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Volkswagen Caddy 2022 review

Can VW improve the successful Caddy formula for the fifth-generation, or is the cost now too high?
EXPERT RATING
7.9
In a tiny segment, the Caddy reigns supreme. For the fifth generation though, has VW pushed the cost envelope too far? We take a look at the range to find out.

Once you’re at the top of your game, it’s a risky move to start over with all-new underpinnings, particularly in the slow-moving commercial space.

Regardless, this is what VW has done with its fifth-generation Caddy, for the first time merging it on to the same MQB platform that underpins most of the VW Group passenger car range.

The question is, with higher-than-ever prices for this iteration, can VW maintain its lead on the market? Or is this still the most comprehensive range of vans you can buy? We took both the Cargo and People Mover versions from its Australian launch to find out.

Volkswagen Caddy 5 2022: Cargo Maxi TDI280
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating2 seats
Price from$36,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Sorry tradies, the era of the affordable VW Caddy is over. With its move to MQB for the fifth-generation, even base manual versions of the Caddy Cargo have taken a significant price hike.

Just taking a look from the entry-point, the Cargo SWB TSI 220 manual now starts wearing an MSRP of $34,990. Ouch! That’s nearly $10,000 up on the previous base car (the TSI 160 petrol manual), and this discrepancy largely continues across the 16-variant range, with higher, more passenger-oriented versions of the Caddy 5 now reaching well beyond the $50,000 mark.

Check out our table below for the full pricing schedule, but it’s worth noting that the limited-run Caddy Beach will be replaced by a permanent California edition at the top of the range. This self-contained camper solution is set to arrive in early 2022 and can be chosen in either petrol or diesel for the first time also.

We’ll bring you a variant review of this version in the future (over at our Adventure Guide site section – check it out!) but for the launch review we drove the Cargo Maxi TDI 320 seven-speed dual clutch automatic (from $41,990 MSRP), and the Caddy Life People Mover TDI 320 seven-speed dual-clutch auto (from a whopping $52,640).

Sorry tradies, the era of the affordable VW Caddy is over. (image: Tom White) Sorry tradies, the era of the affordable VW Caddy is over. (image: Tom White)

While the prices reach beyond what you might expect from this car’s key rivals, like the Peugeot Partner and Renault Kangoo, the standard included equipment is very high for a commercial vehicle.

Base Cargo forms score 16-inch steel wheels, an 8.25-inch multimedia touschcreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android auto connectivity, a rear vision camera, leatherbound steering wheel, a sliding door on the kerb side and air conditioning.

Stepping up to the Maxi adds a second sliding door and 17-inch alloys as standard and from the Crewvan up, some of the otherwise optional safety equipment becomes standard.

There is an extensive options list which varies depending on variant. Tradespeople will be happy to know this includes various body-modifying options like extra doors, a choice of different door styles, ways to choose whether rear panels have windows or not, and lining options in the cargo area.

The Caddy has stellar inclusions for a commercial vehicle in its class, but the new base price could simply strike it off the list for some. (image: Tom White) The Caddy has stellar inclusions for a commercial vehicle in its class, but the new base price could simply strike it off the list for some. (image: Tom White)

From there you can make your driver’s lives as nice as you like with individual options for the luxurious tech and comfort items from the passenger car range, or bundle them together in various packs (again, the packs and prices vary depending on which variant you select. VW has a configuration tool which should make things more clear than I can here).

Upsetting that LED headlights aren’t included standard, and the LED taillights have to be optioned separately on certain variants. At this price it would also be nice to see things like push-start ignition and keyless entry thrown in for free.

On a final note, while the Caddy range is extensive and with options can be made to fit a long list of potential uses, there’s no sign of hybridization or electrification. We know the trade sector would prefer the engines on offer here anyway, but there are some intriguing options testing the waters in Australia, including BYD’s T3 and Renault’s Kangoo Z.E.

What does that all mean for the bottom line though? The Caddy has stellar inclusions for a commercial vehicle in its class, but the new base price could simply strike it off the list for some. It’s not as though value is bad, but for those looking for a basic work van it might just be too expensive.

 

VW Caddy pricing and specs

 

TSI220 manual

TSI220 auto

TDI280 manual

TDI320 auto

Caddy Cargo

$34,990

$37,990

$36,990

$39,990

Caddy Cargo Maxi

$36,990

$39,990

$38,990

$41,990

Caddy Crewvan

--

$43,990

--

$45,990

Caddy People Mover

--

$46,140

--

$48,140

Caddy People Mover Life

--

$50,640

--

$52,640

Caddy California

--

$55,690

--

$57,690

Explore the 2022 Volkswagen Caddy 5 range

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

At a distance the Caddy 5 pretty much looks the same as the outgoing van. It really retains its European city van visage which it has worn so well over the previous four generations. It’s really when you get up close where you can see all the areas in which VW has tweaked and improved on the Caddy’s design.

Firstly those light fittings, button nose grille, and new front bumper all bring the new van in line with its contemporary Golf 8 hatch sibling. There’s not much to be said about the side profile apart from some tasteful new hubcaps or alloy wheels, while at the rear the light profile is stanced out to the edges, exacerbating the newfound width on offer here.

Detail work is great, with the Caddy transforming from a rugged commercial unit to a classy passenger car depending on whether you choose the colour matching bumpers, and other details like the Caddy typeface writ large across the rear help bring it in line with VW’s latest passenger offerings, without overdoing it.

At a distance the Caddy 5 pretty much looks the same as the outgoing van. (image: Tom White) At a distance the Caddy 5 pretty much looks the same as the outgoing van. (image: Tom White)

Inside is where the biggest changes have taken place, with the Caddy sporting the same tech-savvy look and feel of the new Golf range.

This means a dash dominated by strong shapes and big screens, a classy leather bound steering wheel even in the base car, and quality of life improvements like storage throughout the centre console with a low-profile fly-by-wire shifter in the centre on automatics.

It’s not simply ripped out of the Golf though. While it mirrors the shape, the Caddy has a huge storage area cut out above the dash, designed for folios and laptops, and VW has imbued the Caddy with its own interior personality, swapping out the delicate piano finishes of the Golf with rugged hard-wearing plastic and a cool polystyrene-look detail texture running across the doorline and into the top of the dash. I like it.

At the rear the light profile is stanced out to the edges, exacerbating the newfound width on offer here. (image: Tom White) At the rear the light profile is stanced out to the edges, exacerbating the newfound width on offer here. (image: Tom White)

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

Short wheelbase versions of the Caddy are now bigger than ever before, with the new platform granting the van an additional 93mm in length, 62mm wider, and has an additional 73mm in the wheelbase, allowing for a much larger cabin and load area.

The longer wheelbase Maxi versions haven’t increased universally, but the improvement in width combines with squared-off internal wheel arches to allow for two European-standard palettes to fit in the cargo area.

The cabin itself, while maintaining the higher-end look and feel of the Golf 8, mixes things up with more hard-wearing plastics, and huge amounts of storage. (image: Tom White) The cabin itself, while maintaining the higher-end look and feel of the Golf 8, mixes things up with more hard-wearing plastics, and huge amounts of storage. (image: Tom White)

The Cargo area itself can be customised in any number of ways with the option of an extra sliding door on SWB models (sliding doors on both sides becomes standard on the Maxi), barn doors or a tailgate, windows or no windows on the rear panelwork, and various options of lining in the cargo area.

This is one area where the Caddy continues to shine – offering commercial buyers a huge amount of customisation directly from the factory, not just in the cabin, but as a complete solution, rather than making buyers look to the aftermarket.

The cabin itself, while maintaining the higher-end look and feel of the Golf 8, mixes things up with more hard-wearing plastics, and huge amounts of storage. This includes an area above the dash specifically designed for folios and laptops, an area cut out of the headlining for similar objects, huge pockets in the doors, and with a minimalist design around the centre console, plenty of little bays for ice coffees and meat pies (or keys and phones).

The Cargo area itself can be customised in any number of ways with the option of an extra sliding door on SWB models. The Cargo area itself can be customised in any number of ways with the option of an extra sliding door on SWB models.

Practicality downsides? The Cargo we tested had a large gap behind the centre console which goes down to the bodywork of the van – so it could be easy to lose small objects down there, and without a wireless phone charging bay to go with the wireless phone mirroring system, any time the ignition is on the car will be sucking your phone battery. Bring a cable, the Caddy 5 is USB-C only.

Also notable is the deletion of physical controls for the air conditioning system. You’ll need to operate that through the touchscreen alone on models with the small panel, or when the higher 10.0-inch screen is equipped, a small touch-based climate unit appears below the screen. Either way this is just not as easy as having physical dials to turn.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The Caddy 5 packs two new engines for the 2022 model year. There is one 2.0-litre diesel option in two states of tune depending on the transmission mated to it, and a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol option in a single state of tune regardless of which transmission is chosen.

Both engines are from VW’s new ‘evo’ series, which even the new Golf 8 missed out on due to Australia’s lax fuel quality standards.

The Caddy 5 packs two new engines for the 2022 model year. (image: Tom White) The Caddy 5 packs two new engines for the 2022 model year. (image: Tom White)

The petrol engine produces 85kW/220Nm driving the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, while the diesel produces 75kW/280Nm when mated to the six-speed manual, or 90kW/320Nm when mated to the seven-speed dual clutch.

The six-speed manual is only available on Cargo variants, with the Crewvan and people mover variants being automatic only.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

The Caddy is claimed to consume 4.9L/100km of diesel for the TDI 320 dual-clutch we tested, and over a short time of testing our car returned a higher 7.5L/100km. Keep in mind though this was a relatively short-range test with a film day, so may significantly vary from what you can expect in the real world. We also did not test the Maxi Cargo variant laden.

Meanwhile the new 1.5-litre TSI 220 petrol is claimed to consume 6.2L/100km when mated to a dual-clutch automatic. We didn’t have a chance to test a petrol variant at the launch, so we can’t give you a real-world figure for this one. You’ll need to fill it with at least 95RON unleaded fuel, too.

The Caddy 5 has a 50-litre fuel tank regardless of variant.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Safety is an improved story, with even the most basic Caddy now scoring city-speed AEB and driver attention alert as standard. While this might not seem very advanced for a passenger car, it’s something the commercial sector is dragging its feet on, so it’s nice to see VW at least move the envelope forward for small vans.

There are numerous ways to upgrade the Caddy, too, with safety items available as individual options. On Cargo versions you can equip a higher-grade AEB with pedestrian detection ($200), an adaptive cruise control pack ($900), and a lane support system with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert ($750). By the time you get to the Crewvan grade, these items become standard, which is considerate given the mid-$40k price bracket. You may also want to consider upgrading to the LED headlights ($1350) if you or your drivers are doing a lot of commuting at night, or you can go the full way to dynamic high-beams with cornering assist ($1990) which may be worth it if you’re using the Caddy as a personal vehicle.

Upsettingly (or perhaps conveniently?) the attractive rear LED light clusters need to be optioned separately ($300).

The Caddy 5 scores six airbags in Cargo variants or seven airbags in people mover form, with coverage of head curtain airbags said to extend all the way to the third row.

The Caddy 5 was yet to be rated by ANCAP at the time of writing.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Caddy is covered by VW’s competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a five year ‘assured cost’ service program covering the first 75,000km. Service intervals are 12 months/15,000km.

The program isn’t what I’d consider cheap in the context of a passenger car though, coming in at a yearly average cost of $546.20. Thankfully VW also lets you pay for your servicing up front in three- or five-year packages, with the five-year plan in particular cutting a significant amount off the total – working out as seemingly better value compared to its key Peugeot Partner rival.

The Caddy is covered by VW’s competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. (image: Tom White) The Caddy is covered by VW’s competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. (image: Tom White)

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Having merged onto the same underpinnings as the concurrent Golf range, the Caddy has taken a major jump in its drivability and on-road refinement.

The steering is accurate, full of feel, with the right amount of electrical assistance to make it easy to manoeuvre in tight quarters. Visibility out the back is good with the standard wide-angle reversing camera, or stellar in variants with the massive tailgate window.

We only tested the higher-torque TDI 320 diesel engine with the seven-speed dual clutch automatic for the launch, and while the engine is louder than what you might expect from a diesel passenger car, its relatively smooth delivery pairs nicely to a sandpapered dual-clutch auto.

The Caddy has taken a major jump in its drivability and on-road refinement. (People Mover shown) The Caddy has taken a major jump in its drivability and on-road refinement. (People Mover shown)

This transmission has had some of the worst characteristics ironed out, with predictable shifts, and the initial roll-on now missing the annoying delay seen in VWs past. This makes it overall behave a lot more like a torque-converter auto, with far less jerky performance proving a huge benefit to citybound users.

The one frustration still present is the stop/start system. While it no longer compounds with annoying transmission characteristics, it was still possible to catch the diesel we tested off-guard at times, costing a second at intersections.

The biggest change which comes with the shift to the new platform is coils instead of leaf springs for the rear suspension. This means a massive upgrade in ride comfort and handling, with improved grip over the rear when cornering, and better control over uneven surfaces.

Overall, the Caddy now offers a drive experience virtually indistinguishable from a passenger car. (People Mover shown) Overall, the Caddy now offers a drive experience virtually indistinguishable from a passenger car. (People Mover shown)

It also means far better ride characteristics, with the kind of bumps which normally elicit a cringe response in an unladen commercial vehicle like this being dispatched with ease.

Overall, the Caddy now offers a drive experience virtually indistinguishable from a passenger car, and really returns to the idea of it simply being the van version of the Golf hatch. Colour me impressed.

Commercial buyers may be alarmed to that shift to coil springs, however, and we are yet to test this van loaded up close to its GVM, so stay tuned for a future load test over at our TradieGuide site section to see how the new Caddy performs closer to its limits.

Verdict

The Caddy 5 offers more space, a hugely improved cabin, more tech features, and a drive experience which is near identical to that of a passenger car. While it dares to charge significantly more for these luxuries which will rule it out for some buyers, there’s so much to like here for those willing to fork out extra, especially since the Caddy continues to be unrivalled when it comes to its factory options.

What remains to be seen is how this van handles more heavy-duty testing, so keep an eye on our TradieGuide site section for future tests in this department.

Pricing guides

$45,340
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$34,990
Highest Price
$55,690

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Cargo Maxi TDI280 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $36,990 2022 Volkswagen Caddy 5 2022 Cargo Maxi TDI280 Pricing and Specs
Cargo Maxi TDI320 2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $39,990 2022 Volkswagen Caddy 5 2022 Cargo Maxi TDI320 Pricing and Specs
Cargo Maxi TSI220 1.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $39,990 2022 Volkswagen Caddy 5 2022 Cargo Maxi TSI220 Pricing and Specs
Cargo TDI280 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $34,990 2022 Volkswagen Caddy 5 2022 Cargo TDI280 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality9
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving8
Tom White
Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$36,990

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.