The fifth generation Volkswagen Caddy is a compact van that's new from the ground up, described as 'the Swiss Army Knife of urban delivery vans'. It's now more stylish, but bigger inside, more economical and efficient but also more car-like. Plus there's an advanced digital interior and a whole portfolio of safety systems. You won't have previously come across a compact LCV quite as advanced as this one.
There are a trio of 2.0-litre diesel engine options to kick off, with a choice of 75PS, 102PS and 122PS outputs. All get 6-speed manual transmission and if you go for the 122PS version, you'll be offered the option of a 7-speed DSG auto gearbox. We wouldn't really recommend the relatively feeble entry-level 75PS version unless you'll only be using your Caddy for urban deliveries but the other two variants should offer a decent turn of speed.
The top 122PS diesel TDI model can also be ordered in manual form with 4MOTION 4WD. Yes, that's right: 4WD in a compact van - a useful thing to have if your deliveries take you to slippery building sites or along rutted tracks. As with all VW SUVs, this is a set-up designed always to provide power to the wheels with most traction. Normally, it'll pull you from the front, but should conditions change, in a split second, 4MOTION can spread power to the rear wheels if required and immediately stop power to any wheel losing traction.
What else? Well, for the few segment customers wanting petrol power, a 1.5-litre TSI engine with 114PS is available. Across the range, a braked trailer capacity of up to 1,500kg is within the Caddy's remit and it's worth pointing out that pulling potential of this magnitude is rare in this sector. Many vans of this size after all, don't even break the 2,000kg barrier.
Visually, the Caddy hasn't looked much different since the third generation version was launched back in 2003. So the complete styling re-think for this MK5 model is somewhat refreshing, no contour or component having been left untouched. The higher bonnet is a bit like that of a compact SUV and both the radiator grille and the headlights have been redesigned. As before, the standard body shape is joined by a lengthened Caddy Maxi model but the ordinary Caddy may now be sufficient for your needs, being 93mm longer and 62mm wider than its predecessor. The key difference is one you can't see, this MK5 model's switch to an all-new, stiffer MQB platform.
Behind the wheel, as before, it's all neat and unfussy with dark grey plastics prevailing on every surface but a higher quality feel prevailing this time round and a higher level of infotainment. The centre-dash screen varies in size between 6.5, 8.25 or 10-inches, depending on spec and offers a wide range of connectivity options that work via an integrated eSIM. There's also the option of a 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument binnacle display screen. The AGR Ergo seats are more supportive, approved by the German campaign for Healthy Backs Society. And an electronic handbrake is now standard and buyers can specify electric closing aids for the sliding doors and the tailgate.
This Caddy's predecessor set the quality benchmark for compact van design, just as this fifth generation model does today. If you want a snapshot of just how far small LCVs have come, then we'd suggest that you check one of these out. The Wolfsburg brand thinks that operator preferences will lie in areas like efficiency, safety and technology, priorities this MK5 model Caddy addresses with class-leading thoroughness.
That's not to say it can't be a practical choice. The respective 3.1m3 and 3.7m3 carriage capacities of the standard and Maxi versions are all most operators will need, especially given the increases in load bay length, height and width. It all means that if you specify your Caddy carefully, you could create a very complete little business tool indeed. And in summary? Well there are, it's true, bigger and more affordable vans than this one in the compact LCV sector. We reckon though, that most business buyers in this segment, most of the time, would rather have a Caddy. And that really says it all.Click here to find out more about our Volkswagen Caddy range