Launch of the Volkswagen Grand California
We visited the show the same way as one would visit a variety show, yes all the acts are great in their own right, but you know you’re really there to see the main event.
In these terms the main event of CCM 2019 was the Grand California.
So following on from the show and the good eye-balling we gave the new Grand California, what have we learned about this new Volkswagen campervan?
Well, firstly, don’t call it a campervan. There’s a full living space in the rear, but if you plump for the 600 model the rear seats don’t have seatbelts, so what we have here is technically a ‘subcompact motorhome!’ But most people will probably still call it a VW camper, just a midge bigger.
There’ll be two versions of the big Cali once it hits the production lines, the 600 and the 680. We were able to have a snoop around the 600 version. Now the key thing to stress before we get too far into this is that we still don’t know a huge amount about this latest addition to the California brood.
Production is pencilled in to start in May and we should start to see the first of the Grand Cali’s hit showrooms in September. We’re eagerly awaiting brochures and pricing confirmation. So what you can expect from this ‘subcompact motorhome’?
The first thing that will strike you about the exterior design, on the 600 at least, is the beluga whale style face-hump just above the windscreen. Seeing as though the Grand California will not feature a pop-up roof, this houses one of the sleeping options on the 600.
When you first step inside the mammoth’s interior, through the side sliding doors, you’ll be greeted by an ample living space. There is, as you would expect, a fold out table so you can spread out the traveller’s buffet you’ve lovingly created that morning. While you’re picking through the sausage rolls, pork pies and cheese sandwiches you might notice that this table is much larger than that of the Grand Cali’s smaller siblings.
Couple the larger table space with the front swivel chairs and the rear bench seat, which come as standard on both models, and you have a beautifully slick family space. The 600 model is perfect if you’re thinking of whisking the family off for a summer getaway. But if there’s just the two of you and you fancy just cutting the ties for a few weeks, the 680 would probably be more beneficial. (Remember there’s no rear seatbelts on the 680).
Moving past the table and seating arrangements, the next element of the motorhome that strikes you is the kitchen. Blended beautifully into the surface of the cabinets on the passenger side of the rear is the cooking area complete with two gas hobs and a sink. Both are hidden from plain view by tempered black glass when not in use. But when you’re looking to cook up a storm, the glass folds up to become a splash preventing your culinary delight becoming unwitting wallpaper.
Further into the back of the Grand Cali and we come to the piece de resistance! The sleeping arrangements. The 600 model can sleep 4 (2 adults & 2 children). The 195cm x 140cm transverse bed means that two adults can sleep across the width of the bed. Convex windows at the back mean there’s plenty of headroom even for those longer travellers.
Just moving back up the bus for a second, remember the beluga whale frontage to the 600? Well the children’s bed pulls along from above the front seats and a handy ladder drops down to allow access. A glass sunroof gives the kids a bird’s eye view of the night sky, so they can feel like they’re sleeping in the stars! There’s definitely worse places to kip down for the night!
On the 680 version the sleeping arrangements differ slightly. The beluga whale roof space isn’t there so this model sleeps 2. The main bed is a longitudinal design this time, again with plenty of space for two adults to sleep comfortably. Under the bed spaces in both models there is ample storage space, so whether you’re planning on just nipping to the coast for a couple of days, or conquering Europe you should have more than enough baggage space to fit in all your bits and pieces.