Review: Volkswagen Caddy MPV (2021)
Larger and more practical than before, cabin feels like a Volkswagen Golf's, easy to drive with plenty of safety tech.
No electric or hybrid models from launch, high-spec, Caddy Life is on the pricey side.
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Volkswagen Caddy MPV (2021): At A Glance
The Volkswagen Caddy is a versatile van-based people carrier that pitches itself as a trendier alternative to the Citroen Berlingo and Ford Tourneo Connect. The latest 2021 model share a platform with cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3, meaning it's more car-like than ever before.
That means it's really easy to drive, with an incredibly tight turning circle and soft suspension that isn't easily upset by broken road surfaces. Refinement is brilliant, too – the Caddy will happily sit at motorway speeds with only a bit of wind and road noise disturbing the peace.
Buyers can pick from a range of petrol and diesel engines, although hybrid technology is yet to arrive. We rate the 1.5-litre TSI for its relaxed nature, although the 2.0-litre TDI units still make sense if you cover a lot of miles or plan to tow a caravan with your Caddy.
Importantly for family buyers, the Caddy is now available with a range of driver-assistance tech as standard. this includes an autonomous emergency braking system which can apply the brakes if it detects a potential collision, as well as lane keep assist to stop you straying on the motorway. With its eSIM technology, it can even call the emergency services automatically if you're involved in an accident.
Equally importantly, the Caddy is simply huge inside. You can pick from two sizes of Caddy – the short-wheelbase model and the bigger Caddy Maxi. Both are available with a third row of seats, although we reckon the Caddy's best treated as an ultra practical five-seater.
The boot will swallow up pretty much anything you might throw at it, while the rear seats can be flipped back and forth (or, in the case of the third row, removed entirely when not required).
The standard Caddy starts from around £24,500 and it's pretty basic inside, but the majority of buyers are likely to go for the high-spec Caddy Life. This comes with desirable features like 16-inch alloy wheels, an 8.25-inch media system and parking sensors. Prices of the Caddy Life start in the region of £28,500 – about the same as a top-spec Vauxhall Combo Life.
Ultimately, a lot of potential Caddy buyers will walk straight past it on the dealer's forecourt in favour of SUV models like the Tiguan Allspace. But the Caddy represents good value for money and is more practical than an SUV could dare dream to be. It's also not the compromise to live with that you might expect for a car that looks like a van.
Looking for a second opinon? Why not read heycar's Volkswagen Caddy Review?
What does a Volkswagen Caddy MPV (2021) cost?
Volkswagen Caddy MPV (2021): What's It Like Inside?
Whether you're a growing family or have a trio of Great Danes to transport, the Volkswagen Caddy is in another league when it comes to transporting stuff. There are two models: the short-wheelbase Caddy and the longer Caddy Maxi. Both are available with five or seven seats, along with a huge boot capable of carrying up to 1213 litres of luggage (with five seats in use).
Our test car was a standard five-seat Caddy, which we found to be more than roomy enough for family life. Access to the boot is easy, with a low boot lip (a huge perk over SUVs if you regularly have to shift heavy items). There are tie-down points in the floor, while an optional 12V socket could be a useful accessory for those looking to plug in a cool box.
Passengers in the second row have plenty of space, while fold-down picnic tables (on Life models) come in handy for trips to Mcdonald's. Getting in and out is easy, thanks to the sliding rear doors which come in particularly useful in tight parking spaces. Isofix points are fitted to the outer seats, making it easy to fit child seats, while you can squeeze three adults side-by-side if required.
You won't find the front seats lacking in terms of space, either. There's loads of headroom and the driving position isn't particularly van-like, with plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. You'll find plenty of storage for your odds and ends up front, while there's enough room between the driver and front-seat passenger to ensure you won't be bashing elbows.
There are a variety of different media systems available on the dashboard. The standard Caddy uses a basic 6.5-inch system which can stream music from your phone via Bluetooth or play the radio but not a lot else. A bigger 8.25-inch display is standard on Caddy Life models, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to use third-party apps on your phone for things like navigation.
An even larger 10-inch display is available as an optional extra, bringing with it built-in navigation. We'd also recommend ticking the box for the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit, replacing the dials behind the steering wheel with a digital display.
What's the Volkswagen Caddy MPV (2021) like to drive?
If you live in a city centre or just don't cover many miles each year, we'd recommend a Caddy with the 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine. This produces 114PS and 220Nm of torque, which means it's sprightly enough for a van-based people carrier of this size. It's very quiet and refined, with enough performance on hand for overtaking slower-moving traffic or building up speed on a motorway slip road.
The petrol engine is available with a six-speed manual (in the standard Caddy) or seven-speed automatic gearbox (exclusive to the Caddy Life). We've driven the latter and it's the one to go for – it suits the car's relaxed turn-of-pace, although there is occasionally a slight hesitation from a standing start. On the move, though, the gear changes are surprisingly rapid and civilised.
Although it's not very 2021 to say so, a diesel engine still makes a great deal of sense in a car like the Caddy. The 2.0 TDI is a punchy performer, particularly the higher-powered 122PS model with 320Nm of torque. An entry-level 102PS version is also available.
Engines aside, the Volkswagen Caddy is remarkably car-like to drive. That's true for a lot of van-based people carriers, but the latest Caddy shares its chassis with the latest Golf (along with a whole host of other Volkswagen Group models), and it's much more agile than something like Peugeot Rifter.
Its new electrically-assisted power steering means you can twirl the Caddy around in the tightest of spots, while its narrow windscreen pillars and big mirrors provide excellent visibility. The best thing about the Caddy is it just isn't that intimidating – you won't need to worry about driving something the size of, well, a van.
It's also very comfortable on the move. Unlike the old Caddy, the new model uses conventional coil-spring suspension which is able to soak up bumpy road surfaces without a fuss.