What Car? says...
We’ve seen popemobiles for the Pope – and the Volkswagen Caddy could be the vehicle of choice for an episcopate of bishops.
How so? Well, the Caddy is a van-based MPV, and because of its boxy, upright shape, it has a huge amount of head room inside for five – or even seven – members of the cloth to travel together in full regalia.
Volkswagen builds the Caddy in two lengths, so you can opt for the standard wheelbase version with five or seven seats, or the longer wheelbase Caddy Maxi, which has seven seats as standard.
It's based on the VW Caddy Cargo van and comes with a petrol or diesel engine. (If you want an MPV you plug in rather than fill up, check out the Citroën e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Rifter and Vauxhall Combo-e Life.)
Now, you might be thinking that because the Caddy is based on a van, it won't be particularly good to drive, and that you'll be better off with a more obviously car-like MPV. Well, beneath the tall frame of the Caddy (and the Caddy Cargo) lies a VW Golf – and that’s not a car that's ever been accused of being untidy on the road.
So how does the Volkswagen Caddy compare with the best MPVs on sale? This full review will answer all your questions, including how good the performance is, which engine is the best, how it handles, how much luggage it can carry and what the running costs are like.
Remember, if you do decide to buy an MPV – or any new car or van – you could save thousands by looking at the best prices on our free What Car? New Car Deals service. It has loads of very good van-based MPV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Volkswagen Caddy MPV comes with either a 112bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine, or a 2.0-litre diesel with 101bhp or 120bhp. They're all available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but if you go for the petrol or the most powerful diesel, you can select a seven-speed double-clutch automatic instead.
We’ve driven the 120bhp 2.0-litre diesel and the 112bhp 1.5-litre petrol, both with the auto gearbox. This is not a quick MPV: 0-62mph takes 11.8sec in the diesel and 11.9sec in the petrol, so there are plenty of faster MPVs. Still, the performance on offer is sufficient to cope with motorway journeys with little fuss, even with a fully loaded car.
The automatic gearbox is slightly hesitant to get going, but on the move it delivers quick and smooth gear changes. We've tried the six-speed manual in the VW Caddy Cargo van and it has a slick, purposeful shift action.
The diesel engine is a bit grumbly at idle and really needs the extra seventh gear to keep engine noise low at a cruise. The steep windscreen and chunky door mirrors mean there's more wind noise than more car-like MPVs too.
The driving experience in the Caddy MPV is fortunately very car-like, with accurate steering and strong brakes, much like the related VW Golf. Ultimately, though, due to its height and weight, it can’t match the composure of the best MPVs – the VW Touran for example.
The Caddy's ride on the standard 16in wheels is as pleasantly supple as in the Dacia Jogger and body lean is less than expected (despite the Caddy's height) even if you try hustling it along to test the ample levels of grip.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The Volkswagen Caddy driver's seat has plenty of reach and rake adjustment to help you find the most comfortable driving position. You’ll need to opt for the pricier Life trim to get adjustable lumbar support, though.
You’ll also need to upgrade to Life to get front and rear parking sensors, while a rear-view camera is reserved for the options list. The Caddy's big windows give you good visibility, but it's still a bit disappointing that rear sensors don't come with the cheapest trim – as they do on the Dacia Jogger. If you opt for the Ford Tourneo Connect you get sensors all around along with a reversing camera as standard.
The Caddy’s low-rent interior is a bit disappointing too. There are no soft-touch plastics at all, which makes the similarly priced and plushly furnished VW Touran look like a steal. It compares even less favourably with the Jogger, with its tasteful cloth trim and satin chrome accents standing out against the more basic interior of the Caddy.
There are a few storage options dotted over the dashboard and central console, which also has twin cupholders.
The entry-level Caddy comes with a DAB radio with Bluetooth connectivity. Life trim adds an 8in touchscreen infotainment screen, DAB radio and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity. A bigger 10in screen with built-in sat-nav is available as an option, which is a bit mean considering the cheaper (and mechanically identical) Tourneo Connect gets that screen across the entire range.
Neither screen is faultless. The menus are arranged in a very confusing way and there are no physical shortcut buttons to take you quickly from one feature to the next. Even changing the volume of the radio can be fiddly, and is best done using the physical buttons on the steering wheel.
The similar-sized infotainment touchscreen in the Touran is much more user-friendly, with some real knobs and touch-sensitive shortcut controls.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Volkswagen Caddy can be had in short and long wheelbase ‘Maxi’ forms, with either five or seven seats. So far, we’ve tried the Caddy in its shortest form with five seats, while we’ve tried the closely related Ford Tourneo Connect in Grand long-wheelbase with seven seats, so this section is based on our experiences with both.
The rear in both wheelbase sizes is wide enough to allow three adults to sit side by side with only mild shoulder rubbing. Leg room isn’t particularly generous in the standard wheelbase version, though, and you can't slide the seats back and forth (as you can in the VW Touran).
The way the two front seats are arranged means the two outer back-seat passengers have to sit slightly skewed to fit their feet under the seat ahead of them. The Maxi, with its much longer wheelbase, allows for the rear seats to be pushed back further, liberating more leg room, so the Caddy Maxi is the one to go for if you regularly transport taller people.
In both versions, the boxy and tall dimensions mean you'll find plenty of headroom in the back for even exceptionally tall adults.
The third row (if specified) is mounted fairly close to the floor, so under-thigh support is lacking. Leg room is tolerable for adults (more so than in the Seat Tarraco and VW Tiguan Allspace third rows), while head room is excellent.
You get twin sliding rear doors, but there’s a high sill to clamber over to get in, which might cause problems for passengers with mobility issues.
Boot capacity is excellent in five-seat configuration for either wheelbase option, especially with the optional third row removed. Official capacity as configured would be 1100 litres for the shorter model, or 1452 litres for the Maxi, so any size of pushchair or bicycle will fit in. If you fold or remove all the rear seats, you’ll have yourself a removal van. Standard wheelbase models with all seven seats in place have a very small boot, but the similarly equipped Maxi has a decent amount of cargo space behind its rearmost seats.
As with many van-based MPVs, the rear boot hatch is a huge panel that requires a certain amount of clearance to open, so make sure you don’t park too close to anything behind you. You can’t specify an electric tailgate as you can with the Tourneo Connect.
There's no handy glass window you can open independently to grab smaller items, which is a shame. You can get one of those on the electric van rivals (the Citroën e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Rifter, and Vauxhall Combo-e Life).
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The entry-level Volkswagen Caddy isn’t as affordable as you might expect. It costs thousands more than the Ford Tourneo Connect and the seven-seat Dacia Jogger undercuts it by a huge amount. Indeed, if you go for our preferred Life trim, it’s more expensive than our 2022 MPV of the Year – the VW Touran.
Fuel economy and emissions are respectable for this type of vehicle, with the petrol besting 40mpg and the diesels getting into the mid-50s mpg.
If you're looking for an MPV as a company car you'll be far better off if you go for an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. The Citroën e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Rifter and Vauxhall Combo-e Life have very low company car tax rates.
The Caddy benefits from a staggering number of safety aids – most of which have been borrowed from the current VW Golf.
You get automatic emergency braking (AEB) with cyclist and pedestrian detection, along with lane-keeping assistance as standard. Adaptive cruise control and road-sign detection are all optional. It’s little wonder then that the Caddy has a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. The same can't be said of the Touran because its rating has expired.
As a brand, Volkswagen ranked a rather unexceptional 22nd out of 32 car makers in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey – higher than Ford, but way behind Dacia. Every Caddy comes with a three-year or 100,000-mile warranty (the Touran's mileage limit is 60,000 miles).
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
The Caddy is built at VW’s plant in Poznan, Poland. Read more here
|RRP price range||£27,418 - £36,196|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||3|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||41.5 - 58.9|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 100000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,672 / £2,242|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£3,344 / £4,484|