In terms of facelifts, Volkswagen Commercial’s revamp of its Caddy line-up amounts to more than a nip here and a tuck there.
Not only does the baby in the brand’s van portfolio now sport the latest family look, bringing it in line with the Transporter and forthcoming Amarok, but it also has two new common rail engines to replace the powertrains on the current, third generation Caddy that went on sale in the UK in 2003.
The new model, featuring 1.6-and 2.0-litre diesel engines, arrives in UK showrooms in November following its global unveiling at the Hanover commercial vehicle show in September.
Volkswagen claims the engines are 13% more fuel efficient than the meaty (particularly in the case of the 1.9) but less refined 1.9 and 2.0 litre units they replace. All the new engines deliver more than adequate performance to cope comfortably with the demands of motorway driving and an upright driving position helps provide reassuringly good visibility.
The revised Caddy is available with a brace of 1.6-litre TDI engines developing 75hp or 102hp and two versions of the 2.0-litre TDI with a choice of either 110hp or 140hp. All units are compliant with Euro5 emissions standards. VW’s excellent seven-speed DSG automatic transmission is an option on the 102hp model while six speed DSG can be selected with 140hp. In addition, customers can now opt for 4Motion all-wheel-drive with the 2.0 litre 110hp variant. The four-wheel drive model was available on the continent in the pre-facelift Caddy, but the new model will be the first time a 4Motion Caddy has been available in the UK. It’ll only be available on the long-wheelbase Maxi model, and is the most expensive in the range at £17,800 plus VAT.
The new Caddy Maxi, which is 47cm longer than the standard model, is expected to take up to 30% of the range’s sales.?That extra 47cm costs £1250 and increases payload by just over 50kg. The Maxi is available in window van and passenger MPV?form as well as the standard elongated commercial vehicle.
Maxi Fuel consumption and C02 emissions are yet to be confirmed, but with a 50% payload, figures are provisionally set to range from consumption of 55.4mpg on the combined cycle and C02 emissions of 134g/km for the 1.6 102hp Bluemotion to 42.8mpg and 174g/km for the 2.0-litre 110hp Maxi 4Motion.
A pair of efficiency focussed Caddy Bluemotion Technology models are offered with a stop/start system and automatic battery regeneration during braking, aerodynamic wheel arch spoilers and low rolling resistance tyres. Hill hold assist and cruise control come as standard. The 102hp version has the lowest C02 output of the range at 134g/km, and this translates into a combined cycle of 55.4mpg, giving a potential range of 735 miles.
VW is keen to draw attention to the fact that at its basic list price of £12,500, the new 102hp Bluemotion Caddy is priced 0.5% lower than its 104hp predecessor. The brand claims that at just £400 more than the standard 102hp Caddy (£12,100), an operator could recover the additional cost of the Bluemotion?Technologies version within 5000 miles at the current diesel price of £1.15 per litre. The lower-emission model also gets cruise control and hill-hold assist as standard.
The new Caddy line up is, according to VW, only 4% more expensive overall but delivers 5% more value than the outgoing vans as a result of improvements to the standard kit. ESP anti-skid control, ABS, Electronic Differential Lock, Traction Control System and Motor Slip Regulation, to stop wheels slipping when there is excessive braking on low grip surfaces, are also available.
Other safety developments include new daytime running lights, and automatic activation of the hazard lights if the vehicle detects an emergency braking manoeuvre.
On the inside, the Caddy gets a full bulkhead, made up of a solid lower half and mesh upper, while the Caddy Maxi gets a full solid one. The Maxi also gets a sliding side door on both sides, compared to the smaller sibling’s single one.
In a further commitment to its environmental agenda, VW has continued the gas powered EcoFuel model into the new range. It has a 2.0-litre 109hp Euro5 petrol engine designed to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or Biomethane.
VW?UK commercial vehicle boss Simon Elliot expects to sell 12,500 Caddys in the UK this year with van variants accounting for 90% of volume. With the new model on board he is confident of a 10% hike in sales in 2011 to 13,750.
The impression that VW is trying to push its small van further upmarket is enhanced by a far quieter ride and better quality plastic and fabric in the interior, providing a more sober, sophisticated environment. The interior has been further refined by a refreshed dash, with new controls for the manual or automatic Climatronic air conditioning system and a Transporter-style three spoke steering wheel.
“The segment Caddy is in is up 25 per cent this year but we’re 40 per cent up with Caddy,” said Elliott. He said the success of the small van had enabled VW to usurp Vauxhall as the second biggest seller in the UK’s CV market. Elliott credits VW’s network of standalone CV dealerships (the brand has 64 full van centres plus 35 authorised repairers) for enabling VW Commercial to outperform the market. In contrast to some of its competitors, Elliott claims: “We have van people talking van language to van drivers.”
Elliott said smaller businesses – “the butcher, baker and candlestick maker” – are driving sales up as Caddy’s ability to retain value made it a good business proposition. With dealers desperate to get hold of used examples they were offering attractive part-exchange deals, further boosting already robust residual values, he adds.
VW expects the 1.6-litre model driven here to dominate new Caddy sales with the 102hp engine accounting for 60% of sales and the 75hp taking 35%, with the remainder plumping for 2.0-litre variants.
One customer eager to get its hands on the new Caddy is British Gas, which last year ordered 5300 to be delivered over a three year period - the biggest fleet deal in the history of Volkswagen Commercial.
Like its predecessor, which has sold 850,000 units worldwide since its launch in 2003 and commands over 20% of the small van sector in Europe, the new Caddy is
produced in Volkswagen’s factory in Poznan, Poland.
Volkswagen Commercial UK director Simon Elliott (above) has forecast a 10% hike in Caddy sales to 13,750 in 2011 on the back of a full-year contribution from the new model.
Elliott claimed the brand’s small van was already outperforming the market. “The
segment the Caddy is in is up 25% this year but we’re 40 per cent up with Caddy,” he said.
VW has confirmed prices for the new model range, which arrives in UK showrooms in November. The entry level 1.6-litre 75hp TDI version comes in at £12,100 excluding VAT while the Caddy Maxi line-up starts at £14,050 excluding VAT for the 1.6-litre 102hp TDI. The Caddy Bluemotion model starts with a basic list price of £12,500, costing £400 more than the base Caddy or Caddy Maxi, while the window van version of the Maxi is another £200 on top of the Maxi’s £1250 premium over its 47cm shorter brother.
VW has introduced a new range of common rail TDI engines to the Caddy. Two 1.6-litre TDI units developing 75hp and 102hp are joined by a 2.0-litre TDI engine available with 102hp or 140hp. The 102hp Caddy Blue Motion, employing a stop/start system, has the lowest C02 output of the Caddy line-up at 134g/km.
Elliott claimed: “The new Caddy has 5 per cent more value in terms of specification than the current model but is only 4 per cent more in price.” The 1.6-litre 102hp engine is expected to be the best seller, accounting for up to 60% of volume.
Rather like the old advertisements for Stella Artois beer, VW likes to view its products as, if expensive, then reassuringly so.
Elliott described the pricing of the current generation Caddy as “very competitive” but emphasised that the brand had not resorted to offering discounts. “People perceive VW at the top of the price range but we’re also top for RVs and value for money,” Elliott said. He drew attention to the £189 per month contract hire deal VW Commercial Vehicle Finance continues to offer on the Caddy. “There’s fantastic back end value. With no discounts offered there’s no negative equity on the vans,” he said.
Elliott was more reticent about prospects for VW’s forthcoming pick-up, the Amarok. With the sector down 25% year-on-year, he said the brand was “finalising pricing” prior to the January launch. “We must be cautious about how we launch it,” he said.
The improvements to the already well-liked Caddy do a good job of improving its appeal. The greater efficiency, classier exterior looks and more appealing interior are all welcome, and improvements to the standard equipment should compensate for slight price rises ?