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New Caddy Sensibility

Text by Desmond Chan, sgCarMart.
Photos by Low Fai Ming, sgCarMart.

We're pretty certain you've seen the Volkswagen Caddy on our roads. Along with models like the Fiat Doblo and the Renault Kangoo, these compact commercial vans have been plying our roads for ages, most commonly with number plates that begin with 'G'.

More rare, then, is to find such vehicles with 'S' plates, and for good reason - running such vehicles as passenger cars doesn't make much sense. These are essentially two-seaters with a massive boot and lower Cat C Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices compared to passenger cars (among other financial savings).

Thus, it may seem a little odd that Volkswagen has decided to take the Caddy, throw in five additional seats, and sell it with an 'S' plate and a Cat A COE.


Volkswagen has turned a van into a Multi-purpose Vehicle (MPV)?

Yes, and no. 45 percent of all Caddy models that leave the Volkswagen factory are actually passenger versions (seven seats and all), but this new generation is the first time Volkswagen Singapore is offering the model as a passenger variant. So, the passenger variant isn't new per se, just new to our market.

It still looks very much like a van…

It does. Standing at 1,858mm tall and 1,793mm wide, the Caddy retains its boxy, stilted dimensions. Together with the sliding rear doors and the massive boot lid, there's no escaping the fact that the Caddy isn't the most visually arresting vehicle.

However, there have been notable changes to make it less van-like and more car-like. The new Caddy sports a front-end familiar to the new generation Volkswagen models - the fascia is remarkably similar to the new Touran, complete with the grill that extends from one head light to the either. The Caddy also has pinched out lines on the hood and the side of the vehicle that give it a more dynamic presence.

How about the Caddy's cabin?

The inside of the Caddy actually ranks high on quality and refinement. From the 6.33-inch touchscreen infotainment system to the multi-function controls on the steering wheel (arguably the most intuitive among all the car brands), there is an immediate sense of Volkswagen familiarity and user-friendliness.

In the area traditionally reserved for large cargo, you now get five proper seats, draped in leather and Alcantara trim as standard. Legroom is adequate, and the third row will easily fit two kids. Folding tables on the back of the front seats add to the child-friendly interior.

The Caddy also comes with a multitude of storage solutions - generous storage bins in the door panels, a large glove compartment, as well as a neat roof shelf above the windscreen that stretches the width of the cabin.

The configurable cabin space also means that when you do want to haul around some cargo, there is more than enough space to do so. The second and third row of seats can also be removed, allowing the Caddy to revert to its more commercial roots.

It must surely drive like a van then...

You would be mistaken. Close your eyes, and you would be forgiven for thinking you were driving a Touran - the driving characteristics are remarkably similar.

Powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the Caddy has 125bhp and 220Nm of torque on tap. 0-100km/h takes just 10.9 seconds, and the Caddy will actually get to its 183km/h top speed. The punchy engine has generous amounts of low-range torque, making it easy to drive on city roads.

Driving on the North-South Highway, we were surprised as to how pliant, forgiving and predictable the Caddy feels even at relatively rapid speeds. It's comfortable and stable, and never feels floaty even when driven hard. Yes, there's no escaping its obvious size and bulk, but with a little cajoling, you can perform overtaking manoeuvres without fuss.

The Caddy's height becomes telling when you go quickly through corners, resulting in some body roll, but there really isn't any reason to be doing so in such a car.

With a rear view camera, cruise control and speed limiter, the Caddy also has the necessary technological supplements to make for an easy, stress-free commute.

Convince me that the Caddy is a car worth buying.

If you can look past the Caddy's boxy figure and the stigma of it being a commercial van, what you get is a very practical, sensible and spacious seven-seater MPV.

As part of Volkswagen's Family Drive up to Malacca, we hopped between a bunch of VW people carriers (including the Sharan and the Touran), and we must say that the disparity between the more traditional MPVs and the Caddy is quite a lot less than we expected.

With the uprated interior, sensible equipment and generous size, and not to mention the fact that it's the cheapest seven-seater Volkswagen you can buy ($126,400 as of 18th August 2016), the Caddy is certainly an alternative that's worth a consideration.

For drivers who need a cargo-carrier on the weekdays and a people-carrier on the weekends, the Caddy offers you two vehicles in one. And given that its now being sold in the Cat A COE segment, that makes it that much more of a value proposition.

Read the original article here.


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