Army&You took to the wheel of the California 2.0-litre TDI BlueMotion Techology 140 PS (pictured above).

WRITING objectively is rarely easy but when your subject matter spares you the strife of pitching a tent, provides a comfortable seat in the sun and serves up a chilled beer, it is nigh on impossible.

In short, those looking for a rounded review of Volkswagen’s California SE campervan should avert their gaze.

Easily influenced? Perhaps, but in defence of this reluctant camper, there is very little not to like about this next-generation recreational vehicle.

Yes, the California’s squared exterior lacks the charm of its classic predecessor and its price tag of circa £45,000 may leave some wincing, but the act of sliding open the campervan’s side door reveals an Aladdin’s cave of design ingenuity.

While the most noticeable features are those which set the California apart from your average family runaround – namely a kitchen complete with fridge, gas cooker and sink; two double beds and an electronically-powered pop-up roof – it is the attention to detail and hidden extras that really impress.

Volkswagen has utilised every inch of space to deliver a practical and comfortable vehicle in which to explore the great outdoors. Integral window blinds, deckchairs stowed in the rear tailgate, cleverly-concealed tables and cavernous cupboards combine to create a clutter-free living area without compromising on the necessities for a weekend away.

Further enhancing the campervan’s “glamping” credentials are a raft of hi-tech extras. Spotlights and a striplight provide illumination at night while a programmable heating system – running off its own battery – ensures none of the California’s inhabitants will be left shivering in their sleeping bags.

There is also an AC inverter with a 230V socket that can power electrical equipment up to 150W without the need to connect to the external mains hook-up.

Those accustomed to the rigmarole of roll mats and the risk of relationship rifts that comes with unpacking and repacking a tent will immediately recognise the principal benefits of the California as being the ease and speed in which you can set up camp.

Within minutes of pulling on the handbrake, the roof can be raised, awning deployed and beds made.

Quite simply superb stationary, the California is not short on quality when it comes to hitting the road either. Economical and surprisingly maneuverable, it certainly beats taking a “walk on a winter’s day”.

California dreamin'
Design
Performance
Value
Positives
  • Hi-tech extras
  • Spacious
  • Easy to set up
Negatives
  • Not the prettiest
4.0Overall rating
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Andy Simms

Journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of Soldier magazine, the official magazine of the British Army.

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