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Fifth-generation VW Caddy breaks cover

Hi-tech Caddy van underpinned by latest Volkswagen Group passenger car architecture

21 Feb 2020

VOLKSWAGEN has revealed its fifth-generation Caddy compact van, described by the German giant as “the smartphone of the segment” and arriving in Australia around a year from now.


Based on the VW Group modular transverse matrix (MQB) architecture that underpins a raft of passenger models from the Polo hatch to the Atlas seven-seat SUV, the new Caddy is said to pack 19 new or upgraded driver assistance and active safety technologies, enabling Level 2 autonomous driving capability.


Volkswagen Group Australia PR and brand experience manager Kurt McGuiness told GoAuto that local specifications of the new Caddy were yet to be determined and that it was likely launch here in the first quarter of next year.


Depending on market, the vehicle will also be available with a customisable digital instrument panel and a range of multimedia systems based around touchscreens of up to 10 inches in size and always-on mobile connectivity that provides access to the ‘Volkswagen We’ suite of online services.


From a utilitarian perspective, the new Caddy has increased load space courtesy of an extra 93mm in length – with a wheelbase extended by 73mm – and 62mm more width, with 11mm extra in the cargo bed. Roof height is 25mm lower but not at the expense of load height, which VW says has increased by 7mm.


The result is accommodation for two Euro pallets, which on long wheelbase Maxi variants can also be loaded sideways through the enlarged 840mm-wide sliding door.


With the lower roof contributing to the more aerodynamic design – down from 0.33cd to 0.30 – as well as three revised 2.0-litre diesel engines and one 1.5-litre petrol, VW claims the new Caddy’s fuel consumption has been cut by up to 12 per cent over the outgoing model.


For Europe at least, diesels will include a ‘double-dosing’ AdBlue exhaust gas treatment system claimed to “appreciably reduce” health-harming NOx emissions to comply with the continent’s increasingly stringent air-quality standards.


The usual selection of six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions will be available, with the availability of an all-wheel-drive option depending on variant and market.


Use of MQB underpinnings promises to bestow the Caddy with more car-like ride and handling characteristics and introduces an all-new rear axle with coil-spring suspension replacing the old leaf-based setup for “notably increased agility in all load situations”.


MQB also brings with it access to VW Group’s latest electronics, with Level 2 autonomous driving possible when combining the new Caddy’s full suite of available systems.


These include latest-generation adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, trailer assist, side assist, rear traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking.


VW has carried over – and in some cases upgraded – driver assist tech from the outgoing model, such self-parking, lane-keep assist, road sign recognition, hill-start assist, post-collision auto braking, tyre pressure monitoring, reversing cameras and driver alertness monitor.


This will be the first Caddy to feature an electronic park brake, as well as the availability of electric sliding doors, a powered tailgate and keyless entry with push-button start.


A 1.4 square metre panoramic sunroof above both the first two seating rows will also be available, along with LED headlights and taillights as well as the option of 18-inch alloy wheels.


VW’s typically evolutionary design direction means the new van remains unmistakably a Caddy in terms of overall silhouette and front-end looks derived from contemporary Golf hatchbacks, but the squared-off new rear is more of a departure with its frameless full-width window between pillar-like light clusters consisting of slim LED strips and bold black bezels.


As before, the Caddy will be built in two wheelbases with panel van, wagon and people-mover formats, the latter available with up to seven seats, including ‘Ergo seats’ certified by the German Campaign for Healthy Backs Society, developed with the needs of long-distance drivers and featuring a broad range of adjustment.


Provided the panoramic roof is not fitted, models with rear seats have a ceiling-mounted ventilator to help distribute air from the front of the cabin to the rear and improve air-conditioned comfort at the back.


Panel vans will gain LED lighting, new load floor coverings, stronger tie-down points and a 230V power outlet plus a fold-down passenger seat with tough backing material that can double as a mobile desk.


Wagon and people-mover variants have more easily removable rear seating rows for liberating the full van-sized load bay, with the layout consisting of two individual third-row pews and a split second row made up of an individual chair and a two-seat bench. In addition to being removable, these can be folded and/or tilted to expand cargo space and create a flat load area.


The VW Caddy remains by far Australia’s best-selling compact van with a commanding 62.7 per cent market share in 2019, despite a sales dip of 15.3 per cent with 1672 reported deliveries. People-mover variants of the Caddy grew 22.1 per cent on 309 units.


In the first month of 2020, VW sold 105 Caddy vans, representing a 12.9 per cent year-on-year climb, while the people-mover version was down 50 per cent with 11 sold.

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