxi TSI220 automatic: $39,990 (NEW)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Maxi TDI280 manual: $38,990 (+$2000)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Maxi TDI320 automatic: $41,990 (+$2000)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Crewvan TSI220 automatic: $43,990 (NEW)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Crewvan TDI320 automatic: $45,990 (+$2000)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Maxi TSI220 automatic: $46,140 (NEW)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Maxi TDI320 automatic: $48,140 (+$2650)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Life Maxi TSI220 automatic: $50,640 (NEW)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Life Maxi TDI320 automatic: $52,640 (+$2650)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy California Maxi TSI220 automatic: $55,690 (NEW)
- 2022 Volkswagen Caddy California Maxi TDI320 automatic: $57,690 (+$2700)
All prices exclude on-road costs and will be effective from January 1, 2022.
The Caddy Cargo and Maxi are on sale now, the California will be on sale in early 2022.
The entry-level Caddy Maxi people mover scores the following standard equipment, regardless of petrol or diesel engines:
- 17-inch black steel wheels with wheel covers
- Colour-coded bumpers and door handles
- Electrically adjustable, power-folding and heated door mirrors
- Manual sliding side doors on left and right side
- H7 Halogen lights
- Automatic headlights
- 8.25-inch touchscreen
- Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- DAB+ digital radio
- Manual seat adjustment with four-way power adjustable lumbar
- Leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters
- Seat trim in Double Grid fabric
- ErgoComfort seats
- Fully removable passenger compartment seats
- Touch-activated LED interior lighting
- Manual lift tailgate
- Touchscreen activated air conditioning controls with dust and pollen filter
- Rear parking sensors with rear-view camera
- Cruise control
- Six-speaker audio system
- Trailer hitch preparation
Stepping up to the Caddy Life Maxi adds:
- 17-inch Barahona alloy wheels in brilliant silver
- Radiator grille with double chrome strips
- Black roof rails
- Central locking with keyless start
- Seat trim Trialog fabric
- Digital driver’s instrument display
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Heated front side windows
- Additional 12V socket
- Powered tailgate
- Two-zone climate control
- 74 per cent light absorbing glass in rear side windows and rear window
- Auto wipers
- Front parking sensors
- High-beam assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Heated front seats (TDI320)
The Caddy California will arrive early in 2022 with specifications to be published closer to launch.
There’s also an extensive range of options across both model lines, but more so for the base Caddy Maxi tested here:
- Metallic or Pearl effect paint: $1115
- Special colours (Cherry Red): $305
- 17-inch Alloy wheels Barahona Brilliant Silver (Caddy): $1825
- 17-inch Alloy wheels Colombo Glossy Black (Caddy): $2130
- 17-inch Alloy wheels Colombo Glossy Black (Life): $305
- 18-inch Alloy wheels Monterosso Glossy Black (Caddy): $3045
- 18-inch Alloy wheels Monterosso Glossy Black (Life): $2030
- Alloy spare wheel with original equipment tyre: $255
- Roof rails in Black (Caddy): $405
- Roof rails in Silver (Life): $305
- Fixed panoramic glass roof: $1420
- Powered left sliding door: $315
- Powered right sliding door: $315
- Heat-insulating front-side windows, 74% light-absorbing glass in rear windows (Caddy): $405
- Heat-insulating windshield made of laminated glass: $405
- Power tailgate (Caddy): $415
- Black loading edge protection, plastic cover to protect rear bumper: $305
- Silver loading edge protection, plastic cover to protect rear bumper (Life): $305
- Roof ventilation for passenger compartment with vents in the headliner: $35
- Removable waste bin with cover (Caddy): $25
- 2 x 12V outlets: one in dashboard, one in cabin (Caddy): $75
- Keyless entry and start with fingerprint: $710
- Two-zone climate control with allergen filter (Caddy): $610
- Light assist high-beam control: $265
- LED headlights and DRLs: $1370
- LED headlights and DRLs, cornering light and dynamic headlights: $2020
- LED tail lights:$305
- Park assist with front and rear parking sensors (Caddy): $1005
There’s also a range of options packages on offer.
- Winter Package ($810)
- Heated front seats
- Washer fluid level indicator with heated water
- Tech Pack (Caddy, $1120)
- Multi-colour digital driver’s display: $915 standalone
- Central locking with keyless start: $205 standalone
- Navigation Package ($1660)
- 10-inch infotainment touchscreen: $1625
- Wireless Apple CarPlay via App Connect: $35
- Comfort drive travel assist package (Caddy, $1825)
- Lane keeping with lane assist
- Lane change with side assist including blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert
- Emergency assist
- Park assist with front and rear parking sensors
- Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection
- Adaptive Cruise Control with stop/go for DSG
- Junction assist
- Multi-colour digital driver’s display
- Central locking with keyless start
- DAB digital radio
The 2022 Volkswagen Caddy is built on the MQB platform, as is the latest Volkswagen Golf, Tiguan, and T-Roc, all of which have five-star ratings. It hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, however.
Standard safety equipment across the new Volkswagen Caddy range includes:
- AEB with pedestrian/cyclist detection
- Multi-collision braking system
- Driver fatigue detection
- Cruise control with speed limiter
- Rear-cross traffic warning
- Lane-change assist with blind-spot monitor and rear-traffic alert
- Lane-keep assist with counter steering assist
- Oncoming vehicle braking when turning
- Nine airbags
- Seat-occupied warning
- Outer seats in the second row have ISOFIX anchors, all passenger seats have top-tethers
The Caddy Life Maxi adds:
- Park assist for semi-autonomous parking
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Comfort drive travel assist for level 2 autonomy
- Emergency assist
What strikes you almost immediately about the new Volkswagen Caddy Maxi apart from its considerable length, is it’s just as contemporary on the inside as it is on the outside.
The leather-wrapped and thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel (with paddle shifters) is wonderfully tactile and endlessly functional, with shortcut buttons for the infotainment system and some advanced driver assist systems.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the standard-fit instrument display with old-school dials, but the optional all-digital display is definitely the way to go, even on the entry model. It offers endless configurability and information including navigation, as well as lifting the vibe and colour in the cockpit.
However, we’ve got no issue whatsoever with the base 8.25-inch touchscreen that’s nicely integrated into the entirely new dash panel. It’s still a good size with quick response to the touch, and thankfully there’s traditional volume and tuning knobs for ultimate intuitiveness.
Directly below are a couple of touch-activated shortcut buttons for the air-con and driver assist functions which can be customised via the touchscreen display. It all works well from an ergonomic sense and is immediately familiar even to newcomers to the Volkswagen brand.
There’s another small bank of touch-response buttons for lights and demisters on the right-side of the steering wheel, which again feels more convenient than having to search in the centre console.
Just like the latest Volkswagen passenger cars, the new Caddy gets the contemporary toggle-like shifter that you’ll immediately become accustomed to. There’s even a Sport setting available, if you give it a second flick towards you.
The whole thing is very driver-centric and, despite the complete absence of soft-touch surfaces across the dash and console, it still looks and feels fashionable.
Where the new Caddy Maxi really does shine, though, is with its architecture. There’s a stack of small storage holes up front in the centre console for driver and front passenger, along with two USB-C ports, which unlike many vehicles are easily accessible.
Beyond that, there’s another storage area forward of the steering wheel that stretches the entire width of the Caddy, as well as a more cavernous version just under the headliner, presumably for those that want to use the vehicle for work and play.
The Caddy Maxi gets wider sliding door openings (up from 701mm to 846mm) – the widest in-class, in fact – which provides easy access to the second and third row seating, remembering the Caddy Maxi offers seven seats.
The three-seat bench in the second row is split 67/33, and can be folded flat, double-folded, and removed entirely in a quick and simply operation, while the two seats in the third row can be removed separately in an equally simple way.
Better still, the outer seats in row two get their own tray tables with in-built cup-holders.
Not only is the Caddy Maxi a perfectly good seven-seat people-mover, it’s also the perfect weekend machine for active lifestyles, with its removable seats effectively converting this vehicle into a decent-sizes van for easy access of MTBs, surfboards, and all manner of sporting goods.
Our Caddy Maxi tester was the TDI320 version, which is a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with direct injection and a variable-vane turbocharger producing 90kW of power between 2750rpm and 4250rpm, and 320Nm of torque from 1500rpm to 2500rpm.
It’s also got twin–dosing technology that uses two Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems to achieve up to an 80 per cent reduction in harmful nitrogen oxides, well below the limits of Euro 6d emissions standard.
It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the front wheels exclusively, with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Volkswagen claims 4.9L/100km on the combined cycle, but we achieved closer to 6.5L/100km in suburban conditions.
You can also get a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder TSI220 petrol engine making 84kW of power and 220Nm of torque.
In addition to direct fuel injection and variable-turbine turbo geometry, this engine benefits from cylinder deactivation which is able to suspend two cylinders when full power is not required.
It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the front wheels. Volkswagen claims 6.2L/100km on the combined cycle.
Braked towing capacity across all four Caddy Maxi variants is rated at 1500kg, and payload varies by engine and model variant:
- Caddy TSI220 DSG: 683kg
- Caddy TDI320 DSG: 718kg
- Caddy Life TSI220 DSG: 699kg
- Caddy Life TDI320 DSG: 710kg
I know what you’re thinking: 90kW and 320Nm doesn’t sound like a whole lot of muscle to move a 1732kg seven-seat people mover.
Initially, I had the same perception. However, within just a few minutes you soon realise this TDI320 has more than enough pulling power for any and all situations – without being a rocket, of course.
Not only does it get along with a degree of swiftness, it’s actually quite a fun thing to pilot. There’s very little lag, even low in the rev range, and power delivery is pleasantly linear, with solid mid-range punch when you need to overtake.
By all means, knock the miniature shift lever down another notch into Sport for more immediate throttle response, where it’s still perfectly tractable around town despite the seven-speed DSG.
In traffic, in Sport, the dual-clutch transmission didn’t miss a beat with seemingly no jerkiness like past iterations of this gearbox. Very happy with that.
At first, I didn’t see the point of paddle shifters in a Caddy people mover, but the fun factor goes up a notch when you have cause to drop down a gear ratio or two. It works particularly well with this diesel engine.
Moreover, torque steer seems to have been largely eradicated from this front-wheel drive Caddy, to the point where I don’t recall a single instance of the effect.
Along with its MQB platform and passenger-vehicle underpinnings, ride comfort in the Caddy Maxi is exemplary.
Driving over coarse chip surfaces, speed bumps, or broken roads offer no less comfort than on a motorway. There’s a genuine suppleness to the ride quality, though not at the expense of general driver enjoyment.
However, while it’s not a particularly high vehicle (1836mm) there’s some body roll into corners. It’s progressive and feels entirely natural, so it still feels well composed even when you need to get a move on.
The 2022 Volkswagen Caddy comes with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, including a year of roadside assist.
Volkswagen offers capped-price servicing and the option of three-and-five-year pre-paid service packs. For the TDI320, Assured Service Pricing is:
- 15,000km/12 months: $439.00
- 30,000km/24 months: $668.00
- 45,000km/36 months: $439.00
- 60,000km/48 months: $746.00
- 75,000km/60 months: $439.00
Volkswagen is currently offering a five-year care plan for the price of three years, or $1300. It means you save between up to $1469 off the Assured Service Pricing.
The new fifth-generation Volkswagen Caddy Maxi is a huge step up from the previous iteration thanks to its passenger-class MQB platform.
Its unique interior architecture with flat-folding and removable passenger seats offers a genuine duality for those that want a work van during the week and a people mover on the weekend.
On the same note, sports-mad folks are similarly catered for with the variable seating arrangement.
It also comes with all the current mod-cons and active driver assist systems for top-level safety, which should give Caddy buyers plenty of confidence where children are concerned.
Lastly, the Caddy TDI320 Maxi tested here is fun to drive and exceptionally comfortable, though pricing has increased by up to several thousand dollars, which opens up more options with the likes of similarly-priced SUVs.
But then the Caddy has a cool factor we like.
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