The poor man’s Volkswagen California, the Caddy Beach starts from €40,660 and that is a heap of cash for a van – so is the versatile five-seater worth it?
Any van, even if it has car-like creature comforts is a compromise at the best of times. The Volkswagen Caddy is a good place to start however as it is one of the more refined car based vans on the market. Sadly its suspension is built for carrying small loads and not specifically human occupants in supreme comfort. So what makes the Caddy Beach worth a second glance? When you add the ability to convert the rear seats into a double bed, well, things start to get interesting. There are a host of optional bespoke camping bits and pieces available too to make the Caddy a covert camper. The Caddy’s compact size allows it slip into the regular traffic almost unnoticed and also lets it access the nooks and hard to get to locations about the place where a monster camper wouldn’t dare go. A cool tent can be attached to the rear of the Caddy Beach to freak out normal van owners. As part of the ‘Camping pack’ you can specify a 2.3 by 2.0 metre tent with two folding chairs, a table and a ventilation grille for the sliding door.
Power comes from the familiar VW four cylinder 2 litre TDI with 150hp, delivered through a six speed manual gearbox. The machine drives reasonably well although a DSG auto gearbox would make life more bearable. The suspension does a good job on smooth surfaces but is far from Golf-like on twisty, bumpy rural roads. Interior space is not a problem, I could be a foot taller and my head wouldn’t trouble the roof lining. So inside is basically vast relative to the size of the car’s footprint on the road. The joy with the Beach is similar to the Transporter based California in that it has been designed specifically to perform a task.The Caddy Beach features handy cloth stowage bins that cover the rear-most windows. The pouches come in different sizes and are very useful plus there are zippy pockets for that bit more security when stowing away stuff. The vast tailgate opens up (great for sheltering from the rain) to reveal a large boot area and standard fit fold up bed. Also standard with the Caddy Beach are cloth blinds for the windscreen and side windows, ventilation hook tailgate latch (for secure fresh air), mini torch, led spotlight in the tailgate, folding seat back tables and a magnetic torch. A further Alltrack pack adds some SUV-like bits of kit to the Beach.