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First drive: Volkswagen Caddy goes maximum commercial

Stretched: Long-wheelbase Maxi is priced $2750 higher than the Caddy.

Volkswagen expands its Caddy van range with the long-wheelbase, lean-sipping Maxi

24 Apr 2008

VOLKSWAGEN has extended its range of light commercial vans with the addition this month of the Caddy Maxi van.

The new model is a long-wheelbase addition to the Caddy range, with its better payload, load-carrying space and more convenient loading flexibility the most important improvements over the Caddy SWB (or short-wheelbase).

While Volkswagen has a long history of commercial vans in Australia, dating back to the 1950s with its Transporter, the Transporter was the only commercial vehicle – provided you do not count the Country Buggy as a ‘commercial’ – ever offered locally by Volkswagen until the arrival in 2004 of the Caddy van.

What Volkswagen called the ‘sub-van’ market at that stage was just eight per cent of the total commercial van market. Since then, it has grown to 18 per cent of the commercial van market.

3 center imageAccording to Volkswagen Commercial’s national sales manager Philip West, this growth in smaller vans is due to a change in dynamics in the van market. “The rise in fuel prices, obviously a lot of congestion on the roads and the increase in population in urban centres (had an effect). There was (also) increasing interest in diesel vehicles,” he said.

Mr West believes with the Caddy SWB, and now with Caddy Maxi van, that Volkswagen has “managed to position the right vehicle at the right time in the right place”.

Part of the Caddy’s success can be attributed to its diesel engine offering. The Caddy TDI accounts for 75 per cent of Caddy SWB sales.

So the new Caddy Maxi van is Volkswagen’s attempt to broaden the appeal of the Caddy and plug the gap in price and size between Caddy SWB and the Transporter.

Mr West sees the Caddy Maxi Van as having a “passenger vehicle driveability, but commercial vehicle carrying ability.” Based on its experience with Caddy, Volkswagen believes it will sell to the logistics/courier and franchise segments, and with the withdrawal from the market of the small/medium Kia Pregio and Toyota LiteAce vans, Volkswagen believes its Maxi van is the right size to – in part – fill the void.

While VW will not comment on its volume projections for Caddy Maxi van, Mr West said “this is a very, very important model for us, and it’s going to be a volume model for us”.

The Maxi van looks identical to its SWB brother from the front or rear but in side view the increased size is obvious. The Maxi Van is 470mm longer than the SWB, has a 150mm longer overhang and has a 320mm longer wheelbase.

The Maxi van’s kerb weight (including a full tank of fuel and 75kg driver) for the 1.6 petrol is 1437kg, Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) is 2245kg and payload is 813kg. The 1.9 TDI manual weighs 1507kg at the kerb, has a GVM of 2315kg and a payload of 808kg, while the 1.9 TDI DSG kerb weight is 1537kg, GVM is 2350kg and payload is 813kg.

The Maxi van has a maximum roof capacity of 100kg and can tow up to 710kg (petrol) or 750kg (diesel) without trailer brakes or 1300kg (petrol) or 1500kg (diesel) with trailer brakes. The maximum towball download is 100kg.

As with any vehicle, the roof and towball weights have to be subtracted from payload so as not to exceed GVM. The Maxi van’s payload is about 80kg more than the Caddy SWB, and the payload area is 4.2 cubic metres, one cubic metre larger than the Caddy’s. Key measurements include a 700mm-wide and 1180mm-high door aperture (the same as Caddy SWB).

The Maxi van commands a premium of $2750 over its short-wheelbase sibling, and Volkswagen says it believes the increased carrying capacity, the additional right-hand side sliding door and cruise control (on the diesel) make the extra cost worth it.

Prices start from $24,740 for the 1.6 petrol, $28,740 for the diesel manual and $31,740 for the diesel DSG.

The engine choice is between the 1.6-litre petrol engine, which develops 75kW at 5600rpm and 148Nm at 3800rpm, and the 1.9-litre TDI engine, which develops 77kW at 4000rpm and 250Nm at 1900rpm.

Combined average fuel consumption for the petrol engine is 8.2L/100km, while the diesel is 6.1L/100km with the five-speed manual and 6.7L/100km with the optional DSG transmission. The petrol engine is teamed up to a five-speed manual transmission only, while the TDI engine has the five-speed manual as standard and the six-speed DSG automated manual transmission is a $3000 option.

The standard safety equipment list is extensive for a ‘basic’ van, with ABS brakes with EBD, Electronic Differential Lock (traction control) and dual front airbags. ESP is a $650 option across the range, and side airbags are available for $550. Park Distance Control is a $790 option across the range.

The comfort and convenience items are covered off with semi-automatic air- conditioning, remote central locking, a four-speaker MP3/CD stereo, tilt/telescopic steering column adjustment, power windows/mirrors and height-adjustable seats.

Front foglights are a $295 option, while 15-inch alloy wheels are $1195. Colour-coded bumpers and side mirrors cost $895. A long list of dealer-fit accessories including a cargo barrier, Bluetooth compatibility and factory-approved 1500kg towbar are also available.

Vans are about storage more than most vehicles, and here the Caddy Maxi van makes full use of its diminutive stature. Starting from the front of the cabin, it has rubberised, recessed storage trays on the top of the dashboard, a centre console tray and unlidded glove box recess, deep door pockets, a cabin width overhead storage compartment and under-seat storage trays (a $95 option on petrol and standard on diesel).

Entry to the cargo area is made via one of the two sliding doors or the standard rear barn doors (a lifting tailgate door is a no-cost option). There is also an Australian pallet-size entrance width, cargo tie-downs and cargo area dome light.

Cruise control is standard on the diesel and a $495 option on the petrol. An engine coolant temperature gauge is standard on the diesel but not fitted to the petrol (instead, it relies on a coolant temperature warning light). Metallic paint costs another $750, while pearl effect paint is $850.

Volkswagen offers a three-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assistance on the Maxi van, with a three-year paint and 12-year corrosion warranty also included.

Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Van pricing:
1.6 $24,740
1.9 TDI $28,740
1.9 TDI (a) $31,740

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