Last year saw the release of the Volkswagen California XXL concept camper van which had VW enthusiasts drooling: a remake of the classic VW California but big enough to sleep a family of four, and complete with a slide-out bathroom and kitchenette? It all seemed too good to be true.
Well Volkswagen have just announced that the van will now be going into production, under the guise of a “Crafter-based camper”, but unfortunately it appears that many of the concept van’s ambitious and high-tech features will be lost. So will the new van be a hit, or will it simply be a larger version of the standard California?
Let’s take a look at some of the van’s features.
The base van used by Volkswagen will be a Crafter work van, fitted with a 2.0L TDI Diesel engine delivering 174bhp, and measuring in at a whopping 6.24m long x 2.9m tall, offering 2.2m of head space inside.
The original concept design featured a panoramic stargazing window in the roof, and a frankly bizarre looking fibreglass extension attached to the rear of the vehicle which would provide extra sleeping space for the double bed. Thankfully Volkswagen has decided to ditch this extension, and although making the van slightly less comfortable, it was, let’s be honest, pretty ugly. However the van’s suspension does allow for self-levelling which is a neat little feature.
Moving inside the van, the bedroom area originally featured a 2m x 1.7m lower bed which could be assembled using drop-in panels, and an upper bed 2m long at its longest point, accessible by a ladder above the cab, which was suitable for one short person and one full-sized adult. Vokswagen have now ditched the fixed bed in favour of a classic convertible bed with a removable panel in the centre to allow for loading through the rear doors, while keeping the roof bed the same.
The airplane-style plastic cabinets and yellow-themed interior also appear to have been ditched in favour of a more classic camper van style.
The concept also promised a 2m long kitchenette with a slide-out extension, featuring a large fridge drawer, not one but two 50L fridges, plus a 4L freezer, a built-in chopping board holder attached to the fridge door, and even futuristic hobs with burners which retract back into the work surface. All this seems a little ambitious to say the least, and the retractable burners are the first kitchen feature in the production model to get the chop- excuse the pun.
Presumably the front swivel seats and fold-out table (which oddly resembles an ironing board) will remain to create a spacious dining area for four. Additional features originally included a waste bin, magnetic spice rack, cutlery and crockery drawers, and even a coffee machine- you know, for all those Instagram morning moments.
The slide-out modular bathroom design will be replaced with a simple shower, corner sink and swivel toilet. The overambitious concept design will lose features such as the bedroom TV projection system, ambient seven mode controllable lighting and tablet control system, which begs the question: is this just a larger version of the California, or will we see some genuine innovation and new technology being poured into the camper design which wowed crowds in Germany?
A few extra points to mention: the van will come with an external waste water tank stored in an outdoor compartment, water filler, gas point and mains hook up (however we’re not sure whether the remote-controlled electrically-heated bed and the underfloor heating will make the final cut).
The California XXL will come with a choice of solid or two-tone paint, and the cab will be hard-wearing work-van style with a modern twist, with a built-in satnav, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and blind spot assist, with options of pneumatic suspension and all-wheel drive.
Volkswagen has not yet revealed how much the California XXL camper will cost, but they have promised that more details will be released at this year’s Düsseldorf Caravan Salon on August 24th. For now, we’ll have to make do with the handful of design sketches they’ve released of the production model.
Source: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles