VW Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI DSG review (Republished)

Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI DSG (Previously published)

VW dominates the small van and minibus market in SA. Just look around and see how many couriers and locksmiths and so on drive them.

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI DSG

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI DSG

The Caddy (micro) bus gets that balance between workhorse and leisure vehicle just about right.

VW Caddy Maxi

VW Caddy Maxi

I found it a very comfortable, easy to drive, powerful, multi purpose MPV. Although based on the commercial van it is very car like and even mildly luxurious in its fit and finish. You don’t feel as if you are in a bus. It handles well even in high wind and rainy conditions.

Noise levels are also well controlled.

Interior equipment is typical VW as is the look and feel, if slightly old school compared to their latest cars, but nothing to bother you.

If you have a big family or have to move a team the Caddy could be very handy especially this slightly bigger Maxi version.

The manufacturer says you can get to 186km/h and 100km/h in 10.9 seconds. I can tell you that this 103kW diesel performs very well and makes driving effortless, especially with the 6-speed DSG box.

VW claims 6.3 litres/ 100km, but I could only manage 6.8L/100km, which is still excellent and gives a range of around 900km+ on a 55 litre tank in highway conditions (or 6L/100km, or better).

VW_Caddy_open

Options fitted to our test car include Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, Multifuction steering wheel, park distance control with rear camera, comfort package, Fortaleza alloy wheels and towbar.

Price as standard: R431 600. The panel van starts at R315 000.

We tested the Maxi version. There is also the smaller standard Caddy which is R50 000 cheaper, but the space and ride quality of the Maxi gets my vote.

Its nearest competition is the much cheaper Ford Tourneo Connect or Nissan NV200 , its sibling the VW Touran and maybe the slightly smaller Suzuki Ertiga.

It comes with a 3 year or 120 000km warranty and 3 year 60 000km service plan.

VW_Caddy_Maxi_CapePoint

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Which bakkie should I buy?

Owning and living with a bakkie is more than just walking into a dealership and paying for your truck. Your experience of and with the dealership can make or break your attitude to your bakkie and the brand.

If the purchasing and servicing experience is important to you this is going to help you decide which brands to look into.

The best buying and servicing experience is measured continuously by an independent research company, called Ipsos, for the industry.

Historic data

The owners of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in South Africa are getting a very good deal in terms of their purchasing and servicing experience according to the results of the 2015 Ipsos customer satisfaction market research of the local automotive industry.

The good level of customer satisfaction in terms of the LCV purchasing and servicing experience in South Africa is underlined by the fact that four brands; Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen, won gold awards for purchasing and three; Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota  won gold for servicing in the 2015 survey. So the top brands to own are Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota.

Chevrolet and Ford got silver awards for purchasing, while Chevrolet and Volkswagen earned silver for servicing. Ford was the only recipient of a bronze award for LCV servicing. This may be down to the massive growth of their market share last year.

The results of the survey are subjected to four separate checks and balances or so-called quality gates to ensure validity.

bakkie sales q

The servicing winners are:

bakkie servicing

“These 2015 figures are absolutely outstanding,” commented Patrick Busschau, the Ipsos SA Automotive Business Unit Director. “The very impressive results show that both the buying and servicing experience provided by dealers franchised by the participating brands in South Africa is world class.

“Buyers of light commercials are also not short-changed from a product, as well as a sales and after-sales experience perspective, and this is very important in view of the large number of people who now buy top end LCVs for both personal and leisure use. They pay a lot of money for many of these vehicles, which are now competing with mid to high-end SUVs in the quality and comfort stakes, and it is good to see that the manufacturers, importers and dealers are putting a lot of focus on providing excellent service to those buying and operating LCVs. The Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen brands, in particular, in the LCV segment are to be commended for the consistently excellent service delivery when customers purchase or service these vehicles”.

Servicing over time

The servicing experience has improved over time as can be seen from the graph. Satisfaction has increased from 80% to 90% over the last few years.

Latest data from 2018

Bear in mind that this research is always a year behind and many bakkies have been upgraded or renewed in the last 12 months. This is just a rough guide as to the perceived quality.

In the graph below the lower the score the better.

The smaller bakkies have the disadvantage that they are noisier and have smaller engines. It is actually wrong to compare them with the bigger bakkies.

Safe motoring.

Datsun GO+ Panel Van review

The new Datsun 1400 bakkie has arrived

I had a little powder blue Nissan 1400 bakkie with a white canopy when I started working. It was a great little vehicle, except on the long road to… anywhere. The cabin was a little small for real travelling comfort, but around town and as a runabout it was without par.

The Datsun 1200 pickup (120Y) was launched in June 1971 at just R1295. There were no options, except colour. The Datsun 1200 pickup model B120 which had 12”wheels became the Datsun 1400 in 1980. It was again updated and facelifted as the Nissan 1400 (B140) in 1982 and was built till November 2007. Over 285 000 were built at Rosslyn near Pretoria over the years and quite a few hundred were exported each year.

In 2007 at the end of its life it cost R74 990 and produced 47kw and 97 Nm to achieve a top speed of 146 km/h.

In October this year Nissan quietly launched the Datsun GO+ Panel Van, the spiritual successor to the 1400 bakkie.

The GO+ is based on a 7 seater multi-purpose vehicle, but is a real little panel van with a proper loadbay. Like the bakkie of old, it carries just over half a ton.

Datsun Go+ van

Datsun Go+ van

The GO+ has a modern 1.1 litre 3-cylinder engine which pushes out 50kW 105 Nm letting you get to 160 km/h eventually, on a longish downhill. Like the original 1400 bakkie it does not have ABS or EBD, which I think is a pity.

If you love dogs this little van is perfect. The two rear windows can open and the back can just be wiped clean. The rear windows all have dark security film.

Like its ancestor, the Go is a simple vehicle and simple to drive. There is nothing fancy, but what it has got works well. The aircon cools the whole van down in no time. The engine is a tad noisy but is very willing in town conditions. The breaks are fine but beware: there is no ABS.

datsun-go-dashThe quality, fit and finish of the interior is somewhat industrial but is acceptable.
It comes with a docking station or unit into which you can plug a GPS, phone or iPod. It has a USB port for charging.
The rear door has a remote lock. The side doors work exactly like the car’s.
I think this little panel van is going to do very well, especially considering the price and low operating costs.

The biggest thing that keeps entrepreneurs awake at night is often cash flow. Making sure that money coming in exceeds money going out is one of the biggest challenges facing any small business. If your business involves carrying goods, chances are that payments, maintenance and running costs come a close second to worries about cash flow.

Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa, suggests that taking time to draw up a schedule before paying out hard-earned cash for a delivery vehicle pays major dividends. It’s all about checking what’s available and then listing the pros and cons, he says.

Datsun Go+ Panelvan

Datsun Go+ Panelvan

With this new mini panel van from Datsun easy access to loads is offered through the two rear doors on both sides, and the high opening rear hatch, which will make quick deliveries and pick-ups easy. A solid partition separates the cargo area from the driving compartment. The divider is topped with a sturdy mesh grill, that ensures loads stay where required, and provides the driver with the ability to quickly visually check loads.

The GO+ van has all the creature comforts of the car on which it is based. Electric front windows, air conditioner, neat little trip and consumption indicator, bottle holders and the like are standard but not a radio.

With a total loading capacity of 542 kg and a loading area of 3.4m³ it is ideal for small businesses that need to deliver and/ or collect small to medium sized parcels/ goods. The Datsun GO+ Panel Van has the biggest cargo space and cargo carrying capacity of 542kgs – about 267kgs more than its closest priced competitor, in the upper A-segment/ lower B-segment.

The vehicle’s strongest selling point, however, is the Datsun GO+ Panel Van’s total cost of ownership. At an extremely appealing selling price, the cost per kilometre will surely assist any start-up and business-conscious entrepreneur.

Datsun claims the following consumption figures:
• Cost per kilometre R1.87 prices as of 01/10/2016 FLEETCUBE
• Claim back 14% VAT if a registered business owner
• An economical 1.2 litre petrol engine that delivers 50kW at 5 000 rpm Torque 104 Nm at 4 000 rpm
• Fuel consumption of 5.2 litres per 100km in an urban/country cycle

I got fuel consumption figures of around 6.5 litres / 100km, but bear in mind the car was brand new, so the figure should improve.

datsun-go-van-rear
The selling price is R 149 900 (incl. VAT)
The service plan includes replacement of lock nuts, average labour rate, engine oil and some consumables, with the following options available:
• 3 year/ 90 000km at R14 765 (incl. VAT)
• 5 year/ 90 000km at R15 299 (incl. VAT)
• 7 year/ 120 000km at R20 449 (incl. VAT)
A maintenance plan is also available with the following options:
• 3 year/ 90 000km at R28 904 (incl. VAT)
• 5 year/ 90 000km at R29 979 (incl. VAT)
• 7 year/ 120 000km at R46 033 (incl. VAT)
I recommend taking out the 5 year maintenance plan.
Datsun provides a 3 year/100 000km warranty.
The competition includes Toyota Avanza, Honda Mobilio and Suzuki Ertiga.

Chevrolet Spark Pronto review

Chevrolet Spark Pronto

Chevrolet Spark Pronto

Chevrolet Spark Pronto

The Spark Pronto is the smallest commercial vehicle on our roads. Basically a box on wheels.

GM have taken the Spark and made a tiny van, much like FIAT did with the Uno years ago, just much better. This is possible because the Spark is built in South Africa.

Basically they have stripped the seats out of the back and made a proper load box with a flat floor and a partition to the front. There are little burglar bars over the rear windows. This translates into a 275kg payload and 876 litres of space.

Chev Spark load area

Chev Spark load area

The Pronto is just right for the businesses that require nothing more than the smallest, cheapest delivery vehicle they can find, with absolutely no need for bells and whistles. Very importantly it retains air conditioning. Ideal for florists, chemists, pathologists and any load that requires cooling.

The cabin at the front is unchanged from the normal Spark. The car also retains the two back doors, so access is excellent.

This little Spark will get small and light parcels as well as documents to clients quickly and inexpensively. It is also ideal for security companies, florists, pathologists and for medical deliveries.

Performance

The Spark Pronto uses Chevrolet’s basic 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, like almost every other Spark. It’s a quite perky, if a little noisy. It produces 60kW at 6400rpm and 108Nm at 4800rpm, and propels the light-weight Pronto from 0 to 100km/h in a little over 13 seconds, with a top speed of 164km/h.

GM claims fuel economy of only 5,4l/100km. Expect around 6 litres/100km.

Driving impressions

Around Cape Town I found it more than adequate, almost nippy. The car keeps all the equipment of the normal Spark except the radio, but the wiring and speakers are installed. It still features the same high levels of passenger comfort and safety as found in other Spark models, with dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, power steering, remote central locking and air conditioning.

Chev-Spark-Pronto-014The Chevrolet Spark Pronto costs R103 000. If you are registered for VAT you can claim back the VAT on the vehicle.

The Spark range comes standard with a 5-year/ 120 000 km warranty and comprehensive Roadside Assistance, as well as five years’ anti-corrosion cover.

A service plan is available as an optional extra on purchase.

Nissan NV200 review

NV200 dash

 

Nissan NV200 van

Nissan have just launched two ranges of vans, the medium to large sized NV350 which competes with Toyota’s Quantum and VW’s Crafter, and the smaller NV200 which competes with the VW Caddy and Toyota Avanza.

The NV200 is that rare commercial vehicle – good looking, stylish, practical, comfortable and does the job expected of it. A version has been picked after a very intensive evaluation to be the next New York City yellow cab and its a finalist for London’s new taxi. Nissan are going to shake up the light commercial segment with this range of vehicles.

The NV200 takes quite a load.

The NV200 takes quite a load.

Some of the pluses include a sliding door on both sides, excellent height for both goods and people (and children) to get in and out and versatile seat arrangement. It is a very easy vehicle to live with.

The NV200 handles very well for a little commercial vehicle. In fact, it drives like a car. The steering, gears, clutch – all are light and direct. She cruises pleasantly at the legal limit and handles hills well. Acceleration is better than for example the Avanza, as is road holding.

Noise, vibration and unwanted sounds are well damped. It is a quiet cab and visibility is excellent. The layout of the dash is well thought out. Controls and switches are of acceptable quality and are easy to hand.

There are plenty of cup holders and provision for storage, including a file holder in the dash and a bin under the adjustable driver’s seat. The seats are very comfortable. It is a comfortable car in all aspects.

As a little bus it is an 8 seater for adults. As a weekend camping vehicle you can easily remove the third row of seats making a huge boot big enough for a tent, sleeping bags, stretchers, cool box, chairs… all the stuff for a weekend away.

Nissan NV200

Nissan has fitted a full suite of safety equipment to these vehicles from air bags to electronic stability and brake distribution as well as ABS brakes. Standard equipment include aircon, power steering and windows, sound system, aux, Bluetooth, USB, central locking and remote keyless entry.

Build quality appears to be very good. Fit and finish is excellent.

The range consists of: two panel vans and two busses, one diesel, one petrol. The cheapest is the NV200 1.6i P/van at R190 500. The diesel panel van is R220 500. The NV200 1.6i Combi (as tested) R240 500 and the diesel R271 400.

The 1.6 petrol engine produces 85kW and 153Nm from 4 400rpm. The 1.5 diesel produces 66kW at 4 000rpm and 200Nm from 1 750rpm. We tested the petrol model and found it to be very suitable for in town use with consumption of around 7.5 l/100km. If long trips on open roads are to be made often, the diesel will be our first choice. Nissan claims diesel consumption of 5.1 l/100km but we think you should work on 6.

The warranty is 3 years or 100 000km with 15 000km service intervals.

NV 200 dash.

NV 200 dash.

Toyota Avanza SX 1.5 Automatic review

Toyota Avanza SX 1.5 Automatic

Avanza is a plain but almost nimble inner city transport machine. It turns on a tickey, pulls away quite briskly and stops rapidly. The SX Avanza has a 4 speed box and a 4 cylinder 1.5 litre petrol engine putting out 76kW @ 6000rpm and a torque of 136Nm @ 4400.

Bearing in mind it is a smaller vehicle it takes quite a load, 7 people or especially if you take the rear bench seat out a huge boot with a cabin wide door and a conveniently low cargo floor.

In short, the Avanza is a great little commercial vehicle well suited to city life.

Interior

The SX is a seven seater with three rows of seats finished in what looks like durable cloth. The seats are not very adjustable.

Equipment includes manual air conditioner, electrically adjustable windows and mirror, power steering, courtesy lamps with door ajar warning and an entry lamp in the door, speakers but no radio. The latter cost around R600 from a car radio dealer.

Interior finishes tend to hard plastics. The cabin is not unpleasant, it is just very functional. The interior of a workhorse, which it is. There are a large number of nooks and crannies to put things. Even a flip down spectacle holder in the roof.

The air conditioner is very effective. The controls feel a little flimsy and will take a little getting used to.

Exterior

Its a box on wheels. The overall impression is easy on the eye, with a balanced relationship between the various elements. It is available in six colours.

Driving impression

The Avanza is a really good little runabout. The automatic gearbox as tested is very effective. The steering is light and easy to get used to. Acceleration is surprisingly good.

For a commercial vehicle the Avanza is quite nimble and not unpleasant to drive. Just take corners carefully.

ABS brakes are fitted as standard. Ground clearance is good at 200mm.

Toyota claim fuel consumption of  7.2 litres/100km. I think you will battle to improve on 8 litres per 100km, and nearer to 9 in town.

Niggles

The interior is a little plastic. There is just too much hard plastic. It is a little noisy, but not overly so.

A strong cross wind tends to push this somewhat slab sided little van all over the place.

I personally feel it is a little narrow. The upside of its small dimensions is it fits everywhere.

Summary

The Avanza is a practical runabout workhorse which seats seven adults in comfort.

It really works as a tough, simple car which can seat 7 people and give years of trouble free motoring for a very reasonable price.
It can be used as a van when the seats are folded away.

Cost

Priced from R157 500 for the base S range to R204 200 for the top TX model.

The SX automatic as tested is R191 500.

Standard warranty is 3 years/100 000km. The service plan is 4-year/60 000 km.

2012 small van review

2012 small van review

A number of models have been discontinued since our last small van review. It would seem that having tested the market, many manufacturers have decided to whittle away at their selections. VW Caddy currently offers the most variants and also sells by far the most vans locally (as of December 2011). The smallest van in our line-up is the Toyota Avanza, which also has a very narrow load area. The biggest is the Maxi version of the Caddy. A very practical solution is the Caddy Crew Bus with its second row of seats resulting in a 1.6m³ load volume (there is also a seven seater).

Because vans are used in mainly urban settings, all the manufacturers offer petrol models, which are more fuel efficient in stop-start conditions and for very short trips. Diesels are, of course, more efficient over longer distances.

VW Caddy

Volkswagen has four models on offer. This line-up includes a standard panel van, which can carry 741kg, and has a 3.2 m³ carrying capacity. It is available as either a 1.6-petrol or a 2.0-TDi diesel. The Maxi is 1m³ bigger in the back than the standard model, while the Crew Bus has two rows of seats and features a 2.0-TDi diesel engine.

Toyota Avanza

The Avanza is quite a bit smaller than the others vans here and is much narrower. On the Highveld the performance is adequate, but at the coast quite good.

The cabin is not as geared to working when compared to the interiors of many of its competitors, nor is it as well appointed as the rest.

Opel Combo

The Combo has ABS and a driver airbag, and speed-sensitive power steering making for a very safe small van.

Renault Kangoo Express

The Kangoo uses space brilliantly, both in the cabin (which is very comfortable) and at the back. The central storage module allows you to keep essential items at your fingertips. A central in-dash storage compartment is ideal for A4 documents. Or for bulkier objects, you can use the overhead parcel shelf. The Kangoo has by far the best warranty.

Peugeot Partner

The new Partner is a good looking and well designed van. The cabin is very practical and comfortable.

Citroen Berlingo

The Berlingo has just been re-launched at a special price of R160 190 for the 1.6-petrol model and R 192 690 for the diesel. It is very similar to the Peugeot Partner in all respects. A snag for most small business owners is that the Berlingo is sold and serviced through Citroen’s commercial vehicle network at their relatively few and far between Business Centres and so access could be quite inconvenient.

So, what should you buy?

The Opel Combo will be an excellent choice for small in-town deliveries, for everything else VW has an answer

  VW Caddy VW Caddy Toyota Avanza Opel Combo Renault Kangoo Peugeot Partner Peugeot Partner
Price* R155 175 R182 719 R147 300 R155 940 R164 900 R174 680 R188 680
Engine 1.6i petrol 2.0 TDi 1.3 petrol 1.4 petrol 1.6 petrol 1.6 petrol 1.6 Hdi
Power (kW) 75 81 67 66 64 80 66
Torque (Nm) 148 250 120 125 128 147 215
0 – 100 sec 13.3 12.1 14.2 14 15.8 14 19.6
Top speed (km/h) 164 170 160 164 158 167 150
Consumption combined (?) 8.2 5.6 7.2 6 8.2 8.4 5.8
Urban (?) 10.7 6.8 11 8.0 10.9 11.2 7
Volume (m³) 3.2 4.2 1.2 2.39 /3.2 3 3.3 3.3
Payload (kg) 741 813 600 735 800 850 850
Warranty (yr/km) 2/unlimited 2/unlimited 3/100 000 5/120 000 5/150 000 3/100 000 3/100 000

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*All prices correct at time of going to print.