This year, the FOCUS team was fortunate enough to enlist the Volkswagen Caddy Crew Bus 1.6 seven-seater for our trip to the Nampo Agricultural Trade Show
You can’t miss the sign as you make your way through the various streets of the massive Nampo Park. “Amarok Avenue” it proclaims. Following the road to the Volkswagen (VW) stand, two Amaroks – one a new Dark Label, the other the 165 kW V6 – stand proudly in their displays at the corner of the block, the Amarok Avenue street sign signalling to the show’s visitors that they have arrived…
For the FOCUS team, it was an early arrival at Nampo as we left the big smoke of Johannesburg long before dawn. The first stop on arrival was, naturally, the VW stand where we noticed that those two Amaroks were not the only big attractions. The entre VW van range, from Caddy to Transporter and Crafter, was on display – but each with some sort of conversion to show its versatility.
And the Caddy Crew Bus certainly is versatile. Even though the 1.6 model sits on the short-wheelbase platform it offers seating for seven, set in a two-three-two configuration. The rearmost seats are easily accessed through the wide-opening side sliding doors and easy-to-fold second-row seats. However, adults will find the third row a bit too tight for comfort (it’s perfect for children, though).
Luckily, there was no need for anyone to be relegated to the back seats on our trip, so they served as storage for our gear. Speaking of which, the load compartment measures only 190 litres with all three rows in place, but the rear bench can be easily unlatched and removed; freeing up 918 litres. Need more space? Remove the second row as well and 3 200 litres is available.
The full interior floor is rubber lined (complemented by durable, sturdy interior plastics), while four lashing eyes allow for cargo to be secured. In terms of payload, 807 kg is the limit, while towing capacity is 650 to 1 300 kg (braked).
At first, we suspected that the 1,6-litre naturally aspirated petrol unit would be underpowered for use in the Caddy (a two-litre diesel is also available, in two states of tune). However, coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox, its 81 kW and 155 Nm is delivered smoothly and proved to be just enough (OK, the Caddy wasn’t loaded to maximum capacity…) for our purposes.
It also proved to be more frugal than we had expected. VW claims it’ll return 7,2 l/100 km on the combined cycle, and we managed to match this with a mix of long-distance and town driving during our time with the vehicle.
With its well-sorted, typically VW ride characteristics, the Caddy proved a comfortable long-distance cruiser – though we did notice more road noise than expected, the Caddy riding on optional 16-inch Bendigo rims fitted with 205/55 rubber.
Also fitted to our car (and all well worth opting for) was rear park-distance control with audible and visual feedback; the Comfort Package (cruise control and front fog lights); The Light & Sight Package (Bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights); the Composition Media interface with Bluetooth, Apple and Android connectivity, multifunction leather-covered steering wheel and rest assist; as well as front side and curtain airbags.
Dual front airbags are standard, as is traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes with VW’s Automatic Post-collision Braking System, and an electronic diff lock.
Before options, the Caddy Crew Bus 1.6 retails for a reasonable R289 400. It’s backed up by a two-year/unlimited mileage warranty, and 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. A three-year/60 000 km service plan is optional with the 1.6.