Van User
Volkswagen has launched the fifth generation Caddy, in both load-hauling Caddy Cargo and people-carrying Caddy Life models. Gimme five

VW launches its fifth generation Caddy.

Dan Gilkes takes a look

Volkswagen has launched the fifth generation Caddy, in both load-hauling Caddy Cargo and people-carrying Caddy Life models. Though bearing a strong family resemblance to the previous model, Caddy 5 is based on VW’s modular transverse matrix chassis, otherwise known as MQB. This chassis technology also underpins the latest Golf Mk 8, giving Caddy access to the full range of driver assistance and safety technologies currently offered throughout VW’s car brands.

It’s a good looking van, though that mesh section below the front bumper can look a bit odd when painted in body colour on higher trim levels. Caddy Life is a big seller in some markets, taking almost 40% of sales in Germany, so the people-carrier’s influence can be seen in both the styling and the trim options. This is the first Caddy that can roll on 18” alloys for instance, as well as the usual 16” and 17” wheels.

The adoption of the MQB chassis has led to a longer wheelbase, up from 2,682mm to 2,755mm. This results in more space inside, with the shorter model offering 3.1m3 of load volume and the longer Caddy Maxi delivering up to 3.7m3. A redesigned rear axle allows the loading of a Euro pallet sideways through the rear doors, as the wheel arches intrude less.  Larger sliding side doors also allow for a second Euro pallet in the Caddy Maxi. Maximum length to the bulkhead is now 1,797mm in the standard van and 2,150mm in the Maxi. Caddy Life and Kombi versions come as standard with five seats, though a third row is optional, taking the longer model to a seven-seat layout.

Emissions
There are three versions of VW’s 2.0-litre diesel engine on offer, with the company claiming emissions figures up to 10% lower than the competition. There will also be a 1.5-litre TSi petrol engine with cylinder deactivation offering 114hp. European markets will get a CNG engine in those countries with a gas infrastructure. And the platform has also been designed for a plug-in hybrid drivetrain in the future. There are no plans for a full EV version.

Things might look familiar under the bonnet, with the 2.0-litre diesel engine offering the same 75hp, 102hp and 122hp as the current model and the drive going to the front wheels through a choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG transmissions. However, VW now uses two SCR catalytic converters, with a double injection of AdBlue, to significantly reduce NOx emissions. The 122hp diesel engine can also be combined with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system for added traction.

Caddy 5 takes a big step forward in the cab, which also benefits from the longer wheelbase, with a host of dash and infotainment options on offer. While van models will mainly continue with an analogue instrument cluster, the people-carrying Caddy Life can be had with VW’s full Digital Cockpit, already seen in many of the company’s cars. 

Alongside that, the centre console is dominated by a flush infotainment touchscreen, that ranges from 6.5” to a full 10” in size. Drivers will be able to select functions in the system through voice control, direct selection keys and touch sliders on the screen, while a multi-function steering wheel can also be used to access the various control menus.

The old rotary headlight switch and fog light switches have been replaced by a panel of ‘Light & Sight’ touch buttons. Direct access buttons for sound and temperature controls also allow quick changes, rather than going through the various menus on the main screen. There is also an electronic handbrake with auto hold function.

Infotainment is not the only digital technology included in Caddy 5, though it contributes web-based radio, Wi-Fi hotspots and media streaming. Through VW’s WeConnect system and integrated eSIM, online navigation will deliver real-time traffic information and map updates. It will also be possible for fleet managers to send data to the driver on the move through online destination importing. The flow of data will be two-way as well, with the vehicle sending vehicle status reports back to the office. Additional apps will be available to add connectivity and functionality going forwards.

Travel Assist
Drivers also benefit from improved safety and assistance systems. This includes Travel Assist, which provides assisted driving across the full speed range for the first time in a VW commercial. Caddy’s redesigned multi-function steering wheel has capacitive sensors that register when the driver’s hand is in contact with the wheel, allowing automated driving functions to assist with control of the van.

All Caddys now also come with an oncoming vehicle when turning brake function, as part of the Front Assist system. This reduces the chance of an accident when the van is turning across oncoming traffic at a junction. Perhaps of less interest to Caddy drivers, the van can now also be had with the Trailer Assist system already seen on the larger Transporter and Crafter models.

UK Caddy buyers will be offered three trim levels and prices will start at £17,800 for the entry level petrol model, rising to £26,850 for the 122hp 4Motion van. The multi-function steering wheel, electric windows, height adjustable seat and electric parking brake are standard on all trim levels. The middle specification will add air conditioning, body coloured bumpers, rear parking sensors and a leather-clad steering wheel. Range-topping vans get Discover Media sat-nav and a Lights & Vision pack, that includes rain sensors with auto wipers and an auto dimming rear view mirror, plus alloy wheels.

Dealer order books open in December, with UK deliveries set to start at the end of Q1 2021. We’ll have first driving impressions next month.

“Caddy 5 takes a big step forward in the cab, which also benefits from the longer wheelbase, with a host of dash and infotainment options on offer”