Skip advert
Advertisement

Volkswagen California Beach review

If you’re after a factory-built camper van the Volkswagen California Beach offers good accommodation but at a high price

Mention the words ‘camper van’ and chances are the images conjured up will involve a Volkswagen in some shape or form, most likely the iconic surf culture model that was so popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Times have moved on a little since those halcyon days, but Volkswagen remains as one of the few car manufacturers still offering a camper van in its model line-up. These days it’s based on the Transporter van and still offers buyers the notion that they can drop everything and head off to the beach for a weekend’s camping should the mood take them.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Two main models are offered; the entry-level California Beach version and the more expensive and comprehensively equipped Ocean model. We’ll focus on the Beach model here, as it’s considerably cheaper than the Ocean version, offering enough of a weekender-camping experience for most buyers.

So, what do you get for your money? In Beach trim, prices start at just over £47,000 and you get five-seats and two double beds – one of which is in the California’s pop-up roof structure. There are no cooking or washing facilities; if you want these, you’ll need to spend an additional £10,000 on the Ocean model.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Best 7-seater cars

There are, however, plenty of clever storage bins, a fold-down dining table in the sliding door, as well as an optional exterior awning under which you can relax in the two chairs that are normally stowed in the tailgate. For a weekend away at a campsite, the Beach has just about everything you need. But if you were heading off the beaten track, you’d find the Beach’s lack of cooking or water storage facilities a bit of a bind.

The experience of actually driving to your holiday destination won’t be too much of a chore because the Beach has a decent 2.0-litre diesel engine combined with a seven-speed DSG gearbox, and handles competently. It’ll never win a race away from the lights but once it’s on the move it copes well with motorways, and the high driving position and all-around windows offer excellent visibility. There’s also plenty of additional stowage space for odds and ends around the cockpit as well. Refinement levels are good and on the road the California Beach is almost as quiet as the company’s passenger cars.

The Beach has a reasonable amount of equipment – Bluetooth, DAB radio and air conditioning are included as standard – but you’ll have to pay extra if you want such luxuries as climate control or sat nav. There are some neat touches – both front seats will swivel through 180-degrees to face those in the rear, making the interior more of a living space when camping, and there’s an auxiliary heater to keep the chill out too. You’ll also find a 240v socket to plug in domestic appliances such as a kettle but the California needs to be plugged into a campsite power supply for this feature to work.

Verdict 3/5

As a way to get away from it all for a weekend’s camping without the effort of putting up a tent, the California Beach makes quite a good case for itself. It’s reasonably equipped and should provide decent sleeping accommodation for four. However, with no cooking or washing facilities it is a little limited when compared to the more expensive Ocean model.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Volkswagen California review
Volkswagen California
In-depth reviews
24 Aug 2023

Volkswagen California review

Most Popular

All-new MG HS aims to “disrupt the market”
MG HS teaser profile
News
1 Jul 2024

All-new MG HS aims to “disrupt the market”

Ford Capri returns! Coupe reborn as new all-electric SUV
Ford Capri front quarter
News
10 Jul 2024

Ford Capri returns! Coupe reborn as new all-electric SUV

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s best PCP finance offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
5 Jul 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s best PCP finance offers

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
26 Mar 2024

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
21 Mar 2024

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
Best electric cars
Best cars
16 May 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024