Volkswagen Caddy Maxi — February 2008

Date: Sunday, February 24, 2008

Volkswagen's Caddy Van has just gained a bigger brother. Launched at last autumn's European Road Transport Show in Amsterdam, and about to go on sale here, Caddy Maxi Van is 470mm longer than its stablemate. The extra length comes courtesy of a wheelbase extended by 319mm and a rear overhang that's greater to the tune of 151mm, giving an overall length of 4,875mm.

As a consequence the vehicle boasts a bigger cargo area; 4.2m3 as opposed to 3.2m3. Maximum gross payload capacity is 800kg and the newcomer can tow a braked trailer with an all-up weight of up to 1,500kg depending on the engine chosen.

UK customers can pick from two four-cylinder TDI turbodiesel power packs; a 1.9-litre or a 2.0-litre. Unusually these days they both employ unit injectors rather than common rail technology.

The smaller of the duo produces 105hp at 4,000rpm with peak torque of 250Nm kicking in at 1,900rpm and is married to a five-speed gearbox. Equipped with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), its companion generates a far meatier 140hp at 4,000rpm and offers maximum torque of 320Nm over a 1,750rpm-to-2,500rpm plateau. It comes with a six-speed gearbox as standard.

Semi-Auto 

 The DPF is an optional extra on the 1.9-litre unless you ask for the engine to be married to VW's superb six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). Go that route — a sensible idea and one you're unlikely to regret — and a DPF will be included in the deal.

DSG can be used either as a manual or as an automatic. Unfortunately it cannot for the moment be combined with the 2.0-litre engine. “We will offer it with the 2.0-litre if there is a demand for it,” promises VW's worldwide commercial vehicles sales and marketing director, Harald Schomburg.

Caddy Maxi Van is marketed with a 102hp 1.6-litre petrol engine in some countries but it's unlikely to appear here. Like the standard Caddy, Maxi is also produced in passenger-carrying Kombi and Life guise.

Diesel van CO2 emissions range from 161 g/km to 182 g/km while gross weights run from 2,315kg to 2,350kg.

ABS is standard on Maxi light commercials along with a Traction Control System and Engine Braking Control. An option, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) can be ordered with Brake Assist and with trailer stabilisation if a towing hitch is specified.

Load Area 

Access to the van's cargo bay is by means of twin, asymmetric, rear doors — a single, hatch-type door can be specified as an alternative — and a sliding door on each side.

With a 3,002mm wheelbase, maximum load length is 2,250mm. Load width is 1,558mm narrowing to 1,170mm between the rear wheel boxes, while load height is 1,257mm. Rear loading height is 594mm. The side door aperture is 700mm wide and 1,108mm high while the dimensions for the back door aperture are 1,181mm and 1,116mm respectively. Maximum roof load is 100kg.

Turning to the roomy cab interior, both the driver's seat and the steering wheel are height-adjustable. There's plenty of oddment storage space and options include climate control, heated seats and a navigation system with a colour display.

On the Road 

We took to the highways of sunny southern Spain — it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it — in a 1.9-litre Maxi and our findings were almost all positive.

Built like the proverbial brick outhouse, it rides and handles well and offers an exemplary gearchange, although we'd like to see a sixth gear. There's plenty of performance on tap too and we reckon it would be perfectly suitable for high speed city-to-city motorway dashes, unless you happen to travel everywhere fully laden.

Excessive wind noise — especially from around the exterior rear view mirrors — and too much racket from the tyres were the only things that seriously marred our enjoyment. Nor were we enamoured with Caddy Maxi's rather bland styling.

Our test van was fitted with a full-height plastic bulkhead topped off by two big windows with a wide vertical solid strip between them, creating an annoying blind spot when we looked in the interior rearview mirror; our demonstrator had glazed rear doors. Fortunately this style of partition is not being offered in the UK.

In addition we briefly sampled the 140hp diesel. It packs all the punch you're likely to need in a van of this size and then some, and it's smoothly delivered; but watch out for those wretched speed cameras.

VERDICT

Caddy Maxi is without doubt a useful addition to VW's already-impressive range and one that's bound to prove popular. It's also yet another indication of the way in which the van market is fragmenting into a series of niche products closely tailored to the needs of individual users.



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