Let’s get practical!

Let’s talk about two vehicles that will appeal to those of a practical mindset, who appreciates a versatile vehicle. The all-new Ford B-Max is built on Ford’s Fiesta platform but has done something very interesting with the doors and the refreshed Volkswagen Caddy offers infinite possibilities to anyone who needs more than their usual share of space, whether to transport people or merchandise.VW Caddy

Let’s start with the Volkswagen Caddy which was just launched in Cape Town. This is a very popular model that has sold 23,400 units to date in South Africa and the fourth generation has been substantially enhanced and refined by VW. There are now three variants available for you to choose from: the Panel Van, Crew Bus and Trendline. The first two are targeted at small businesses and the like while the Trendline is a designed for moving another form of cargo, ie, people.

There is also a new Alltrack version which will appear early next year, which will replace the CrossCaddy. From the outside the vehicle looks much the same, although the more perceptive will notice that the front end has been completely revamped. The view from the back reveals new taillights and restyled tailgate to freshen up the rear. On the inside there is an all-new dashboard with a cool, upscale feel about it.

Generously equipped

The Trendline model comes generously equipped with essential amenities as standard, including a Composition Colour six speaker audio system with Bluetooth and USB port, alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, electric windows and mirrors and aircon. There are also handy stash drawers under the front seats and speed sensitive power steering.

Standard equipment across the board – including the workhorse Panel Van and Crew Bus models – extends to ESP stability control, Multi-Collision Braking System and ABS. The 103kW versions also feature Fatigue Detection which is an option in the other models.

Boosted petrol engine

Engines remain the same as the previous model but the 1,6 litre petrol now has a bit more power, having  been uprated to 81kW from a previous 75kW. Then there are two diesels engine which is still the 2.0 litre TDI with a power rating of either 81kW/250Nm or 103kW/320 Nm. However, the 103kW rated diesel is only available with a six-speed DSG transmission. The 81kW diesel and the 1.6 litre petrol are both available with a five speed manual gearbox.

There are quite a few optional features if you want to further customise your workhorse Caddy, including a tow-hitch, 15 or 16” alloys, park distance control and radio/CD systems.

For those driving the Trendline, you can add a multi-function steering wheel, a seven-seater package, bi-xenon headlights and a ‘light and sight’ package which includes light and rain sensors, cruise control and an auto dimming rear view mirror.

Limited edition Sport variant

For those who really want to stand out from the crowd and possibly want to reel in something really cool to market their business or to just to have fun, a special edition Panel Van Sport derivative priced at R306 700 will also be available.

Based on the Caddy Panel Van it features a wide range of extras, including: painted bumpers, electric windows and side mirrors, 16-inch Fortaleza alloy wheels, Composition Audio radio with LCD Screen, climatic manual air-conditioning system and the Comfort package which comprises cruise control, front fog lights and multi-function display.

Panel Van
Caddy Panel Van 1.6i 81kW - R229 400
Caddy Panel Van 2.0 TDI 81kW - R260 500
Caddy Maxi Panel Van 2.0 TDI 81kW - R283 700
Caddy Maxi Panel Van Sport 2.0 TDI 81kW - R306 700
Caddy Maxi Panel Van 2.0 TDI 103kW DSG - R312 200
Crew Bus
Caddy Crew Bus 1.6i 81kW - R222 400
Caddy Crew Bus 2.0 TDI 81kW - R265 200
Caddy Crew Bus 2.0 TDI 81kW - R296 700
Caddy Crew Bus 2.0 TDI 103kW DSG - R325 200
Caddy Trendline 2.0 TDI 81kW - R344 300
Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI 81kW - R362 600
Caddy Maxi Trendline 2.0 TDI 103kW DSG  - R391 600
Caddy Alltrack 2.0 TDI 81kW - R358 200
Caddy Alltrack 2.0 TDI 103kW DSG - R387 300
The new Caddy Panel Van and Crew Bus come standard with a two year / unlimited km warranty and a three year/60 000km service plan. The Caddy Trendline (including Alltrack) comes standard with three year/120 000km manufacturer warranty and a three year/60 000km service plan.

Ford B-Max

Ford have been launching new and refreshed vehicles into the market at an astonishing rate, making the other leading manufacturers look like they’re stuck in the slow lane. Following their very successful EcoSport, the new Ford B-Max is another vehicle built on the Fiesta platform. So will the B-Max with its distinctive sliding doors shake up the market in a big way? Let’s examine the evidence.  

So the B-Max is based on the Fiesta platform as we said. It also features a 1.0 litre EcoBoost engine, which has been very successful for Ford, raking in one litre Engine of the Year for three years running. They’ve also increased the roof height to provide more headroom and to allow you to shove in more luggage. Finally, they’ve done something really clever and removed the B-pillar and added two sliding doors to make it easier to get in and out of the rear seats, making it into a sort of mini-MPV. Pretty darn cool.   But how exactly does it perform in the real world?

Composed and comfortable

Well, the super picky motoring journos at Car magazine evaluated the top spec Titanium version of the B-Max for two weeks and their observations were quite interesting. For one thing, although the B-Max is heavier than the Fiesta by some 200kg, they found that this didn’t have a pronounced effect on the vehicle’s performance in terms of acceleration.

The B-Max posted a top 0 – 100km/h sprint time of 11.10 seconds, only a tad slower than the 11.01 seconds that the Fiesta managed. The B-Max is only available with the 1.0 litre EcoBoost engine and its mated to a five speed manual gearbox, no automatic.

On the whole, the Car test team found the B-Max to be much the same as the Fiesta in terms of handling and driving, delivering a ‘supple, composed and comfortable ride’. One thing that many will no doubt like is that the seating is noticeably higher than the Fiesta, in fact its 109mm taller. This means you will probably feel the body roll more, not so great if you get car sick.

More luggage space

With those bigger interior spaces, you also get more space, despite the fact that the wheelbase is identical to the Fiesta – very clever. Those sitting in the rear with the gear get 60mm more legroom. Another very appealing feature for those who find the Fiesta’s boot just too small is that the B-Max has a lot more luggage space.

With the seats in normal position, the B-Max offers 304 litres (with the seats folded down, you get a whopping 1372 litres). Compare this to the Fiesta, which offers 276 litres. Lastly, there’s an adjustable floor panel that can be removed to create more depth if you have a tall item to transport. Alternatively it can be a convenient hidey hole for what have you.

The Car test team found the weighting of the power-assisted steering a tad heavier than the Fiesta, but the B-Max was still ‘a cinch’ to manoeuvre in tight urban spaces. So far, so good!

Finally, the got round to the pressing issue at hand, those most intriguing sliding doors. Were they a revolutionary new design that will change the way we manufacture cars? Well, not exactly.   

Sliding doors – yay or nay?

The team found that in order to make up for the lack of a B-pillar the designers had to reinforce the rear edges of the front doors, adding to their weight. This meant they had to add two latches, one each at the top and bottom. They also don’t slide all the way back so that some of the door still blocks the access to the vehicle. There are also hinges that jut out which may present potential problems.

All in all, the team found the sliding doors ‘fussy and unnecessary’. They also worried how they would still be performing after 100,000kms. Of course, you may well find that they are absolutely genius and make your shopping trips or fetching and carrying the kids much easier. As always, its essential that you try the car for yourself because everyone’s experience is as unique as they are.

What the team did like is the attention to detail that Ford have applied to the vehicle, giving it a premium feel. The multi-panel leather seats, for example, are ‘comfortable and supportive’ while soft-touch plastics and considered use of piano-black detailing provide a classy touch. The leather gear lever boot and contrasting stitching add to the overall premium effect.

Plenty of standard features

If you opt for the Titanium model, you can expect plenty of cool features. Amongst them is the always popular keyless entry and start, a multi-function leather-trimmed steering wheel, cruise control, park-distance sensors front and rear, leather seats (with heating in front!), a full length panoramic roof with fixed glass, climate control and a high end entertainment system with radio/CD/USB/Bluetooth/auxiliary, eight speakers and a 4,2 inch TFT colour screen.

All that will set you back R271,900 – not too shabby at all! Ironically, the Car team in their summing up reckon that the biggest competition for the Ford B-Max will likely be their own wildly popular EcoSport mini-crossover. We say both are worth test driving if you’re in the market for something different. If convenience is important to you, then the B-Max may just have the edge.

1.0    EcoBoost Ambiente – R221,900
1.0    EcoBoost Trend – R246,900
1.0    EcoBoost Titanium – R271,900


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