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REVIEW | 2022 VW Caddy Kombi is perfect for work and play

04 May 2022 - 09:37
The Caddy Maxi Kombi is a versatile machine.
The Caddy Maxi Kombi is a versatile machine.
Image: Supplied

The multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) format is one that is likely to stay relevant for a very long time to come. Simplicity is the best form of sophistication, so the saying goes, and it rings true when you consider a product like the Volkswagen Caddy Kombi.  

Rectangular in shape, it might not win any beauty contests, but it was it designed to. This variant of the Caddy was built for various loads, including cargo of the human variety: a third row of (small) seats make it a suitable companion for growing families. A five-seater option with a longer wheelbase (more loading space) is also on offer. Whichever you choose, there is a wide variety of customisation options for differing applications. Volkswagen said its scope of buyers is assorted, from funeral parlours to police K9 units.  

Although designers are limited by the basic template of an MPV, the visual execution of the new Caddy could be described as interesting. In Kombi guise, however, it makes no bones about its status as a working class machine – no colour-coding for the bumpers, mirrors or door handles. Instead, you get hardy black plastic trimmings. It even has to make do with halogen headlamps. Our tester wore an attractive teal shade, complemented by 16-inch alloy wheels, known in the Volkswagen catalogue as the Wien variety.  

The digital screen enlivens an otherwise drab interior. The unit in the Kombi is slightly smaller. Shown here is the system from the pricier Caddy version.
The digital screen enlivens an otherwise drab interior. The unit in the Kombi is slightly smaller. Shown here is the system from the pricier Caddy version.
Image: Supplied

While interior plastics are certainly not up to the levels of those in the regular Volkswagen passenger cars, the ambience is more than acceptable. The abundance of storage bins will prove useful, including compartments overhead and large door pockets to accommodate the chunkiest water bottles. You are reminded this is a commercial vehicle by the lack of certain tactile niceties – no leatherette wrap for the steering wheel, durable cloth upholstery, zero trim embellishments.  

But you do get a digital operating concept like the one introduced with the Golf 8 GTI. Gone are the classical rotary controls for ventilation and lighting. The former is operated via the infotainment system. The latter uses a compact touchpad to the right of the driver, on the fascia. Even the interior illumination functions rely on soft-touch engagement, rather than traditional buttons that can be depressed by an index finger.  

Our test unit was the 2.0 TDI derivative, paired by default to a six-speed manual transmission. Initially, buyers might take time to grow accustomed to the springy clutch pedal, which is partly responsible for a proneness to stalling. Even seasoned colleagues commented on how easy it was to stall the diesel Caddy around town.  

Third row is best used for smaller passengers.
Third row is best used for smaller passengers.
Image: Supplied

Another gripe noted was the electronic parking brake. Often you pull it up, thinking it is activated when it is not. By the time you roll back into the nose of that Renault Kwid sniffing up your tailgate, it might be too late. Our tester flashed a warning on the instrument cluster asking us to get the system checked so it could have been that this regular non-responsiveness was isolated to our tester.  

Once on the go, the Caddy pulls fairly well, with 81kW and 300Nm at its disposal. On the freeway we saw instant consumption figures as low as 4.7l/100km. But after our test week, which included various slow traffic stints, average consumption showed 8l/100km.  

Pricing for the Caddy Kombi kicks off at R476,800 to R503,400 for the long-wheelbase Kombi Maxi. A two-year/unlimited mileage warranty and three-year/60,000km service plan are included.


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