As the versatile Caddy commences its fifth decade, Volkswagen takes a trip down memory lane of the Caddy story so far…
The first VW Caddy – originally known as the Rabbit pick-up – rolled off the production line in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1978. It has since gone on to sell over three million models across four generations – with over 200,000 sold in the UK alone.
The story continues with the fifth generation Caddy unveiled in February 2020, featuring advanced technology and more safety kit. To celebrate the new model, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK has created this historic walk through the Caddy’s distinguished heritage from North America to Poland via South Africa and Spain.
Caddy 1: 1978 – 1992 UK and Global sales: 6,730 and 207,000
The Caddy story began in the USA, where it was launched in 1978 as a pick-up known as the Rabbit and produced at the Westmoreland plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was brought to Europe in 1982 and built in Sarajevo where it was rebadged as the Caddy.
Customers could opt for a cargo bed hard top made of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), turning the pick-up into a small urban delivery van. Also already being offered in the 1980s were caravan-style add-on units that turned the Caddy into a compact camper.
In Europe, production of the first Caddy based on the Mk1 Golf ended in 1992 but it continued to be produced at the South African factory in Uitenhage until 2007.
Caddy 2: 1995 – 2003 UK and Global sales: 26,089 and 520,000 (including SEAT Inca and Skoda Felicia models)
The Mk2 Caddy debuted in 1995 and was based on the SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo. It was twinned with the SEAT Inca and built on the same production line at the Martorell plant near Barcelona. Following the success of the hard-top conversions of the original, the Caddy 2 was made as a panel van and high-roofed estate, making it ideal for everyone from couriers to manual trades and service providers.
Volkswagen offered the Caddy 2 exclusively with wing doors and an increased cargo capacity of 2.9 m3. In 1995 with the ‘Vantasy’ concept vehicle, Volkswagen unveiled a first conceptual taste of subsequent Caddy campers. In 1996 the Caddy pick-up launched, a sister vehicle to the Skoda Felicia and produced in the Czech Republic. In 1997 there followed the Caddy Family, a forerunner of the later compact MPVs.
Caddy 3: 2003 – 2014 UK and Global sales: 110,836 and 1.6 million
The third generation of the Caddy was a completely new model when launched in 2003, based on the Mk5 Golf and original Touran MPV. Production moved to its current home in Poznań, Poland. Featuring a 3.2m3 cargo bay, it was the first time the Caddy had a choice of rear wing doors or a large tailgate.
The Caddy developed from a panel van and estate into a compact MPV with a flexible seven seat configuration ideal for young families. The first compact camper, the Caddy Tramper followed in 2005, while the Caddy Maxi emerged from 2007. With its extended length from 4.41m to 4.88m, the larger load capacity proved a hit.
At over 856,000, Caddy 3 sales figures soared between 2003 and 2010. With this success came a major model update featuring a new design and the latest technology. All versions now came fitted with ESC, while optional 4Motion all-wheel drive was a first in its class. In 2013, the Cross Caddy was launched as a compact MPV/SUV crossover with robust exterior panels and all-wheel drive.
Caddy 4: 2015 – 2020 UK and Global sales: 63,225 and 722,000
VW Commercial Vehicles launched the fourth-generation Caddy in 2015 with panel van, estates and compact MPV options with a range of two-, five- and seven-seat configurations for additional versatility. The all-wheel drive Caddy Alltrack, a successor to the Cross Caddy, followed soon after alongside the Caddy Beach.
The Caddy 4 was a big step forward for comfort and safety enhancing driver assistance systems, including City Emergency Braking, ACC Adaptive Distance Control and Driver Alert.
In March 2018, VWCV broke through the two million unit mark for Caddy 3 and 4 models produced in the Polish Poznań plant. The Caddy accounted for around 722,000 of that number by the end of 2019.
Caddy 5: 2020 –
The latest Caddy was unveiled in February 2020 and features significant upgrades in technology, connectivity and safety and rides on an all-new platform. In Caddy, Cargo and Maxi form, load space ranges from 3.3m3 to 4.0m3 which is enough for two Euro pallets loaded sideways. The new ‘Innovision Cockpit’ provides smartphone connectivity while six of the 19 driver assistance systems are new.