Volkswagen Caddy Life Diesel Estate

Find out the facts on a specific derivative

The new Volkswagen Caddy Life diesel is a small family car that is derived from the larger Volkswagen Caddy van. No bigger than the Volkswagen Golf, it comes with five seats as standard, but can be ordered with  7.

If you want a small car that is spacious, well-built and which comes with a gargantuan boot, the VW Caddy Life represents a sound bet. It’s not the most stylish car around (far from it), but this is about as  practical  as mini MPV’s get.

OSV takes a closer look with our Volkswagen Caddy Life diesel  review.

Overview Of The Volkswagen Caddy Life Diesel

On The Road

There are three engines to choose from, starting with an entry-level 1.2-litre petrol that can develop 83bhp. It takes a rather sluggish 14.7 seconds to cover the 0-62mph dash and requires you to work it really hard – especially on a full load.

A 2.0-litre diesel engine that packs 148bhp is a  lot quicker, covering as it does the 0-62mph sprint in less than  10 seconds. It will cost significantly more than the petrol unit, though.

Volkswagen Diesel Caddy Life review

Our pick of the engines is a 2.0-litre diesel that’s good for 101bhp, and which gets you from rest to 62mph in a modest 12.9 seconds. It is considerably slower than the other diesel, but it’s an effective cruiser. Moreover, there is lots of pulling power here, and it doesn’t need you to work it like a dog on a full load. You can upgrade the engine to BlueMotion spec for an extra £1,800. Doing so will boost  efficiency and economy – but not by a great amount.

Either diesel turns the Caddy Life into a solid  motorway cruiser. Distances are covered with consummate ease, but exterior noise does have a tendency to seep through into the cabin a tad too much. The manual transmissions change gear smoothly, but you can opt for a DSG automatic ‘box if you prefer.

The suspension setup does a  grand job of absorbing the bumps and lumps from poorer road surfaces and keeps you comfortable enough. The steering is precise and solid, but the car’s van-based underpinnings are shamelessly exposed when you tackle tight bends.

Interior, Design & Build

Volkswagen Diesel Caddy Life review

If you’re looking at this car, the chances are that you’re prepared to forsake a plush interior for the last word in practicality. You probably don’t care too much about exterior styling. Which is a good thing, because this isn’t a looker. After all, it’s based on a van.

However! The interior is  surprisingly alright. VW decided not to use parts from its commercial vehicles for the cabin, but instead cherry picked bits and pieces from is cars. The result is a well-built dashboard that isn’t too dissimilar to the one you’d find in the Golf, as is the switchgear. There are hard, scratchy plastics  here and there, but the overall durability and robustness is something that will appeal to families.

Ride quality is  largely good, but it doesn’t benefit from the brand’s newest MQB passenger car platform technology. It’s generally comfortable, but you will feel the larger bumps.

There are a whopping seventeen storage compartments inside here, while adaptable seating improves flexibility. Volkswagen’s advanced tech is also present, including  adaptive cruise control  and  emergency braking.  And despite its compactness, there is a serious amount of space available in here. Five adults have oodles of leg and headroom, while a third row of seats is an option.

Access to the rear is easy, thanks to sliding doors, and if you fold the rear seats down, the boot measures 2,850-litres. That’s gigantic. And thanks to a huge tailgate, loading your suitcases is simple.

As well as being super practical, it’s also a really reliable car. Euro NCAP awarded it four out of five stars  for safety, which suggests that it’s a solid enough MVP. There are lots of safety features included as standard, including electronic stability control, while autonomous braking is a very useful optional extra.

Equipment

There is a decent amount  of standard equipment available, including a DAB digital radio, a 5” touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, daytime running lights and a heated windscreen.

Opt for the mid-range TrendLine model and you’ll also get cruise control and parking sensors, with the range-topping HighLine trim adds an alarm, climate control, as well as rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Volkswagen Diesel Caddy Life review

Costs Of The Volkswagen Caddy Life Diesel

Prices for the new car start out from around £19,000 and rise to just over  £26,500. If you want to lease it, you’d be looking at paying somewhere between £190 + VAT  per month and  £530 + VAT per month depending on what you specify.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as efficient as most other cars offered by Volkswagen, and this is largely down to its boxy design. Basically the fact that it’s based on a van. Having said that, it isn’t painfully inefficient.

The 1.4-litre petrol unit is the thirstiest of the lot, and won’t be able to return better fuel economy than 47.1mpg. It emits 138g/km of CO2.

The BlueMotion will cost you a bit extra, but it adds a bit of extra power to the 2.0-litre diesel unit and can achieve very respectable fuel economy returns of 65.7mpg. The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel achieves returns of 55.4mpg.

Pros and Cons Of The Volkswagen Caddy Life Diesel

Pros:

Cons:

Very Practical

Practicality is what you’re probably concerned about the most, and the Caddy Life is easily one of the most practical cars in this market. Its seating arrangement is flexible, with the option of a third row of seats available, while seventeen storage spaces is unrivalled.

Robust Build Quality

No, it isn’t very smart looking either inside or out, but it is robustly built. Think of it like a hulking bodyguard who will protect you. It’s big, bearded and will never let you down.

Easy Access

Cars like this can live or die by how easy they are to access. Even if you opt for the seven-seat variant, rear seat access is fantastic thanks to the sliding doors.

Not A Looker 

Not everyone will be concerned that this car fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. But if you want your mini MPV to look stylish, you’ll have to look elsewhere. When VW dreamed this vehicle up, style wasn’t even an afterthought.

Expensive

It  isn’t cheap and will cost you more than most of its closest rivals. In fact, it costs almost £7,000 more than the Fiat Doblo.

Moreover, important safety tech such as adaptive cruise control doesn’t even come as standard.

Volkswagen Caddy Life Diesel  vs Ford Focus C-MAX  vs Citroen Berlingo Multispace

Let’s see how it measures up against its rivals in the comparison section of our Volkswagen Caddy Life diesel review.

Volkswagen Caddy Life Diesel  vs Ford Focus C-MAX 

Volkswagen Diesel Caddy Life review

The new Ford C-MAX is practical, good-looking and even fun to drive.

Although it’s obviously considerably bigger than the Ford Focus hatchback, the Ford C-MAX  still manages to drive just like it. It’s overall fun to drive, despite a few discrepancies. For example, the suspension is a bit too firm for our liking.

The steering, though, is responsive and accurate, while torque vectoring system is available across the range as standard. The is a solid selection of engines available, beginning with a set of EcoBoost petrol units that are perfect for if you’re not going planning on making too many long journeys. The 98bhp 1.0-litre unit takes 12.6 seconds to get from a standstill to 62mph, while the 123bhp variant covers the same distance in 11.4 seconds.

The diesels are our preferred pick, though, because performance doesn’t matter a great deal in a workhorse like this car. The 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel is the standout choice, and it covers the 0-62mph dash in 11.3 seconds. It’s also really economical, and can return 69mpg.

And speaking of fuel economy, the petrols don’t fare too badly at all, thanks to EcoBoost technology. The least powerful 1.0-litre petrol unit can achieve returns of 55.4mpg, while the more powerful of the two can do the same.

The Ford’s dashboard is not going to be to everyone’s taste, and some of you will find it overly fussy. The seats are also not the best as they are a bit too firm. They are, however, supportive, while the high driving position is good for visibility. Overall, the cabin is a comfortable place to be. It’s even a bit stylish, thanks to a piano-black centre console and some smart dials.

Speaking of style, the Ford is better to look at than the Caddy Life. It’s undergone a facelift, and its design was inspired by the 2009’s Iosis MAX. It’s a really practical car, too. There are plenty of cabin storage spaces dotted here and there, and a high roof line gives you plenty of headroom. The boot holds 432-litres of space with all the rear seats in place.

Price:

Volkswagen – £19,000 – £26,500

Ford – £18,000 – £26,000

Volkswagen Diesel Caddy Life review

Volkswagen Caddy Life Diesel vs Citroen Berlingo Multispace

Volkswagen Diesel Caddy Life review

The new Citroen Berlingo  is about as handsome as the VW Caddy Life. It’s also not fantastic to drive, but it is practical and represents a cheaper alternative.

The Citroen Berlingo  was put on this planet to be a workday vehicle, and it performs this task  uncomplainingly. It’s not quick, but it is reliable and solid. And when the conditions are good, it responds in kind and perks up.

It’s got more in common with a van than a car, but thanks to a recent engine update, there is a bit more pace and power in its ranks now. The entry-level 1.6-litre 94bhp petrol unit takes 12.8 seconds to cover the 0-62mph “sprint”, but the turbocharged 1.2-litre 108bhp petrol unit is a better choice.

The diesel engines suit the car’s nature well. The cheap BlueHDi 75 74bhp diesel unit should be avoided, but the 98bhp BlueHDi 100 is a safe bet, and takes 12.4 seconds to get you from rest to 62mph. It returns the exact same fuel economy as the BlueHDi 75 74bhp – 65.7mpg.

A 1.6-lite petrol VTi95 unit is a decent performer, but it can only achieve returns of 44.1mpg.

Take a look at the Citroen Berlingo Multispace and you can see that it’s based on a van. It isn’t pretty, but neither is the Caddy Life. However, having commercial roots means there are plenty of practical advantages. Head, leg and shoulder room is very good, and the car can easily accommodate seven people.

The dashboard is more  functional than stylish, but it is jazzier than it was before an update. There is some advanced technology in here that gives the cabin a fresher feel, but overall the interior is quite crude. You won’t have to look far to find scratchy plastics.

Storage spaces are literally everywhere, while the boot is measured at 675-litres. Fold the rear seats, and you can extend this to 3,000-litres.

Price:

Citroen Multispace – £13,500 – £19,000

Volkswagen Diesel Caddy Life review

Verdict Of Our Volkswagen Caddy Life Diesel Review

This car is  not a trend-setter when it comes to interior or exterior styling, and it never will be. But if you want bags of cabin space and a more practical nature than an odd-job man, it’s a  super safe bet.

Solidly built, spacious and reliable, the new Volkswagen Caddy Life might be more expensive than its rivals, but it’s unbeatable when it comes to quality.

Want to learn more? Click below to view the review for the competitors in this article…

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