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Volkswagen Caddy Cargo 2022 review: GVM test

The facelifted Caddy shares the same front-wheel drive MQB chassis architecture as the Golf. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5

Volkswagen’s Caddy has for many years dominated Australia’s under-2.5 tonne GVM small van class. In 2020 its leadership was emphatic, commanding more than 70 per cent of sales in this light commercial vehicle segment.

The mid-2021 release of a fifth generation Caddy, logically called Caddy 5, was expected to maintain or even extend its lead. However, the long-reigning king of small vans was dethroned by Renault’s Kangoo, which narrowly won the 2021 sales race with a 43.5 per cent market share compared to the Caddy's 41.1 per cent.

So, now that VW has a fight on its hands, small van buyers are spoiled for choice but as a result face a tougher buying decision. In that context, we recently trialled one of the latest TDI320 Caddy variants to see if the fifth generation has what it takes to regain small van leadership from its French foe in 2022.

Read more about the Volkswagen Caddy 5

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Caddy 5 range offers six variants and two wheelbase lengths comprising Standard (SWB) and Maxi (LWB). Our test vehicle is the Cargo SWB, available with either a 75kW/280Nm entry-level version of its 2.0 litre turbo-diesel with six-speed manual transmission, or premium 90kW/320Nm specification with seven-speed dual-clutch automatic like our example for a list price of $37,990.

It certainly looks like a back-to-basics workhorse, with its hard-wearing grey plastic bumpers, black door handles and mirrors, easy-clean rubber flooring and 16-inch black steel wheels with silver plastic covers, 205/60R16 tyres and a full-size spare.

However, there are numerous features designed to make a working day easier like keyless start, two 12-volt accessory outlets, separate cargo bay locking system, heated door mirrors, reversing camera and rear parking sensors, non-adaptive cruise control, adjustable lumbar support on driver and passenger seats and a nice leather-rimmed steering wheel with height/reach adjustment to name a few.

It certainly looks like a back-to-basics workhorse. (Image: Mark Oastler) It certainly looks like a back-to-basics workhorse. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The four-speaker multimedia system has an 8.25-inch colour touchscreen, two C-type USB ports and multiple connectivity including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. The only glaring omission here is AM radio (too bad if you like talkback).

There’s also plenty of safety tech and four option packs comprising Appearance, Tech, Driver Assistance and Comfort Drive Travel Assist enhancements.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

Load access is through asymmetric twin rear barn-doors and a kerbside sliding door. (Image: Mark Oastler) Load access is through asymmetric twin rear barn-doors and a kerbside sliding door. (Image: Mark Oastler)

With its compact 11.4 metre turning circle, the facelifted fifth generation Caddy shares the same front-wheel drive MQB chassis architecture as other VW icons like the venerable Golf.

SWB variants measure 4500mm in overall length, which is a 92mm increase over the previous generation. The new 2755mm wheelbase and 1797mm cargo bay are also longer. Even so, some key dimensions are unchanged to ensure that customised equipment and storage solutions can be directly transferred from one generation to the next.

Load access is through asymmetric twin rear barn-doors and a kerbside sliding door. There’s also a moulded composite bulkhead with mesh-protected window separating the cabin from the cargo bay, which reduces cabin noise and doubles as a cargo barrier.

Drop an ear to the ground and you’ll see rugged and proven MacPherson strut front suspension, coil-spring beam rear axle with Panhard rod, four-wheel disc brakes and electric power-assisted steering.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The refined, energetic and economical 2.0 litre TDI320 four-cylinder turbo-diesel is a highlight. It meets the toughest Euro 6 emission standards using AdBlue, producing 90kW at 4250rpm and 320Nm across a flexible 1000rpm-wide torque band between 1500-2500rpm.

The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is a sweet-shifting transmission, with a sporty feel that’s unusual in an LCV. It offers three drive modes comprising standard Drive, athletic Sport or Tiptronic for manual-shifting, using the steering wheel-mounted paddles. There’s also an electronically-controlled automatic locking diff.

The refined, energetic and economical 2.0 litre TDI320 four-cylinder turbo-diesel is a highlight. (Image: Mark Oastler) The refined, energetic and economical 2.0 litre TDI320 four-cylinder turbo-diesel is a highlight. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

The dash display was claiming a frugal 5.6L/100km after almost 400km of testing, of which more than a quarter was hauling its maximum payload. That compared favourably with VW’s official combined figure of only 4.9L and, after crunching the numbers from tripmeter and fuel bowser readings, our figure worked out at 5.7L which was very close to the Caddy’s calculations. Therefore, you could expect an expansive ‘real world’ driving range of up to 900km from its 50-litre tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

Deducting the Caddy’s 1526kg tare weight from its 2250kg GVM leaves a 724kg payload rating, of which up to 100kg can be legally carried on the roof. It’s also rated to tow up to 1500kg of braked trailer but that could be a challenge with its low 75kg tow-ball download limit, given that TBD is usually about 10 per cent of trailer weight (or about 150kg in this case). VW also does not disclose a GCM rating, so we don’t know how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time.

The cargo bay’s 1797mm length and 1614mm width means it can fit either a single 1165mm-square Aussie pallet or 1000 x 1200mm Euro 3 pallet, two 800 x 1200mm Euro pallets or two 720 x 830mm bread roll containers. However, with its 695mm opening for the sliding side-door, all of these would need to be loaded through the rear barn-doors which also offer 180-degree opening for easy forklift access.

Driver and passenger are spoiled for cabin storage. (Image: Mark Oastler) Driver and passenger are spoiled for cabin storage. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The cargo bay, with walls and doors lined to mid-height, is well equipped for hard work with its thick rubber floor liner and six well-positioned load anchorage points. There are also two bright LED roof lights, a handy 12-volt accessory plug and what appears to be noise-absorbing fixtures over the wheel housings, which combined with the cabin bulkhead are welcome additions. External securing points on the roof are also provided for fitting roof racks or rails.

Driver and passenger are spoiled for cabin storage. There are large-bottle holders and storage bins in each front door, a deep drawer to the right of the steering column, another storage bin in the dash-pad ahead of the driver, spacious full-width overhead storage shelf, large single glovebox and a useful centre console with four open storage nooks and dual small-bottle/cup holders.

The cargo bay is well equipped for hard work with its thick rubber floor liner and six well-positioned load anchorage points. (Image: Mark Oastler) The cargo bay is well equipped for hard work with its thick rubber floor liner and six well-positioned load anchorage points. (Image: Mark Oastler)

What’s it like as a daily driver?

It’s a zippy and fun thing to drive with or without cargo and feels more like a car than a van. The ride is quite firm, as you’d expect given its load-carrying requirements, yet supple enough to smooth out the bumps. Braking is reassuringly strong and the nicely weighted steering has excellent feel through its leather-wrapped wheel.

Having maximum torque on tap between 1500-2500rpm is really useful, because that’s where the tacho needle spends most of its time in city and suburban driving. As a result, there’s good throttle response when you need it and ample pulling power under load.

People of most shapes and heights can find a comfortable driving position. (Image: Mark Oastler) People of most shapes and heights can find a comfortable driving position. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The gearing also ensures low-stress cruising at highway speeds, needing only 1500rpm to maintain 100km/h and 1600rpm at 110km/h. The addition of a bulkhead separating the cabin from the cargo bay has resulted in a significant and welcome reduction in noise levels at these speeds, as tyre roar emanating from the rear wheel housings has been deafening in previous Caddy tests without a bulkhead. Even so, tyre noise can still be intrusive on certain grades of coarse bitumen.

With its height/reach adjustable steering wheel, adjustable lumbar support and left footrest, people of most shapes and heights can find a comfortable driving position, although some rake adjustment for the seat base would be a welcome addition.

Solid-walled commercial vans are typically cursed with large kerbside blind-spots for the driver and the Caddy is no exception. Fortunately, lane change assist including blind-spot monitoring and rear traffic alert are available. Unfortunately, you have to pay extra for these as part of an optional driver assistance package. We reckon these features are crucial to safe van operation and therefore should be standard.

It’s a zippy and fun thing to drive with or without cargo and feels more like a car than a van. (Image: Mark Oastler) It’s a zippy and fun thing to drive with or without cargo and feels more like a car than a van. (Image: Mark Oastler)

What’s it like for tradie use?

We inflated the tyres to the 42psi cold pressures displayed on the placard and loaded 565kg into the cargo bay, which combined with our crew of two equalled a payload of 715kg that just snuck under the 724kg limit. The nose dropped 21mm and the rear coil springs compressed 45mm, with the long rubber cones positioned inside the rear coils providing additional load support.

The Caddy performed superbly, with steering, engine and braking performance hardly affected. It glided over bumps and other road irregularities without a hint of bottoming out and maintained its handling composure regardless of speed or road conditions.

It also gobbled up our 13 percent gradient 2.0 km set climb at 60km/h, self-shifting down to a suitable ratio and powering its way to the summit as though the load wasn’t there. Engine braking on the way down, in a manually-selected second gear, wasn’t as strong as we’ve come to expect from small displacement turbo-diesels. Even so, the quartet of disc brakes easily restrained this load during the descent.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Yet to gain an ANCAP rating but people-moving variants of the Caddy 5 earned a maximum five-star rating when tested in June 2021. Offers a suite of safety features headlined by seven airbags and AEB plus reversing camera with rear parking sensors, daytime running lights, non-adaptive cruise control, drive fatigue alert system and lots more.

Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Caddy 5 is covered by VW's five years/unlimited km warranty and 12 months roadside assist. Scheduled servicing every 15,000km or 12 months whichever occurs first. Capped-price servicing fixed from February 1 every calendar year. Optional three and five-year pre-paid (and therefore lower priced) service packs also available.

It is, dare we say it, ‘engaging’ to drive which is not a word normally associated with light commercial vehicles. And, fortunately, that driving enjoyment does not come with any compromise in its excellent workhorse capabilities. Now in its fifth generation, the Caddy remains a well designed and formidable competitor in the small van class.

$34,990

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5
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.