Cynics may question the timing of Volkswagen’s decision to introduce petrol engines to its UK Caddy range so soon after the defeat device emissions saga dented the reputation of its diesel vehicles but there is a wider anti-NOx movement building that could mean having a petrol option available in the line-up makes sound strategic sense, especially for urban-based operators.
Petrol engines are less economical for long-distance motorway assignments but have more going for them if employed in lower mileage city-based work. And when it comes to Euro6 models – they don’t need topping up with Ad Blue either.
The new Euro 6 Caddy petrol engine range consists of a 1.2 84hp 5-speed manual, a 1.0 102hp 5-speed manual and a 1.4 125hp unit with either the 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG gearbox available on both Caddy panel van and the Caddy Life passenger carrier.
The fourth-generation Caddy panel van continues to be available in three trim levels – Startline, Trendline and Highline – and with short or Maxi wheelbases.
Specification starts from a generous base - all models come with an infotainment system with DAB radio, Bluetooth, and safety features such as the brand’s recently-developed post-collision braking system, which the new Transporter also gets. This reduces the severity of secondary crashes by automatically applying the brakes if the driver is no longer able to do so.
We got behind the wheel of the top trim C20 Caddy Highline EU6 1.4 TSI 125hp short wheelbase van with the 6-speed manual gearbox.
As one would expect with a VW light commercial the build quality is beyond reproach – everything is firmly bolted together and the doors shut with a reassuring clunk. The interior is classy in an understated, businesslike sort of way and, although its styling is perhaps a little over serious, it is free from the sort of frivolous and gimmicky features, such as patterned fabrics and fussy dashboard colour schemes, that can quickly lose their appeal.
On the outside the Caddy 4 is not radically different to its predecessor, it has a sharper, more angular front end, with crease lines either side of the bonnet, and new lights to the front and rear.
The 1.4 TSI powertrain is extremely refined and works smoothly in conjunction with the slick six-speed box, especially in town, while the top gear is welcome on dual carriageways, where we found road noise to be slightly more intrusive than expected. Output of 125hp ensures a lively drive and nippy performance that means the Caddy can hold its own against most of the enthusiastic hatchbacks it encounters. We averaged 24.7mpg when city driving, according to the dash display.
Overall the Caddy gives an impression of built-to-last solidity and the Highline, in particular, offers plenty of additional equipment such as alloy wheels, front fog lights, daytime running lights, climatic air conditioning, a heated front windscreen, an automatic dimming rear view mirror, a Thatcham category 1 alarm and windscreen wipers with intermittent control and rain sensors.
But much of the most useful kit is already included on the lower trim versions. All models now get a lockable glove box and the rake and reach adjustable steering column is included from the entry-level Startline.
Trendline vans bring on board cruise control, parking sensors, a multi-function display, driver’s lumbar support with eight-way seat movement and under-seat storage as well as other cosmetic additions to the base model like wheel covers and body-coloured bumpers, mirrors and door handles.
The Highline we tested came laden with optional extras including adaptive cruise control (£211), leather multifunction steering wheel (£192), the Discover Media navigation system for a hefty £485,Winter Pack (headlight washers, heated washer jets, washer fluid level indicator, heated driver and passenger seats, auxiliary electric air heater) £432 and Front Assist (£230). All prices exclude VAT.
Adaptive cruise control is useful on motorways in maintaining safe distances while, perhaps of more benefit on an urban-based petrol model, Front Assist warns the driver when the van is too close to the vehicle in front in city traffic and can apply emergency braking if the driver fails to react in time.
|Volkswagen Caddy Highline EU6 1.4 TSI 125hp, six-speed manual|
|Price (ex VAT) £ 16,790|
|Price range (ex VAT) £13,500 - £21,455|
|Insurance group tbc|
|Service intervals 10,000mls|
|Load length 1781mm|
|Load width min/max 1172mm/1552mm|
|Gross payload 643kg|
|Load Volume 3.2m3|
|Engine size/power 1395cc/125hp|
|On sale November 2015|
|Combined fuel economy 47.9mpg|
The petrol-powered Caddy retains the high quality virtues of the diesel and provides a viable alternative for urban-based operators