What is it?
The new van market is wide and varied, but it’s the Volkswagen Caddy California which has always been able to deliver a surprisingly rounded experience. It’s a more compact camper, of course, but its clever design and well-made interior has meant that it can be the perfect retreat during your next roadtrip.
This latest Caddy California aims to deliver an even more upmarket approach without losing that all-important usability. Let’s see what else it has to offer.
Based on the fifth-generation Caddy Cargo van, the newest Caddy California is the smallest camper offered by Volkswagen. This makes it quite a special option due to the cost difference between this model and its larger siblings, the California and Grand California, and due to the Caddy California being of similar size to the VW Golf there are no problems with steering along narrow country roads.
Volkswagen has breathed a whole lot of life into the Caddy range in 2021 by bringing out the California version. 16” alloys, halogen headlights with LED tailgate lighting surrounds and unique ‘California’ badging are all standard features creating a great looking little camper.
What’s under the bonnet?
There are currently three engine options for the Caddy California. This includes the 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with 114 PS power output available with both manual and DSG gearboxes and the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine, available in 102 PS manual or 122 PS DSG variants.
All of the Caddy California options offer front wheel drive which makes for a controlled and comfortable driving experience.
Another choice you will need to make when picking out your Caddy California is whether to go for the short wheel base or the Maxi version. The Maxi is 353mm longer which provides slightly more storage space in the boot area.
How does it look?
The Caddy California looks compact and stylish, there is a variety of different solid, metallic and pearl effect colour options to choose from, with options like Cherry Red and Costa Azul which is photographed here. There is also a variety of striking alloy wheel options to choose from allowing you to add a personalised touch. There is also black styling to the door mirrors and roof rails which add an element of style.
The plethora of sharp cuts and angles mean that the Caddy California doesn’t feel too slab-sided, either, while the plentiful glass sections make the whole van appear lighter both inside and out.
The Caddy Cali has a far more futuristic appearance previous Caddy models. The sharp headlights make it a little more impactful on the road and it feels, overall, like Volkswagen has tried to transplant some of the styling touches from the Golf onto a more boxy design - and it has been quite successful, in our eyes at least.
What’s it like inside?
Experience ultimate relaxation with the spacious, foldable bed of the Caddy California. Measuring 1,980mm x 1,070mm and equipped with underneath storage, it's the perfect place to unwind during the day or enjoy a peaceful night's sleep. Plus, the disc-spring mattress ensures maximum comfort. For an unforgettable night under the stars, opt for the optional panoramic sunroof. It's a magical way to enhance your sleeping experience.
Cook with a view and stay protected from the elements with the versatile pull-out mini kitchen found behind the Caddy California's tailgate. The two-meter standing space features a convenient one-burner gas stove and ample storage, including a dedicated cutlery drawer.
Enhance your privacy and achieve the perfect night's sleep by equipping blinds to every window of your Caddy California. Discover how to make the most of your sleeping environment.
What’s the spec like?
There’s plenty of equipment coming as standard on the Caddy California. Entry-level versions get a variety of assistance systems, including a driver alert function, emergency braking and front assist with pedestrian monitoring. They all help to make the Caddy Cali feel very secure from the off.
The new 8.25-inch infotainment system comes as standard, too, and though it might not be the most responsive it is packed with features. However, we would’ve liked just a few physical buttons to help make accessing some of the car’s key functions a bit easier. The smartphone mirroring system works well, however, and means it’s simple to use your phone’s functionality in the car.
It’s also a van which is comfortable over long journeys thanks to its sorted suspension and this means it’s far more accomplished at motorway stints than the car it replaces. You may not have thought it at first, but the Caddy California is actually an excellent all-rounder.