Skip to main content

VW’s Caddy Mini-Camper Is a Pint-Sized Home Away from Home

Volkswagen Mini Caddy
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The modern vanlife movement has taken on a life of its own. Perusing #vanlife on Instagram reveals an endless gallery of hyper-stylized conversion vans whose designs rival most upscale studio apartments. But, many feel more like statement pieces than practical, mobile living solutions. Now, Volkswagen wants to get back to basics with an affordable, pint-sized campervan that promises everything road-trippers need and nothing they don’t.

According to concept sketches, the new VW Caddy Mini-Camper is designed as a basecamp for couples and small families. The “compact mobile home” steals a few RV-style innovations from VW’s larger California and Grand California van models. Those include compact, lightweight camping chairs and a matching table, plus hanging storage bags that double as roll-down privacy screens for the rear windows. A six-foot-long bed with plush disc-spring elements also makes for comfortable overnighting in the front country. However, the Mini-Camper’s pièce de résistance is a massive, 15-square-foot glass roof that’s purpose-built for stargazing. For extra privacy, passengers can darken all of the windows, including that roof, at the push of a button. The concept drawings also hint at an optional rear hatch tent that would more than double the Mini-Camper’s available living space.

Under the hood will be an ultra-reliable, four-cylinder diesel pushing either 74 or 121 horsepower, depending on the model. The new engine uses a clever twin dosing system to reduce nitrogen emissions, making it one of the world’s cleanest-burning diesels. A turbocharged, 113-horsepower gasoline-powered alternative will be a likely option. Volkswagen also promises a long list of 19 standard electronic safety systems, including Travel Assist (adaptive cruise control), Side Assist, and Rear Traffic alerts. A Trailer Assist feature will also make it easier to tow and reverse-maneuver a travel trailer or popup camper.

Volkswagen Mini Caddy
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Caddy Mini-Camper isn’t an all-new vehicle. It’s rather an extension of Volkswagen’s popular Caddy minivan that’s now in its fifth generation. In Europe, the compact van has become a go-to base model for anyone looking to customize their rig to haul people, gear, goods, or anything at all, really. The longer wheelbase Caddy Maxi edition even boasts enough floor space for two standard European pallets. While the base models are designed as workhorse vehicles, VW offers plenty of modern conveniences — LED headlights, keyless ignition, and a panoramic sunroof — as well.

VW will virtually debut the Caddy Mini-Camper in September, and it’s suggesting an official release by mid-2021. Volkswagen has yet to confirm, however, whether it will be available to U.S. buyers.

If you just can’t wait, check out Ready Set Van’s customizable, all-electric campervan alternative, available right now.

Topics
Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
2025 BMW R 1300 GS Adventure gets new engine, chassis, and accessibility
There's nothing incremental about the 2025 BMW R 1300 GS Adventure changes.
2025 BMW R 1300 GS Adventure parked on a hillside with mountains in the background.

The 2025 BMW R 1300 GS Adventure's extensive changes and updates include a new engine, restructured chassis, fresh bodywork, and updated electronics for improved safety and accessibility. The undisputed class leader, BMW Motorrad's large adventure touring motorcycle, gave its competition new challenges.
Why the 2025 BMW R 1300 GS Adventure is such a big deal

BMW Motorrad's R 1300 GS is the big dog of the dual-purpose adventure touring category. There are plenty of good, great, and even excellent large adventure bikes, but the BMW R 1300 GS models are the measure against which all others are measured. The changes for 2024, including a redesigned frame and improved steering for greater stability, were welcome, but the most recent update is more momentous.

Read more
We tried out Hennessey’s 850 horsepower Mustang, and we have thoughts
We go hands on with the H850 Dark Horse
The Hennessey H850 Mustang Front

The Ford Mustang Dark Horse is one of the most powerful vehicles the company produces and also one of the hardest to tune. With 500 horsepower coming courtesy of a naturally aspirated V8 and a stripped-down interior created with racing in mind, Ford’s premier muscle car comes ready to take on the track or drag strip. But for some people, that 500 horsepower isn’t enough, and the Dark Horse needs a bit more oomph. Luckily, there are a couple of options available, so you can get that without having to alter the Mustang yourself.

This is where John Hennessey, a man who made his name getting more out of already powerful cars, comes in. For a shade under $25,000, Hennessey will supercharge your Dark Horse, which bumps the vehicle’s horsepower up to a staggering 850. That’s more than a Ferrari Daytona SP3 or a Koenigsegg CCR. It’s 232 more than the legendary McLaren F1.

Read more
We tried GM’s Super Cruise handsfree driving tech – here’s what we think
Super Cruise is one of the more advanced self driving systems
GM Super Cruise active light wheel

While not fully autonomous, Level 2 self driving is becoming more common with many manufacturers having their own systems. GM is one of those manufacturers, and its “Super Cruise” system claims to be the most extensive one available in the United States at the moment.

Like other Level 2 systems, Super Cruise allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel on designated stretches of road and let the vehicle do its thing. As with other systems, Super Cruise will pop up a notification when you can activate it. When it's running, the top of your wheel will go green. If you see it flash red, then it's time to take control of the vehicle.

Read more