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Volkswagen's Caddy Life and Caddy Camper


Two New Innovative Vans .....
a People Mover of Compact Proportions
and a Small Camping Wagon

by Stephen Walker

10th December, 2007


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Small vans, sourced from various manufacturers, have become increasingly popular over recent years. Vans such as the Holden Combo, Renault Kangoo and Suzuki APV have filled the void for a light duty commercial vehicle that was small, economical and easy to manoeuvre in a city environment. But no small van has offered the driving pleasure and versatility of the highly regarded Volkswagen Caddy van. Hence, it has proven to be quite a success on the Australian vehicle sales charts.

The Caddy line-up will be further expanded next year, when the Caddy Maxi Van and the Caddy Maxi Life are released in Europe in coming months. Both of the new models will be released, in Australia, in mid-2008.

In the meantime, we look at the VW Caddy Life and the VW Caddy Camper, two innovative vehicles which are bound to be popular amongst their respective target audiences, despite their obvious niche market appeal. The Caddy Life is a seven-seat compact people-mover. The Caddy Camper, as the name suggests, is a camper-van that has immense appeal.

The quality and engineering features of Volkswagen vehicles make the new models quite interesting. Their concept makes them compelling.

Caddy Life ..... a compact 7-Seater People Mover

Volkswagen has taken the opportunity to expand the Caddy van line-up by adding the Caddy Life to the equation. The VW Caddy Life is a people-mover of unbelievable proportions. The seating capacity is up to seven people. It is a paradox in a sense. That's because the compact dimensions of the Caddy Life suggest it cannot double-up as a people-mover. Yet it is true, that seven people can be seated in this amazingly compact vehicle.

At just 4,405 mm long it is quite short for a seven-seater. Priced from $27,990 (RRP) it is outstanding value for a vehicle capable of seating seven people in relative comfort.

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Sceptics will be quick to claim you cannot seat seven people in a Caddy Life. But I disagree, as it is, in fact, quite easy to seat seven adults in the Caddy Life. The front seats occupy two people, in the traditional manner, while the second row will provide seating for three people. The 1.802 mm width means that three adults in the second row seats will be cramped, just like they would be cramped in any small car. The collapsible third row of seats provide space for a further two people. Yes, adults can be seated in the third row of seats, although legroom is limited. However, there is no question that 7 adults could be transported quite easily in the Caddy Life. It is difficult to imagine 7 people travelling long distances in a Caddy Life, but the van does offer quite reasonable comfort. If children are included amongst the seven people then the Caddy Life becomes even more suitable as a people mover. But certainly, seven adults on occasions will be delighted to travel in a Caddy Life. Entry and egress is very easy through large side doors, fitted to both sides of the Caddy Life. With seven people on board and thus all seats occupied, there is not a great amount of space for luggage. However, when the third row of seats are not required, it can be removed quite easily.

The concept of a compact seven-seater van is a brilliant idea. Certainly, there is demand for such a vehicle. And from $27,990 (RRP), this model represents extraordinary value. But the fact that it is a Volkswagen, with the inherent value of the VW brand, suggests that many folks with the regular, or even occasional, demand for a people mover will find there are many compelling reasons for seriously considering the Volkswagen Caddy Life.

Storage spaces abound in the Caddy Life. Amongst the more interesting storage bays is the area above the front seat occupants. Additionally, there are drawers under both front seats (standard with the diesel model, optional with the petrol engine) and deep door pockets on the front doors. In the rear, there are handy storage nets and two under-floor storage compartments. Additionally, each sliding door has deep pockets.

The Volkswagen Caddy Life is based on the VW Golf and is made in Poland.

Standard Equipment

The Caddy Life features, as standard, adjustable steering wheel (both height and reach), height adjustable front seats (optional with petrol engine), semi-automatic air conditioning, power windows on front doors, sliding windows on the sliding doors, 15" steel wheels with petrol engine, 15" alloy wheels with diesel engine, audio system with AM/FM radio and single disc CD player and remote central locking.

Prices (RRP) for the VW Caddy Life

  • Caddy Life 1.6L Petrol 75 kW 5 Speed Man $27,990
  • Caddy Life 1.9L TDI 77 kW 5 Speed Man $31,990
  • Caddy Life 1.9L TDI 77 kW 6 Speed DSG $34,990


  • Electronic Stabilisation Programme $750
  • Side airbags $550
  • Metallic paint $750
  • Pearl Effect Paint $850
  • Hinged rear side windows $395 each side
  • Cruise control (standard with diesel, optional with petrol engine) $495
  • and numerous other items

Caddy Camper ..... a compact Camper Van

Here is a sensational concept. Take the world's leading compact sized van and turn it into a compact-sized camper van. This model demonstrates how brilliant packaging can be the basis of a brand new model for a niche segment of the new vehicle market.

The Caddy Camper is a five door, five passenger, van. When 'converted' for camping, it can sleep two adults.

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Standard Equipment

The Caddy Camper comes standard with two front airbags, semi-automatic air conditioning, cruise control, trip computer, audio system with AM/FM radio and single disc CD player, 15" alloy wheels, height adjustable front seats, sliding windows on the sliding doors

Camping equipment for this great vehicle is:
Forward folding front seats
Roll-out bed for two
Internal lighting
Rear blind
Two folding chairs
Folding table
Rear-mounted tent
Side-mounted storage bags

Prices (RRP) for the VW Caddy Camper

  • Caddy Camper 1.9L TDI 77kW 5 Speed Man $39,990
  • Caddy Camper 1.9L TDI 77kW 6 Speed DSG $42,990


  • Electronic Stabilisation Programme $750
  • Metallic Paint $750
  • Pearl Effect Paint $850
  • Dark tinted windows in passenger compartment $550
  • Side airbags $550
  • and numerous other items

Technical features of the Caddy Life and Caddy Camper

Engine and transmission choice

Two four cylinder engines are available in the Caddy Life. One diesel and one petrol. The 1.9 litre turbo diesel is expected to be to top seller. It is available with both 5-speed manual transmission and VW's brilliant 6-speed DSG automatic. A 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine, with a 5-speed manual transmission, is also available. At 1.6 litres, it is a small engine and is suggested for those who will use the car for transporting, mostly, children. With 7 adults on board, the driver would need a high degree of patience running such a load with a 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine.

The Caddy Camper is available with the 1.9 litre turbo diesel only. A choice of 5-speed manual or 6-speed DSG auto transmissions is offered.


The warranty period is 3 years or 100,000 kms, whichever comes first. Roadside assistance is included for the period of the warranty.

On the road in the new VW Caddy Life

We enjoyed an opportunity to drive both the petrol and diesel versions of the new VW Caddy Life. It was easy to draw a comparison between the two. The diesel wins hands down! The additional torque possessed by the 1.9 litre diesel has excellent appeal for the driver. Whereas the 1.6 litre was puffed-out at the first big hill that it came across. And that was with just two people on board. Quite frankly, if I was VW's product planner, I would dump the 1.6 litre petrol engine. It may have a place in Europe where motorists are used to breathless performance and where expensive fuel prices are unavoidable. But the diesel performs so well, why even contemplate a small petrol engine?


We will be reporting, in full, on our experiences with both the Caddy Camper and the Caddy Life. Please check back for our complete road tests. In the meantime, we must report that both these vehicles have a great future. The Caddy Camper is a brilliant concept for those who like to get away from it all with a versatile vehicle that doubles as a car during the week and as a camper van during the weekend. The Caddy Life, also brilliant in its execution, offers amazing value. It can seat seven adults and when powered by diesel offers cost effective motoring because of its low fuel consumption.

Wearing the highly regarded Volkswagen badge compels those looking for a quality package and value in these niche segment vehicles to closely inspect these two new 'wonder cars'.

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