Motoring / Motoring News
It would be fair to assume that when compiling a list of overused sayings, the adage ‘‘standing the test of time’’ more than likely places in the top five when referring to a particular vehicle.
While timeless examples from yesteryear unashamedly deserve this connotation, there are exceptions which will more than likely result in a raised eyebrow or a sneering remark for being a downright anomaly in such exalted company. As such, when it comes to applying this axiom to one of those bizarre models, look no further than the Volkswagen Caddy.
Although Wolfsburg revealed an all-new model last month, the outgoing Caddy lives up to the mentioned adage by virtue of not having only maintained its grip on a rapidly shrinking segment, but by having the ability to blend versatility with the premium expectations of the Volkswagen badge.
At the same time, it has made the segment its own in recent years, as rivals from Citroën, Ford, Peugeot, Renault and more recently Opel, have come and in some cases, gone for good without so much as making a blemish on its seemingly undented appeal as the perfect anti-crossover/SUV.
With the curtain soon to fall on what is essentially a 17-year old model that still rides on the PQ35 platform that underpinned the fifth generation Golf, the likely final encore had one last trick up its sleeve when an innocuous Chestnut Brown Metallic example was assigned to yours truly for the customary seven-day stay.
As unexpected as its arrival had been, the real surprise of JD 75 RX GP was that it was the entry-level Trendline that first touched down two years ago. It was therefore also a chance to get reacquainted after having spent the 2018/2019 festive season in the flagship 2.0 TDI Alltrack DSG.
Devoid of the Alltrack’s off-road inspired exterior add-ons, the Trendline cuts a more stylish figure – if that can be applied to a van – with the most recent facelift five years ago having brought a reshaped grille and redesigned bumpers, new headlights, blacked-out rear light clusters, a new tailgate with an integrated spoiler and body coloured door handles. The main point of content though is the 16-inch Bendigo alloy wheels which appeared slightly lost in the spread-out arches.
Inside, the true age of the Caddy becomes apparent with the design looking dated and the placing of the 6.5-inch Composition Media infotainment system far too low despite being easy to use. Bizarrely, the various plastics not only felt better than those of the Alltrack, but more premium and softer to the touch than that of the T-Cross. More on this later.
Equipped with Bluetooth, USB and App Connect, the system forms part of an impressive standard specification list that includes front electric windows, heated and folding electric mirrors, a decent six-speaker sound system, Climatic air-conditioning, cruise control, daytime running LEDs, bi-xenon headlights and rain sense wipers as part of the Light & Sight package, six airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, Automatic Post-Collision Braking, Hill Hold Assist and Traction Control. Options fitted included a removable towbar (R7 365) and Park Assist with front and rear sensors plus a reverse camera (R9 433) that lifted the as-tested price to R384 298.
As praiseworthy as the Caddy’s specification sheet is, it pales in comparison to the space on offer. Unlikely to attract murmurs relating to a lack of head-or-legroom at any stage, dual sliding door aid entry/exit with the highlights of the myriad of storage areas being the overhead compartment and drawers underneath the front seats. The pièce de résistance however is the boot which offers up to 750 litres as standard, but expands to a humongous 3 030 litres with the rear seats tilted-up or removed.
An area where the Caddy was expected to fail was underneath the bonnet. In Trendline guise, the familiar 1.0 TSI engine has been selected, but tuned to a worryingly low 75kW/175Nm. With 1 403 kg to move, it came as a shock to find the blown three-pot being responsive and with just enough squirt to move the Caddy along with little fuss, though this changed when presented with a few inclines.
Tasked with sending the amount of twist to the front wheels is a five-speed manual gearbox that is both slick and precise, but saddled with a rather peculiar foible. Due to the low mounted infotainment system and stubby gear lever, on more than a few occasions when shifting up, my knuckles would come into contact with the lower half of the display that has been finished in rather scratchy plastics which could result in a few cuts without due care.
On the open ride, the Caddy performed admirably with a soft and compliant ride, plus a nicely weighted steering. Despite offering sufficient levels of road noise deadening the familiar three-cylinder thrum was noticeable but not overbearing as one might have thought. Far off though was the rated fuel consumption which came to a best of 6.8l/100 km in mixed conditions, well off of the claimed 5.6l/100km.
It goes without saying that the Trendline has been a worthwhile addition to the Volkswagen Caddy range as it manages to offer the model’s practical prowess at a more attainable price. However, as impressive as it is, it will still face an uphill battle from the pricier Trendline TDI, a battle which it is unlikely to win with ease.
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