Volkswagen has a history of bringing car-like comfort and convenience to the commercial vehicle market. Spoiler alert, the new Caddy keeps up that momentum.





What we love
  • Punchy but frugal engine
  • So much interior storage
  • Ideal refinement for long days at the wheel

What we don’t
  • Rear-view camera not up to snuff
  • More physical buttons would be helpful
  • Standard safety inclusions short of contemporary expectations

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Introduction

City-sized vans with a modest payload may not match the sales volumes of bigger vans, but for many small businesses they’re an absolute business essential.

The 2022 Volkswagen Caddy used to be the star of its segment. Year to date in 2021, one in every two small vans in the class was a Volkswagen (51.8 per cent market share) followed by the Renault Kangoo (31.9 per cent) and Peugeot Partner (16.3 per cent).

This year that’s changed dramatically. In 2022, the Kangoo leads (54.8 per cent), the Caddy falls to second place (32.6 per cent), and the Partner still struggles (12.6 per cent), but the van market, as with all other segments, has its share of supply issues.



Surprisingly, some of the big hitters from the next class up, Toyota, Hyundai and Ford, don’t play in the segment below.

With the new Caddy 5 range, it starts at $34,990 plus on-road costs for the short-wheelbase Caddy Cargo 220TSI petrol in six-speed manual guise, and rising to $45,990 plus on-road costs for the Caddy Maxi Crewvan 320TDI seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. That’s before venturing into the passenger Caddy Life and camper-ready Caddy California ranges.

Shown here is the Caddy Cargo TDI320 pairing the shorter of two available body lengths with the more powerful of two available diesel engines. Pricing starts from $41,990 in this guise before options and on-road costs.



This combo comes as auto-only, and pairs a 90kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that makes for a pleasantly capable package on the road.

Key details 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo TDI320
Price (MSRP) $41,990 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Candy White
Options None
Price as tested $41,990 plus on-road costs
$46,575 drive-away (Melbourne)
Rivals Peugeot Partner| Renault Kangoo

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Up front, the new Caddy Cargo borrows heavily from the interior design themes put in place by the new Golf.

It’s modern and fairly fuss-free, but in the case of the Caddy storage has been prioritised. In something of an interesting mix, though, some legacy parts from the Golf actually spoil the Caddy’s versatility.



First, the basics: with a tall glasshouse, forward and side visibility are excellent. The seats are comfy, and the step-in height felt nice and natural – no stepping up and no stooping down.

The driver grips a leather-wrapped steering wheel, which is no doubt nice when it’s new, but feels out of place in a work vehicle, and is sure to show signs of wear pretty quickly on heavy-use vehicles.

The dash itself is littered with receptacles, making it ideal for keeping invoice books, tape measures and tablet devices close at hand. There’s a huge bulkhead at the top of the windscreen that can hold yet more odds and ends, and the doors provide plenty of space to tuck things away too.

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It does seem a little odd that with a stubby little electronic gear selector, Volkswagen kept it between the front seats – this could have easily moved to the dash and allowed more storage in the console. Instead you get a slim little pen tray next to the gearshifter, and a pair of shallow cupholders and lidded console behind.

At the business end, the cargo bay is a bare box, with a non-slip painted floor covering, and a rear bulkhead with a window separating the cabin from the cargo compartment. The Caddy Cargo SWB comes standard with no side glazing, a sliding rear door on the left, and rear barn doors.

It’s possible to factory-order dual side sliding doors, a lift-up tailgate, and side glazing – but with inset body pressings where the glass lives, it’s also easier to opt for bonded glass post-purchase unlike flat-sided previous-generation Caddys, which required less secure rubber channel glass mounting.

In the cargo area there’s 3.1 cubic metres of cargo volume. The rear doors provide maximum dimensions of 1234mm wide and 1122mm tall for loading, but the sub-catch to open the doors past 90 degrees is a little fiddly, low down and hard to reach.

There are six tie-downs in the floor and LED lighting overhead. Its payload is rated at a maximum of 724kg.

2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo TDI320
Seats Two
Cargo volume 3100L
Length 4500mm
Width 1855mm
Height 1856mm
Wheelbase 2755mm

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Infotainment and Connectivity

With close ties to the Golf range, Volkswagen has revolutionised the interior by pulling out individual buttons and controls, and moving them to the touchscreen.



The standard display is an 8.25-inch screen, which hosts wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, the rear-view camera display, and FM radio – but no AM or digital radio. The system also provides access to vehicle settings, trip computer data, and air-conditioning and ventilation controls.

That latter item is a little contentious. To access air-con control you need to tap the climate shortcut, either on screen or via the ‘clima’ button, and then adjust the fan or temp via the touchscreen.

It adds unnecessary steps to the process, and the system was regularly unresponsive, reverting back to start-up settings and not registering user inputs. Not ideal, and a problem never presented with physical ventilation controls.

Aside from that, though, Volkswagen’s system is user-friendly enough to be liveable day-to-day. The user interface is logical, and allows plenty of vehicle settings customisation to set up the driver assist settings, and adjustments for things like wipers and mirrors to customise the car to your liking.

The driver faces traditional analog dials, with speedo, tacho, fuel and temp dials. A small multi-function display in between offers a digital speedo, trip computer data, plus service, AdBlue and media settings, depending on the screen chosen.

Steering wheel controls for the display live on the right spoke of the steering wheel, with cruise-control buttons on the left. These are intuitive to use, and stick with physical buttons rather than Volkswagen’s newer (and frustrating) capacitive controls.



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Safety and Technology

Commercial vehicle variants of the new Caddy range are officially untested according to ANCAP. The closely related Caddy People Mover does come with a five-star result awarded in 2021.

The big difference between the Caddy Cargo and the rated Caddy People Mover comes down to standard safety equipment. The Caddy Cargo comes with city-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) , lane-keep assistance, and a rear-view camera. Airbag coverage includes a front centre airbag (to protect against collisions between front occupants), first- and second-row curtain airbags, plus front-seat forward and side airbags.

Two optional equipment packs allow additional safety and driver assist tech to be added. The Driver Assist Package adds AEB with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert (plus digital radio, black-painted door handles and mirrors, plus mirror heating and power folding) for $2750.

The Comfort Drive Travel Assist Package adds the above features, but also adds lane-keep assist, park assist with front and rear park sensors, cyclist and oncoming vehicle (when turning) AEB intervention, plus digital driver’s display, and keyless entry and start. It adds $5000 to the price.

2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo TDI320
ANCAP rating Untested
Safety report Link to ANCAP report
(for the related Caddy People Mover)

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Value for Money

Even at the most affordable end of its range, the Volkswagen Caddy doesn’t scrap for budget-priced kudos, starting well above rivals from Peugeot and Renault. That said, the Caddy TDI320 tested here, from $41,990 plus on-road costs, doesn’t feel out of its depth.

The combination of a strong standard equipment list and a willing and powerful engine means the Caddy can defend its price premium a touch. The need to add safety tech is a bit of a sore point at the price – but at least those optional equipment groups add features unavailable in rivals.



The Caddy is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty (though in some commercial-use cases distance may be limited to 150,000km).

Through Volkswagen’s capped-price service program, the first five individual services will cost $490, $695, $490, $781, and $490 respectively. The more affordable option is a pre-paid Care Plan service package at $1500 for five years – a saving of $1446 compared to pay-as-you-go servicing.

At a glance 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo TDI320
Warranty Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1675 (3 years), $2946 (5 years)
$1500 (5 years) pre-paid

Volkswagen rates official fuel consumption at a frugal 4.9 litres per 100km. Obviously, in the case of a van with variable payloads and use cases between users, this baseline figure may not be repeatable in the real world.

After a week of city stops and urban use, with a light load wherever possible, we recorded 7.6L/100km. With a fairly fresh engine, this has room to improve as the Caddy runs in.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 4.9L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 7.6L/100km
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel tank size 65L

The Caddy TDI320’s 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine produces 90kW and 320Nm, making it fairly under-stressed for an engine of its size.

Performance is robust, however. That generous torque figure, on tap from as early as 1500rpm, is always on hand to keep things moving smartly in city traffic.



Noise suppression is good too. There’s some diesel noise signature through the rev range, but overall it’s a serene place to spend long hours behind the wheel.

Your fit-out in the rear will no doubt make a difference, but even with nothing on the floor to absorb noise, highway cruising in a bare van was quite manageable thanks to the rear bulkhead keeping noise out of the cabin.

Light and nimble on its feet, the Caddy feels entirely car-like to drive. It’s easy to navigate through tight streets and narrow parking pays.

It does carry some issues. The rear-view camera offers a skewed view, which can make it hard to accurately line up in a parking bay. Worse still, the camera is mounted to the rear door, so it swings out of the way if you open the cargo bay to back up to a loading dock.

A smarter option would be for Volkswagen to top-mount the camera on barn door models, at the middle of the body, to avoid both issues.

The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is quite well-behaved. It’s super slick and smooth on the go, and doesn’t disgrace itself when reversing uphill or trying to make small positioning adjustments.



Ride quality is the one giveaway that you’re just driving a van, not a bare-bones Golf.

With a view to 724kg of payload, the ride can be bouncy and fidgety with nothing on board. Add in some ballast over the rear axle and things improve, though there’s always a somewhat heavy-duty feel to the on-road behaviour.

Key details 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Crewvan TDI320
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power 90kW @ 4250rpm
Torque 320Nm @ 1500–2500rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Power to weight ratio 59.0kW/t
Weight (tare) 1524kg
GVM 2250kg
Payload 724kg
Tow rating 1500kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle 11.4m

Conclusion

Commercial vehicle buyers used to be handed the short end of the stick when it came to comfort and refinement. Over the last few years that’s changed, and Volkswagen continues to hone the experience with the new Caddy.

For that improvement, buyers will need to have deeper pockets, and still they won’t ever mistake the Caddy for an Audi.

Be that as it may, robust performance, a decent array of creature comforts, and a workplace that’s fundamentally good in terms of physical comfort and refinement means the Caddy does move the segment forward.

It might not be positioned as a low-cost fleet darling, but for owner-operators who see the value in rewarding themselves, Volkswagen’s smallest van has plenty to offer.



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Ratings Breakdown

2022 Volkswagen Caddy TDI320 Cargo

7.8/ 10

Performance

Handling & Dynamics

Driver Technology

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Fuel Efficiency

Value for Money

Fit for Purpose

Kez Casey

Kez Casey migrated from behind spare parts counters to writing about cars over ten years ago. Raised by a family of automotive workers, Kez grew up in workshops and panel shops before making the switch to reviews and road tests for The Motor Report, Drive and CarAdvice.

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