As we were driving through the Valley of a thousand hills on a beautiful Durban morning, the road ahead swept and as we turned the corner, we noticed the green lush scenery swooshing by. As we turned into another corner and applied some power, “this Caddy is fun!” we thought. Sorry what, a Volkswagen Caddy being fun? Yes, you read correctly. It’s not the kind of vehicle you would imagine having fun in on the road, but the Caddy 4 took us by surprise.
Our test run of this vehicle started at King Shaka International Airport with our destination being deep in the Natal Midlands, a beautiful countryside area with some of the best scenery in the country. It’s the type of place you would imagine enjoying a hot hatch or sports car on, due to its twisty roads. The VW Caddy, though, was also very enjoyable. We drove two Caddy’s, the first being a manual 81kW 2.0TDI. Let’s be honest, 81kW is not much power but that being said, the Caddy 4 did not feel underpowered at all, mainly due to the torque from the turbocharger.
The VW caddy 4 comes under the commercial vehicle range, but it doesn’t really feel like a commercial vehicle. For starters, the interior is clean and crisp, extremely spacious and stylish. The steering wheel felt and looked like something you would find in a passenger car. Most noticeably the large infotainment system finished things off nicely, a very nice cabin indeed.When it comes to handling, one can turn in quickly into a corner and you don’t end up with a heap of body roll. This vehicle has the capacity of carrying eight people and considering all of that, one wouldn’t expect it to handle very well, but it does a good job. The car took the Midlands’ sweeping bends in its stride, it’s safe to say that this is not a boring commercial vehicle at all. Heading back to Durban the following day after a fantastic evening, we had the chance to drive the other more powerful automatic 2.0 TDI. The manual vehicle was good, but we wouldn’t recommend it over the 103kW DSG variant. The extra 21kW really makes a difference, when cruising and overtaking it gets up to speed that much faster, making for an easier and more comfortable drive. The DSG gearbox is smooth and precise, sport mode was also perfect for the windy route. You will have to part with an extra R40K for the DSG gearbox, but it’s definitely worth it.
At the end of the day, this is a commercial vehicle and one sees that due to how Volkswagen have made it incredibly easy to remove all the rear seats. A simple pull on a lever and the whole seat system slides out, fantastic if you need to load equipment or you’re going away for the weekend. Adding to the versatility is the option of either a tailgate or twin doors, each come with their own advantages and based on user preferences. The Caddy 4 also features some nifty technology systems, such as driver fatigue systems, reversing camera, advanced infotainment, and our favourite, anti-collision braking. This is a system which applies full braking power after the vehicle has been in an accident, which helps eliminate the chance of a secondary collision. There are various models of the Caddy ranging from a stripped-down panel-van and Crew bus aimed at the commercial market to the Trendline and Alltrack aimed at the more private user. Longer wheelbase Maxi versions are also available which differentiate themselves by adding a generous 469mm of length.
Overall we enjoyed our experience with new Volkswagen Caddy, we were pleasantly surprised with the comfort levels in the car. The exterior looks fantastic and it really wouldn’t look out of place sitting next to passenger Volkswagens which are more sporty. It looks more like a sibling rather than an ugly cousin and fits into the entire range well. It’s also worth noting that VW South Africa have not been affected by the emissions saga at all so don’t let that discourage you from buying a diesel. The panel vans start at the R230 000 mark, crew buses come in at a similar starting price of R226 000 while the Trendline and Alltrack will cost you around R350 000 depending on specification.