Forty years in the past, Volkswagen launched the Caddy as a small pick-up. Now, it is unrecognizable, having change into a line of strong-margin vans, MPVs and campers.
Whereas some OEMs shelve and even throw away former huge promoting mannequin names, Volkswagen is doing the other. And having nice ends in the method.
The Caddy has embraced revolutionary change over the a long time. Despite the fact that the primary technology debuted in Europe on the finish of 1982, the Rabbit pick-up had by then existed within the USA for 3 years.
The most recent mannequin collection is manufactured on the Antoninek plant in Poznan by the German big’s Business Automobiles division. Which additionally implies that it is retailed by way of gentle commercials dealerships in most nations.
Due to Polish labor charges and massive manufacturing quantity, the still-new fifth technology is already displaying indicators of being one of many CVs division’s star performers. Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge has additionally been fast to use the increase in campervan gross sales, providing a number of Caddy variants.
XL, L and now M or M+ sized Californias
I made a decision to check out the brand new long-wheelbase campervan simply earlier than winter started to chew.
The California Maxi equipped for the take a look at got here with a 90 kW 2.0-litre diesel however there are two different decisions within the Caddy line-up, these being a 75 kW (102) model of the identical capability TDI plus an 83 kW (114 PS ) 1.5TSI.
Having solely 122 PS is not what you’d name ample however 320 Nm of torque makes up for that. Plus, the load of even this top-spec prolonged wheelbase variant is not extreme.
Handbook transmission comes as customary for some alternate powertrains although the GBP36,954 (together with VAT) press tester had a seven-speed DSG.
MQB platform shared with Ford
The brand new Caddy is among the first Volkswagens to be launched as a part of the corporate’s gentle industrial autos three way partnership. Its equal is the Tourneo Join twin, though for now, there is no campervan variants of the Ford.
Among the best advantages of the California is the truth that it is a factory-fitted camper. Homeowners will admire the solidity which appears to be returning to Volkswagens, that making use of equally to the development of the mattress and mini-kitchen because it does to how the doorways clunk shut.
When it isn’t in sleep mode, the Cal-Max has 5 seats, an nearly ridiculous quantity of head room, sensible and tough-looking (however not feeling) cloth upholstery and fairly an excellent sized boot.
Maxi means an even bigger boot
The double mattress is simple to set-up, though even after folding (or eradicating) the again seat, you continue to have to slip every entrance seat ahead and tilt their backrests out of the best way.
The cozy mattress is in three sections and it is similar to a settee mattress, albeit with thinner padding and plastic springs. Dimensions are 1,980 by 1,070 mm.
The tailgate is top-hinged and that gives a bit of canopy when you’re cooking on the single-ring hob. This slides out from a cupboard behind the again seats, and the fuel bottle is hidden subsequent to it.
Extra a automotive to camp in than a campervan
There is not any sink, bathe or fridge so that is extra of a automotive you camp in reasonably than a correct campervan like VW’s bigger fashions. You do, nonetheless, get a desk and two chairs, every of those folding up for storage in a particular slot close to the fuel canister.
For privateness, there’s clip-on curtains that are simple sufficient to connect. It is equally easy to get out and in of mattress by way of guide sliding aspect doorways.
The take a look at automobile had a hard and fast glass roof. Whereas that may not be too welcome in summer time, throughout the chilly nights of my sleeps, it was sheer pleasure to float off to the rain pattering above.
One thing which may rework this compact mannequin into a very spacious one is an non-obligatory tent. This attaches to the again of the automobile and supplies a great deal of lined area out of the solar or rain.
It is easy to make the Maxi a forty thousand pound automobile, with numerous choices accessible. There are additionally packs of comfort options, akin to what Volkswagen calls California Plus. This features a central armrest up entrance with two cup holders, a 230V inverter and three-pin UK socket, tinted rear glass, two USB factors and electrical doorways.
Deliver again the buttons
There aren’t many issues to criticize within the Cali Maxi however sadly, it is the standard Volkswagen touch-controls which annoy. Why can we not have a quantity dial? And that very same hit or miss slide management can’t be seen when it is darkish. Additionally, some actual HVAC buttons would make these capabilities quicker and safer.
No less than the automated transmission change works fantastically, simply because it does within the Golf. One other bonus is an A/C system which quickly clears the condensation off what’s a considerable amount of glass after an in a single day cease. And at last, the standard of plastics is excellent and higher than what you would possibly count on from a van-based automobile.
Volkswagen does not fairly have the smallest California’s phase to itself however it’s actually one of many main gamers on this measurement class.
Gross sales are understandably brisk not simply in Britain however in all method of different regional European markets. Deservedly so too, because the automobile is generally brilliantly designed and engineered, with solely the infotainment system in want of a rethink.
Caddy California costs begin at GBP33,524 (4,501 mm lengthy and a pair of,755 mm wheelbase 102 PS 2.0-litre TDI guide), rising to £38,120 for the (4,853 mm & 2,970 mm) Maxi 122 PS 2.0-litre TDI DSG).