VOLKSWAGEN is not the first brand to bolt some seats into a commercial van and shout, “Ta-da! New people mover!”
Way back in the early 1980s Australians were subjected to the vinyl-seated Mitsubishi L300 Express before Toyota made the Tarago appealing rather than appalling.
Aiming for the appealing end of the spectrum, the fifth-generation Caddy now comes in two distinct lines. The stripped-out Cargo and a pair of people mover variants known as Caddy and Caddy Life.
To further improve the Caddy’s saleability, VW went to the parts bin and out popped the MQB platform on which to base it. This could be the masterstroke.
For the moment, pricing for the Caddy and Caddy Life is fairly straightforward and there is just the one diesel engine.
The Caddy TDI320 starts at $45,490 plus on-roads with 17-inch steel wheels, an 8.25 touchscreen, climate control, halogen headlights and a safety package that includes full length curtain airbags, city AEB, rear cross-traffic alert and centre airbags for the front occupants.
This is the kind of thing you get when you properly base a commercial vehicle on a passenger car platform.
The Caddy Life TDI320, starting at $49,990, swaps the steelies for alloys, adds dual-zone climate control, heat insulating glass, digital dashboard and some chrome bits on the exterior.
On January 1st 2022, this pricing goes out the window because Volkswagen will add a new entry-level petrol version to join the current diesel-only line-up.
It’s not going to get cheaper, though, with the 84kW petrol starting at $46,140 before on-roads and the 320TDI topping out at $52,640 + ORC, a $2700 price rise.
The company is offering a clutch of single options and option packs. Notable is the $1660 Navigation pack that adds more speakers, sat-nav and a larger 10.0-inch touchscreen. The options list is long and detailed and includes a lot of family and business-friendly bits and pieces that few other makers could match.
But is the Caddy Life worth considering against similar-priced but larger, purpose-built people movers from Honda and Kia? Or do a European badge and relatively city-friendly dimensions make the VW a winner?