NEW LOOK IN FAMILY CARS: It's been a while getting here - it was shown at the 2013 Johannesburg auto show - but VW's Cross Caddy brings space and versatility to the five-seat car world. Image: Les Stephenson
Volkswagen SA has added another ‘X’ to the list of its passenger cars: The Cross Caddy has joined the Cross Polo as family-friendly wheels – but with SIX doors, Stetson-wearing headroom, a frugal two-litre diesel and roof and boot space for family camping weekends.
The Caddy, in commercial and other passenger versions, has been around for a couple of years; this particular model, the Cross Caddy, is new and assembled on the Caddy lines in Hanover, Germany. It offers a really sensible alternative to some of the more up-market (read expensive-ish) hatches and minibuses around.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 VW Cross Caddy
Also still available with a choice of 1.6 and two-litre engines is the Caddy Trendline, a passenger vehicle but priced both below and above the new Cross Caddy, which comes in one version only with the 103kW/250Nm four-cylinder, two-litre, turbodiesel also used on other models for R340 600 – and excellent equipment specs.
It’s not designed for high speed - by 170km/h it will be gasping for air - but VW claims a startling ‘average’ fuel consumption of 5.7-litres/100km. The launch drive took the test fleet of a half-dozen units out through Sandton and along the westbound freeways, past Krugersdorp and Magalies village to the Mount Grace hotel and back.
It is, however, designed for easy access: two normal front doors, a sliding door each side and tail access through two doors of differing widths that can be opened together or singly. Brings a whole new meaning to "vehicular access".
FIVE-SPEED MANUAL ONLY
Without any special pedal-work or freewheeling, and including traffic and freeway speeds, our Cross Caddy cheerfully returned an average of 6.3-litres/100km while delivering a very quiet ride, surviving an encounter with an enormous speed hump, and giving the impression that carrying on to Botswana would have been a pleasant experience.
The Cross drives only through a five-speed manual transmission.
Part of the car’s charm is the modest exterior customization. Privacy glass is standard on the rear side and back windows; black fairings around the wheel arches, along the sills and under the front bumper assembly, VW says, “convey a rugged experience”. The effect is emphasised by front and rear silver underbody protection and side guard strips on the sills.
Roof-rails (camping, remember?) are standard and “smoked rear lights add to the distinctive visual differentiating characteristics”.
The whole package rides on 17” alloys shod with 205/50 radials – a good selection for back roads and gravel tracks and to help absorb the potholes you might hit while trying to avoid other ones in our northern major cities.
TRICKED-OUT STEERING WHEEL
VW has also done some smart work in the cabin: Two-tone upholstery on the lumbar-support equipped seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, adjustable front centre armrest, leather on the gear-shifter and parking-brake and glossy black/silver air vents.
Wait, as they say, there more for you three-and-a-half hundred grand: the deal includes cruise and audio controls on the steering column/wheel, central locking, storage compartments in front of the second row seats, height-adjustable driver’s seat, cargo nets in the roof frame, a sliding drawer under the left front seat, an RCD 310 radio-CD system and heatable front seats.
Five or seven seats can be specified.
Whoops, almost forgot the Bluetooth preparation kit an auto-on wipers and headlights.
I mentioned that the Cross Caddy is a great family-car alternative – and impression helped by the inclusion of 24 storage compartments, cargo nets in the doors (front doors can hold 1.5-litre bottles), on the centre console and centre armrest, in the dashboard sections, in the vehicle floor of the second row of seats, under the driver’s seat and in the roof – a full width- rack ideal for jackets and other stuff that tends to clutter a sedan’s floor.
COATS OF MANY COLOURS
The five-seat version means huge floor-to-ceiling boot space.
Passive crash-protection gear includes front, side and head airbags and IsoFix child-seat anchors on the outer second-row seats – which can be removed for cargo-carrying. Daytime running lights are standard.
There’s a dozen colour choices, including two special colours, Honey Orange and Viper Green.
• For more on the VW Cross Caddy go to the VWSA website.
Price (VAT and emissions tax included)
Cross Caddy 2.0 TDI - R340 600
Service and warranty: Three-year or 120 000km warranty, 12-year anti-corrosion warranty; service and maintenance plans optional. Service intervals are 15 000km.