0 - 62 mph14.3s

WLTP - CO2 (g/km)

WLTP - CO2206 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

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

  • Without floor mats

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

  • Bluetooth handsfree system
  • Without voice control
  • Volkswagen app connect
  • Mobile phone interface

  • Cross wind assist
  • Speed limiter
  • Driver alert system

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

  • Multifunction display premium with color display
  • Service interval indicator

  • Power adjustable, heated exterior mirrors
  • Left convex exterior mirror
  • Right convex exterior mirror

  • Without decorative strip and decorative insert

  • Regional code ECE for radio
  • 2 (type C) USB interfaces in dashboard
  • Digital radio reception (DAB+)
  • Composition colour radio with 6.5 inch touchscreen
  • 6 speakers
  • SD card slot

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

  • Red LED rear combination lamps
  • High level 3rd brake light
  • Headlight range control

  • 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
  • Roof bed (2000 x 1200 mm) with spring plates and mattress
  • Mini kitchen (on side panel between B and C pillar) with 1 gas cooking plat
  • Without insulating box and without refrigerated glove compartment
  • Jack and tool kit
  • Electromechanical speed sensitive power steering, height and longitudinally adjustable steering column
  • 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
  • 230V inverter with socket on driver seat
  • Camper control unit
  • Gas hob with single burner, stowable
  • Gas tank storage for 1.8kg gas cylinder with gas pressure regulator and shut-off valve
  • Multi-flex board with padding in luggage compartment
  • Child safety net
  • Plastic floor covering in passenger compartment
  • 1 waste bin in door storage compartment of the cab
  • Interior loading edge protection in plastic
  • Illuminated steps in passenger/load compartment

  • Dimmable illuminated instruments

  • 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
  • Single front passenger seat
  • Rear head restraints
  • Front head restraints
  • 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

  • Lockable wheel bolts
  • 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

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

  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 206
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - TEH: 221
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - TEL: 206
  • 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: 7 SPEED

  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • WLTP - MPG - Low: 28.5
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium: 35.8
  • WLTP - MPG - High: 41.5
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High: 34.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 35.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - TEL: 35.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - TEH: 33.6
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low: 9.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium: 7.9
  • 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 - TEL: 7.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - TEH: 8.4

  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Coin Series: Beach Camper
  • 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: N1
  • 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 Torque - MKG: 34.7
  • 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

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

  • Wheel Style: DEVONPORT
  • Tyre Size Rear: 215/60 R17
  • Tyre Size Spare: FULL SIZE
  • Wheel Type: 17" ALLOY
  • Tyre Size Front: 215/60 R17
  • Alloys?: True
  • Space Saver?: False

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

  • No. of Seats: 4
  • Max. Roof Load: 50
  • Minimum Kerbweight: 2437
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 3080
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 70
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 2500
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 750
  • Max. Loading Weight: 643

  • Heated front windscreen: £516
  • Heat insulating windshield made of laminated glass: Included
  • Green heat insulating glass: Included
  • Sliding window with fly screen in passenger compartment at left: £120
  • Sliding window with fly screen in passenger compartment at right: £342
  • Windshield wiper intermittent control 4 stages for winshield wipers: Included
  • Privacy glass in passenger compartment with heat insulating glass in cab: £372

  • Floor covering in wood effect: £516
  • Velour non woven floor covering in cab: Included

  • Without camera systems: Included
  • Without lane change system side Assist: Included
  • Rear view camera: £306
  • Front and rear parking sensors: £576
  • Traffic sign recognition: £294
  • Without park distance control: Included
  • Parking sensors - front and rear with park assist includes side protection: £930
  • Active lane assist with side assists includes rear traffic alert: £1,434

  • Driving profile selection "Drive Select" and Adaptive Chassis Control DCC with dynamic chassis: £1,506

  • Without washerfluid level indicator and without heated washer nozzles: Included
  • Navigation system discover media including streaming and internet: £1,386
  • Without navigation system: Included

  • Electrically folding exterior mirrors: £174
  • Dimming breakaway interior rearview mirror: Included

  • Standard dashboard lower part in colour titanium black: Included

  • 2nd battery (75 Ah, AGM) with cut-off relay and battery monitoring: Included
  • Stronger AGM battery and increased alternator capacity: £270
  • 70 litre fuel tank: Included
  • 80 litre fuel tank: £90

  • Two tone paint: £2,970
  • Front and rear mud flaps: £174
  • Manually opertated pop up roof with side windows, canvas in basalt grey: Included
  • Sliding door on the right in load/ passenger compartment: Included
  • Awning housing and rail in black: Included
  • Awning housing and rail in silver: £240
  • Pearl effect paint: £792
  • Special solid paint: £318
  • Metallic paint: £792
  • Solid paint: Included
  • Power sliding door on the right in passenger compartment: £396
  • Canvas sides -Basalt grey includes panorama window: £282

  • Separate daytime running light: Included
  • High beam assist: £174
  • H7 twin halogen headlamps: Included
  • LED headlamps with LED separate daytime running light: £1,428
  • Without front fog lamps: Included
  • Front fog lights with cornering function: £444
  • Magnetic flashlight: £96

  • Air condition system in cab with electronic control and separate controllable 2nd heating system in load/passenger compartment: Included
  • Auxiliary heater: Included
  • Climatronic 3 zone air conditioning with 2nd evaporator, auxiliary heater, air conditioned headliner and additional passenger control: £1,026
  • Programmable parking heater with radio remote control and auxiliary heater: £2,400

  • Art velours microfleece upholstery + seat centre section with seat bolsters in leather: £1,296
  • Bed extension including storage compartment with sleeping mat: Included
  • Seat trim covers in mixed dots fabric upholstery: Included
  • Comfort sleeping mat: £336

  • LED passenger compartment lighting: Included
  • Interior light concept for camper with comfort in passenger compartment incl additional LED light in the pop up roof for the loft bed,in the tailgate: £342

  • Lights and vision pack selected with Winter pack plus - California: £0
  • Storage compartment pack - California: £222
  • Lights and vision pack - California: £324
  • Winter pack plus - California: £2,724
  • Comfort pack including comfort dashboard - California: £2,076
  • Driver assistance package plus - California Beach: £3,096

  • Metallic - Mojave beige: £792
  • Metallic - Startlight blue: £792
  • Metallic - Bay leaf green: £792
  • Metallic - Indium grey: £792
  • Metallic - Copper Bronze: £792
  • Metallic - Fortana red: £792
  • Metallic - Reflex silver: £792

  • Pearl - Deep black: £792

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

  • Special solid - Candy white: £318

  • Two tone - Candy white/Copper bronze: £2,970
  • Two tone - Candy white/Ascot grey: £2,970
  • Two tone - Candy white/Bay leaf green: £2,970

  • First aid kit with warning triangle and safety vest: £72
  • Warning triangle and first aid kit: Included
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system: Included
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (direct measurement): £186

  • Heated driver and front passenger seats: £390
  • Without seat heater: Included

  • 4 remote control folding keys: £132
  • 2 remote folding keys: Included

  • Removable/lockable towbar includes trailer stabilisation: £798
  • Towbar preparation includes trailer stabilisation: £276
  • Without trailer hitch: Included
  • Trailer assist including park assist, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and side protection: £1,518
  • Trailer assist including front and rear parking sensors: £1,278

  • Mixed dots fabric seat trim covers - Titanium black/ Palladium: £0
  • Art velours microfleece - Titanium black/Palladium + seat centre section with seat bolsters in leather: £1,296

  • All weather tyres 215/60 R17 with super low rolling resistance: £174
  • 255/45 R18 tyres with super low rolling resistance: £0
  • All weather tyres 235/55 R17 with optimised rolling resistance: £174
  • 215/65 R17 tyres with optimised rolling resistance: Included

  • 18" Teresina black diamond turned alloy wheels: £972
  • 17" Woodstock black diamond turned surface alloy wheels: £0
  • 18" Palmerston diamond turned alloy wheels: £1,302
  • 17" Devonport alloy wheels in silver - Z8F: Included

  • Alloy spare wheel with original equipment tyre: £288
  • Tyre mobility kit in lieu of spare wheel Includes 12V compressor and tyre sealant: £0
  • Steel spare wheel with original equipment tire: Included

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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