What’s Hot: Wide easy access, loads of space and 4Motion AWD
What’s Not: Both good cars, but the seven-seater is pricey for a big Golf
X-Factor: Tools reps and mobile on-site maintenance operators will love the Maxi Van; the Maxi Life’s ‘Golf with seven seats’ origins will appeal to families.
Caddy Maxi Life 4Motion: $45,490 (plus on-roads)
Price: Caddy Maxi Van 4Motion: $36,490 (plus on-roads)
Fuel consumption (claimed)
Caddy Maxi Life 4Motion: 6.8 l/100km (combined cycle)
Caddy Maxi Van 4Motion: 6.7 l/100km (combined cycle)
Fuel consumption (on test): Not recorded
The melon-back style won’t be for everybody, but Volkswagen’s Caddy Maxi 4Motion twins are surprisingly big and practical.
That stretched Golf platform makes the Caddy a genuine seven-seater in ‘Life’ designation (there’s head and legroom for two adults in the third row), and a cavernous load carrier in Maxi Van 4Motion badging.
Mating the 4Motion AWD system to a willing 2.0 litre diesel and six-speed DSG adds a lot of appeal to both models – the Caddy Maxi Van 4Motion, in particular, is a very capable workhorse and quite well-priced.
Quality: Inside the Caddy Maxi Life 4Motion it is, like the Golf, understated but smart. It is fastidiously put-together, there is a sound feel to the trim and switchgear and the seat fabric is a hard-wearing but appealing anthracite tight weave.
There are nice touches like map-nets overhead – I guess that’s what they are – big door pockets and high-set seats (allowing lots of room for feet behind).
The Maxi Van is more about utility and there is a distinct ‘commercial’ feel to its interior. It gets the same appealing dash, but doesn’t get the big screen display nor the same quality-feel to the cabin.
Below, practical rubber mats replace the Life’s carpet, and the headlining stops behind the front seats (adding to the on-road resonance coming from the cargo area).
Comfort: Seating and on-road comfort in the Maxi Life 4Motion is good. The seats are well-shaped and there’s ample adjustment.
There’s also a height-adjustable central armrest, below-seat drawers and reach/tilt adjustment to the steering wheel.
The only question-mark over comfort is the absence of air-con ducting into the rear seats, especially for the third row. It could get a little airless there on a hot day, especially as there are only small sliding windows in the second-row doors.
The Maxi Van also gets a reach/tilt adjusting steering wheel, and similarly-shaped seats but the grey fabric is a bit nondescript.
Equipment: The feature list varies between the two models (the Life seven-seater is better equipped), but salient standard features are CD/MP3 audio system with aux inputs, three-spoke steering wheel (with multi-function controls for the Caddy Life), air-con, trip computer, 12V socket, and remote central locking.
Storage: The Caddy Maxi Van can swallow 4200 litres in a cargo area measuring 2250mm long, 1552mm wide and 1262mm high.
The Maxi Life offers 1350 litres with the third row seats folded away (both rows can be removed), and a very useful and deep 530litres with the third row in place.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: We like the way both the Maxi Life 4Motion and Maxi Van 4Motion drive. That all-wheel-drive system transforms the handling on a slippery road, providing limpet-like grip (despite a slightly higher stance).
Mated to the 2.0 litre DOHC diesel’s ample 103kW and 320Nm and quick-shifting six-speed DSG, it makes both buses an effortless drive.
For anyone who has to get in and out of sticky sites – like tools and farm-supplies reps, and on-site maintenance operators – the 4Motion grip of the Caddy Maxi Van plus the double sliding doors and easy access to the box-van-sized back will win it lots of friends.
The optional diff-lock, available with each, will also add to the all-weather capability and practicality of the Van.
Refinement: The Caddy Maxi Life 4Motion has some ‘wagon-boom’, but, overall, NVH is quite low. It proved quite a pleasant drive over the varying road surfaces we covered on a return trip to the snow.
The Maxi Van 4Motion is a different kettle of fish; it’s somewhat coarse unladen. NVH is considerably more apparent: there’s a fair amount of road-roar and resonance from the back, and more noticeable intrusion from the diesel engine at work.
Comments about the NVH are not designed to damn the Maxi Van 4Motion however, far from it. It’s nearly $10k cheaper than the Maxi Life 4Motion and is engineered for a load of cargo, not for running empty to the snow.
Suspension: Interestingly, the Maxi Life 4Motion rides better than the Golf thanks to that extended wheelbase and longer-travel suspension.
When empty, the Van’s rigid rear axle hops and bobbles a little over broken bitumen, but that’s because the firmer springing there is designed to cope with a fair load.
Braking: Disc brakes front and rear: 312mm up front, 272mm rear discs. Pedal feel is soft, but you quickly get used to it; braking performance is first class.
ANCAP rating: 4 Star
Safety features: Driver and passenger front airbags (Life also gets head and thorax airbags), three-point seatbelts with pretensioners, ESP, ABS, Hill Hold Assist, daytime running lights, traction control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited km, plus three years unlimited km roadside assistance.
Service costs: Check with your Volkswagen dealer on service costs before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Caddy Maxi Life 4Motion: $45,490
Ford Territory TS 7-seat AWD 2.7 Diesel: $55,240 - the Territory is a very competent AWD wagon, and a stand-out in the segment. Although more expensive than the Maxi Life 4Motion, it packs a lot of punch for quality and capability. (see Territory reviews)
Holden Captiva 7 CX 2.2 Diesel: $39,490 - though not a match for the Territory nor the Caddy Maxi Life 4Motion, it has a solid price advantage, a good diesel and a solid reputation. (see Captiva reviews)
Caddy Maxi Van 4Motion: $36,490
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Caddy Maxi Life 4Motion will sell because it’s a Volkswagen – and also because it’s well-built, has sure-footed 4Motion grip, can easily swallow a family and has a lively diesel and six-speed DSG.
Although, in context, it’s priced reasonably well for an AWD seven-seat wagon, above $45k is a reach for most in middle Australia (and there are lots of good family wagons around – like the Octavia Scout - that cost less).
If the price is not a hurdle, it won’t disappoint you: it’s a very nice family wagon with lots of room for both bodies and luggage, and great access.
The Caddy Maxi Van 4Motion is very good buying however. It’s priced pretty right, drives well, offers terrific access to the rear and will get in and out of places that will stop a HiAce or Hyundai iLoad dead in their tracks.