2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo launch review

  • Doors and Seats
  • Engine
  • Engine Power
  • Fuel
  • Manufacturer
  • Transmission
  • Warranty
  • Ancap Safety

The fifth generation of Volkswagen’s popular little delivery van has arrived Down Under bringing with a new platform and increased levels of comfort.

  • Punchy 2.0-litre turbo diesel
  • Seven-speed dual-clutch is a gem
  • Nicely-designed interior

  • No AM radio. Really, Volkswagen?
  • Lacking some key standard safety items
  • Priced at the upper end of the segment

The Volkswagen Caddy has always been a sensible choice for those needing a smaller delivery van, something not as large as more conventional ‘white van’ cargo carriers.

Small businesses flock to this segment, lured by the practicality of hauling goods in a package that doesn’t feel big on the road.

Volkswagen’s fifth-generation Caddy continues a tradition that began in 1980 in, of all places, the United States.

A quick bit of Caddy history. Volkswagen had been playing around with more practical variants of its then still new, but already exceedingly popular Golf. A Golf-based station wagon and ute were conceived and, unsurprisingly, Volkswagen of America was all over the ute and the Volkswagen Rabbit was born.

Europe didn’t get VW’s range of compact Golf-based light commercial vehicles until 1982, but unlike in the U.S., they launched wearing the Caddy nameplate.

It’s been in production ever since, through five successive generations which brings us here to the all-new 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo.

Volkswagen has brought a decent range of the Cargo Caddy to Australia, with two wheelbase lengths, respectively SWB and Maxi, with either a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine (220TSI) or a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, the latter available in two states of tune (280TDI and a more powerful 320TDI).

The range starts at $34,990 plus on-road costs for the short wheelbase Caddy Cargo 220TSI in six-speed manual guise and maxes out with the Caddy Maxi Crewvan 320TDI fitted with Volkswagen’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that asks for $45,990 plus on-roads.

In between a further eight variants bolster the range to 10, and that’s before we count the Caddy (sans Cargo) and Caddy Life people mover range, and Caddy California camper models, which add a further six variants.

At launch, we sampled the short wheelbase Caddy Cargo, fitted with the more powerful 320TDI diesel engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. It kicks off at $39,990 plus on-road costs, before options.

It came to us in pretty basic trim, and that meant sitting on 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, no side windows in the cargo area, black front and rear bumpers and an absence of niceties such as DAB+ or even AM radio, FM the only broadcasting frequency available.

It’s a Caddy in its purest form then. That’s not say it’s not without some level of comfort and convenience.

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Standard across the Caddy Cargo range are automatic headlights with daytime-running lights, an 8.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth seats, LED interior lights, front and rear cabin 12-volt sockets, a multi-function display between the analogue gauges, and two USB-C ports.

Rivals for the Caddy include the Renault Kangoo and Peugeot Partner, all fitting nicely inside the small delivery van template so popular in Europe’s tight and congested cities.

Key details VW Caddy Cargo 320TDI DSG
Price (MSRP) $39,990 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Candy White
Options None
Price as tested $39,990 plus on-road costs
Rivals Renault Kangoo | Peugeot Partner

While delivery vans of old have tended to ignore driver comfort, the new generation of urban cargo carriers have gone some way to acknowledging that the driver and passenger potentially spend a full workday inside the cabin.

The Volkswagen Caddy, in this most basic trim, is a comfortable place to be. The seats are trimmed in a textured cloth that looks nice and feels, on first impressions, durable.

An 8.25-inch colour touchscreen hosts the Caddy’s infotainment and while it’s simple enough to use, lacks some of the features one could reasonably expect, like AM or DAB+ radio. Digital radio can be optioned, but the exclusion of AM radio seems like a mis-step.

There’s no sat-nav in this spec either, meaning guidance has to come via the standard fit Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The flat-bottomed steering wheel, nicely-stitched in leather, feels nice in the hand. It’s adjustable for both tilt and reach, ensuring the optimal driving position is easily to hand. There are paddle-shifters too, although why remains a mystery. This is a delivery van, after all.

Visibility out front is excellent, the Caddy’s cabin fitted with a generous glasshouse. That doesn’t extend to the sides, however, in the cargo area, where the lack of windows hampers reversing. Windows can be optioned though.

Helpfully, the dividing partition between the passenger compartment and cargo area is see-through, offering the best of both worlds – sound deadening and visibility. It’s a must, in our opinion, especially where some vans continue to be fitted with a solid bulkhead.

Storage options abound, with the obligatory shelf in the roof capable of taking all manner of accoutrements a delivery driver might need, such as order books, clipboards and the like.

There are a couple of cupholders in the centre console, one of which is fitted with a removable ashtray. There’s no covered central storage bin, with a shallow storage cubby good for phones and wallets and not much else while the dashtop features more shallow storage although we’d question the wisdom of having stuff sliding around in front of the driver.

The real work in the Caddy Cargo happens out back though. Volkswagen claims 3.1 cubic metres of cargo capacity in an area measuring 1614mm wide and 1272mm high. That’s good enough for a standard European pallet, according to VW.

In terms of weight, the Caddy Cargo’s payload in this 320TDI spec is rated at 724kg with a gross vehicle mass of 2250kg.

Access is via either a passenger-side sliding door with an aperture of, in our case thanks to the inclusion of a partition between the cargo area and passenger compartment, 695mm wide and 1096mm tall.

The standard fit barn doors out back (a more conventional tailgate can be optioned) offer even better access, the aperture measuring 1234mm wide and 1122mm tall. For even better access, the barn doors can open up to 180 degrees too, via a lever on the door hinge. Standard opening is 90 degrees.

Inside, a plastic-lined floor is fitted with six tie-down hooks to help keep loads nice and secure. There’s lighting back there too, as well as a 12V plug.

VW Caddy Cargo 320TDI DSG
Seats Two
Cargo volume 3.1 cubic metres / 724kg payload
Length 4500mm
Width 2100mm
Height 1856mm
Wheelbase 2755mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

The 8.25-inch touchscreen offers crisp graphics with decent resolution although in this spec is limited in its standalone functionality. No DAB+ radio (it’s an option) is joined by a lack of even the most basic AM radio, with only FM to keep occupants entertained.

We reckon deleting AM frequencies is poor form. There’s only so much Classic 90s rock you can listen to before craving some more in-depth coverage, the kind only AM radio seems to be able to provide.

Still, smartphone mirroring is your friend here and in the Caddy it works seamlessly, quick to pair and easy and intuitive to use. There are two USB-C plugs in the front console, joined by a 12V plug.

Satellite navigation is also consigned to smartphone mirroring, although this is no bad thing, with phone mapping often more accomplished than native GPS systems.

The uncluttered cabin extends to the climate controls, with a dash-mounted shortcut button firing up the requisite menu on the touchscreen where you can adjust fan and temperature settings. We’re really not a fan of this tech, preferring dials and switches, but as is often pointed out, you set it once to the optimal temperature, then forget about it. Fair point.

A small digital information screen is nestled between two analogue dials and it’s basic in its functionality but with enough information on driving data for most. Helpfully, it can display a digital speedo, a must for anyone spending eight to 10 hours a day on the road.

The rear-view camera is essential in a vehicle with no side windows out back and in the Caddy Cargo, it’s a decent one, with clear images offering a decent view behind the van. Rear cross-traffic alert would be a boon, but it’s an option in the Cargo bundled into the $2795 Driver Assistance pack that also adds blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and DAB+ radio, among others. Cheeky.

The Volkswagen Caddy Cargo remains untested by Australian safety body, ANCAP. And while it’s fitted with a basic suite of advanced safety tech, such as autonomous emergency braking that works at city speeds and a driver fatigue monitor, it misses out on other tech that have become accepted and commonplace in today’s landscape. Yes, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist can be optioned, but they form part of a $2795 bundle.

Other safety items include a suite of airbags for driver and passenger including side and curtain. For vehicles that spend as much time on the roads as these humble delivery vans, we’d like to see more safety features fitted as standard.

VW Caddy Cargo 320TDI DSG
ANCAP rating Untested

The Caddy Cargo’s pricing certainly has it placed at the upper end of the segment where a Renault Kangoo long wheelbase in diesel trim asks for $32,490 plus on-roads. That’s some stiff competition in a segment where price matters more than some others, the cost of business always front and centre in the minds of operators, who are likely to form the bulk of Caddy buyers.

Volkswagen covers the Caddy Cargo with its standard five-year/unlimited km warranty. Servicing for the 320TDI is scheduled every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first and is priced at $1546 over three years/45,000km or $2731 for five years/75,000km.

Volkswagen claims the 320TDI fitted with its seven-speed dual-clutch auto will use 4.9 litres of diesel per 100km. Our launch loop saw an indicated 5.7L/100km. It’s worth noting, the stricter Euro 6 compliant 320TDI requires Ad Blue at around 11,000km intervals, according to the driver display.

At a glance VW Caddy Cargo 320TDI DSG
Warranty Five years/unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months/15,000km
Servicing costs $1546 (3 years), $2731 (5 years)
Fuel cons. (claimed) 4.9L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 5.7L/100km
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel tank size 50 litres

Volkswagen’s Euro 6 compliant 320TDI 2.0-litre turbo diesel lives under the bonnet of our launch Caddy Cargo. It’s good for 90kW at 4250rpm and a decent 320Nm between 1500-2500rpm. Drive is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission.

And right off the bat, it’s a perfectly willing and capable powertrain, with enough poke from standstill to not leave you floundering and decent rolling acceleration when more is needed for an overtake or merge, say.

That’s partly down to the very usable 1500-2500rpm torque band, with peak twisties available nice and low in the rev band. That makes for effortless and unstressed driving, emphasised by the mature tuning of the DSG which displays none of the hesitation that transmissions of this type of old were known for.

Out on the highway, the Caddy Cargo settles into an easy lope, never really feeling stressed or under-powered. The caveat here, our short launch drive was taken without the maximum allowable 724kg payload in the back so adding some cargo could have an impact.

Similarly, the unladen ride proved smooth and effortless, a highlight found in how quickly the Caddy Cargo settled over speed bumps and the like. No wallowing, no fussiness, just a simple settling back onto its haunches.

Around town, the Caddy is perfectly happy to dart about tight laneways and city streets, feeling light and agile, always feeling balanced and poised. That’s down to the Caddy’s new MQB architecture that also underpins the Golf. It’s been tuned to work as a van, of course, but the inherent quality of the Golf’s chassis shines through in this application.

There’s some road noise, although the chubbier tyres on our 16-inch steel wheels go some way to mitigating the worst of it. So too the partition between the cargo area and front passenger compartment, which deadens the worst of the ‘booming’ sound some vans (without bulkheads) tend to display.

The steering remains light and with an 11.4 metre turning circle, the Caddy is easy to manoeuvre around town. Parking is easy too, thanks to the crisp rear-view camera and rear parking sensors. Front sensors would be nice too, but they’re only available as an option. Still, the short stubby nose of the Caddy and clear visibility out front, doesn’t present too much of a challenge to parking.

There are two drives mode too, three if you count manual which can be activated by the steering-wheel mounted paddle-shifters. They seem a bit incongruous in this context, but using the stubby gear lever to select ‘Sport’ mode doesn’t.

Like the broader VW range, Sport mode adds some revs and a willingness for the DSG to hold onto gears longer. And there’s a sweet, yet ever so subtle, blip on the throttle on downshifts. Necessary in a van? Not by a long shot, but it does add some aural fun to the driving.

Expect fuel consumption to climb, though, if left in this mode permanently. Throttle blips don’t come for free at the pump.

Key details VW Caddy Cargo 320TDI DSG
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power 90kW @ 4250rpm
Torque 320Nm @ 1500-2500rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Power to weight ratio 58.9kW/t
Weight 1529kg (tare) / 2250kg GVM
Tow rating 1500kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle 11.4m

The Caddy Cargo feels accomplished on the road. The perkiness of the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel married to the smooth nature of the DSG auto makes for an easy-to-drive package. It feels more carlike than vans have in the past, no bad thing in a segment that has sometimes suffered at the hands of the ‘that’ll do’ engineering philosophy.

Volkswagen has clearly taken care with the Caddy, although we lament the lack of standard safety tech and some, what really should be standard, inclusions.

But, in terms of spending time behind the wheel and a lot of time at that, the 2022 Volkswagen Caddy Cargo is a comfortable, reasonably specified delivery van. Expect to see more of them behind the person standing at your front door with your packages in hand.

Ratings Breakdown

2021 Volkswagen Caddy TDI320 Cargo

7.8/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Rob Margeit has been an automotive journalist for over 20 years, covering both motorsport and the car industry. Rob joined CarAdvice in 2016 after a long career at Australian Consolidated Press. Rob covers automotive news and car reviews while also writing in-depth feature articles on historically significant cars and auto manufacturers. He also loves discovering obscure models and researching their genesis and history.

Read more about Rob Margeit