The Caddy started its life in Europe in 1982, but can trace its lineage back to 1979 and the VW Rabbit Pick-up in the US. Based on the mk1 Golf, there was even a Caddy Sport – a sort of pick-up GTI if you will – and I remember testing one for a magazine in the early 1990s (a rare machine – if you have one let us know, and hang on to it).

By 1995 the Caddy was a panel van, sharing its design with the Seat Inca, a short-lived model once Seat was deemed to be the sporty badge within the VW empire. A later VW attempt at a return to the pick-up sector was a Skoda Favorit-based flop, and other than briefly re-badging the Toyota Hilux as the VW Taro, Volkswagen would not return to pick-ups until the Amarok…

What you get

This third generation of the Caddy appeared in 2003 – facelifts in 2010 and 2015 expanded the range and gave sharper styling – and a revised engine range, post VW emissions scandal, offered more power and torque plus met the Euro6 regulations.

The Caddy’s 1.6- and 2.0-litre TDI engines are well-proven within the Volkswagen Group, powering everything from the TT to the Transporter. They  offer four power outputs: 75hp and 102hp in the 1.6-litre, with the 2.0-litre boasting 110hp and 140hp. That’s right up there with VW and Audi ranges of sporty hatchbacks and more than enough power for the working day, but the 75hp might be a little weak for continual fully laden or towing tasks.
The LWB Caddy Maxi and Caddy Maxi Life add another dimension to the range – quite literally, with a 320mm  longer wheelbase than the standard-wheelbase sibling.

The Caddy Maxi Life features two rows of seats and  a cargo volume of 0.53m3. Both rows of seats can  be folded or removed entirely to create 3.7m3 of space. Various limited editions such as the Black are not really worth the extra money, however.

The standard panel van will suffice for most. It has a 682kg payload with a volume of 3.2m3, derived from a load box of approximately 1.8m long, 1.5m wide and 1.2m high. The LWB has 2.25m of load length equating to a volume of 4.2m3 with payloads up to 745kg, depending on the version. For rural or construction site applications there is the 4Motion four-wheel drive model too. The Caddy has come a long way from its days as a pick-up in the US and is all the better for it.


Very few faults are known across the Caddy and Caddy Life ranges. An airbag deployment issue was the only serious recall. Check with VW dealers against the VIN number that it’s been done, and although VW has an enviable reliability reputation, a full service history is a must, particularly with later Euro5 and Euro6 engines and 4Motion models.

Go For…

  • 102hp engine
  • Trendline trim
  • LWB Maxi version
  • Standard roof
  • Caddy Life version

Don’t Touch

  • 75hp engine
  • Startline trim
  • ‘Black’ limited edition
  • Tow pack
  • Dealer editions