Review: Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life (2008 – 2015)
Sensibly priced seven-seater with enough space for seven and their luggage, huge loadspace with seats removed.
Rearmost bench seat does not fold and has to be removed to free up space, noisy on the motorway.
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Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life (2008 – 2015): At A Glance
We’ve become used to small vans being turned into affordable people carriers. The likes of Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat have all successfully adapted commercial vehicles into passenger cars that offer great space. They’ve never been particularly sophisticated or refined, with a back to basics image, but that hasn’t prevented them from becoming increasingly popular.
Volkswagen is no stranger to this market either. In the past it has launched Life versions of its Caddy van but the model found few fans. Now there's the larger Caddy Maxi. The big news is that it’s available with seven seats and offers bags of passenger room and stowage.
It's certainly not much of a looker. Despite alloy wheels and colour-coded bumpers there’s no disguising the boxy van shape. On the plus side the Caddy Maxi Life has space. Lots of space. Passengers in the middle row will find plenty of knee room plus there’s bags of headroom thank to a high roof.
The sliding doors make getting and out simple – and they’re useful if you have to fit child seats in tight spaces. The third row is useful but it is a fixed bench and as a result lacks flexibility - the back can be folded down to increase the boot capacity but if you need more space the whole seat has to be removed, and it’s an awkward and cumbersome procedure.
If you can see past the boxy styling you’ll find that the Caddy Maxi has fantastic passenger space and plenty of storage too. Having a third row of seats means it has a clear advantage over competitors but it’s quite expensive for what it is.
What does a Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life (2008 – 2015) cost?
Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life (2008 – 2015): What's It Like Inside?
The German firm describes the Caddy Maxi Life as a practical but compact car for customers who want more versatility and space than a conventional people carrier. But is it as well finished and family friendly as a purpose built MPV?
Its commercial vehicle origins are very evident up front. While the layout is typical Volkswagen, it’s not particularly inspiring. The soft touch materials we’re used to from Volkswagen are replaced by hard plastics and it lacks sophistication.
For load lugging though the Caddy is excellent and its van-base has plenty of advantages. A wide and square rear opening makes loading bulky objects easy, there’s no load lip and the boot floor is very wide.
The extra seats are a strong Caddy Maxi Life selling point. The rearmost seats offer decent space, although the high floor means kneeroom is cramped for taller passengers – plus they aren’t particularly comfortable. Plus the seat is fixed and doesn’t flip forward – instead you have to remove it.
Practicality is excellent though and thanks to its van base there are lots of storage options. As well as a dash top cubby, large door pockets and an overhead area there are two clever underfloor bins in the middle row.
Thanks to sliding doors on either side, access for rear passengers is straightforward. They’re also useful in tight car parks while the middle row folds forward so getting into the rearmost seats is simple. The sliding windows are old fashioned though.
What's the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life (2008 – 2015) like to drive?
The Caddy Maxi Life was originally available with the dated 1.9 TDI diesel - a Volkswagen mainstay for many a year. It's an older PD engine as oppose to the newer common rails Volkswagen has since switched to and it shows. It's noisy and the power delivery is not very smooth.
But that said, it has enough poke and feels strong enough for the caddy Maxi Life. It comes with a positive shifting five-speed manual as standard or a DSG automatic as an option.
The more powerful engine is a 2.0 TDI with 140PS. This is another engine that's used widely across the Volkswagen range and you'll find it in plenty of Golf models and the likes of the Passat. It's considerably quieter than the 1.9 TDI and has plenty of low down torque making it a perfect fit for the Caddy Maxi Life if you're going to be towing or regularly have a car full of passengers and luggage.
Eventually a much improved 1.6 TDI replaced the old 1.9 TDI. With 102PS the 1.6 TDI may have similar power but it's a far better engine all round with less noise and a much smoother feel on the move with less vibration. It's also economical with BlueMotion models averaging a claimed 54.3mpg.
What do owners think?
Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.
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