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Cadillac of CVs
WANT a Volkswagen seven-seater but don't want the Touran's S$140K price tag?
There is an alternative and it's called the Volkswagen Caddy 1.4 TSI at S$15K less.
Until now, the Caddy nameplate has been better known here as a light commercial vehicle (LCV). Not anymore.
Currently, Caddy CVs are not sold here and instead, there is a passenger version with three rows of seats.
The latest VW Caddy is a compact MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), updated with the appropriate cosmetic changes.
The CV association may not be attractive to some but if you don't have any memories of its CV history, you will have no unflattering first impressions.
In fact, some people actually love the styling, with its high roof and rear sliding doors.
Both these features are practical too, as is the high seating position. If you like wearing top hats, the amazing headroom will accommodate this predilection. If you don't, you will get to enjoy an extremely airy cabin.
This airiness also means the rear doors' fixed windows should not be an issue.
For a 1.8-metre tall car, the Caddy is rather short at 4.4 metres, so there isn't too much rear legroom to spare despite the adequate 2,682 mm wheelbase. But because occupants sit upright, this is fine for second-row passengers, who also get the familiar VW folding tray tables.
But third-row passengers should be restricted to children or vertically challenged adults.
The third row is a bench seat for two and it can be folded or totally removed. The latter is a better option because it frees up luggage space although it requires two people to do so. For more legroom and boot space, there is the Caddy Maxi at 470 mm longer with a wheelbase extended by 324 mm to 3,006 mm. But the Maxi also costs S$5,000 more.
Both however have good storage space in the form of a deep overhead parcel shelf and generously sized door and side pockets.
So far, the Caddy sounds like the perfect Volkswagen but this is where the CV connection comes in - the suspension. The Caddy has front MacPherson struts like the Touran. But at the rear, it has a rigid axle with leaf springs. This arrangement is simple and strong but less sophisticated than the Touran's independent four-link rear suspension.
On the road, it doesn't feel much different except when you're cruising at higher speeds on the expressway. The ride comfort is good but the Caddy is not as composed. Neither is the steering as precise as in other small VWs and body roll is evident; you are acutely reminded of your elevated seating position.
Nevertheless, overall handling is more than acceptable, with a cabin that doesn't look any different from a typical VW.
There is a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, although there are no steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
Alcantara-lined leather seats add an uncharacteristic touch of sporty luxury, while ESP electronic stabilisation programme and front and curtain airbags are standard.
Best of all, the Caddy's construction is solid with good quality materials, even if the latter is a bit hard.
It may be the slightly different alternative but it is also a good value alternative.
Volkswagen Caddy 1.4 TSI
Engine 1,395cc inline-4 turbocharged
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch DSG
Max power 125 hp @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
Max torque 220 Nm @ 1,500-3,500 rpm
0-100 kmh 10.9 secs
Top speed 183 kmh
CO2 emissions 133 g/km
Average OMV S$25,000
Price from S$124,900 (with COE)
Distributor Volkswagen Group Singapore