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Caddy shacks up with Volkswagen

Powered up: The Caddy will be one of the first vehicles in its class offered with diesel power.

VW announces plans for a new range of small panel vans and people-movers

9 Mar 2004

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia (VWGA) will introduce the Caddy range locally from October.

To debut at the Sydney motor show, the Caddy has only recently been released in its native Germany.

The front-wheel drive, Polish-built Volkswagen is slightly larger than the Holden Combo light commercial vehicle (LCV) it aims to steal sales from. The Caddy also has the Citroen Berlingo and upcoming Renault Kangoo in its sights.

And from March 2005, the Caddy Life will catapult VWGA into the uncharted waters of the local LCV mini people-mover segment.

A five-seat Caddy Life is a certainty at the moment, while the German distributor is also looking at introducing a seven-seater variant with a 2+3+2 configuration, pending the car’s child seat restraint capabilities.

Unlike the light car-based Combo, the 1400kg-plus Caddy is spawned from a larger C-segment small car – in this case the as yet unseen locally Golf V.

This helps explain the 750kg load carrying capacity (that is 50kg shy of Citroen's Xsara-based Berlingo however), 3.2 cubic metre load space and 1200kg braked towing capacity. Dividends in refinement, comfort, dynamics and occupant safety are also expected as a result.

The Caddy will also be one of the first vehicles in its class offered with diesel power.

Initially a 55kW/127Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual-only gearbox will be the sole motivator.

But VW’s evergreen 77kW/250Nm 1.9-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder unit is earmarked for a second-quarter 2005 release.

It will be the only engine available in the Caddy Life.

According to VWGA commercial vehicles general manager Phil Clark, the turbo-diesel was deemed necessary due to its availability and compatibility with the four-speed automatic transmission VW believes will underpin most Caddy sales in Australia.

Standard safety features should include dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes and VW’s anti-skid control. The TDI’s extra torque means it might also arrive with the ESP traction control device.

"The Caddy’s main job is to be a city delivery van. And the Life version is for the person who needs to cart around his/her family or kids on the weekends," Mr Clark said.

To that end, twin sliding side doors are an option, along with barn-style as well as a hatch-style rear door.

The early sales projections are very conservative. Mr Clark said he expected only around 400 sales in the Caddy’s first full year.

But even this will help the VWGA commercial vehicle division hit its 2007 annual sales goal of 3000 units.

The Caddy has been a successful LCV for VW overseas since the original Mk1 Golf-based two-door utility model was revealed in 1979.

The 2004 model replaces the old Mk3VW Polo/Seat Ibiza-based version unseen in Australia.

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