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.

The split colourway design looks set to stay and is a nod to the Californias of the past. Again, we’re still awaiting how many different colour options there will be. Really there’s not a great deal more to tell about the exterior and, in truth, thousands of people didn’t make the journey to the NEC to ogle the outside of this new camping option. The real news is obviously inside!

VW Volkswagen Grand California
VW Volkswagen Grand California
VW Volkswagen Grand California

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.

Under the sink and stove area are the obligatory storage options. In the draws below you can store all your pots, pans and other sundry kitchen appliances. To the left of the cooking area is the, most important thing to any great camping trip, the pull out fridge! The fridge in the Grand California is a thing of beauty. You wouldn’t know it’s there until you draw it out, then you’re greeted with 70 litres of frosty storage. Opposite the kitchen area is the bathroom, that’s right we said bathroom! Step inside and you’re greeted by the pure white interior complete with toilet, sink and shower area. Starting to sound like the Hilton isn’t it!?

As you would expect, the bathroom is not tremendous in size. But there’s more than enough room for a person to stand up and comfortably move around. A running theme with Grand California is the ample room for movement. The motorhome is fitted with a 110 litre fresh water tank and 90 litre waste water tank. Once you’ve managed to fill that waste water space, say goodbye to drawing straws for who’s pumping out the dunny.

The toilet on the Grand Cali is emptied via a cassette that is removable from the outside and easily cleaned. It’s very much worth pointing out that the Grand California’s bathroom doubles up as a wet room. Why? You ask? Well how else would you be able to take a shower in there without making a mess?! That’s right, it’s got a shower! No more trudging over to the communal shower area and tiptoeing through everyone else’s cold shower water for you! Just fill up your water tank and away you go! It’s family holiday heaven!

VW Volkswagen Grand California
VW Volkswagen Grand California
VW Volkswagen Grand California

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.

But this isn’t all she wrote in terms of storage space in both models. Throughout the cabs there are cabinets lining the walls. Much the same as you would expect on your own private plane. Plus above the table there are more pockets of space to store emergency colouring books or treats for over-zealous children. Some bonus features to help soothe those troublesome tots too lie in the form of Bluetooth speakers in the living area. So you can play music independent of the infotainment system.

So from a teenager’s point of, when mum and dad are in the front seat being “well tragic” listening to old people music. You can drop the base in the back! It’s clear from the throngs of people flocking to the VWCV stand at CCM ’19 that there’s definitely a buzz around the new Grand California.

When you look at the vehicles as a whole it’s easy to see why it’s causing such a stir. The interior is wonderfully thought out and if private jet luxury and convenience was what VW were shooting for, then they’ve definitely achieved it with the feel and quality of the finish.



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