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Road Test - Volkswagen Caddy MPC 1.4 TSI DSG (A)

Text and photos by Nigel Yong, sgCarMart.

Ever since I was a kid, I've always had a strange liking for compact vans like the Volkswagen Caddy, the Fiat Doblo and the Renault Kangoo. Because they had the front end of a car and the cargo capacity of a van, I imagined them to be the perfect vehicle - I would sit in my uncles' and pretend I was a super sleuth, with the rear cargo space as my mobile spy lair.

My mum even used to term them as roti chias or 'bread cars' due to their resemblance to loaves of bread.

As I got older, my love for such versatile vehicles lived on. Only this time, in place of the rear cargo area as my detective's workspace, I imaged a fridge, Playstation and a couch - wouldn't that be the perfect roving man-cave?


Extreme makeover

Configuring it as a car instead of a van is a long-popular choice in Europe and by doing so in Singapore, the German marque has diversified its people mover lineup, starting from the five-seater Sportsvan through to the similarly seven-seating Touran and Sharan.

The ultimatum, then, is to convince car buyers they aren't buying a van but a proper family car - a nicely furnished one in fact. But judging from what we were staring at, that won't be much of a problem.

Compared to before, the car is nip and tucked to become a whole lot sharper. The front end of the car is redesigned for more presence and dynamism, and is very much in line - in terms of facial features - to the rest of the company's models.

It gets even more convincing inside.

Quality of the cabin materials is higher and more expensive than you'd expect. Typical high-level German finish is furnished, inclusive of an intuitive 6.33-inch infotainment system, ergonomical multi-function controls and seven comfy seats, encased in alcantara.

Our only gripe was the second row, which is a tad cramp if you're lanky. But in terms of space utilisation, they're great because the single and double seat portions can be stowed away individually.

More notable, it's the number of clever storage solutions available througout, such as a 'crater' in the top of the dash for cards and keys, and a driver's overhead compartment, which is big enough to store magazines and such.

Do its van-like proportions mean it drives like one?

Yes, and no. It's unbelievably comfortable to drive because like the Touran, it prances its way around the most imperfect of tarmacs like a cruiseliner on a calm sea. Ruts and bumps are never a cause for concern and barely any road noise penetrates the hushed confines of the cabin.

And like said cruiseliner, the car confronts corners in a similar fashion. Don't expect Sportsvan-type alacrity here, but that's not a bad personality for a family hauler, in fact.

Judging from its size, you'd also be forgiven for presuming it's a slouch.

On the contrary, it's quite brisk from the lights, thanks to a useful amount of low-end shove from the 1.4-litre TSI engine, which produces 123bhp and 220 torques to the front tyres.

Because of how capable the powertrain is, its performance from nought belies its hunkering proportions. It's an outstanding powertrain, which is decisive and polished. Go flat-out and the German roti chia goes from zero to hundred in 10.9 seconds and continues to a top speed of 183km/h.

Should I buy one, though...

At $124,900 (as of 8th September 2016), it's cheaper compared to five-seaters like the new Honda Civic 1.5 VTEC Turbo and even more so in comparison to its cousin, the Touran.

It's mind over heart. Get past the fact that its life began as a light van and owning one makes sense.

You may not be driving the swankiest machine in the carpark of Giant supermarket, the pick-up point of your child's tuition centre or become a super sleuth. But you just might become a super dad (or mum) who made a very smart (and practical) choice.

Read the original article here.

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