The Volkswagen Caddy is a popular multi-purpose vehicle (MVP). The Caddy Maxi Life is the passenger ferrying version of the popular Volkswagen Caddy cargo van. It is a suitable small van for a life on the road, because of its utility and ease of driving. Its driving ease rivals that of a smaller car.
The Caddy is a direct competitor to the Citroen Berlingo, but it wins in the looks department. Unlike its rather boxy rivals, the VW Caddy Maxi is stylish and suave. Its unique nose design is not as commercial as regular commercial vans, making it an excellent stealth camper alternative as well.
VW Caddy Maxi seven-seater configuration has more space than most MVPs in its range, making it an on demand commercial and family vehicle. Its interior is well thought out, with lots of useful utilities such as nets, trays, storage pockets and drawers.
The Caddy Life is a shorter but identical alternative to the Caddy Maxi Life. The Caddy Maxi Life’s major benefits include the Volkswagen van’s standard driving safety features, such as Front Assist, City Emergency Braking and Automatic Post Collision braking.
Optional features include the Park Assist, reversing camera and Park Pilot. The formal Volkswagen Caddy van is not only richer in storage spaces than its evenly matched on price rival the Transit Connect, but has a richer infotainment system.
Its standard 1.6-litre diesel engine is also slightly quicker than the Transit Connect’s and its load area is larger. That said, if running costs are a significant consideration, go for the Ford Transit Connect.
VW Caddy Maxi history
Volkswagen Caddy Maxi has five production generations, beginning with 1978, first-generation ‘Rabbit’ in Pittsburg.
1st generation Caddy
The first VW Caddy’s design was based on the MK1 VW Golf. It had a1.83m long loading bay, a tall fibreglass hardtop for small van conversion purposes. The production of these oldies ceased in 1992 because of the Bosnian war, but South Africa picked the Caddy’s production later on.
2nd generation Caddy
The second iteration of the Caddy was known as the SEAT Inca. It was a panel van with asymmetrical rear doors, a 2.9 cubic meter load area. The van had a 550kg payload capacity. There is also an ‘estate’ version with a high roof.
By the time they phased it out, the second Volkswagen version had sold 520,000 units worldwide, with the Seat and Skoda models accounting for most of these sales.
3rd generation Caddy
Volkswagen released the conventional Caddy design in 2003. It has a payload capacity of 800 kilograms and a 3.2 cubic meters cargo area. It is the first Caddy with a long-wheelbase Maxi and improved cargo space with 4.2 cubic meters. This variant also has a seven-seater MPV.
4th generation Caddy
The fourth-generation Caddy has two, five, and seven-seat configurations. Unlike its predecessor, it has two body lengths–normal and Maxi–and the option of the Caddy Beach camper in select countries. Its production kicked off in 2014 and ended in 2020.
5th generation Caddy
The newest Caddy van has massive safety, connectivity and technology improvements that include 19 driving assistance features and a suave ‘Innovision Cockpit’. It has three variants that include the Caddy, Cargo, and Maxi. Despite the fall of payload drop to 4.0, the van has a bulkhead that swallows two pallets of Europe.
Feature of VW Caddy Maxi
- It is comfortable, giving you one of the best driving highway and city driving experiences. It has excellent navigation and a trusty engine with dual-clutch features.
- It is spacious and is a dependable, capable workhorse. If you have heavy vanlife equipment, the Caddy Maxi model has the largest wheelbase of all Caddy vans.
- The basic Caddy Cargo has a payload capacity of 724kg. In comparison, the extended wheelbase Cargo Maxi has a payload capacity of 754kg, and both have a towing capacity of 1,500kg. Its cargo length measures 2,150mm, and 1,230mm wide, with 1,720L of storage that expands to 3,100L when the cargo bed is empty.
- Volkswagen is a highly experienced diesel Powertrain engine designer and, because of this, the Volkswagen Caddy series is exceptionally fuel-efficient. According to the firm, the TDI320 model, its most powerful Caddy engine option, has a combined cycle figure of just 4.9L per 100km on highways, making it one of the most fuel-efficient commercial vans that you can find in the market.
- Volkswagen vehicles have tons of safety features that include automatic emergency braking, a reverse camera with rear parking sensors, driver attention monitoring, and six airbags. You will find rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring in trim Caddy models.
Caddy vans pros
- Utilizes fuel usage to a maximum of 4.7 litres for every 100 kilometres on highways
- Very versatile
- Ample interior parts living space
- A smooth drive
- Lots of technological features
- Interior cabin noise
Seven of the best VW Caddy Maxi conversions
Will Evans loves to travel and is a Caddy enthusiast. His Caddy conversion is a work in progress. It is a 2014 Caddy with wood like cladding on its walls. He has painted his blue Caddy’s wooden cladding walls in white for a spacious, clean and light feel. It has a comfortable seat and a double bed with two three-inch size mattresses.
He fitted in it a solar power system for nighttime lighting. His renewable energy system feeds all electronic devices with adequate charging power. Evans’ Caddy has two entrances, one at the front of the van and one at the back.
When Nathan and Hannah settled for the #vanlife lifestyle, they purchased an ex-British gas works Caddy van. Their little blue van has a solar system installation that provides light and electronic devices charged. It has a double bed that they can fold away, creating extra living space and a bench for daytime use.
They have loads of wooden hidden cabinets for personal items and other travel equipment storage. The DIY van has a little kitchen facility with a cooker that they can extend to the exterior of the van for quick meal preparations. The wooden countertop is a beauty, and the top of the Caddy’s ceiling has soft downlights that soften its look.
Alan Bellis is a mountain climber. He has been to the highest peaks in the UK, the US and the Alps. He also loves rock climbing and wild trekking. His blue Caddy camper is a boon for his travel life. He designed and self-built his Caddy camper from the ground up.
He has installed a beautiful skylight and four soft lightings LED downlights. The interior of his Caddy Maxi camper van has bubble wrap insulation for temperature control. To separate the cab and his living space, he has in place a velvet curtain.
His state-of-the-art camper kitchenette has a gas stove, lots of pull-out drawers and a Waeco CF26 cool box. He has a single platform bed with lots of pillows on the other side of the van. Lots of curtains soften the whole look. His van has a powerful solar system for off grid use.
In 2016, Rob Antilli bought a second-hand 2008 VW for motorhome conversion. His Caddy camper has a bed that covers the full width of the campervan back area, providing a comfy sleeping space at night. At night, his bed slides out on wheel arcs covering the full width of the van back area.
Under the bed, units are storage cabinets and lots of shelving units, covered in varnish. Other useful utilities include a desk fold on rope supports. His Caddy camper’s left side is the interior access point, so it has lots of open space.
He has a leisure battery behind the driver’s seat separated from the Caddy van’s main battery by a voltage sensitive relay switch. The Caddy Camper’s floor has insulation. When it is cold, it keeps the cold air out of the cabin. During warm days, it keeps the interior of the van comfy.
George and Pippy make the best out of their time by travelling. Their VW Caddy is a 2005 model with a tiny but adequate living space at the back. They have a comfy platform bed and have fully insulated their walls.
Their van has a foldable table that hangs by a string tied to the roof of the campervan. They put the table to use when dining or working on a laptop. The Caddy camper has a net at the top that is useful storage space at night.
Ella is transforming her newly purchased Ex-British Gas Caddy Maxi into her small van home. She has lined her camper’s roof with plywood lining and will apply suede for a softer feel. She has a large foam mattress bed at the back that can transition into bench mode at a moment’s notice. Follow her caddy camper conversion journey at @cornishcaddycamper for inspiration.
Nadine travels the wide wild outdoors in Christoph, her Caddy camper. She shares Christoph’s sleeping area with Styx and June, her furry fellow travellers and fur friends. One glance at her van’s living area will reveal that she has a penchant for interior design.
She has designed impressive in-built wardrobes on her van’s walls that keep her van neat and organized. Nadine loves to surf and her travel fur buddies just love to shadow her every move.
The VW Caddy is an excellent small van choice for the vanlifer that seeks an easy, safe and high fuel efficiency vehicle for their motorhome. Get your hands on a clean VW Caddy Maxi and you will have more living space because of its long wheelbase. An additional benefit of this van-based MVP can also quickly transform from a work van to your weekend travel back to a family van at the drop of the hat.