VOLKSWAGEN

VOLKSWAGEN GRAND CALIFORNIA DIESEL ESTATE 2.0 TDI 680 5dr Tip Auto [3.88T]

Fuel

FuelDiesel

Transmission

TransmissionAutomatic

Acceleration

0 - 60 mph-

WLTP - CO2 (g/km)

WLTP - CO2309 g/km

Volkswagen's Grand California brings car and LCV manufacturer expertise for the first time to the business of building a really large motorhome. It's based on the Crafter large van and designed to give the kind of travelling freedom a typical owner would crave. There's nothing quite like it.

BIGGER CALIFORNIA DREAMS

Here, Volkswagen has set itself the target of producing the ultimate motorhome. Jonathan Crouch tries the Grand California

Ten Second Review

Volkswagen's Grand California brings car and LCV manufacturer expertise for the first time to the business of building a really large motorhome. It's based on the Crafter large van and designed to give the kind of travelling freedom a typical owner would crave. There's nothing quite like it.

Background

By and large, motorhomes are built by companies that borrow van manufacturer engineering, then build luxury quarters around it. Or at least some of them do. Since 1988, Volkswagen has been offering the California, a four-berth motorhome based on the Transporter van, which in more recent years has been challenged by the Mercedes Marco Polo, a V-Class/Vito van-based contender of the same size. Many motorhome buyers though, want something larger than either of these models. And you'd certainly need something bigger if you wanted a proper bathroom in your motorhome, a feature that would give you real go-anywhere freedom in using a vehicle like this. That's what this model, the Volkswagen Grand California, provides. Launched in early 2020, it's only direct rivals come from motorhome companies basing a living structure on third-party large van - usually a Fiat Ducato or a Peugeot Boxer. Volkswagen reckons that designing and producing the complete vehicle itself produces a much more complete end product. Are they right? Let's find out.

Driving Experience

Because of its sheer size, the Grand California is a more challenging thing to drive than Volkswagen's regular California model - and of course it's much heavier too, which is why the 2.0-litre TDI 177PS diesel engine that all variants of this model share takes nearly 16 seconds to reach 60mph from rest and longer still to get itself through the gears. Overtakes will need to be planned well in advance but once you're up to speed, the plump 410Nm torque figure keeps you there without undue bother. All derivatives use an 8-speed DSG automatic gearbox which changes sweetly through the ratios and facilitates quiet cruising. Body roll is actually pretty well kept in check for a vehicle of this size but of course you won't be wanting to throw any sort of motorhome about and the stability system here is programmed to make sure that you don't. On this '680' variant, there's the option of Volkswagen's 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system, which might be well worth having for slippery campsites or if you're venturing to rural destinations. The suspension set-up achieves a good balance of ride quality. And your view out and ahead is excellent thanks to the high seating position. Manoeuvring of course can be difficult with a motorhome this big; we think you'll certainly need the optional rear view camera. Bear in mind too, that to drive this Volkswagen, your driving licence will need a C1 rating allowing you to pilot something this heavy. If you passed your test after 1st January 1997, that might be a problem.

Design and Build

With the Grand California, Volkswagen has for the first time entered what the motorhome industry calls '6-metre' class and added in a bathroom to a vehicle of this kind. If you know the Wolfsburg brand's LCVs, you'll recognise from here at the front that it's based on the company's biggest van, the Crafter. Which means it's big - particularly in this '680' form, the figures designating a 6.8m length. There's also a slightly smaller '600' model measuring in at 6m for those with smaller driveways. That alternative '600' model offers the option of an upstairs sleeping area. A Grand California '680', in contrast, is very much based around luxury accommodation for just two folk. So, let's take a look inside the living area, access to which is gained by a large offside sliding door, below which a motorised step slides out to help you in. You immediately come across a two-person rear bench seat. At meal times, this can make up one half of a four-seat dining area when a table is inserted in front and the cab area chair swivelled round to face those at the rear. Heading backwards down the vehicle, there's a kitchenette on one side with two-burner cooker, work top, sink and refrigerator. And, on the other side, this Grand California model's most unique inclusion - a fully fitted-out wet room. The latter feature is crucial because it means that owners won't be tied to camping sites with toilet and shower facilities and therefore can roam more freely. The shower in this wet room draws water from a 110-litre on-board freshwater tank and drains it into a 90-litre waste tank. There are some lovely touches here which come with Volkswagen's ability to design and create the whole vehicle itself. Things like smart optional ambient lighting strips around the classy cupboard doors. And this wall-mounted tablet that allows you not only to adjust cabin heating and ventilation but also to deploy the optional roof-mounted satellite dish. You can choose to heat the cabin either using gas (the vehicle can store two big bottles of it) or electricity. The main bed is at the rear and is a comfortable size for a couple of adults - as you'd hope it would be in a vehicle this big. Bluetooth speakers around this bed allow someone at this end of the vehicle to listen to a different kind of music from that playing in the cab. If you do need to sleep more than two people, there's the option on the 600 model of an extra berth over the cab, which slides cleverly in and out and could be used by a couple of kids or small adult. As you'd expect, the front cab area is pretty much exactly as it would be in a well specified Crafter van and includes an 8-inch 'Discover Media' navigation system touchscreen incorporating the brand's 'App-Connect' smartphone-mirroring system, Bluetooth and a 4-speaker DAB audio system.

Market and Model

Let's try and guide you through the Grand California range. All models use a 2.0-litre TDI 177PS diesel mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. If you go for the shorter 6m-long '600' variant, there's a choice of two vehicle weights; either 3.5 tonnes (which at the time of this test in mid-2020 cost around £73,000); or a 3.88-tonne '600' variant costing around £600 more. For this test though, we chose the longer 6.8m '680' model, which is only available in 3.88-tonnes guise. '680' prices start at just over £75,000. For around £7,000 more, you can get a '680' derivative complete with the brand's 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system. As for options, well if you want to sleep more than two people in a Grand California, you'll need the smaller '600' model, which alone offers the £2,500 option of an over-cab bed with an access ladder. Most buyers will want an awning, available in either black or white; and probably also features like a roof-mounted satellite dish, a Wi-Fi LTE hotspot data server and a stationary air conditioning/roof air-conditioner. You can also add in a couple of extra windows in the vehicle's side panel, an auxiliary heater, solar panels, ambient lighting, toilet ventilation and a heating system for water and interior powered by mains electricity or diesel. You might also want a rear view camera, a heated windscreen, power-folding mirrors, a rear bicycle rack and a towbar. There are various optional 'Driver Assistance' packs which give you features like Lane Keeping Assist and a Blind Spot Monitor: and you can add in full-LED headlights with High Beam Assist stop. Side and curtain airbags also cost extra.

Cost of Ownership

You might expect that you'd need deep pockets to run a vehicle this big and heavy. As it happens, you might be surprised. Let's take a look at the WLTP figures. The '600' series model can manage up to 24.8mpg on the combined cycle and up to 298g/km of CO2. This '680' front-driven variant can manage up to 24.6mpg and 301g/km of CO2. For the '680 4MOTION' variant, the top figure is 22.8mpg and up to 324g/km of CO2. A 3 year / 100,000 mile warranty is included - and it can be extended at extra cost. Volkswagen offers a range of insurance plans and also fixed priced servicing and a fixed cost maintenance programme.

Summary

When it comes to motorhomes, space is the ultimate luxury. And since this Grand California has so much of it, that's enough to make it feel very luxurious indeed. It's initially a bit shocking to find that a vehicle as big as this only sleeps two in standard form. But that's what the retiree market it's aimed at want - and on the 600 model, there is the chance to pay extra for an extra high bunk if owners want the option of bringing along the grandchildren. You have to know what you're buying here of course. This model won't be as easy to adapt to on the road as the brand's smaller Transporter-based standard California model. And of course it's much pricier to. If though, you want the most complete, most comprehensively engineered motorhome there is, this could very well be it.

  • Windows with sliding blinds and fly screen
  • Rear wash/wipe

  • Hill start assist
  • Automatic post collision braking system
  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
  • Electronic brake assist (EBA)
  • Electronic stabilisation programme (ESP) with load adjusting
  • Front assist with city emergency braking system
  • Parking brake with hill hold control
  • Traction control system with ASR

  • Bluetooth connection

  • Cross wind assist
  • Driver alert system
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Electromechanical servotronic steering

  • Central operating unit with touch control for monitoring heating, lighting and water levels

  • Compact motorhome with sleek, light and airy modern interior
  • Heating and hot water heating powered by gas and mains electric
  • Trip computer
  • We connect plus
  • Discover media nav system - 8" touch screen, multi-function display+ , voice/media control+app connect, we connect plus, wireless app connect, e-sim
  • 4 speakers(2 tweeters/2 woofers)

  • 75 litre fuel tank with lockable cap
  • Second battery - operating 12V voltage

  • DAB+ radio

  • Body colour bumpers
  • 180 degree rear wing doors
  • Electrically operated retractable step
  • Two piece mosquito nets on sliding door
  • Two sky lights with sliding blinds and fly screens

  • Automatic hazard lights activation under emergency braking

  • Climatic manually controlled air conditioning with dust and pollen filter and air recirculation

  • 110 litres fresh water storage tank
  • 4 x 230V electrical sockets
  • 70 litres fridge freezer compartment
  • 90 litres waste water tank
  • Dinette with 4 seats and table
  • Folding chairs and tables stored in rear doors
  • Gas storage cupboard for two bottles
  • Hob with two burners
  • Leather trimmed multi function steering wheel with heating function
  • Lenghtways two person rear bed
  • Multiple USB sockets in cab and living area
  • Easily accessible storage compartment in rear
  • Sink with hot and cold water with folding tap
  • Wet room with shower and cassette toilet
  • Seat trim covers in valley fabric upholstery
  • Rake/reach adjustable steering wheel

  • Driver/Front Passenger airbags
  • Seat belt warning light for driver

  • Driver and passenger swivel seats with armrests, height and lumbar adjustment
  • Rear headrests
  • Isofix child seat preparation
  • Front head restraints
  • Rear bench seat

  • Engine immobiliser
  • Anti theft alarm system with interior monitoring in cab, backup horn and towing protection

  • 17" Lismore alloy wheels

  • CO2 (g/km): 218
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 301
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Max: 309
  • HC: N

  • CC: 1968
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Number of Valves: 16
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Fuel Delivery: COMMON RAIL
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Transmission: SEMI-AUTO
  • Gears: 8 SPEED

  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: True
  • EC Urban (mpg): 32.5
  • EC Extra Urban (mpg): 34.9
  • EC Combined (mpg): 34
  • WLTP - MPG - Low: 21.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium: 25.9
  • WLTP - MPG - High: 28
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High: 22.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 24.6
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Max: 23.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low: 12.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium: 10.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High: 10.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High: 12.4
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb: 11.5
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Max: 11.8

  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Coin Series: 680 [3.88T]
  • Coin Description: TDI
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Based On ID: N
  • 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: 177
  • Badge Engine CC: 2.0
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1
  • AdBlue: True
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Years: 3
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage: 100000
  • 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: 177
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • Engine Power - KW: 130
  • Engine Power - RPM: 3600
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 302
  • Engine Torque - NM: 410
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 1500
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 41.8

  • Emissions Test Cycle: Second Act

  • Tyre Size Front: 235/65 R17
  • Wheel Style: LISMORE
  • Tyre Size Rear: 235/65 R17
  • Tyre Size Spare: TYRE REPAIR KIT
  • Wheel Type: 17" ALLOY
  • Alloys?: True
  • Space Saver?: False

  • Length: 6836
  • Width: 2040
  • Wheelbase: 4490
  • Width (including mirrors): 2410
  • Height: 2800
  • Height (including roof rails): N

  • No. of Seats: 4
  • Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb: 13.6
  • Minimum Kerbweight: 3158
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 3880
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 75
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 2000
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 750
  • Max. Loading Weight: 722

  • Windscreen wiper with variable intermittent delay and wash wipe system: Included
  • Heated windscreen: £282
  • Heated windscreen washer nozzles: £54

  • Rubber floor covering: Included
  • Rubber all weather mats in cab: £66

  • Rear view camera: £282
  • Front and rear parking sensors: Included
  • Lane keeping assistant (LKA): £546
  • Dynamic road sign display: £294
  • Preparation for rear view camera: £42
  • Blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert: £230

  • Inductive charging cradle in dinette area: £48

  • Wi-fi LTE hotspot with integrated data server: £702

  • Power adjustable, heated and folding wing mirrors: £330
  • Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors: Included

  • Additional engine heater: £672
  • Solar panels support for auxiliary batteries for longer self-sufficiency: £1,758

  • Bluetooth speakers in living area: £732
  • SAT device for TV SAT system: £2,436

  • 2 right and left additional windows in side panel with mosquito nets and darkening: £684
  • Awning housing in black: £960
  • Awning housing in white: £960
  • Two tone paint: £2,868
  • Rear mudflaps: £66
  • Front mudflaps: £66
  • Metallic paint: £1,392
  • Solid paint: Included
  • Front and rear mud flaps: £126

  • Headlight washer system with washer fluid level indicator: £336
  • Front fog lights with cornering function: £282
  • Halogen main headlights with range control and daytime running function: Included
  • Side marker lights: £102
  • High beam assist: £180
  • LED headlights with LED separate daytime running lights: £1,146

  • Auxiliary heater with programmable parking heater and remote control: £1,152
  • Heating system for water and interior powered by mains electricity or diesel: £666
  • Stationary air conditioning/roof air conditioner: £2,148
  • Programmable air parking heater with radio remote control: £1,638
  • Programmable air parking heater and water heater with radio remote control: £2,424
  • 2nd heater core and 2nd evaporator: £1,776

  • Four 12V outlets in cab: £66
  • 12V outlets in load compartment: £72
  • Toilet ventilation: £216

  • RGB adjustable colour ambient lighting: £480
  • Step illumination with on/off control: £60
  • Interior lighting: Included

  • Chrome pack - Grand California: £384
  • Driver assistance pack A - Grand California: £384
  • Driver assistance pack C - Grand California: £768
  • Driver assistance pack D - Grand California: £768
  • Lights and vision pack A - Grand California: £276
  • Lights and vision pack B - Grand California: £420
  • Driver assistance pack B with fixed towbar - Grand California: £1,590
  • Smokers pack - Grand California: £42

  • Metallic - Reflex silver: £1,392
  • Metallic - Indium grey: £1,392

  • Solid - Candy white: £0

  • Two tone - Candy white/Cherry red: £2,868
  • Two tone - Candy white/Mojave beige: £2,868
  • Two tone - Candy white/Deep ocean blue: £2,868
  • Two tone - Reflex silver/Indium grey: £2,868

  • Airbags - Drivers and front passengers side and curtain airbags: £1,080
  • Tyre pressure warning light: £396
  • Airbags - Side and curtain for driver: £924

  • Heated driver and front passenger seats: £294

  • Lockable wheel bolts: £30
  • 4 remote control folding keys: £90
  • Remote central locking with 2 remote keys: Included

  • Fixed towbar with 13 pin socket and trailer stabilisation: £720
  • Removable towbar ball with 13 pin socket: £888
  • Towbar preparation with 13 pin socket: £246
  • Towbar preparation with bracket and 13 pin socket: £594
  • Trailer assist with fixed towbar: £1,008
  • Trailer assist with removable towbar: £1,008

  • Valley fabric seat trim covers - Palladium: £0

  • Tyre mobility kit Includes 12V compressor and tyre sealant: Included
  • Space saver spare wheel: £180
  • Steel spare wheel: £168

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.

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