Return of a Golden Oldie

Blast from the past

A real blast from the past that also fits comfortably in a modern age of family motoring.

It was with much excitement and a little trepidation that we were able to put the brand new VW Caravelle Kombi through its paces - a real blast from the past that also fits comfortably in a modern age of family motoring.

The Kombi and the Kombi Caravelle have been written into motoring folklore through their use in iconic TV shows, advertisements, and their sheer popularity with the working class. The new Kombi sets a high benchmark in the family transportation category, but while testing, we couldn’t help but notice that the high price takes it out of the hands of a lot of families.

The very basic Kombi starts at a shade under R500 000 and can move up to the Caravelle Highline which costs just under R880 000! The sad thing about the ‘People’s Car’, is that most people today can’t shell out that kind of money for a fully loaded family carrier. Those that can afford the bottom of the range version are going to feel slightly short-changed when it comes to performance; for what we would consider half a million rand of luxury. The one thing the Caravelle does have going for it is that compared to the competition, it does stand out and certainly holds its own in a niche but very competitive market segment.

Cars come and go; some impress while others fail to make an impact. But iconic cars like the Volkswagen Beetle, the Mini Cooper, and the Ford Mustang have stood the test of time - strong enough to inspire a new generation of drivers while still providing a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

The version we tested, the 2.0 BiTDI Caravelle Highline DSG, had a very nippy engine that delivered greatly on performance. It pumped out a respectable 132 kW of power but really impressed with its pulling power while fully loaded. The 400 Nm of torque out of the 2.0-litre diesel engine meant you never felt wanting under any situation on the road. It performed nicely on the open road and did equally well in meandering traffic jams around town. The seven-speed automatic transmission was smooth and changed seamlessly, allowing the engine to get the most optimal performance no matter what was asked of it.

The standard safety features on the Caravelle read like an overqualified CEO’s business card, with more acronyms than we could mention in a standard review. It’s good to know that there are things like ABS, EBD, and MCB to protect your most valuable cargo. There are also enough airbags in the Caravelle to protect the family should the VW ever end up in a collision.

But it’s really in the interior of the Caravelle that you see what your money buys you! With a total of seven seats, two swivel seats in the second row and a three-seater bench in back, the Caravelle caters for large families or a very small army of people. The driver and front passenger are also well catered for with upfront seats, both comfortable and practical.

Other interior features worth mentioning include a fantastic climate control system, speed sensitive power steering, cruise control (a real winner when you have kids) and an easy to use multifunction-colour-display with Bluetooth.

The really great thing about the Caravelle, which we feel would make it worth the high price, is the ′Heritage′ dual-colour paint. This allows buyers (at a fee of R29 900) to buy the classic two-tone paint job that made the original VW T1 such an iconic car during the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

Other Classics that have made Successful Comebacks

The Mini Cooper

The classic British hatchback, made famous by movies like the Italian Job and Mr. Bean, is now one of the most successful hatchbacks in the modern age!

The Jeep Wrangler

Originally made by the Americans as a go anywhere, do anything, never say die off-roader. The current Jeep Wrangler is widely regarded as one of the best off-road vehicles available.

 The VW Beetle

One of the all-time highest selling cars, the original Beetle only stopped production in Mexico within the last decade. Made iconic by movies like Herbie, the Beetle’s latest version is still popular amongst young professionals.

The Fiat 500

Unlike the Mini Cooper, this mini-hatchback returned to modern motoring as a mini motorcar. Jeremy Clarkson actually rated the new Fiat 500 as one of the best hatchbacks ever made.