Interior design and technology – VW California


Cavernous camping hut

In a nutshell, this popular factory-built four-berth motorhome features a kitchenette on one side and a living and dining area on the other.

Although based on a commercial van, there aren’t many other similarities. Once parked you will need some free space. The manually operated roof can be flipped up at one end and, when secured in place, creates enough headroom to move around the kitchen and dining area.

The upper-level double-bed sleeping area – accessed through a sunroof-sized hole – features two side zip-panel windows and a fully-opening section facing the front of the van. The roof canvas is available in a choice of three colors (gray, red or blue).

The Cali Coast kitchenette includes a dual-burner gas hob with spark ignition, glass worktops with push-button release mechanisms, stainless steel sink and plastic bowl, compressor refrigerator 42-liter top-loading unit and a large base cabinet finished in glossy oak wood effect.

A variety of other storage (depending on trim level) is located towards the rear of the van, including a two-part built-in wardrobe with mirror, clothes rail and lockable safe. A 45-liter folding storage is fitted above the back of the bench. Fresh water and wastewater are supplied by on-board tanks, each with a capacity of 42 liters.

It is also a rear cupboard where the various components for the supply of electricity, water and gas are located: the differential circuit breaker, the fresh water tank with a recess in which is inserted a bottle of camping gas of 2 , 8 kg and the fresh water drain lever.

The dual-belt folding rear seat in the salon can move to endless positions via a floor-mounted rail system, as well as swivel front seats. California also includes a folding table (stored inside the sliding door), two comfortable camping chairs (neatly stored in a zippered pocket in the tailgate), and a retractable awning to allow alfresco dining when the sun is shining.

On the glazing side, the Cali has a thermally insulated rear window, sliding windows in the front and fixed windows in the rear cabin. All the windows incorporate clever nuances for more privacy. On the driver’s side there is a sliding door which in the UK located on the right side could mean children get out in oncoming traffic.

Cocooned in a cockpit

The bolt perched on the elastic seats provides superb forward visibility through the enormous windshield and side windows. Large exterior mirrors help eliminate blind spots and rear parking sensors and a rear camera also help reverse in tight spaces.

While the instrument panel has plenty of durable and practical plastic analog dials, its simplicity is refreshing and far from distracting. There are, of course, plenty of storage space dotted around as well as large cup holders in the front and back. A cockpit floor area is carpeted and non-slip rubber mats can be found aft. Comfort and convenience features up front include armrests for both front seats, grab handles on the A-pillars for easy access, an illuminated glove box, and a handy flashlight that plugs into the outlet lighter.

A 10.25-inch touchscreen is positioned in the center of the dashboard, integrating (depending on trim level and specifications), a radio and navigation system with integrated eSIM, App-Connect, We Connect and Bluetooth.

An LED panel positioned in the roof lining is used to manage the vehicle’s electrical connection, the state of charge of the battery, the water levels, the auxiliary heating of the passenger compartment and the LED lighting. It includes an alarm clock and even a digital “inclinometer” (bubble level) display.

A suite of sensors, radars and cameras provide information on the driving environment around the vehicle. These include rear traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring system, adaptive cruise control and downhill assist.

As part of the standard Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), it also has crosswind assist that automatically applies the brakes in strong winds.

On the open road

Our VW California 6.1 Coast is powered by a 150hp 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine mated to a seven-speed DSG gearbox (there is no manual option).

There’s no denying that the Cali is a legend. It is cleverly designed and very well laid out, meeting almost any need and desire on the go. The fixings and accessories are also strong. Filled with charm and convenience, everything works well for a quick break whenever the mood takes you. And that should be the case for this wincing price. Competitive models include the Ford Nugget, the Vauxhall Vivaro Elite, and the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo.