Volkswagen California 2.0 TDI Ocean 204 4dr DSG

  • Automatic
  • Diesel
  • 34.9 mpg
  • 4 door mpv
  • 213 g/km CO2
  • 204 bhp Engine power
  • 213 g/km CO2 emissions
  • 34.9 mpg Fuel efficiency
  • 11.9 secs 0 to 62 mph

Ten Second Review

It's rather difficult to know what to compare this Volkswagen California model to. Since you can effectively live in it, you can't put it alongside conventional MPVs (and anyway, it only has four seats). Yet it's far more car-orientated (to drive and to look at) than a normal motorhome, a decent example of which would cost you much more. Quite simply, it's unique.

Background

In one sense, Volkswagen's California is a converted van with windows and a few beds in it. In another though, this vehicle could be seen as the key to a whole new life. Let us explain. Let's say you've retired: there are only two of you and you want to travel around the UK and Europe. You don't want the continual cost of having to fork out for accommodation. But neither do you want anything as large, clunky and pricey to run as a fully-fledged motorhome. You definitely aren't a caravanning sort of person either. If I've described you, then this is your vehicle. It's car-like for when you just need an MPV. And motorhome-like for when you're travelling. An ideal combination? Let's see.

Driving Experience

The engine range includes two diesel options, both paired to DSG auto transmission. There's a 150PS unit or a 199PS engine, which can be had alongside 4MOTION four-wheel-drive at the top of the range. As with the Volkswagen Caravelle 6.1 big MPV model this California is based upon, the cab area up-front is nicely constructed. It features a dash mounted gear stick plumbed into the centre console that frees-up floorspace for better walk-through access to the rear. This configuration shaves vital seconds off the time it takes a parent in the passenger seat to reach the back bench and apprehend a wayward child before they can 'make-over' their brother or sister with a felt-tip pen. The driving position and steering wheel are infinitely adjustable. So much so that, from Kylie Minogue to Giant Haystacks, virtually anyone's optimum driving position is attainable - it's just a matter of finding it. There are armrests on each chair too, along with supportive cushioning and fetching two-tone fabric. When stationary, you turn around the front two chairs to face the two in the rear.

Design and Build

Externally, the California looks like the van with windows that it actually is, the chassis platform also forming the basis for Volkswagen's Transporter 6.1 panel van and Caravelle 6.1 people carrier. Inside, California buyers get full central heating - or more specifically a fresh air system with manual air con, a separate timing switch-operated domestic heater for when you're parked up and even a remote radio control for the whole system. Plus there's split-level accommodation comprising of a fold-out double bed downstairs and (once you've opened the electrically elevated section) a bigger double in the roof. For mealtimes, there's a gas cooker with stainless steel sink and drainer and, naturally, alongside the cupboards and ample storage, a fridge. There are also great views all round (particularly if you pull up for the night in the Highlands). Other features include a revised infotainment system, a folding dining table, two folding chairs (stored neatly in the tailgate), a clothes cupboard, blackout blinds and smart draw curtains. Most owners will also specify the extra cost roll-out awning too. Downsides? Well, the ceiling is rather low and the kind of older people being targeted by Volkswagen for this car will struggle to reach the roof-mounted bed. Younger families meanwhile, will need more than four seats.

Market and Model

Prices start at just over £52,000 for the entry-level 'Beach' version - or just over £55,000 for the mid-range 'Coast' variant, both only offered with the 150PS TDI engine. Most buyers opt for the plusher 'Ocean' variant, which can be had with both engines at prices starting from around £64,000 - though you'll need around £70,000 if you want the top 199PS 4MOTION variant. The California can sleep four occupants courtesy of its acclaimed pop-up roof (electro-hydraulic on Ocean models) that neatly integrates a 1.2m x 2m double bed. Ocean models also feature a fully-equipped kitchen, complete with 42-litre refrigerator, twin-burner hob and stainless steel sink unit. Ocean models also gain a dimmable LED lighting system for the pop-up roof and tailgate and a clever multi-functional holder for the rear compartment that incorporates a cup, ashtray and towel holder all in one. Driver and passenger safety is another area where the California comes fit for purpose. Features include a Driver Alert System, Brake Assist and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. Finally, Volkswagen's Automatic Post-Collision Braking System triggers braking after a collision, with the aim of preventing secondary collisions. After a short delay, the vehicle begins a phased braking action down to 6mph, during which the driver can take control at any time.

Cost of Ownership

Volkswagen claims that the engines fitted to this 6.1 generation California model are cleaner and more frugal than those fitted to the previous version of this vehicle. Owners of the diesel variants should expect to average over 30mpg on a regular basis. WLTP CO2 emissions start at 221g/km for the 150PS 'Coast' variant (which manages a WLTP combined cycle fuel figure of up to 33.6mpg). This rises to 223g/km for the 150PS 'Ocean' model (33.2mpg), 222g/km for the 199PS 'Ocean' variant (33.2mpg) and 237g/km for the 199PS 'Ocean' 4MOTION derivative (31.4mpg).

Summary

The California 6.1 won't suit everyone but the select few whose needs it meets will just love the thing, provided their retirement incomes stretch to the upfront purchase price. Living with your car doesn't get much easier than this.

  • eCall emergency system
  • Start/stop system with regenerative braking
  • Tailgate latch without unlocking function from inside
  • Tailgate with window aperture and with power latching
  • 2 (type C) USB interfaces in dashboard
  • 8 speakers (4 tweeters + 4 woofers)
  • Digital radio reception (DAB+)
  • Regional code ECE for radio
  • Additional dust seals on the outside
  • Body colour bumpers
  • Body coloured door handles
  • California nameplate on the fender and on the rear
  • Electrohydrolic operated pop up roof with 3 windows and 1 front aperture, canvas in basalt grey
  • Mounting rails on the roof (preparation for movable roof rack)
  • Radiator grille painted in black with 5 chrome trims, additional chrome trim at lower radiator grille
  • Rear boot
  • Rear wing door
  • Without left sliding door in load/passenger compartment
  • 1 waste bin in door storage compartment of the cab
  • 12V outlets in dashboard X 2
  • 230V inlet with charging feature for vehicle batteries and 230V outlet in the interior
  • 3 spoke leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel
  • Camping table for inside/outside in sliding door and 2 folding chairs in tailgate
  • Electromechanical speed sensitive power steering, height and longitudinally adjustable steering column
  • Fully functional kitchen with gas hob, sink and 42 litre compressor cool box
  • Glove compartment with illumination
  • Grab handles on A pillar for access, on driver and front passenger side
  • Illuminated steps in passenger/load compartment
  • Interior loading edge protection in plastic
  • Jack and tool kit
  • Operating voltage 12V including 230V outlet on driver seat
  • Plastic floor covering in passenger compartment
  • Refrigerant R1234yf
  • Roof bed (2000 x 1200 mm) with spring plates and mattress
  • Soft folding grab handles on roof frame
  • Special interior noise suppression measures
  • Special sound deadening measures in cab and passenger compartment
  • Step illumination with California lettering
  • Waeco compressor fridge
  • Lights and vision pack - California
  • Smokers pack - California
  • Airbags - Drivers and front passengers side and curtain airbags
  • Driver/Front Passenger airbags
  • Height adjustable 3 point seat belts on outer seats in cab with electric pretensioners
  • Passenger airbag deactivation system
  • Power operated child safety locks
  • Single tone horn
  • Warning buzzer and light for driver seat belt not fastened
  • Anti theft alarm system with interior monitoring in cab, backup horn and towing protection
  • Central locking system with radio remote control, system controls inside and safelock
  • Lockable wheel bolts
  • HC: N
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 213
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - TEH: 225
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - TEL: 213
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • CC: 1968
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Fuel Delivery: COMMON RAIL
  • Gears: 7 SPEED
  • Number of Valves: 16
  • Transmission: SEMI-AUTO
  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb: 8.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - TEH: 8.6
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - TEL: 8.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High: 8.4
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High: 6.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low: 10.5
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium: 7.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 34.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - TEH: 32.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - TEL: 34.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High: 33.6
  • WLTP - MPG - High: 40.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Low: 26.9
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium: 35.8
  • AdBlue: True
  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Badge Engine CC: 2.0
  • Badge Power: 204
  • Based On ID: N
  • Coin Description: TDI 204
  • Coin Series: Ocean
  • Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years: 12
  • Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years: 3
  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09: N
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection %: N
  • NCAP Safety Assist %: N
  • Safety Concerns: False
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage: 100000
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Years: 3
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: N1
  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 11.9
  • Engine Power - BHP: 204
  • Engine Power - KW: 150
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • Engine Power - RPM: 4000
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 332
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 45.9
  • Engine Torque - NM: 450
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 1400
  • Top Speed: 126
  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2
  • Alloys: True
  • Space Saver: False
  • Tyre Size Front: 215/60 R17
  • Tyre Size Rear: 215/60 R17
  • Tyre Size Spare: FULL SIZE
  • Wheel Style: ARACAJU
  • Wheel Type: 17" ALLOY
  • Height: 1990
  • Height (including roof rails): N
  • Length: 4904
  • Wheelbase: 3000
  • Width: 1904
  • Width (including mirrors): 2297
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 70
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 3080
  • Max. Loading Weight: 487
  • Max. Roof Load: 50
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 2500
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 750
  • Minimum Kerbweight: 2593
  • No. of Seats: 4