Volkswagen California

From £55,205.00

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New Volkswagen California Campervan

The California is a flexible camper van with an upmarket cabin that makes travelling, relaxing and sleeping as enjoyable and simple as possible. Crammed with features, the California ensures that life on the road is never dull.

Volkswagen California T6.1

Volkswagen’s iconic California camper has gone through many changes over the years, but the move to T6.1 has brought some of the largest edits to date. It’s more technologically advanced than ever before, while upgrades to its styling ensure that it remains a classy option.

Of course, its go-anywhere capability and camper status needs to be retained, which is why Volkswagen has packed the new California 6.1 with features that warranted a five-star rating in the prestigious Motorhome and Campervan Design Awards Buyers Guide for 2021, published by The Caravan and Motorhome Club.

Let’s take a look at what it’s got to offer.

Interior Design

People buy a California for its interior, bringing the camper van experience with a distinctly premium feeling to it. The new T6.1 incorporates a new kitchen unit, which includes a gas stove, a flexible worktop, a stainless steel sink, where fresh water is provided by a 30-litre storage tank, and a 42-litre cooling/warming box.

An adjustable leather steering wheel with height-and-reach adjustability and power-assisted steering is standard. Other features include a dipping breakaway rear-view mirror, electric front windows, semi-automatic air conditioning and black-out window blinds throughout.

When the driving has finished, both front seats rotate 180 degrees. A folding table (plus two chairs) is included, which attaches to a side sliding door and features an awning rail. Stowage provision includes cup and bottle holders, door compartments, a lockable glovebox and storage nets. When it is time to go to sleep, a two-person bed transforms from the rear bench and a two-person upper bed (formed from the pop-up roof) are accessible.


The outside of the California represents a subtle yet premium move forward over the previous version. There’s a reshaped grille and new LED headlights, which give the California a noticeable ‘face’. Plenty of chrome accents have been applied to give the camper a premium finish, too. 

You still get the eye-catching two-tone colour scheme, while a new bronze exterior shade gives the camper a distinctly high-end feel. 


All Calfornias, regardless of trim, are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine. Driven through a DSG automatic gearbox, it produces up to 193bhp. Torquey and responsive, it’s a fitting powertrain for the California and gives it performance which is more than brisk enough for most situations. 

There’s also the option to have either front- or all-wheel-drive, the latter providing a variant for those who want a little more capability in poorer conditions. 

CO2 emissions range from 162g/km to 168g/km, while fuel economy varies between 45.6mg and 44.8mpg. The Start/Stop system ensures that fuel consumption is minimised by automatically switching the engine off whenever the California Coast comes to a standstill.​

​Technology and Safety

The new California utilises a clever touchscreen system, which not only controls the temperature in the cabin, but also raises or lowers the pop-up roof. There’s then a new infotainment system up front, which is available in either eight- or 9.2-inches. Either way, it’s a system that is simple to operate and set up. 

It’s here that you’ll find controls for the satellite navigation (a key function when road-tripping) as well as media controls and Bluetooth phone connectivity. There’s also the option to have Volkswagen’s digital cockpit setup in place of the conventional dials. 

Driving aids include a Traction Control System, Electronic Stability Programme, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System and Driver Alert System. Passive safety features comprise child locks, ISOFIX mountings, adjustable head restraints and seatbelt tensioners. An alarm, an immobiliser and remote central locking are also included.​Technology and Safety

Should I buy a VW Campervan?

There are plenty of reasons to buy a campervan including family holidays and spontaneous adventures away but is a VW California right for you and worth the investment? If you pick a VW Cali you’ll find that its:

  • A sensible size – The VW California can go everywhere a car can go, but with the added feature of a kitchen sink on board.
  • Houses state of the art technology – This Camper offers lots of driver assistance tech to keep you and your passengers safe on the road.
  • Has exceptional residual values – If you’ve looked at buying a used Cali, you'll have found that they hold their value extremely well. This is even better news for you if you’re thinking of buying a new one.
  • Factory built, NOT a conversion – German build quality throughout and comes with…
  • Factory warranty – up to 5 years worry-free adventuring and the Cali is VW from rubber to roof.

Trim levels for the Volkswagen California:

California Coast

Features include:

  • 16"x 6.5J Clayton alloy wheels
  • Lights & Vision package
  • Adaptive Cruise Control including speed limiter and City Emergency Braking
  • Parking sensors - front and rear
  • Auxiliary heater with programmable functionality and radio remote control
  • Manual pop-up roof

California Ocean

Features include:

  • 17" x 7J "Aracaju" Silver alloy wheels
  • Navigation system "Discover Media" including "Streaming & Internet"
  • Adaptive Cruise Control including speed limiter and City Emergency Braking
  • Parking sensors - front and rear with park assist
  • Double glazing in rear seat area; heat-insulating glass in front area
  • LED headlights
  • Digital Cockpit and Driver Alert System

The California Coast

Coast is the entry point to the California range, but brings a wealth of standard equipment. It features a full awning with black housing and roof rails, as well as a manual pop up roof. You also get parking sensors at both the front and rear of the camper and adaptive cruise control, which should help longer journeys to breeze by. You still get an auxiliary heated with remote control, allowing you to keep the van’s cabin at just the right temperature at all times. 

The California Coast features body-coloured elements such as an aluminium pop-up roof, door handles, door mirrors (electrically heated and adjustable)​and bumpers. A driver-side sliding door provides easy access, the vehicle’s tailgate can be remotely released and locked and the vehicle rides on 16-inch Clayton alloy wheels. Illumination includes range-adjustable headlights, daytime running lights and rear fog lamps.

The California Ocean

Move up to Ocean and you’ll find all of the bells and whistles added to the California. You now get 17-inch alloy wheels and full LED headlights, as well as Volkswagen’s premium ‘Discover Media’ infotainment setup. The digital cockpit system is included as standard too.

Double glazing is now added to the rear of the van to help keep the heat in during colder weather or allow the cabin to remain cool during hotter temperatures. There’s also Volkswagen’s park assist system fitted too, which can ‘park’ the California for you when it detects a space of the right size. 

What's the Difference between the Volkswagen California Ocean and Coast?

Always the top of the range model, the Ocean now comes with more engine choices, you can opt for a higher-powered 196bhp motor, as well as optional 4MOTION all-wheel drive; there’s added technology too, larger alloy wheels, along with the pop-up roof which glides up hydraulically at the touch of a button and for practicality there’s plenty of storage.When a campervan just isn’t enough then choose the Volkswagen California Ocean, truly now a glampervan!

However the Coast is a full camper with the hob, sink and fridge included. It boasts a spring double bed for super-comfy sleeping without the power roof; there’s also adaptive cruise control and emergency city braking. There’s great connectivity and super-sharp touchscreen. The Coast comes with the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine but unlike the Ocean there’s no option to upgrade. In essence the Coast may not have all of the fancy added extras and upgrades however is still well-equipped with a kitchen, heater and driver assist aids making it a more affordable way to join the Camper life.

If you want top of the range in every area and are happy to allocate a commensurate budget, then the Volkswagen California Ocean is for you. However if value for money and conserving your budget is really important to you then the Coast offers an exceptional level of spec for a lesser budget and will get you on the road adventuring on a budget.

Contact Swansway Volkswagen Van Centre

You can reach our Volkswagen Van Centre dealerships on 01978 503540 for Wrexham, 0121 5140627 for Birmingham, 01772 911350 for Lancashire or 0151 5152906 for Liverpool. Alternatively, you can submit an enquiry and we'll get back to you as soon as we can

Download the Volkswagen California Brochure

Alloys 16 inch
Camping Awning rail with tent adapter
Sleeping For four people

VW California Ocean Test Drive Review

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What is the Volkswagen California Ocean?

Holidays within the UK have been growing in popularity during recent years, with people opting for a ‘staycation’ rather than travelling abroad more than ever before.

An easy way to do this is with a camper van and the Volkswagen California – which we’re testing here – is one of the most sought-after.

Though many people opt for a larger motorhome, the compact size and car-like driving experience has pushed people towards the California in their droves, despite a relatively high list price.

We’re testing it here in the UK in range-topping Ocean specification.

What’s new?

A camper van is designed to be a home-away-from-home, which is why there’s so much equipment packed into the California.

Yes, it may cost from £56,884 (and our test van tipped the scales at a hefty £63,155), but that’s because it’s brimmed full of handy features.

Though we’ll look at these in greater detail later on, they mean that you can easily set up camp wherever you decide – the California is very much a self-contained holiday home.

And because it’s based on the regular Transporter, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about its overall size. Yes, if you’re not used to a traditional van it may take some getting used to, but compared to a coachbuilt motorhome it’s leagues easier to drive.

What’s under the bonnet?

The California uses Volkswagen’s tried-and-tested 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel, which here pushes out 148bhp and 340Nm of torque to the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG gearbox.

Its 0-60mph Acceleration is hardly what you’d call brisk at a claimed 14.2 seconds, and neither is its 110mph top speed. However out on the road it rarely feels underpowered or unable to deal with the job in hand, which is impressive considering the amount of weight it has to pull around.

Economy-wise, Volkswagen claims 40.9mpg combined, while emissions stand at 179g/km CO2. Neither of these are bad for the segment, and when coupled with a 70-litre fuel tank mean that the California has a decent touring range of over 600 miles – depending on how you drive it, of course.

What’s it like to drive?

Uneventful, predictable and safe – not necessarily driving traits which will get the blood pumping, but all ones you want to associate with a camper van. The California steers and handles well given its size and weight, and there’s a little less roll in the corner than you’d expect. The steering is relatively light, but it’s reasonably accurate and allows you to get the van through bends with little fuss.

Though that engine may not be all that punchy, it gets up to a lick pretty quickly, and it feels far quicker than the numbers suggest, in fact. The DSG gearbox is the star of the show here, mind; it’s smooth, efficient and responsive. The only issue here is an occasional loss of front-end traction when pulling hard away from a junction. It’s something we’ll admit that not many people will suffer with, but hard starts from a dead stop do get the front wheels spinning in an almost impressive fashion.

How does it look?

The California is a classy and unassuming product, both inside and out. It’s hard to distinguish one from a regular Caravelle or Transporter from the outside, save for subtle Ocean badges dotted in various areas, and the obvious side awning.

Our car also came with optional LED headlights and daytime running lights (£1,584) and metallic paint (£696). These both combine to make the California look just a little classier.

What’s it like inside?

The forward section of the California features two wide, comfortable and supportive captain’s chairs, which feature sizeable armrests likely to help make longer journeys that little bit more comfortable. These can be rotated round to face the rear seats to create an open seating area.

There’s plenty of storage dotted throughout the cabin, and then you have the cooker and sink positioned under a glass top to the side of the car. There’s even a fridge. Up top, you can pop the roof (electrically) to extend the headroom of the California, and this also features a roof bed and stowage component. You can even program the heating when parked via a remote control.

Everything feels sturdy and built-to-last – which is just what you want from a vehicle which is going to be going here, there and everywhere.

What’s the spec like?

There’s a wealth of standard equipment accompanying the California, but then you’d hope there to be given its price.

You get three-zone climate control included as part of the car’s cost, along with 17-inch alloy wheels, the aforementioned pop-up roof and all of the major creature comforts you’d expect from a camper.

It’s a shame that given the van’s price that you don’t get Volkswagen’s excellent Discover Media navigation system as standard.

It houses functions such as satellite navigation and media controls, and just as in other Volkswagen products, it’s brilliantly simple to use with clear graphics and a logically laid-out design. But at £1,578, it’s a costly addition – and one you’d expect to be included as standard in the top-spec Ocean model.


The California is geared towards adventures and, if that’s your thing, then you won’t for a second be disappointed by picking this well-finished Volkswagen. It’s easy to drive – one of its biggest merits – yet it looks premium enough to be parked up in even the smartest of campsites.

Expensive it may be, but many will see the California as an investment, in the same vein as a classic sports car, to be enjoyed over many years and in all manner of places.

If you look at it that way, it makes a lot of sense indeed.

Important information :

At the end of the agreement there are three options: i) pay the optional final payment and own the vehicle; ii) return the vehicle: subject to excess mileage and fair wear and tear, charges may apply; or iii) replace: part exchange the vehicle. With Solutions Personal Contract Plan. 18s+. Subject to availability and status. T&Cs apply. Ordered by 30 September 2021 from participating Van Centres. Indemnities may be required. Subject to changes in vehicle or equipment prices. Not available in conjunction with any other offer and may be varied or withdrawn at any time. Accurate at time of publication [07/2021]. Freepost Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Financial Services.
Vehicles to be ordered by 30/06/2021. Covers two interim services, two major services and one MOT test. Warranty restricted to 120,00 miles Exclusions, restrictions and T&Cs apply. Subject to availability, participating Van Centres only. Offer may be altered or withdrawn at any time.