Test: Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life
Review by Peter Maniatis -
The Caddy Maxi Life is... Well... I'm not entirely
It looks like a van but purports to be a
people mover, or MPV as some people call them.
beginning to like more of what I see from Volkswagen at the moment
– great value for money transport for the most part
what is to be made of this novel incarnation?
At first look I was aghast,
thinking what on earth am I going to test drive this week.
But let's look at the basics: it's got a torquey
1.9-litre turbo diesel engine, a large boot, plus three rows of
Practicality is one of its strong suits, but it
wasn't until I saw the price of under $35k that I really started taking
movers are not what you'd call the flavour of the month at the moment,
but there is still demand for these sorts of cars and there'll be no
denying that many of us at the Motoring Channel were curious about this
vehicle from Volkswagen.
So I decided to approach my week of test
driving the Caddy as a bit of a novelty – give it a go
see what happens I thought.
Model: Caddy Maxi Life
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Engine: 1.9-litre 4-cylinder petrol
passenger (x2), front side (x2)), ABS, EBD, TCS
Supplier: Volkswagen Australia
Volkswagen's Caddy Maxi Life is an intriguing
car, one that grows on you the more you drive it
Even with three rows of seats, the
Caddy Maxi Life has good boot space
Engine: 1.9-litre 4-cylinder, turbo diesel
The transversally mounted 1896cc
4-cylinder engine has an inline cylinder layout with a cast iron block
and alloy cylinder head. It uses single
(SOHC) that work with 8-valves (2-valves per cylinder). The engine uses
direct injection and features both a turbocharger and intercooler to
increase torque. It will run on diesel fuel and has a 60 litre fuel
Max Power: 77kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 1900rpm
There's adequate leg room for all seven passengers
Starting out life as a commercial van, the VW
Caddy Maxi Life is a well-sorted people mover
The Caddy Maxi Life is a novelty for sure. When I
picked it up I was bemused: what is it?
inside the vehicle I noticed huge storage cavity above my head in the
ceiling, followed by the clunky sounding diesel engine when it turned
over the ignition.
All signs pointed towards the heritage of the VW
Kombi and what I thought this car was designed for –
a courier van!
But then it got interesting.
It looks like a van, but the sliding rear doors
and seven seats quickly quashed that view.
This is very much a people mover, but there is a
commercial version of the vehicle called the Caddy Maxi Van.
driving around for a while, the first thing I noticed and liked a lot
was the fuel gauge – in particular, how many kilometers till
empty (780km). Wow. I'll be in for this – I usually only get
450-500km out of these test cars.
Well, chugging along
open-mindedly I thought at least I'll be able to drive this car around
for a while before I need to fill it up again, and so it turned out.
The VW Caddy Maxi Life is very frugal.
It's got a 60 litre
tank, so it can cost a bit to fill it up, but when you realise it uses
6.3L/100km (city/highway combined cycle) the appeal of the Caddy
Having a family that needs 7 seats I was the
perfect target of this Caddy configuration.
was interesting to see was that the rear third row seats were large and
wide enough for bigger people than my little tackers.
All right – I've got some pluses going
turned on the radio and expected a nice sounding VW audio system but
unfortunately got what I expected from a courier van – a
weight less-than-great-sound. But that's okay, because I would
probably upgrade to a DVD visual audio system in any event.
then looked a little lower than the stereo and was shocked to see a
compartment that I had not seen in a car for a very long time, but I
suppose the stereo-typical van driver has to be catered for here with
cigarette trays in the front dash and rear doors.
Took me way back!
Cruising around town I started to get a good
feeling about driving the Volkswagen Caddy.
The front-wheel drive vehicle is
not too hard to park and it's slim 1.79 metre width gives you room
to move and load/unload. It is long though, getting close to 5.0
metres (4.87m) and can make tighter car parks more difficult to
felt surprisingly tight and sturdy on the road. It drives a little like
the other VW’s that I've tested which is a good thing, but
the turning circle (12.2m) isn't so good.
Yes, it sounds a bit clunky with the diesel motor
rumbling away but it has plenty of motivation without needing to rev
the engine. There's 250Nm of torque @ 1900rpm, which is very good for a
small 1.9-litre engine, and it doesn't drink much fuel.
tested the 5-speed manual model, which worked very well, but if you
want the sporty automatic gearbox you can opt for the 6-speed DSG,
which features twin clutches and automatic operation. It costs $3,000
loading up this funny looking car with its strange sliding side doors
and its hilarious horn was actually very practical and
not sure if it is just because this is different than what we drive at
home (Ford Territory) but the whole family had a lot of fun getting
this car – lots of laughter from the kids each time I honked
horn. Let me explain: the horn a cross between the wiggles big
red car and a clown funny car from the big top circus.
Loading and unloading the Volkswagen Caddy was
very easy thanks to the sliding side door and it handled plenty of gear. Overall everything
worked without a hitch, and the carpeted floors were a nice touch as well.
boot is big, offering 530 litres with all 7-seats occupied. Fold down
the third row and that increases to 1650 litres, fold down both third
and second rows and you get 3950 litres of space.
I really liked the ample glass around the vehicle
which gives great
visibility around the car but I would have liked to see some extras
including a rear camera, a slightly nicer interior, a
stereo and perhaps the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine for a bit more go.
Add these things and it would make this car a real
contender and something that families would seriously consider, and at
a very good price.
You know, this car has
really grown on me during the week I have had it for testing. Which
the idea that most car buyers only get to drive a car for 15 minutes or
so during a brief test drive.
How can you make a judgement on a cars function
and drivability in just that time?
Caddy is a candidate for the long test drive. If I had driven
it for 15 minutes I probably would have walked away without a
second glance, but over the space of a busy week the vehicle has turned out to be a very
practical people mover.
Maybe car dealerships need to make cars available for
testing (at a fee
perhaps?) for a prolonged time for people to get a good feel of how it will suit their
family’s needs. Of course this could backfire for some...
you see the price this car is positioned at ($35k - ish) and again the
for money it offers in fit-out and ongoing fuel economy, families
should give this car consideration in their quest for a
Maybe I'm a little biased cause I think VW are
a great job of designing and building cars at the moment, but overall I
really like what the German car company has created here.
At first I thought "who would want to
be seen driving around in a
family car that looks and sounds like the local delivery
van?" But its drivability, the different look, great fuel
torque and a general quirkiness endeared this car to us all.
family wanted to be seen in it and I wanted drive it around
the price you pay, you get some very good features in this vehicle,
such as the 7-seats, the large boot space, the efficient diesel engine,
16-inch alloy wheels, and four airbags. It would be nice to have
stability control (ESP) as standard instead of a $690 option, and the
same goes for the rear parking sensors that are a $790 cost
the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life represents good value for money and
rivals many of the established 7-seater SUVs and people movers in terms
of practicality and economy, and finallyI think I know what the
Caddy Maxi Life is... Cost-effective transport for growing families.
- Large Interior
- Big Seats
- Economic Diesel Engine
- No Curtain Airbags
- ESP Not Standard
- Delivery Van Appearance
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