Soon after releasing what was going to become its official trademark through the upcoming three decades, the Golf, Volkswagen made a bold move and entered the North American market, in 1978. No European automaker had produced a single model/vehicle in the United States since Rolls-Royce in the 1920s, yet Volkswagen had taken the chance with their successful MK1 Golf. However, the model was not introduced under its European name, but as the Volkswagen Rabbit.
Enfolding on the US public’s needs, the New Stanton plant in Pennsylvania introduced the pick-up truck variant of the Rabbit two years later. The new model was based on the same A1 platform as the MK1 Rabbit and would be later known in Europe as the Volkswagen Caddy. The first 3 years of production – in the US – were not controversy free, as the North American factory chose to use cheap materials for interior trims and decided to soften the suspensions in an effort to both reduce production costs and bring the pick-up truck to American-like demands.
The German representatives of Volkswagen decided to intervene immediately in the production process and the situation was rectified starting with the 1983 year model. It was in the same 1982 year that the Rabbit pickup made its debut on the European market, as the new Volkswagen Caddy. It continued to be produced and sold in the US as the Rabbit Pick-up, as the term “Caddy” could have been mistaken by the American public for the slang terms for Cadillac motor car division.
In Europe, the Caddy was based at Volkswagen’s plant TAS in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina, until 1992. Of course, this was only the first of the four models that were to retain the Caddy badge through the upcoming decades. Following Volkswagen's taking over of Skoda and Seat in the upcoming decade, the Caddy was built on the platforms of Skoda Felicity Utility and Seat Ibiza, although the latter was mostly sold in Latin America.
Finally, the model appeared with a much-improved exterior and interior design during the 2003 RAI Commercial Vehicle Show in Amsterdam. The new generation Caddy, borrowing several modules from the Golf MK5 and Touran models, was introduced with an initial panel van body style. One year later, Volkswagem Comercial Vehicles decided to add a new body to its Caddy range, a 7-seat passenger version called Life (which later featured a Maxi version, presented during the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, benefiting from a longer wheelbase).
As far as our tested model is concerned, the new Caddy 4Motion was introduced by Volkswagen at the 2008 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover. The revised Caddy now featured Haldex four-wheel-drive for the first time, available for Van, Kombi and Life configurations. The model's high points, as announced by the German manufacturer, were the better stability at high speed, improved maneuverability in difficult terrain conditions and lower fuel consumption.
The Caddy we've decided to test was a Kombi 4Motion, benefiting from the proven 105 PS-worth 1.9 TDI engine, coupled to a 6-speed manual gearbox.Continue reading