Now before you dismiss the humble Caddy as nothing more than a commercial Euro-van, think again. This is Volkswagen we are talking about here. In its cargo-carrying form, the Caddy was already formidable - how many diesel-powered vans you know pack a slick dual-clutch transmission and will go from 0-80km/h in a matter of seconds. Memories of my previous two test-drives with two earlier iterations of the third-generation Caddy start to come to mind.
Both were commercial vehicles that almost blurred the lines between a passenger vehicle and a goods carrier. They were almost car-like in the way they handled - sans the leaf spring suspension and that annoying 70km/h speed warning bleeping (a regulation for all Singapore-registered commercial vehicles).
So imagine my surprise when Volkswagen (VW) Singapore offered me a test-drive of their new Caddy, that is powered by a petrol engine and a proper coil-spring front suspension; giving it added dynamism. The new VW Caddy MPC in this case is a proper seven-seater people carrier - making full use of that massive cabin for passenger accommodation.
Volkswagen now has an impressive armoury of people movers starting with the five seater Sportsvan (which we reviewed earlier this year) and onwards to the Caddy, Touran and finally the Sharan. For those still iffy about the Caddy’s commercial origins, fret not, VW has reworked the entire vehicle (now in its fourth generation) with a strong emphasis on ride comfort and refinement, so much so that the difference is as stark as night and day.
The Caddy gets a truckload of driver assistance and safety systems like side and curtain airbags, Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) plus a fatigue detection system; all of which are standard and almost unheard of in this segment. VW has also sharpened the Caddy’s exterior lines bringing the overall look closer to that of an MPV and in-line with the German car-maker’s arsenal of passenger vehicles - minimalist and yet stylishly chic.
The inside has also been thoroughly redesigned for a more car-like ambience with a striking horizontal band running the entire length of the soft-touch dashboard with integrated air-vents, VW’s latest 6.33-inch infotainment system with faux leather door and side panels.
You also get a multi-functional leather steering wheel, multifunction display ‘Plus’, automatic dimming interior mirror, chrome trimming on switches and an automatic ‘Climatronic’ dual-zone air-conditioning system. To top it off, the Caddy also packs 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps (with LED daytime running lights), rear-wheel camera, cruise control and factory-fitted leather-Alcantara upholstery as standard.