It’s surprising that more families haven’t cottoned on to the idea that a van makes for the perfect transport – especially when it’s given windows at the side and some extra seats in the back. Those who have made this discovery should certainly find out more about the Volkswagen Caddy Life.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the VW Caddy Life is heavily based on the van of the same name. That said, even the van is a quite a good-looking vehicle. The Caddy Life is even more so.
From the front you could be looking at a Golf – albeit one with a higher roofline than normal as it has the standard VW headlight and grille arrangement.
The wheel arches are subtly pronounced and there are creases along the side of the car/van that add to its good looks. The flush rear sliding doors also add to its smooth appearance, as well as being very practical additions.
From the front you could be looking at a Golf.
What’s it like to drive?
VW have pulled off the neat trick of making the Caddy Life far more like a car to drive than you might imagine. Yes, the acceleration is never going to leave others standing at the lights. Instead, it’s great around town and even better at motorway cruising speeds.
Despite the relatively high centre of gravity it handles well, if not quite up to car standards, and the steering is positive and responsive. It might be worth looking out for a dual-clutch automatic if the driving you’re going to be doing is in stop/start traffic.
VW have pulled off the neat trick of making the Caddy Life far more like a car to drive than you might imagine.
You wouldn’t expect the Caddy Life to be quite as plush and well equipped as an MPV, but VW have done a good job of helping it rise above its van origins. The materials used are hard-wearing, but attractive, and there’s a very good, solid feeling to everything.
The instrument panel looks like it’s been taken straight from a Volkswagen car, just like the whole dashboard. The driving position is good and fairly elevated with excellent all-round visibility.
Best of all, and hardly unexpected, is the huge amount of passenger space there is in the front and the back. It’s hard to imagine anyone, however tall they are, bumping their head. The sliding rear doors make it easy to get in and out, even in tight parking spaces in the pay and display or at the supermarket.
Higher spec models get the latest VW infotainment technology complete with a large touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard. It even senses when a finger is near and automatically switches from display to input mode. At its side there are also buttons to switch between navigation and entertainment systems when you’re on the move.
This is where the combination of the Caddy Life’s van origins and conversion to being a people carrier really come into their own. When the seats are up there is more than enough room for the biggest of big shops or for all the gear you need for a family camping trip.
Fold them down and you’re ready to load up with flat pack furniture or to take a couple of dumpy bags of garden refuse to the recycling centre. If you take them out completely, which is easy to do, it’s ready for some pretty major removals work.
It’s equally handy when it comes to the amount of stuff you can store in the car, even using the space under all the seats.
Running costs and reliability
The chances are you’ll mainly find a Caddy Life with a diesel engine in the used car market and the pick of these is the 2.0-litre variant. This hits the perfect sweet spot between economy and power, delivering around 55mpg on average.
You can improve on this figure considerably by tracking down the BlueMotion variant that can see the consumption falling even further to give you up to 72mpg.
What we love
If you don’t mind driving a car that’s so obviously a van at heart then the VW Caddy Life has a lot to recommend it being spacious, pretty economical and with surprising levels of tech, especially in the higher spec models.
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Town and country drivers
Volkwagen have really done their homework to discover just what potential buyers want from a car like the Caddy Life and the result is a car that falls just short of getting full marks in every department.
This review was