2023 Volkswagen Caddy 5 2.0 TDI Review: Diesel FTW!

Clifford Chow

The 5th-gen Volkswagen Caddy is an efficient diesel-powered workhorse with car-like drivability. We think VW is on to something here!

Photos: Clifford Chow


2023 Volkswagen Caddy 5 2.0 TDI

Launched: June 2023 – Price: S$147,400 with COE
Six-door, panel van, two seats
120hp, 2.0-litre turbo diesel, VES C, 4.8L/100km

Good infotainment system
Car like driving posture
Double-hinged rear doors
Fantastic fuel economy

On the expensive side
Reverse buzzer is way too loud

The first thing I thought of when I entered Volkswagen’s fifth-generation Caddy was how much room I had above my head. This is because we are usually more accustomed to taking cars out for drives, rather than a commercial van.

But the Caddy is a refreshing change, since most days, we would be pouring over something passenger-centric, like a BMW i4, or a Peugeot 408. Small vans like these are often very much a logistical backbone to small businesses. And at a time where some of its European counterparts here are offered only with full electric powertrains, the Volkswagen Caddy solders on with a diesel. But in my opinion, having a small commercial vehicle with a diesel engine at this juncture, still has more advantages than an electric van. I say this simply because even with the push for electrification, as a business owner, you would likely have little time to plan for opportunistic charging during work hours. And I bet you would not look forward to having your van attached to a charger at a fuel station after work… tick tick tick…

So, back to Volkswagen’s small cargo van. The Caddy has about the same on-road footprint as the Tiguan SUV, and if you require more lugging capacity, there is the Maxi variant, which adds another 353mm to the cargo deck’s length (over this normal van’s 1,797mm). The cargo floor is plied-over with a hard-wearing rubberised mat, and to make sure things stay where they are supposed to stay, the cargo area has six lashing eyelets (eight in the Maxi), to help you to strap stuff down.

The loading width for the new caddy has also been widened to 1,230mm, which is wide enough to accommodate an EUR 2 pallet. The Caddy Maxi on the other hand, is capable of carrying two of these; with the second being loaded through the side sliding doors. At the rear, the wing doors have a two-stage opening system, which include a safety latch, which is designed to keep the doors from accidentally swinging outward.

What about the cabin?
Actually, it is a pretty pleasant place to be in. The Caddy’s dashboard fuels thoughts of hard-wearing toughness throughout. But while rugged and seemingly built to stand the test of time, the VW van’s interior’s fit is actually very good. Those who are familiar with the Volkswagen Golf product line, would easily notice a scatter of familiar switchgear, like the light control panel close to the door, the shiny gob of buttons between the central air-conditioning vents, and the USB-C port assembly. The “Composition” infotainment with its 6.5-inch touchscreen, is also carried over; although utilising a slightly watered-down version of the same interface. The steering wheel does adjust for reach and rake, while the seat is also height-adjustable, which makes it easy for you to find that ideal driving position.

In-cabin storage and utility is also well thought-through, as the Caddy has a tray moulded into the dashboard, allowing for easy-quick access to items which you may need to drop and pick up – that is as soon as the engine starts and when you turn that key to cut power respectively. There is also a storage bin overhead and drawers under the seats. If there is one missing feature which I feel owners could benefit from; that would be a wireless charging pad.

For Singapore, the Caddy comes only with the highest-powered engine you can get globally. The EA288 2.0-litre turbodiesel puts out 120hp and 320Nm. And what could be more telling that you are in a Volkswagen, than a 7-speed DSG? Acceleration is pleasantly punchy, with typically quick gear changes for minimal power loss. While there is that inevitable diesel clatter, you would not notice too much of it within the cabin. 

What surprises me though, is how car-like the Caddy seems. The suspension may be prioritised for load-bearing, but it has enough play in them; which in-turn delivers a decently-sorted ride. Yeah, it is no Golf, but the thing is, it definitely has comparable handling to some road cars I’ve driven. The backbone of the Caddy is after-all the MQB modular architecture, which underpins cars like the Golf GTI, and the Skoda Octavia RS.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel, which is shared with the Golf and T-Cross, further contributes to that car-like driving impression. Interestingly, Volkswagen had kept the pedal shifters installed, which is a good thing, as you can hold the van on a lower gear when needed, or simply lug on them when you have the urge to give the Caddy a whack.

As you are on diesel, you can bet that the Caddy is fuel efficient. Officially, it boasts 21.7km/l combined; which is very close to the 22km/l which I managed. After a few highway runs, where I got more acquainted with engine and transmission behaviour, I even managed to pull off 31km/l.

When it comes to backing into a lot, or even a loading area, the Caddy is easy to manage, as it does have pretty decent visibility, reverse sensors, and a very clear rear camera. Unfortunately, you have to cope with that reverse buzzer which is shockingly too loud.

Volkswagen has definitely gotten the formula correct for their small van. It is decently equipped, and it drives well for something which is Light Commercial. For those who have the environment in-mind, the Caddy is equipped with dual catalytic converters and a double injection of AdBlue. However, priced at around $147k*, the Caddy can be quite a hard pill to swallow.

*at time of publishing

2023 Volkswagen Caddy 5 2.0 TDI

Engine1968cc, In-line 4 turbocharged diesel
Power120hp at 4250rpm
Torque320Nm at 2500rpm
Gearbox7-speed dual clutch
0-100km/h11.2 seconds
Top Speed203km/h
VES BandingC
Fuel Efficiency4.6L/100km
AgentVolkswagen Singapore
PriceS$147,400 with COE
Verdict:Volkswagen’s compact-sized van offers impressive drivability, and is decently well-equipped.


About the Author

Clifford Chow

More than seven years beating the same drum! He loves good autos, but Shifting Gears has its merits. Wants to travel the world, but he needs the money. He's also damn good in his photos, but not like Jay Tee kinda good. @thenewcarguy

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