First Drive: Volkswagen Caddy Maxi 4Motion

Date: Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When Volkswagen revised its Caddy light van range recently, it added a four-wheel drive 4Motion model for the first time. Previously available on mainland Europe, it now debuts in the UK in the facelifted line-up.

Increasing the chances of getting across a slippery field,  the 4Motion system runs in front-wheel drive mode the majority of the time, transmitting power to the wheels with the most grip when it detects slippage.
The vehicle itself offers no significant extra ground clearance, but no other Caddy rival offers a 4x4 alternative, giving the Volkswagen a genuine segment exclusive for those wanting a little go-anywhere ability, such as Scottish Water, which has taken on around 25 already. The nearest rivals get is the likes of the Citroen Berlingo XTR+, which offers a limited-slip differential, raised, heavy-duty suspension and under-body protection, but still only front-wheel drive traction.
On the road, the 4Motion system doesn’t make itself known, and drivers will find it pretty much impossible to tell they’re driving the all-wheel drive model.
This variant comes only in long-wheelbase Caddy Maxi form and it’s the only Caddy in the range with the 110hp version of the 2.0-litre engine, slotting between the 1.6-litre 102hp and 140hp 2.0-litre alternatives. It’s a shame the model sticks with a five-speed gearbox rather than the six-speed of the 140hp TDI.
The four-wheel drive system does, however, make the 4Motion the most expensive model in the range, at around £1100 more than the 140hp front-wheel drive van, although that money does also bring a trip computer and the hill-hold assistance system not standard on the rest of the range.
Packaging the 4x4 system means a spare wheel is sacrificed, with the less useful foam tyre mobility system being all that’s available to get you back on the road. Fuel economy also suffers at the hands of the all-wheel drive system’s extra weight – the 4Motion manages an official 42.8mpg, compared with the 2.0-litre 140hp model’s 46.3mpg, while CO2 emissions are 174g/km against the more powerful two-wheel drive’s 161g/km. Payload is the lowest in the range at 690kg, thanks, again, to the heavy four-wheel drive system, losing 62kg against the 140hp TDI Maxi, so if weight is a priority then bear this in mind. The 4.2cu/m loadspace, though, is the same as the rest of the Maxi range.
Apart from the all-wheel drive system, the Caddy 4Motion follows the vein of the rest of the revised range, re-nosed to take on more of the new Amarok and revised Transporter family face.
There will be a select few that find the extra versatility of the 4Motion useful, just as there have been with the Caddy’s bigger brother Transporter 4Motion, mainly if they tow or need to traverse slippery but flat ground. It’s no off-roader, but the Caddy 4Motion usefully fills a little niche.

 

Verdict
Not cheap but unique in the sector and could be just the ticket for some operators. A welcome addition to the range



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