The new VW Caddy Cargo

The new VW Caddy Cargo

You don’t need a Caddy to win the best drive competition.…but it helps!

Fore! Well, five actually – that was the shout from Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) when it introduced its fifth generation Caddy van towards the end of 2020, the first arriving on these shores exactly forty years ago. Unfortunately, Covid restrictions meant that, at the time of the official launch, we were only able to compete a couple of driving loops in the vicinity of the company’s Milton Keynes headquarters in a left-hand drive to boot. Even so, it was quickly apparent that the new Cargo version was being teed up for a serious whack at what is a highly competitive and generally impressive sector of the small van market.

On this occasion we would have a full week to become properly acquainted with our new driving companion, the Cargo Commerce Maxi 2.0TDI six-speed manual version, to judge whether – like its golfing namesake – it really can carry the load in all weathers, is resolutely dependable, acutely aware of its surroundings and is guaranteed not to flag whatever is put in front of it!

With worldwide sales of more than three million and counting, the Caddy has never been short of admirers. However, the company had clearly taken the decision that, as the 2020’s approached – and with competition intensifying – the time was ripe for a complete makeover from the ground up, utilising Volkswagen’s MQB platform, which is common to most of its cars, including the new MK 8 Golf. As a result, it’s got more usable space than ever before as well as a bold new look and class leading interior.

The length of the standard Caddy has increased by 93mm to 4,500mm thanks to a longer wheelbase offering and, whilst height is down a fraction, the actual load height has increased. It’s also a bit wider than before and, whilst actual amounts sound marginal, they have an important bearing on the load carrying potential, with the MAXI version to be able to accommodate two Euro pallets loaded from the rear or larger sliding door. Payload is around 675kg, usefully adequate but some way off class leading.

Three diesel and one petrol engine options are available with varying PS outputs and all variants fulfil the 2021 Euro 6 emissions standards and are fitted with particulate filters. A number of features, such as Active Cylinder technology on the petrol engine, have been added to save fuel, whilst the diesel engines come with a new twin dosing system that delivers a double dose of AdBlue to significantly reduce NOx emissions. You can expect a return of around 51 mpg from the Commerce Maxi, which is pretty impressive, especially with fuel prices across the board reaching unprecedented levels in recent weeks.

Road holding and load carrying ability have also been enhanced with new front and rear axle arrangements, with the old leaf spring design replaced with a more forgiven coil spring construction. New tyres with optimised rolling resistance are also standard on all new models. The overall impression is of a van which is fundamentally more modern to drive than its predecessors, so in this respect the VAG engineers have clearly met their exacting brief.

A good deal of their attention has been given over to the cab area which features a completely new dashboard and touch controls with futuristic sounding Digital cockpit available as an option. Push button traditionalists may initially struggle to get the best out of a quite sensitive Touchscreen infotainment system which varies between 6.5 and 10in. and for the first time there is an integrated ESIM which allows the driver to access mobile online services and functions of the “WE” connect, meaning the Caddy is always connected. New seating functions and switch gear, including electronic handbrake with auto hold function, and a multi-functional steering wheel – along with mostly well-appointed storage space – complete the interior upgrade.

As well as a more comfortable and fuel conscious experience, the company are also claiming that the new Caddy Cargo is now safer than ever before, as it features no less than nineteen different driver assistance systems, including trailer assist and travel assist. The latter – a first for a VW commercial vehicle – uses a combination of lane assist and adoptive cruise control for added peace of mind.

One small irritation – and it’s a personal thing – are the myriad of eco tips which flash up from time time, as if some errant schoolboy or girl is at the wheel. Do you really want to be asked, however, politely to close the windows when you want some fresh air because of aerodynamic drag? It’s a sign of the world we live in where thinking for oneself, it seems, has quite literally gone out of the window. We also found the lane keeping system a little over-zealous on country lanes…. if we want a workout we will go to the gym although, of course, it can be deactivated each time you set off if you can remember.

All in all, it’s fair to say that the new Caddy Cargo Commerce is a proper van about town and may even illicit some envious glances down at your local golf club!

On the road price for our test vehicle, which features around £3,000 worth of additional optional equipment, is a tad under £35,000 including VAT but significantly cheaper entry versions of the Cargo are available.

For further information on the new VW Caddy Cargo visit

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