Fleet News

Road test: Volkswagen Caddy

VOLKSWAGEN is banking on increased load space and higher quality standards to win a greater share of sales in Britain's car-derived market.

But customer loyalty remains the most important ingredient for success in the keenly-contested car-derived van sector.

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With a payload of 750kg, the next-generation Caddy is considerably larger than the current van, which is based on the Polo supermini platform and produced at the group's main SEAT manufacturing base at Martorell, near Barcelona.

When it reaches UK showrooms in May, the newcomer, sourced from Poznan in Poland, will mark the end of the road for the SEAT Inca, which is no longer seen as fitting the more sporty image being cultivated for VW's revitalised Spanish brand.

Bigger in almost every respect than the current van, VW's new rival to the Ford Connect, Vauxhall Combo, Citroen Berlingo and Renault Kangoo is expected to be priced from around £9,000 when it goes on sale in Germany in March. For the UK market, the 3.2-metre load volume van will feature twin rear doors. A large side sliding door will be fitted as standard, and a second sliding door will be optional.

Volkswagen hopes to sell around 5,000 units in a full year, 80% of them powered by VW's latest 2.0-litre, 69bhp SDI diesel engine, but operators seeking higher performance levels will be able to call on a 103bhp version of the group's trusty 1.9-litre turbodiesel motor.

All versions for Britain are expected to have anti-lock brakes and a driver's airbag. Standard specification should also include a height-adjust driver's seat, rake-and-reach adjust steering, remote control central locking and a CD sound system.

Sales statistics confirm that most Caddy operators opt for SDI power, but a brief excursion into Germany's spectacular Black Forest region soon highlighted the limitations of the naturally-aspirated diesel unit in this larger vehicle.

With two occupants aboard and a 200kg payload, our test van was well inside its cargo capacity, but its 2.0-litre motor felt sluggish and needed maximum use of the slick-changing gearbox to keep pace with traffic flow.

The van had an easy cruising gait on the open road, but the more powerful 1.9-litre TDI PD that will be available at launch is likely to better meet the needs of high-mileage courier businesses.

In every other respect, the base version of the new Caddy appeals as a well-planned and well- executed product. And as its frontal appearance strongly resembles the Touran MPV, this is a workhorse with particularly attractive styling to complement what appears to be a high standard of finish.

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    Fact file
    2.0SDI 1.9TDI
    Power (bhp/rpm): 70/4,000 104/4,000
    Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 103/2,400 184/1,900
    Load volume (cu m): 3.2 3.2
    Payload (kg): 750 750
    Length, width, height (mm): 4,405/1,802/1,833
    Towing limit (kg): 1,500 1,500

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