In production since 1988, the Volkswagen California is a recognisable classic to some. 28 years later and in its 6th generation, this multi-purpose campervan is finally available in New Zealand.
Having shifted 111,000 units since the T3 model, it’s clear that the vehicle is a hit with the adventurous. It’s perfectly suited for couples and small families who want a quick get-away on the weekends, offering the flexibility to enjoy the outdoors during the day or sit comfortably inside during the evenings while playing cards or board games.
Factory fitted to the nines
VW has thought of - and provided - pretty much everything. It can comfortably sleep four adults as the rear bench seat folds down to create a first-floor double bed and the pop-up roof electronically unfolds to provide a roof-top double bed. This is also equipped with dimmable LED lights and zip down window flaps, so you can welcome in the morning rays and unveil the blissful view.
The slim-line kitchen boasts a cooling box, gas cook top, sink and a good amount of storage space. It even has a fold-out table hinged from the bench. There’s also plenty of privacy and warmth thanks to integrated roller blinds which slide easily across all of the window areas, other than the front side windows which have magnetic coverings that cling to the window frame. The front seats are designed to swivel up to 180 degrees, creating a cosy seated atmosphere. To be honest, this was a little more complicated than I at first anticipated, as they need to be carefully aligned in order to swivel without catching on the side pillars or the steering wheel. One time we even opened the door to be able to complete the manoeuvre.
Bringing the inside, out
A retractable awning is fitted down the driver’s side which folds out to give shelter from the sun or rain. A removable camping table is stowed inside the sliding door while there are two folding chairs in the tailgate. Together they provide the perfect dinner setting for two.
There are multiple 12v power outlets available to power or charge accessories. They even stored small torches that came with the van for those late night bathroom stops. There are two 230v power outlets connected to an inverter which can be used to power your coffee machine, milk frother, or even a small TV if you wish.
Some may baulk at the price but I think you get a lot for your money. It’s very stable and comfortable to drive, it’s definitely something a bit different and it’s a pleasant slice of the luxury camping experience.
At a glance
|Model||VW California Ocean|
|Engine||2.0L 4cyl BiTurbo diesel|
|ANCAP safety rating||TBA|
|Transmission||7-Speed DSG Auto 4Motion|
|Fuel economy||8.8L/100km diesel (combined)|
|Towing capacity||750kg unbraked, 2,500kg braked|
|Electronic stability control with brake assistant||Hill hold control|
|ABS||Lane change assistant (side assist)|
|ASR (anti-spin regulation)||Front, side and curtain airbags|
|EDL (electronic differential lock)||Reverse camera|