MAXI VERSATILITY: Rober Daniels says VW's Caddy Maxi is capable of seating seven tourists and all their luggage comfortably. Image: VW SA
Cape Town - Let me be honest. I am no fan of utility vehicles posing as lifestyle transport solutions.
South Africa is however a very popular international travel destination and one can certainly understand the need for these vehicles as affordable yet upmarket shuttles catering to the hospitality industry (i.e guest houses and small hotels).
In its seven-seat Maxi configuration the VW Caddy makes perfect sense, though it's not without its drawbacks. It's capable of seating seven tourists and all their luggage comfortably. Remove the second and third row of seats in the off-season and you have a utility vehicle capable of lugging about a very impressive 3700 litres.
What's it like to drive
The 2.0 TDi I had the pleasure of evaluating dishes up 103kW/320Nm through a six-speed DSG auto.
It's no race car but the powerband is wide, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine never feels strained and the gearbox is notably smoother than before.
Power delivery is smooth and its huge amount of torque enables it to take on inclines with ease. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.3 litres/100km.
The VW Caddy Maxi is exceptionally practical. Besides its 800kg payload it is also has a towing capacity of 1500kg. Sadly, it's workhorse underpinnings show; it’s practical as well as versatile but versatility comes at a price.
Underneath that modern VW exterior, lurks a relatively unsophisticated utility vehicle which has very little in common with its multiple award-winning Golf 7 it resembles.
The suspension is well suited to carrying heavy loads however this means it’s stiff and not very comfortable by VW standards. There is no fancy multi-link Golf 7 rear suspension so you need to mindful of your speed around the bends.
The VW Caddy does not feature VW’s impressive MQB platform, but rather based on a revised version of the previous PQ35 front-wheel-drive underpinnings found in the Golf V/VI thus is somehow feels heavier and outdated compared to current MQB-based models.
At prices ranging from R372k to R423k, I must admit it is an expensive proposition (it's a full import from Poland).
Despite all of this, the VW remains unmatched in terms of technical specifications when compared to its rivals. Its competition lacks features such as city emergency braking which stops the vehicle should you be distracted in bumper-to-bumper traffic at speeds slower than 30km/h.
Post-collision braking is another pioneering VW safety system which applies the brakes after a collision, reducing the risk of secondary impacts/collisions.
Many drivers are rendered unconscious by the initial impact or collision. Most vehicles don’t stop after the initial impact and can drift into other lanes causing secondary, often fatal accidents.
It's fitted with a touchscreen infotainment system, auto parallel parking, a reversing camera, fatigue detection, bi-xenon headlights.
The Caddy isn't a premium VW offering such as the Passat and Touareg, nor is it a vibrant and dynamic performance product such as Golf or Polo GTi. It’s a purpose-built workhorse that's highly capable of moving cargo. While it might not be cutting edge and its suspension harsh, it's remains an excellent product for its market.