• Caddy Maxi flagship is a compelling entry level people mover

Is it a van? Is it a car? Is it a bus? Nope. It’s a bit of all of them. In fact, the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi 2.0TDI is really what you want to make of it. And then some.

All-new under the skin, this latest Caddy is built on the same Volkswagen MQB platform as the latest Golf 8. Modern styling brings a cutting-edge feel. Neat and tidy, the new Maxi bus is easy on the eye. Latest smart Bi-xenon headlights get a distinctive LED daylight riding signature. They’re split by a black grille with a shiny VW gong atop a modern body colour bumper grille. The roofline slopes slightly down towards the rear, juxta positioned by a squared-off window line and a smart rear end.


Easy diving, with a friendly nature on the road, not much else has changed. Caddy is manoeuvrable, with a tight turning circle. Powered by VW’s famous 81 kW 300 Nm 2-litre turbodiesel turning the front axle via six-speed manual transmission, it blends huge space and seven seats with adequate performance and frugal and achievable 5.5 l/100 km consumption too. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Caddy further detaches itself from its commercial roots by a generous helping of on-board tech and other cool bits and pieces. New driver assistance systems for instance, now make it safer and easier to drive. Cruise Control eases the driver’s workload and Park Assist paired with the Rear-View Camera takes the hassle out of parking in tight spaces. Trailer Manoeuvring further adds towing confidence.

A cavernous, modernised LED lit cabin majors on practical storage. It boasts a new radio and infotainment system with two lovely knobs for volume and tuning for the infotainment and climate systems. Beyond that, the cabin has been completely ‘modernised’ with a next step instrument cluster and redesigned interactive interface control elements as futuristic sliders and interface surfaces replace the buttons.


Now, we’re not sure why VW insists on these ‘smart’ touch and swipe switches. We can’t get our heads around them. Likely never will. They’re too sensitive to the touch and impossible to operate along a rougher road. Yes, it certainly looks all cool and modern. But we don’t see the point. Nothing beats good old buttons and knobs. Maybe they’re cheaper to procure? Beyond that, Caddy Maxis on infotainment. Pretty smart at this level.

Maxi felt light, brisk, and effortless on the road. It’s eerily silent and there’s no more drone at all from the once rattly parcel tray atop the driver’s head. It no longer yaws slightly as it once did either. But it does retain that tight turning circle to ace on manoeuvrability. We stalled it a few times as we got used to the need for a few revs off the clutch. And the auto hold brake is inconsistent. Sometimes it works a treat, others it is jerky and unpredictable.

The raised command driver’s seat is ergonomically thought out. But this long, tall, cavernous, and versatile vehicle’s main accent is on space. Large windows make for great visibility, its sliding side doors on each side ease ingress to a flexible and versatile seven seat configuration. This one had a large top hinged tailgate. Were it ours, we’d opt for the dual opening 60-40 split gate that provide more practical ingress to a quite massive loading bay and a real van’s worth of space, if you ever need that.


Our tester also came fully stacked with more than enough bonus kit. Like front and rear Park Distance Control complete with a rear-view camera, cruise control and even a removable towbar. Add a so-called Light & Sight Package and a leather multifunction steering wheel. To really make that infotainment pop.

At the end of the day, the Volkswagen Caddy is a great entry level bus. Best of all it’s a Volkswagen. It brings all that backing and convenience and a two-year unlimited mileage and three-year 60,000 km service plan in a proven platform with a reliable engine and drivetrain.

Caddy Maxi is a practical vehicle. You cannot really call this stretched, tall version little. But that size in turn delivers great space and practical passenger versatility. Yes, perhaps it does push the boundaries in some cabin respects. But as a versatile and pleasant people mover with car-like handling, more than enough comfort and allure, the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi remains a more than difficult bus to beat. – Michele Lupini

Images & data: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Volkswagen Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI
Engine: 81 kW 300 Nm 2-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 6-speed manual FWD
0-60 km/h:        5.39 sec
0-100 km/h:       12.66 sec
0-120 km/h:       18.22 sec
400m:             18.5 sec @ 122 km/h
80-120 km/h:      9.27 sec
VMax:             170 km/h
Fuel:             5.5 l/100 km
CO2:              145 g/km
Warranty/Service: 3y 120K/3y 60K km
LIST PRICE:       R601K
RATED:            7
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