0 - 62 mph14.3s

WLTP - CO2 (g/km)

WLTP - CO2208 g/km

It's rather difficult to know what to compare this Volkswagen California model to. Since you can effectively live in it, you can't put it alongside conventional MPVs (and anyway, it only has four seats). Yet it's far more car-orientated (to drive and to look at) than a normal motorhome, a decent example of which would cost you much more. Quite simply, it's unique.


Want a family vehicle you could really live with - and live in? Yes really. Jonathan Crouch checks out Volkswagen's improved California 6.1

Ten Second Review

It's rather difficult to know what to compare this Volkswagen California model to. Since you can effectively live in it, you can't put it alongside conventional MPVs (and anyway, it only has four seats). Yet it's far more car-orientated (to drive and to look at) than a normal motorhome, a decent example of which would cost you much more. Quite simply, it's unique.


In one sense, Volkswagen's California is a converted van with windows and a few beds in it. In another though, this vehicle could be seen as the key to a whole new life. Let us explain. Let's say you've retired: there are only two of you and you want to travel around the UK and Europe. You don't want the continual cost of having to fork out for accommodation. But neither do you want anything as large, clunky and pricey to run as a fully-fledged motorhome. You definitely aren't a caravanning sort of person either. If I've described you, then this is your vehicle. It's car-like for when you just need an MPV. And motorhome-like for when you're travelling. An ideal combination? Let's see.

Driving Experience

The engine range includes two diesel options, both paired to DSG auto transmission. There's a 150PS unit or a 199PS engine, which can be had alongside 4MOTION four-wheel-drive at the top of the range. As with the Volkswagen Caravelle 6.1 big MPV model this California is based upon, the cab area up-front is nicely constructed. It features a dash mounted gear stick plumbed into the centre console that frees-up floorspace for better walk-through access to the rear. This configuration shaves vital seconds off the time it takes a parent in the passenger seat to reach the back bench and apprehend a wayward child before they can 'make-over' their brother or sister with a felt-tip pen. The driving position and steering wheel are infinitely adjustable. So much so that, from Kylie Minogue to Giant Haystacks, virtually anyone's optimum driving position is attainable - it's just a matter of finding it. There are armrests on each chair too, along with supportive cushioning and fetching two-tone fabric. When stationary, you turn around the front two chairs to face the two in the rear.

Design and Build

Externally, the California looks like the van with windows that it actually is, the chassis platform also forming the basis for Volkswagen's Transporter 6.1 panel van and Caravelle 6.1 people carrier. Inside, California buyers get full central heating - or more specifically a fresh air system with manual air con, a separate timing switch-operated domestic heater for when you're parked up and even a remote radio control for the whole system. Plus there's split-level accommodation comprising of a fold-out double bed downstairs and (once you've opened the electrically elevated section) a bigger double in the roof. For mealtimes, there's a gas cooker with stainless steel sink and drainer and, naturally, alongside the cupboards and ample storage, a fridge. There are also great views all round (particularly if you pull up for the night in the Highlands). Other features include a revised infotainment system, a folding dining table, two folding chairs (stored neatly in the tailgate), a clothes cupboard, blackout blinds and smart draw curtains. Most owners will also specify the extra cost roll-out awning too. Downsides? Well, the ceiling is rather low and the kind of older people being targeted by Volkswagen for this car will struggle to reach the roof-mounted bed. Younger families meanwhile, will need more than four seats.

Market and Model

Prices start at just over £52,000 for the entry-level 'Beach' version - or just over £55,000 for the mid-range 'Coast' variant, both only offered with the 150PS TDI engine. Most buyers opt for the plusher 'Ocean' variant, which can be had with both engines at prices starting from around £64,000 - though you'll need around £70,000 if you want the top 199PS 4MOTION variant. The California can sleep four occupants courtesy of its acclaimed pop-up roof (electro-hydraulic on Ocean models) that neatly integrates a 1.2m x 2m double bed. Ocean models also feature a fully-equipped kitchen, complete with 42-litre refrigerator, twin-burner hob and stainless steel sink unit. Ocean models also gain a dimmable LED lighting system for the pop-up roof and tailgate and a clever multi-functional holder for the rear compartment that incorporates a cup, ashtray and towel holder all in one. Driver and passenger safety is another area where the California comes fit for purpose. Features include a Driver Alert System, Brake Assist and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. Finally, Volkswagen's Automatic Post-Collision Braking System triggers braking after a collision, with the aim of preventing secondary collisions. After a short delay, the vehicle begins a phased braking action down to 6mph, during which the driver can take control at any time.

Cost of Ownership

Volkswagen claims that the engines fitted to this 6.1 generation California model are cleaner and more frugal than those fitted to the previous version of this vehicle. Owners of the diesel variants should expect to average over 30mpg on a regular basis. WLTP CO2 emissions start at 221g/km for the 150PS 'Coast' variant (which manages a WLTP combined cycle fuel figure of up to 33.6mpg). This rises to 223g/km for the 150PS 'Ocean' model (33.2mpg), 222g/km for the 199PS 'Ocean' variant (33.2mpg) and 237g/km for the 199PS 'Ocean' 4MOTION derivative (31.4mpg).


The California 6.1 won't suit everyone but the select few whose needs it meets will just love the thing, provided their retirement incomes stretch to the upfront purchase price. Living with your car doesn't get much easier than this.

  • Fixed front and rear side windows in load/passenger compartment on driver side
  • Sliding window in front and fixed window in rear in load/passenger compartment at left
  • Rear heated window with window wiper and washer system

  • Electronic stability control, ABS, ASR, EDL, brake assist system
  • Front assist with Autonomous emergency braking for Adaptive cruise control (ACC)
  • Hill start assist

  • Without floor mats

  • 16 inch chassis with 16 inch brake system

  • Mobile phone interface
  • Volkswagen app connect
  • Without voice control

  • Cross wind assist
  • Speed limiter

  • Start/stop system with regenerative braking
  • Tailgate with window aperture and with power latching
  • eCall emergency system
  • Tailgate latch without unlocking function from inside

  • Service interval indicator
  • Washer fluid level indicator
  • Multifunction display premium with color display

  • Body coloured door mirrors
  • Left convex exterior mirror
  • Right convex exterior mirror
  • Power adjustable, heated, power folding exterior mirrors, folding possible via vehicle key

  • Comfort dashboard lower part in palladium with chrome elements and bezels painted in black
  • Inlays - Bright brushed grey

  • Regional code ECE for radio
  • 8 speakers (4 tweeters + 4 woofers)
  • 2 (type C) USB interfaces in dashboard
  • Digital radio reception (DAB+)
  • Composition colour radio with 6.5 inch touchscreen

  • Mounting rails on the roof (preparation for movable roof rack)
  • Radiator grille with 2 chrome trims
  • Without left sliding door in load/passenger compartment
  • Body colour bumpers
  • Body coloured door handles
  • Additional dust seals on the outside
  • California nameplate on the fender and on the rear

  • Headlight range control
  • Red LED rear combination lamps

  • Allergen filter
  • Programmable parking heater with radio remote control and auxiliary heater

  • Jack and tool kit
  • Soft folding grab handles on roof frame
  • Grab handles on A pillar for access, on driver and front passenger side
  • Refrigerant R1234yf
  • Special interior noise suppression measures
  • Glove compartment with illumination
  • Special sound deadening measures in cab and passenger compartment
  • Illuminated steps in passenger/load compartment
  • Interior loading edge protection in plastic
  • 1 waste bin in door storage compartment of the cab
  • Operating voltage 12V including 230V outlet on driver seat
  • 12V outlets in dashboard X 2
  • 230V inlet with charging feature for vehicle batteries and 230V outlet in the interior
  • 3 spoke leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel
  • Camping table for inside/outside in sliding door and 2 folding chairs in tailgate
  • Step illumination with California lettering
  • Waeco compressor fridge
  • Plastic floor covering in passenger compartment
  • Electromechanical speed sensitive power steering, height and longitudinally adjustable steering column
  • Roof bed (2000 x 1200 mm) with spring plates and mattress

  • Dimmable illuminated instruments

  • Smokers pack - California
  • Lights and vision pack - California

  • Single tone horn
  • Power operated child safety locks
  • Passenger airbag deactivation system
  • Driver/Front Passenger airbags
  • Warning buzzer and light for driver seat belt not fastened
  • Height adjustable 3 point seat belts on outer seats in cab with electric pretensioners
  • Airbags - Drivers and front passengers side and curtain airbags

  • Without height adjustment for driver and single passenger seats
  • 2 seater bench/bed (camper), movable and folding to build 2 beds, in 3rd row of seats
  • Child seat anchors ISOFIX and top tether for Multivan/California in 2nd to 4th row of seats
  • Manually adjustable lumbar supports for left and right single seat in the 1st row of seats
  • Swivel seat on the left, with lumbar support in 1st row of seats
  • Swivel seat on the right, with lumbar support in 1st row of seats
  • Armrest for both cab seats
  • Front head restraints
  • Rear head restraints

  • Central locking system with radio remote control, system controls inside and safelock
  • Anti theft alarm system with interior monitoring in cab, backup horn and towing protection
  • Lockable wheel bolts

  • Illuminated sun visors with mirror and airbag label on front passenger sun visor

  • CO2 (g/km): 173
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • HC: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 208
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Max: 244
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Min: 208

  • CC: 1968
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Fuel Delivery: COMMON RAIL
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Transmission: SEMI-AUTO
  • Gears: 7 SPEED

  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • EC Urban (mpg): 37.2
  • EC Extra Urban (mpg): 47.1
  • EC Combined (mpg): 43.5
  • WLTP - MPG - Low: 28.2
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium: 35.3
  • WLTP - MPG - High: 41.5
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High: 34.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 35.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Min: 35.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Max: 30.4
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low: 10
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium: 8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High: 6.8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High: 8.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb: 7.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Min: 7.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Max: 9.3

  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Coin Series: Coast
  • Coin Description: TDI
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Based On ID: N
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 26E
  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection %: N
  • NCAP Safety Assist %: N
  • NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09: N
  • Badge Power: 150
  • Badge Engine CC: 2.0
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1
  • Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years: 3
  • Manufacturers Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years: 12
  • Did at least one aspect of this vehicle's safety give cause for concern?: False

  • Engine Power - BHP: 150
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • 0 to 60 mph (secs): False
  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 14.3
  • Top Speed: 113
  • Engine Power - KW: 110
  • Engine Power - RPM: 3250
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 251
  • Engine Torque - NM: 340
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 1500
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 34.7

  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2

  • Tyre Size Front: 215/65 R16
  • Alloys?: True
  • Space Saver?: False
  • Wheel Style: CLAYTON
  • Tyre Size Rear: 215/65 R16
  • Tyre Size Spare: FULL SIZE
  • Wheel Type: 16" ALLOY

  • Width (including mirrors): 2297
  • Height: 1990
  • Height (including roof rails): N
  • Length: 4904
  • Width: 1904
  • Wheelbase: 3000

  • Minimum Kerbweight: 2513
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 3000
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 70
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 2500
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 750
  • Max. Loading Weight: 487
  • No. of Seats: 4

  • Heated front windscreen: £498
  • Privacy glass in load/passenger compartment with heat insulating glass in cab: £354
  • Green heat insulating glass: Included
  • Heat insulating windshield made of laminated glass: Included

  • Floor covering in wood effect: £498
  • Velour non woven floor covering in cab: Included

  • Without camera systems: Included
  • Without lane change system side Assist: Included
  • Parking sensors - front and rear with park assist: £342
  • Driver alert system: Included
  • Traffic sign recognition: £282
  • Front and rear parking sensors: Included
  • Rear view camera: £294
  • Active lane assist with side assists: £1,386

  • Driving profile selection "Drive Select" and Adaptive Chassis Control DCC with dynamic chassis: £1,458

  • Digital cockpit and driver alert system: £468
  • Navigation system discover media including streaming and internet: £1,338
  • Discover media pro navigation system including streaming and internet: £1,734
  • Without navigation system: Included

  • 2 additional batteries with free maintanace including 1 additional battery with cut-off relay: Included
  • 80 litre fuel tank: £78
  • 70 litre fuel tank: Included
  • Increased alternator capacity: Included
  • Stronger AGM battery and increased alternator capacity: £258

  • Power sliding door on the right in passenger compartment: £378
  • Basalt grey canvas side bellows includes panorama window: £270
  • Special solid paint: £300
  • Metallic paint: £762
  • Two tone paint: £2,880
  • Solid paint: Included
  • Awning housing and rail in black: Included
  • Awning housing and rail in silver: £228
  • Pearl effect paint: £762
  • Manually opertated pop up roof with side windows, canvas in basalt grey: Included
  • Sliding door on the right in load/ passenger compartment: Included
  • Front and rear mud flaps: £162

  • Front fog lights with cornering light: £426
  • Magnetic flashlight: £84
  • H7 twin halogen headlamps: Included
  • LED headlamps with LED separate daytime running light: £1,290
  • Without front fog lamps: Included
  • High beam assist: £162
  • Separate daytime running light: Included

  • Climatronic 3 zone air conditioning with 2nd evaporator, auxiliary heater, air conditioned headliner and additional passenger control: £990
  • Air condition system in cab with electronic control and separate controllable 2nd heating system in load/passenger compartment: Included

  • Cupboards in bright oak: Included
  • Seat trim covers in mixed dots fabric upholstery: Included
  • Bed extension with comfort sleeping mat: £318
  • Bed extension with sleeping mat: Included
  • Cupboard in bright oak wood effect with outdoor shower connection: £348
  • Art velours upholstery + seat centre section with seat bolsters in leather: £1,248

  • Interior light concept for camper with comfort in passenger compartment: £726
  • Interior light concept for camper in passenger compartment: Included

  • Storage compartment pack - California: £210
  • Driver assistance package plus - California: £2,538

  • Metallic - Bay leaf green: £762
  • Metallic - Copper Bronze: £762
  • Metallic - Mojave beige: £762
  • Metallic - Fortana red: £762
  • Metallic - Startlight blue: £762
  • Metallic - Indium grey: £762
  • Metallic - Reflex silver: £762

  • Pearl - Deep black: £762

  • Solid - Cherry red: £0
  • Solid - Ascot grey: £0

  • Special solid - Candy white: £300

  • Two tone - Candy white/Copper bronze: £2,880
  • Two tone - Candy white/Ascot grey: £2,880
  • Two tone - Candy white/Bay leaf green: £2,880

  • First aid kit with warning triangle and safety vest: £60
  • Warning triangle and first aid kit: Included
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system: Included
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (direct measurement): £174

  • Additional rail for preparation for installation of additional seat: £84
  • 1 swivel seat with longitudinal adjustment on rail system in 2nd row of seats: £474
  • Without seat heater: Included
  • Heated driver and front passenger seats: £372

  • 2 remote folding keys: Included
  • 4 remote control folding keys: £120

  • Towbar preparation includes trailer stabilisation: £264
  • Removable/lockable towbar includes trailer stabilisation: £768
  • Without trailer hitch: Included
  • Trailer assist including park assist, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and side protection: £912
  • Trailer assist including front and rear parking sensors: £666

  • Mixed dots fabric seat trim covers - Titanium black/ Palladium: £0
  • Art velours - Titanium black/Palladium + seat centre section with seat bolsters in leather: £1,248

  • 215/65 R16 tyres with with low rolling resistance: Included
  • 255/45 R18 tyres with super low rolling resistance: £0
  • All weather tyres 215/60 R17 with optimised rolling resistance: £162
  • All weather tyres 235/55 R17 with optimised rolling resistance: £162
  • 215/65 R17 tyres with optimised rolling resistance: £0

  • 17" Devonport alloy wheels: £732
  • 18" Palmerston alloy wheels: £2,730
  • 16" Clayton alloy wheels in silver: Included
  • 17" Woodstock black diamond turned surface alloy wheels: £1,164
  • 18" Teresina black diamond turned alloy wheels: £2,244

  • Steel spare wheel with original equipment tire: Included
  • Alloy spare wheel with original equipment tyre: £276
  • Tyre mobility kit in lieu of spare wheel Includes 12V compressor and tyre sealant: £0

Whilst every effort is made to verify and ensure the accuracy of the data, the information should only be used as a guide and no purchasing decision should be made without verification of the data from either the manufacturer or franchised dealer. Our offers may be on a different model year to that represented by this data and so specification may differ accordingly.

Lex Autolease
Leasing Broker Federation

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