The Goodwood Test: Volkswagen California Ocean
I was alerted to this rather awesome-looking Volkswagen California XXL camper van by our policy editor and chief Ars van aficionado David Kravets. Based on the VW Crafter, this is a 21st-century descendent of the iconic VW bus (aka the Bulli/Camper/Kombi/Transporter/Type 2). It’s also perhaps the ultimate expression of car camping, short of one of those Russian things that are a spinoff of the armored personnel carrier.
Under the hood is a Euro 6-compliant TDI engine, pneumatic suspension, and a Haldex all-wheel drive system, but that’s pretty boring compared to the rest of this tricked-out ride. For one thing, the rear section has been stretched to provide room for a proper-sized bed, big enough for two adults to sleep comfortably.
In addition to the big bed upstairs, there’s another sleeping area at the back for smaller humans, and both areas feature heating and cooling (presumably just like the seats). Oh, and did I mention the van uses underfloor heating for all-year appeal?
And when they’re awake, the California XXL is tall enough inside to stand up, with 7.2 feet (2.2m) of head room, beneath a massive panoramic roof for watching the skies. But wait, there’s more. Putting a small kitchen in a VW camper is old news, as people have done that since the 1960s, but this one includes two gas burners that retract down into the aluminum work surface at the push of a button, not one but two fridges, and an integrated espresso machine.
Perhaps more impressive than the kitchen, this one also features a pull-out wet room that includes a toilet and shower—complete with rainfall shower head. When not in use, the wet room compacts down behind a door. And for those times when the great outdoors gets a little boring (or clouds make star watching impossible) there’s a built-in LCD projector that you can control (along with just about everything else on this ultimate tourer) via a mobile app.
“That is by far the sweetest VW I’ve ever seen,” Eurovanophile David Kravets told me on Ars Slack this morning. Sadly for David and anyone else in the US who thinks this thing would be ideal for driving vacations, VW has no plans to bring any of its commercial line of vehicles here to the US, despite a Facebook petition with more than 5,500 followers.
The multi-award-winning sixth-generation Volkswagen Transporter has already set new standards for comfort, style and safety features. But now customers can take their ownership and driving experience to a new level with the introduction of an Edition model.
Available to order now, the new Transporter Edition model is the most comprehensively equipped model in the range and features a design package that is guaranteed to make it stand out from the crowd. Based on the already generous specification of the existing Highline model, the new Edition features 17” Cascavel black diamond surfaced alloy wheels on 150 PS models, and 18” Springfield black alloy wheels on 204 PS models. Other design additions include high-gloss black roof and mirror housings, unique Edition decals and blacked-out LED tail lights.
Inside, the Transporter Edition gains Volkswagen’s feature-packed Discover Media Navigation system with App-Connect, while driver aids include front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, LED headlights and power latching on the nearside sliding door. Panel van models are fitted with a tailgate without window, while kombi models feature a tailgate with window. Customers can choose from a palette of five colours; Candy White, Grape Yellow, Cherry Red, and Indium Grey or Onyx White (at additional cost).
Naturally, all Edition models combine all the features and qualities that make the Transporter range the best all-rounder in its sector, including standard Front Assist and City Emergency Braking systems. All models have a substantial payload and the same well-shaped, easily accessible load area as other models in the range. Volumes range from 3.5m3 for the kombi, to 5.8m3 for the panel van version. Edition models are available in short wheelbase, low roof form only.
Both panel van and kombi versions can be specified with either a 2.0-litre TDI 150 PS or a 2.0-litre TDI 204 PS engine. Both are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission as standard and are available with a seven-speed DSG gearbox as an option.
Despite its comprehensive specification, the new Edition represents exceptional value for money. Transporter Edition panel van prices start at £28,990 (RRP basic ex VAT), while kombi prices start from £30,620. Order books are open now, with the first deliveries expected in November.
For more details on Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ award-winning range of products and services, or to find your nearest Van Centre, please visit www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk.
Transporter Edition prices
Transporter Edition technical data
Transporter Edition weight data
*Automotive World is not responsible for the content of this news release.
The Caravelle is the modern version of the iconic vehicle, beloved by surfers, hippies and generations of holidaying families
A family camping trip to France was on the cards, and not ones to travel light, myself, my wife and two boys needed as much space a possible.
It was not exactly glamping but we had a huge tent, fridge, inflatable sofa, cooker grill, scooters and even carpet to fit in.
So that made the latest generation six Volkswagen Caravelle the obvious choice to for the road trip.
As someone who toured around the Scottish Highlands as a child in a 1970s VW camper van the idea of taking the Caravelle had an added nostalgic appeal.
The Caravelle is the modern version of the iconic vehicle, beloved by surfers, hippies and generations of holidaying families.
For our two weeks in Dordogne we had a sedate dark Starlight Blue metallic short wheelbase Caravelle. If we didn’t have the tent there is sleep pack optional extra which turns the rear bench into a double bed.
Or for full family fun the California has a hinged pop up fabric roof with another bed, and is kitted out with cooking facilities and a kitchen sink.
A culinary basin seemed to be one of the few things we didn’t seem to be bringing with us.
One of the strongest features of the Caravelle is the way the seven-seater can be easily reconfigured to suit your needs.
Standard setup has two individual armchairs as a second row and a three seater bench on the third row, along with a fold up table. The whole system is on rails running the length of the floor so they can all be moved forward and backwards. The individual rear seats can also be spun round to face the rear bench.
There is also the option of taking out all the seating and table turning it into a fully-fledged van.
As we just had our two boys Leo, seven, and Monty, five, out came the two individual chairs and table. It took less than 15 minutes but due to their weight it is a two-person job.
We then pushed the rear bench forward leaving them with plenty of leg room, and fitted their child seats into the ISOFIX points. With the rear-sliding doors and elevated seating position, buckling them up each trip was made considerably easier than a conventional car.
This left us with a cavernous rear loading space which made packing more of a chuck-and-forget exercise that the usual Tetris experiment.
With the destination set for Portsmouth ferry port on the standard 5” touchscreen via the upgraded Discover Media Navigation System Plus (£1,410) , which also adds Apple Carplay, we were good to go.
The Caravelle comes with the option of two petrol engines, 2.0 litre but with 150PS or 204PS and two similar capacity diesels with similar PS power but more torque.
Our car was the lower power petrol engine with the seven-speed DGG gearbox.
Once on the move we realised how much room there is up front, there was space for a cool box to go between the driver and passenger seats. Plus high and low level glove boxes, a centre dash top cubby hole and dual door pockets on each side. In addition to cupholders there are holders for two-litre drinks bottles.
On arrival a the ferry port for our rendezvous with the 8.15am Brittany Ferries boat to Caen it was evident that we were in good company. We were parked up with more than a dozen identical vehicles plus several older VW Campers.
For a holiday in western France the eight-hour boat trip takes a large chunk out of the distance of driving from Calais.
We went to the cinema, the restaurant and there was even a TV in our four-berth ensuite cabin.
If you are a fan of the high up driving position of SUVs, they are nothing compared to the Caravelle. The driver’s seat is perched higher than any Range Rover and with the upright panoramic screen and windows all around viability is excellent.
Which is a good thing as with a vehicle which is 197cm tall and almost 5m long, you need to take note of height restrictions and any sharp left or right turns.
The huge glassed areas were also perfect for taking in the sweeping French dual carriageways as we ate up the miles of flat countryside in Normandy and the Loire.
With the twin armrests for driver and passenger and softly sprung suspension the Caravelle is happy cruising along at the French motorway speed limit of 80mph. With a top speed of 112mph and a 0-60mph time of 12 seconds it shows its foundations are built on a commercial platform rather than a MPV’s car specification.
Overtaking is not a issue though, but it helps to knock the seven-speed DSG gearbox into S for sport on some occasions.
With an overnight stop at a guest house alongside the historic Le Mans race circuit we had 200 miles left to reach our campsite in the Dordogne.
If it has the underpinnings of a Light Commercial Vehicle you would not tell it from the cabin, which has the materials and fit and finish familiar to any VW car owner.
It comes in three trim levels SE, Executive and Generation Six. Standard in the base model like ours was DAB, a five-inch touchscreen infotainment system, fabric upholstery, USB Connection, 17” wheels and body coloured bumpers and mirrors.
Options you may want to add that are not included are parking sensors, automatic lights, heated seats, sat nav and cruise control.
Some of these are included if you spec the higher trim levels or can be added individually.
As we went deeper into the Perigord Noir region on more challenging winding roads our pace slowed somewhat.
The engine is up to the job of hauling around the weight, but the suspension reminds you off it commercial roots. On the twisty stuff it is no SUV, despite coil springs and independent rear suspension it cannot be driven hard through the beds without a fair bit of wallow.
But a we set up camp with all the extra kit we could carry that was soon forgotten.
Plus with a fortnight to explore with an unloaded vehicle the kids enjoyed the novelty of the extra space and it helped keep arguments to a minimum.
During our trip we covered 1,400 miles and averaged just under 30mpg, which seems fair for a fully-loaded 3-tonne vehicle.
The huge of 4,000-litres of load space makes packing for a holiday a liberating and carefree experience.
The nature of the ride and performance suit the relaxed summer holiday ethos, if you are in the mood to channel your inner Cliff Richards.
Buying a Caravelle is a lifestyle choice, amazing on the school run and high days and holidays, but less in a supermarket car park or small city streets.
Caravelle SE SWB 2.0 TDI
Basic price inc vat £41,941 (£47,905 as tested)
Engine – 2.0 litre petrol four-cylinder
Gearbox – 7 speed DSG automatic
Top speed – 112mph
0-62mph – 13 seconds
CO2 emissions (g/km) 158
Power – 150 PS
Fuel consumption (official combined mpg) – 46.3
Vehicle weight – 3,000kg
Dimensions – 490cm L, 229cm W and 197cm H.
Brittany Ferries operates the longer routes from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth direct to Brittany and Normandy saving miles of unnecessary and costly driving. Travel overnight by luxury cruise-ferry in the comfort of your own cabin with en-suite facilities or be whisked across the channel in as little as 3 hours. We travelled from Portsmouth to St Malo, and returned from Caen to Portsmouth. Cross Channel fares start from £79 each way for a car+2, and from £109 with a motorhome. Book online at www.brittanyferries.com or call 0330 159 7000.
Jennifer Walker always enjoyed spending her summers camping – so much so that she decided to start a business out of a vintage Volkswagen camper van.
The 41-year old now travels around the country selling high-quality coffee and homemade cakes from her mobile catering vehicle under the brand Split Screen Coffee.
Her popular coffee and cakes have landed her with a small business of the year nomination at this year’s Nottingham Post Women in Business Awards.
Mrs Walker, of Ruddington, said: “I was originally a teacher and wanted a change of career.
“We’d always had a camper van and I originally wanted to start a travelling pub out of the van but realised it would be too difficult.
“I looked online to try and find a van, and found one. The van was originally known as ‘Split Screen Bakery’ so we kept the name and decided to sell local coffee and homemade cakes.”
She bought the van two years ago and refurbished it to be a travelling coffee shop, and started trading soon after at the Great Notts Show in 2015, where the business proved to be a huge hit.
“As soon as people saw us at the show, they came over and loved it.
“We use the best quality coffee, as there are plenty of travelling coffee vans across Nottingham, but often the quality isn’t the best. We try to sell the best possible.”
The business pitches up at various different food and drink shows and festivals around the UK, as well as taking private bookings for weddings, parties and events.
Earlier this month, it was one of three Nottinghamshire companies included in a list of the top 100 small businesses in the UK as part of the Small Business Saturday campaign.
It will be featured on one of the days leading up to the annual celebration on Saturday, December 2, as part of the “Small Biz 100” list, led by American Express in conjunction with the Federation of Small Businesses and Enterprise Nation.
“One of my favourite events is working at the University of Nottingham open days,” said Mrs Walker. “The students and particularly the parents love it.
“They are really interested in the city and what it’s like and are always asking us questions.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase Nottingham and the importance of local coffee and local businesses.”
Reflecting on her nomination in the awards, she said: “I am thrilled to be nominated. It’s brilliant to keep the money local and also to be chosen as one of the top 100 small businesses in the UK is incredible.
Volkswagen has super-sized its California campervan by producing the California XXL, a holiday wagon based on the award-winning Crafter van. It was originally revealed at the Dusseldorf Caravan Salon at the end of August, but it’s also taking up space on VW’s stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The California XXL takes inspiration from the original Bulli camper, although at nearly six-metres long and close to three metres tall, it dwarfs its 1960s ancestor, and is far bigger than the standard California, which is based on the smaller T6 Transporter van. The XXL is based on the medium wheelbase Crafter, but the raised roof means it’s easy to stand upright inside, while there’s room for a double bed in the back. Another alcove above the cab makes room for kids to sleep and play, while a full panoramic glass roof creates a bright and airy interior.
But there’s far more to the California XXL than just room for a big bed or two. It has under-floor heating, the bed can be heated and cooled, there’s a retractable wet room-style shower, chemical toilet, full kitchen with hob, sink and fridges, plus a living and dining area. Much of the technology on board can be controlled via a special tablet controller or even a dedicated California XXL App. This includes controls for the ambient lighting (seven modes), music and opening and closing of the panoramic roof.
Under the skin, the California XXL features the 2.0 TDI 177PS version of the Crafter’s diesel engine, while it also gets 4MOTION 4WD and pneumatic suspension that can be raised or lowered to put the XXL level on a campsite without the need of wedging the wheels into place.
On the outside, the two-tone white and brown paint is a nod to the original Bulli, while twin reversing cameras at different heights boost the driver’s view of his surroundings. The Crafter’s suite of cutting-edge safety tech is also present, with adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and blind spot assist all included. The XXL also has room for picnic chairs located in storage on the outside of the van, while a large Weber barbecue grill can also be fitted in the external storage.
Had it not been for an ID plate that had remained with the bus – and a Volkswagen enthusiast with an eye for rare Wolfsburg tin – then a rare 1951 VW Microbus Deluxe left sitting in a German field for more than 50 years might well have become so much scrapyard fodder. Instead, it’s now destined for a 10-year restoration.
According to that ID plate, which current owner Florian Kalff of Bonn, Germany, ran by Volkswagen’s archives before buying the dual pickup loads’ worth of rusted metal, the 23-window Microbus – aka “Samba” – not only dates to 1951, the first year of production, it also dates to one of the first days of production. Reportedly, the Volkswagen archives only list one earlier chassis number for a Samba, which has since gone missing.
Introduced in April 1951 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Microbus Deluxe featured windows up and down its length, including at each rear corner, along with windows cut into the sides of the roof and a sunroof that exposed all six rear passengers to the sky. More chrome trim adorned the Samba than any other Microbus (“a magpie’s nest of brightwork,” as author Richard Copping put it in his “VW Bus: Forty Years of Splitties, Bays, and Wedges“), and it featured a full-width dashboard that lesser Microbuses didn’t. Its superior visibility made it a favorite of sightseeing companies, and its deluxe trim bumped the pricetag a good 40 percent.
Kalff’s Samba has a rather murky history. Records show that it went to Fleischhauer – a dealer in Köln – as a demonstrator, and the lack of a TÜV sticker on the license plate suggests it came off the road sometime before 1961. How or why it ended up in a field in the Eifel mountains of Germany remains a mystery. Kalff, a Volkswagen restoration parts dealer, has a theory, however. As he told Bonn’s General-Anzeiger, Sambas built before August 1960 made do with the Beetle’s 24.5-hp engine and thus became obsolete when Volkswagen introduced the 34-hp engine and synchronized transmission in the Microbus; it wasn’t uncommon for owners of the older Sambas to abandon their wagons.
The Samba had laid in the field for so long, the field’s previous owner claimed not to have known of its existence. Only when the new owner of the field began to clear it did the Samba – well, enough of it to identify it as a Samba, anyway – resurface. The new owner happened to know a customer of Kalff’s, and Kalff claims to have bought the Samba’s remains, which included the drivetrain, the aforementioned ID plate, and even one of the plexiglass rear corner windows, for a four-figure sum.
Kalff has since carted the remains to his shop about 30 miles away and started planning the Samba’s restoration, which he said will require at least 10 years and another six figures; a British coachbuilder has been conscripted to replicate the missing parts of the body and incorporate as much of the existing body as possible. The result of the restoration, he told the General-Anzeiger, should document the Samba’s history rather than sparkle and shine.
Progress on the restoration will be posted to Kalff’s website.
Volkswagen may finally be ready to release a modern day version of the iconic Microbus, according to VW boss Herbert Diess. Volkswagen’s boss recently confirmed that a fully electric VW Microbus is in the works.
VW recently gave us a hint that at the Microbus’s return with the I.D. Buzz electric concept that debuted earlier this year. Based on VW”s new MEB platform, the I.D. Buzz concept is jus one of the three electric concepts that VW has showed off in the last year.
During the new VW Polo’s debut, Herbert Diess revealed, “Emotional cars are very important for the brand. We are selling loads of Beetles still, particularly in US markets. But we will also have the Microbus that we showed, which we have recently decided we will build.”
VW’s design boss Oliver Stefani also revealed his desires to create a new Microbus at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, “We would like to bring this back because it fits so well to what the brand stands for: it’s emotional, it has functionality, it makes your life easier.”
There’s no word yet when the new Microbus will debut, but when it does it will likely share many design cues with the I.D. Buzz concept. The Microbus will share its platform with the rest of VW’s new electric models, which means it won’t arrive until sometime after 2020.
With the MEB platform this is the chance now to get the proportions back,” Oliver Stefani stated. “But you can also get much more interior space, almost one class higher”.
We have featured various home appliances based on this classic, but nothing as substantial as this Gorenje special edition VW Camper Van fridge.
Yes, you can get a fridge in two colour options (vintage baby blue or bordeaux red) based on the timeless and much-loved van and it looks amazing. A retro-style fridge based on the frontage of the van and complete with the logo is always going to be popular.
It’s also a practical item too. The fridge has an A+++ energy efficiency rating, 254 litres of net capacity, three adjustable glass shelves, a salad crisper drawer with humidity control, Freshzone drawer, bottle rack, LED interior lighting and of course, a freezer section.
So functionality matching the looks. Not too many stockists out there, but you can get it online for £1,149 in both colour options via Electrical Discount UK.
Guy Malpica was born in Chicago but moved with his family at the age of 5 to sunny Puerto Rico. There in the tropics, he grew to embrace the strong culture of family, balmy weather and his favorite pastime, surfing.
Uncles and friends owned VW buses and Guy routinely would jump in with five or six other relatives, and their boards, for long days out on the waves.
Guy, who now lives in Bensenville, moved back to Illinois in 1984 and for years sought to bring a tangible piece of those memories back with him. In 2014, he located the perfect icon to fulfill that wish: a classic VW bus.
“I wanted a vehicle to enjoy with my whole family and one that would represent me as a retired surfer,” Guy says. “I wanted to fix it in my style.”
He found a groovy red and white 1967 example in San Francisco and knew it was the right one. After getting it home, Guy wasted no time doing all his desired custom work. While he wanted a distinct style, he also wanted substance, so he dug into the Volkswagen’s history, researching and tracing its roots back several owners. Guy is the bus’ fourth owner but he located and talked to its second owner, Mike.
“He told me the bus had been bought new in Indiana,” Guy says. “It was (originally) used at a senior citizens center to move their guests around.”
Mike bought the bus from the center in the late 1980s and completed its first overhaul. Mike then sold it to a third owner out on the West Coast, where the VW eventually landed in Guy’s hands.
Since then, Guy has added such items as Wilwood disc brakes and a wooden roof rack up top, which is just perfect for hauling Guy’s short boards. He also painted the bumpers to match the body color. The bus features Porsche wheels and Guy plans to add a Porsche engine this winter to give his bus more “oomph.”
Inside, the cabin has been fully redone and features loads of room for Guy’s most regular passengers: his two daughters, Gianna and Diyanara. Together with Dyana, their mom and Guy’s wife, the family will motor all over the suburbs.
“Anytime we need to go somewhere, my girls will always ask to take the ‘red bus,’ ” Guy says. “They love it.”
Whether the family is cruising to Lake Geneva or through downtown Chicago, Guy reports the reactions are all the same.
“It’s always a hit,” he says. “People say hello, honk their horns and wave. The thing I like the most is the smiles.”