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Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life Estate engines, drive and performance

2015 - 2021 (change model)
Performance rating: 3.9 out of 53.9

Written by Parkers Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

  • Two diesel and one petrol engine choice
  • 0-62mph takes between 10.3 and 13.4 seconds
  • Plenty of torque for lugging full loads

This probably won’t be one of your major buying criteria, but it is worth knowing that the slowest version of the Caddy Maxi Life takes three whole seconds longer to get to 62mph than the fastest version.

The slow coach is the entry-level 102hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel, and the official 0-62mph time is 13.3 seconds, while top speed is 107mph. It gets slower still if you pay the extra to replace the standard five-speed manual gearbox with the six-speed DSG auto, dropping to 13.4sec and 106mph – but you may still feel the expense is worth it for the increased refinement offered by the extra gear on the motorway.

Diesel and petrol give good performance

The fastest Caddy Maxi Life is the 150hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel, which does 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds and has a top speed of 121mph. This has a six-speed manual gearbox as standard; in this instance the six-speed DSG automatic has no impact on acceleration, but does shave the top speed down to 119mph. Not that this will matter unless you spend a lot of time holidaying in Germany where some motorways have no speed limits.

The petrol-powered 125hp 1.4-litre turbo is within touching distance of the pokiest diesel, with 0-62mph taking 10.9 seconds whether you pick the standard six-speed manual or the optional DSG, which has seven gears on this engine; top speed is 115mph with the former, 114mph with the latter.

Don’t forget about torque

In a vehicle designed to carry seven people and their luggage, torque plays a more important role than horsepower or standing start acceleration, as this twisting force is the stuff that really shifts the mass.

The diesels out-muscle the petrol in this regard, with the 102hp version producing 250Nm and the 150hp model a chunky 340Nm. But in practice the petrol’s 220Nm in combination with the swift-acting DSG is more than up to the task of whisking along a fully loaded Caddy Maxi Life.

  • Neat and tidy within its limits
  • Dimensions can make it tricky to park
  • Rear camera and self-parking system optional

The Caddy Maxi Life is a tall vehicle, which means it is prone to lean over in the turns even more than a conventional MPV. However, VW’s chassis engineers have done a good job of making sure you always feel like you are thoroughly in control.

The degree of roll is well moderated and easy to predict, while the steering is accurate and provides ample feedback for this kind of machine. It’s no hot hatch, obviously, but it is more enjoyable to drive than it is a chore, and you won’t find yourself holding up other motorists at legal speeds on country roads.

Parking can be a problem

The length of the Maxi – some 4,878mm, which is 470mm longer than the standard Caddy Life – means it isn’t the most manoeuvrable choice around town, and some car parks will need to be approached with caution. But keep this in mind and you’re unlikely to have any serious difficulties; you can specify Parking Assist including all-round parking sensors and a reversing camera if you want additional assistance.