iDrive: 'The California boasts all mod-cons, but is it really worth £46,000?'
Monday 13 June 2011
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.
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.
Life & Style blogs
Why you should never make assumptions about people with autism
People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year, says study
Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...