0 - 62 mph14.3s

WLTP - CO2 (g/km)

WLTP - CO2211 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.

  • Privacy glass with heat insulation
  • Heat insulating cab side windows, passenger compartment side windows tinted and with double glazing
  • Rear window with insulating glass, rear window wiper and washer system
  • Sliding window in front and fixed window in rear in load/passenger compartment at left
  • Heated washer nozzles in front and washer fluid level indicator
  • Sliding window in front and fixed window in rear in load/passenger compartment at right

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

  • 2 velour floor mats

  • 17 inch chassis with 17 inch disc brakes in front and 16 inch disc brake in rear

  • Voice control system
  • Mobile phone interface
  • Wired and wireless app connect

  • 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

  • Navigation system preparation
  • Digital cockpit and driver alert system
  • Service interval indicator

  • 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

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

  • California nameplate on the fender and on the rear
  • Electrohydrolic operated pop up roof with 3 windows and 1 front aperture, canvas in basalt grey
  • Body colour bumpers
  • Additional dust seals on the outside
  • Body coloured door handles
  • Mounting rails on the roof (preparation for movable roof rack)
  • Radiator grille painted in black with 5 chrome trims, additional chrome trim at lower radiator grille
  • Without left sliding door in load/passenger compartment

  • LED headlamps with LED separate daytime running light
  • Front fog lights with cornering light
  • Automatic headlight range control

  • Climatronic 3 zone air conditioning with 2nd evaporator, auxiliary heater, air conditioned headliner and additional passenger control
  • Programmable parking heater with radio remote control and auxiliary heater
  • Allergen filter

  • 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
  • Electromechanical speed sensitive power steering, height and longitudinally adjustable steering column
  • Plastic floor covering in passenger compartment
  • 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
  • Roof bed (2000 x 1200 mm) with spring plates and mattress

  • Dimmable illuminated instruments
  • Interior light concept for camper with comfort in passenger compartment

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

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

  • Armrest for both cab seats
  • Front head restraints
  • Rear head restraints
  • Heated driver and front passenger seats
  • 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

  • Anti theft alarm system with interior monitoring in cab, backup horn and towing protection
  • Central locking system with radio remote control, system controls inside and safelock
  • 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: 211
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Max: 244
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Min: 211

  • 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
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium: 34.9
  • WLTP - MPG - High: 40.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High: 34.4
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 35.3
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Min: 35.3
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Max: 30.4
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low: 10.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium: 8.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High: 6.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High: 8.2
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb: 8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Min: 8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Max: 9.3

  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Coin Series: Ocean
  • Coin Description: TDI
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Based On ID: N
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 29E
  • 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: 215/60 R17
  • Alloys?: True
  • Space Saver?: False
  • Wheel Style: ARACAJU
  • Tyre Size Rear: 215/60 R17
  • Tyre Size Spare: FULL SIZE
  • Wheel Type: 17" ALLOY

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

  • Minimum Kerbweight: 2571
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 3080
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 70
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 2500
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 750
  • Max. Loading Weight: 509
  • No. of Seats: 4

  • Heated front windscreen: £498
  • Heat insulating windshield made of laminated glass: Included

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

  • Active lane assist with side assists: £474
  • Parking sensors - front and rear with park assist: Included
  • Lane change system side assist: Included
  • Rear view camera: Included
  • Traffic sign recognition: £282

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

  • Discover media pro navigation system including streaming and internet: £678
  • Navigation system discover media including streaming and internet: Included

  • Body coloured door mirrors: Included

  • Inlays - Bright brushed grey: £0
  • Pewter wave gray decorative inserts: 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
  • Metallic paint: £762
  • Special solid paint: £300
  • Two tone paint: £2,880
  • Solid paint: Included
  • Front and rear mud flaps: £162
  • Awning housing and rail in black: Included
  • Awning housing and rail in silver: £228
  • Pearl effect paint: £762
  • Sliding door on the right in load/ passenger compartment with power latching: Included
  • Roof bellows - Glacier blue: £312
  • Roof bellows - Strawberry red: £312

  • Red LED rear combination lamps: Included
  • Magnetic flashlight: £84
  • High beam assist: £162

  • Lockable storage compartment: £132
  • Bed extension with comfort sleeping mat: £318
  • Bed extension with sleeping mat: Included
  • Cupboards in graphite gray: Included
  • Seat trim covers in circuit fabric upholstery: Included
  • Cupboard in graphite grey with outdoor shower connection: £348
  • Art velours upholstery + seat centre section with seat bolsters in leather: £1,248

  • Storage compartment pack - California: £210
  • Sports styling package with 18 " spring field alloy wheel - California: £2,640
  • Styling package with 17 " Devonport alloy wheel - California: £960
  • Driver assistance package plus - California Ocean: £780
  • Chrome pack - California: £462

  • Metallic - Startlight blue: £762
  • Metallic - Mojave beige: £762
  • Metallic - Fortana red: £762
  • Metallic - Copper Bronze: £762
  • Metallic - Reflex silver: £762
  • Metallic - Indium grey: £762
  • Metallic - Bay leaf green: £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
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (direct measurement): £174
  • Warning triangle and first aid kit: Included
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system: Included

  • 1 swivel seat with longitudinal adjustment on rail system in 2nd row of seats: £396
  • Additional rail for preparation for installation of additional seat: £84

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

  • Towbar preparation includes trailer stabilisation: £264
  • Removable/lockable towbar includes trailer stabilisation: £768
  • Trailer assist including park assist, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and side protection: £576
  • Without trailer hitch: Included

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

  • 215/60 R17 tyres 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

  • 17" Aracaju silver alloy wheels: Included
  • 17" Woodstock black diamond turned surface alloy wheels: £0
  • 18" Teresina black diamond turned alloy wheels: £936
  • 18" Palmerston alloy wheels: £1,254
  • 17" Devonport alloy wheels: £0

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

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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