Volkwagen California

iDrive: 'The California boasts all mod-cons, but is it really worth £46,000?'

Price from: £42,000 (£46,605 SE 2.0 litre BiTDI tested)

Engine capacity: 2.0l

Power output (PS @ rpm): 180 @ 4000

Top speed (mph): 115

0-62 mph (seconds): 12.8

Fuel economy (mpg): 33.6

CO2 emissions (g/km): 221

Cruising the country lanes of East Anglia in search of our campsite my fellow California testers and I soon struck up the following conversation.

“This is lovely,” we all agreed, as we drooled over our soft beds, the cool beers sitting in our chilled fridge and a two-ring gas hob, “but who exactly would spend £46,000 on one?” “Outdoor-loving bankers?” I suggest. “No,” says my navigator, “it’s for young families.” “Not for this price,” chimes a voice from way, way back in the rear. It might be laden with kit (though no loo), a comfortable ride and a luxury option over a night under canvas, but the California certainly doesn’t come cheap.

For your money you do get a surprisingly pleasurable and responsive drive. And after a short dash down some winding roads – where the van performs wells in the corners, akin to a nippy Transit – we arrive at our campsites in Southwold. Where it becomes clear quickly that the California appeals to a very specific constituency. For it’s the lucky demographic of retired camping geeks (spending their baby-boomer pension pots on permanent staycation) who turn their heads as we pitch up.

“Is that the 2011 model?” asks the first friendly camper who sidles over to admire our bed for the night. “Yes,” I reply. Explaining to her that it’s VW’s latest front-engine camper. “It’s not as pretty as the older ones, though,” she replies, pointing to three or four VW campers of varying age that dot the campsite. And she’s right. VW’s latest take on the classic Kombi doesn’t share its older sibling’s pretty styling. But it’s more than comfortable enough for four and as two cars of tent-dwelling friends arrive to complete our party, my California dreamers and I make them very aware we’ll be enjoying our little luxuries while they struggle with tent poles and groundsheets.

But is this luxury really worth the money? We still can’t decide. And as I manage to set off its deafening alarm at 4am after too many cold beers necessitate a trip to the toilet block, I wonder if perhaps we’d have been better off in a tent? Probably not, but we could have done with a loo.

The Competition

Around £30,000 will get you a good-sized motorhome. Alternatively a trip for two around the world flying first class should come in at less than the price of this beast.

Suggested Topics
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living