In the previous issue we shared our crossover adventure with you, featuring five of South Africa’s market favourites. There was a sixth vehicle on that trip and although it didn’t form part of the story, it did fulfil a vital role: that of backup vehicle. Liana Reiners elaborates.
It was all planned out in the finest detail. We had compact crossovers, guests, a great route and spectacular accommodation. What we didn’t have was a backup vehicle. You see, our guests represented the manufacturers of said crossovers and, as such, would be driving their own vehicles. The Adventure Afrika team needed a set of wheels of our own, but what? That’s when I had a brainwave. A quick phone call to the friendly people at Volkswagen later our conundrum was solved. We would have the use of a Caddy Maxi.
I was actually rather impressed with myself for thinking of the Caddy. It was perfect for our requirements. It is practical, versatile, reliable, capable and gets the job done with no mess or fuss. In fact, in this scenario it reminded me of its namesake, the humble golfing caddie. I know it’s a stretch, but bear with me as I explain.
In golfing, a caddie has a lot of responsibility but gets very little glory. He or she must know the rules of the game, be as fit – if not more so – than the player, lend a helping hand when required, take challenges in his or her stride, carry around the necessary tools and paraphernalia, never complain and look the part. All this needs to be done while staying out of the limelight and not detracting from the real star of the show. If the VW Caddy were a person, it would make a great… well… caddie. For starters, the Caddy certainly knows how to play the game and does so rather well. It was first introduced locally in 1992 and has – to date – sold in the region of 40 000 units. The current model is the fifth generation and was launched here in February. There are nine models in total, three of them positioned as lifestyle vehicles. We drove the Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI 81kW Manual.
When it comes to being “fit”, the 1 968cc engine is good for peak torque of 300Nm between 1 500 and 2 500rpm and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. According to the official figures this model will sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 12.8 seconds and it has a top speed of 180km/h. We weren’t really interested in setting any speed records so I can’t really attest to that.
What I can say with confidence, however, is that the Caddy certainly held its own at the front of the convoy on our route through Mpumalanga and the Limpopo province. Highway cruising was effortless, while winding rural roads and mountain passes were dispatched with unceremoniously. A 60-litre fuel tank and consumption of around 7 litres/100km ensured that we could confidently skip quite a few filling stations along the way.
For us the most important aspect of the Caddy Maxi was its space and versatility. We were travelling four up and seeing that this was a five-day trip, we had quite a bit of luggage (two women in the group and all, you know!). This being a seven-seater one would expect it to be lacking in the cargo space department. Think again. Even with all seven seats in use there is still a rather impressive 446 litres of boot space available. We folded down the thirdrow seats (they can also be removed completely), which gave us a whopping 1 720 litres – more than enough to swallow a huge cooler box, camera and video equipment, one bag each and various other odds and ends. Incidentally, if you fold the second row flat too you will have 3 104 litres of cargo space at your disposal.
As its name suggests, the Caddy Maxi is a slightly stretched version of its standard-wheelbased sibling, which has five seats. This translates into ample room for passengers and while you won’t be able to stretch out, even the rear-most seats are comfortable enough for adults. A sliding door on either side makes getting in and out relatively easy. In addition, there are quite a few storage spaces around the cabin – including recesses behind the dashboard and drawers under the front seats – which come in handy if you want to hide your padkos from your fellow passengers. It’s worth mentioning that the cabin of the Caddy Maxi is practical and well laid out. It’s by no means fancy, but it does offer all the modern cons to ensure that you have a comfortable journey. Features include an 8.25-inch colour touch screen infotainment system with appconnect and reverse camera, a multifunction steering wheel, cruise control and air-conditioning with vents for the first two rows. The unit we had on test was also fitted with an optional removable trailer hitch and a trailer manoeuvring system with Park Assist. The towbar can handle a maximum weight of the 1 500kg (braked).
We spent quite a bit of time traversing less-thanperfect dirt roads on this trip, but the Caddy Maxi remained sure-footed throughout. It handled well for a vehicle based on a commercial van and the ride was comfortable over most surfaces. Just like a golf caddie it stayed focused on the job at hand, confidently going about its business as road surfaces and weather conditions changed from tar to gravel, and from dry to muddy and wet.
Vehicles as versatile and practical as the Caddy Maxi aren’t always pleasing to the eye, but in this case, it is! In the looks department the Caddy Maxi held its own against the group of compact crossovers it was leading. Sure, it’s not going to win any beauty contests, but it will definitely be in the running as Miss Congeniality. Now riding on VW’s proven MQB platform, it boasts a redesigned front bumper and new LED lighting all around that give it a modern – even futuristic – look. Overall, the styling complements the Caddy’s mixed bloodline as a family vehicle/MPV/van with a decidedly lifestyle-oriented personality. The Copper Bronze Metallic colour of model we drove added a bold and trendy touch.
The unanimous verdict was that we could not have asked for a better backup vehicle. With a list price of R601 100 and around R17 000 worth of optional extras it offers oodles of versatility and practicality. In fact, you’ll have to search long and hard to find a better overall package. It comes standard with a three-year/120 000km manufacturer’s warranty and a two-year anti corrosion warranty. Service intervals are set at every 15 000km.