A lower roof and more streamlined shape make the new Caddy less van-like. Picture: SUPPLIED
A lower roof and more streamlined shape make the new Caddy less van-like. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Caddy is essentially the Swiss Army knife of Volkswagen’s vehicle lineup. It has served as a family multipurpose vehicle (MPV) and van of which more than 3-million units have been sold worldwide.

Now VW has unveiled its fifth-generation Caddy, and every detail from the ground up is new, starting with a design that looks less utilitarian than before.

The vehicle is a huge leap forward, says the German carmaker, and its smarter new design comes with more interior space, high-end technologies and driver-assistance systems.

Built on the same MQB platform as the new, eighth-generation Golf, the 2020 Caddy sports a more dynamic and streamlined shape and is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor. Front and rear LED lights, and wheels up to 18 inches in size further diminish the “blue collar” look even though the tall roof is still unmistakably panel van-inspired.

VW calls the newcomer a “smartphone on wheels” due to its networked infotainment and digitalised control systems.

A modern new digitised dashboard and connectivity. Picture: SUPPLIED
A modern new digitised dashboard and connectivity. Picture: SUPPLIED

A far cry from its humble origins as a basic van, the new Caddy gets a modern cockpit with a touch screen infotainment system and optionally fully digital instruments. An integrated eSIM allows the car to access VW’s We Connect mobile online services.

Another leap into the modern era are digital buttons for light, sight, audio and menu functions. VW says the rotary switch for light has served its time, though various menu functions can still be reached quickly and easily through direct-access buttons.

Available for the first time is a keyless access ignition and locking system, and a panoramic sunroof.

As before the Caddy comes in standard (4,501mm long) and extended-wheelbase (4,853mm) Maxi derivatives, with up to seven seats that fold down to increase loading space.

It will again have Cargo panel van and passenger-carrying versions in basic, Life and Style spec levels.

The cabin is larger and the seats flip down, or can be removed, to expand cargo space. Picture: SUPPLIED
The cabin is larger and the seats flip down, or can be removed, to expand cargo space. Picture: SUPPLIED

The cabin has grown in size and the seven-seater Caddy Maxi now provides loading space for up to two Euro pallets loaded sideways. The twin rear sliding doors and tailgate can now be electrically operated as an option.

Driver assistance systems include travel assist, which combines lane keep assist with active cruise control to allow the car to drive itself on freeways, as long as you keep your hands on the steering wheel.

A new trailer assist function makes it easier to reverse while towing, and rear traffic alert helps prevents you from reversing into unseen traffic.

In the wake of the Dieselgate controversy VW has gone on an emissions cleanup and claims the Caddy’s TDI units are among the world’s least-polluting diesel engines.

The range of cleaner-burning four cylinder engines includes 2.0l diesels with power outputs ranging from 55kW to 90kW, while the turbocharged 1.5l petrol engine (TSI) delivers 84kW. The Caddy’s projected fuel consumption is up to 12% lower than the previous model.

The new Caddy will go on sale in Europe later this year, with an SA introduction expected in 2021.

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