VW celebrates five generations of the Caddy

The Volkswagen Caddy first rolled off the production line back in 1978 and has since gone on to sell over three-million models across four generations.

The story continues with the fifth generation Caddy unveiled to the media in February.

Expanding the family

To celebrate the new model, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has created this historic walk through the Caddy’s distinguished heritage from North America to Poland via South Africa and Spain.

First-generation: 1978-1992
Total worldwide sales: 207 000

It was launched in the USA back in 1978 as a pick-up known as the Rabbit and produced at the Westmoreland Assembly Plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The vehicle was brought to Europe in 1982 and built in Sarajevo where it was rebadged as the Caddy.

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With an impressive load bay of 1.83 metres, customers could opt for a cargo bed hard top made of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), turning it 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.

Second-generation: 1995-2003
Total worldwide sales: 520 000

The second Caddy debuted in 1995 and was based on the SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo. It was twinned with the SEAT Inca and made on the same production line at the Martorell plant near Barcelona.

Following the success of the hard-top conversions of the original, the this Caddy was made as a panel van and high-roofed estate, making it ideal for everyone from couriers to manual trades and service providers.

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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 Škoda Felicia and produced in the Czech Republic.

By the time it was discontinued, around 520 000 drivers had opted for a second-generation Caddy or an almost identical SEAT Inca or Škoda Felicia model.

Third generation: 2003-2014
Total worldwide sales: 1.6-million

The third generation was a completely new model when launched in 2003. It was based on the Mk5 Golf and original Touran, and production moved to its current home in Poznan, Poland. It was the first time the Caddy had a choice of rear wing doors or a large tailgate.

It developed from a panel van and estate into a compact MPV with a flexible seven-seat configuration. The Tramper followed in 2005 – the first compact camper – while the Maxi arrived from 2007. With its extended length from 4.41 to 4.88 metres, the larger load capacity proved a hit.

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At over 856 000, 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.

When the third-generation Caddy made way in 2015 for its successor, it had achieved total sales in 11 years of over 1.6-million.

Fourth generation: 2015-2020
Total worldwide sales: 722 000

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles launched the fourth generation in 2015 with panel van, estates and compact MPV options, and a range of two, five and seven-seat configurations. The all-wheel-drive Caddy Alltrack followed soon after alongside the Beach model.

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This model 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, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles broke through the two million mark for third and fourth generation models produced in the Poznań plant. Up to the end of 2019, around 722 000 of them were accounted for by the Caddy 4.

Caddy 5: 2020-
The latest Caddy was unveiled in February, over 40 years since the original USA launch and three-million units later. The latest model features an upgrade in technology, connectivity and safety and is built on an all-new platform.

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In Caddy, Cargo and Maxi form, load space ranges from 3.3m3 to 4.0m3. The new ‘Innovision Cockpit’ provides smartphone connectivity while six of the 19 driver assistance systems are new.