Volkswagen

California 6.1 Ocean

SWB 2.0 TDI

VW California Ocean

WE have probably all heard of the Hotel California, and while the VW camper may not be be the size of a hotel, it is a testament to the less is more theory.

It's a pretty ingenious setup and while others have similar offerings, VW became synonymous with campervan with the public over the decades.

The new California 6.1 is the latest in a distinguished line, offering a more dynamic appearance, with revised grille and bumpers and new fog lights.

It looks the part and the novel number plate, VW51EEP, also provoked curiosity.

There are two versions, the Coast and Ocean driven here. The Ocean also features a grille embellished with four chrome strips and is framed with new LED daytime running lights.

Powered by an economical two litre diesel unit that pumps out nearly 200bhp, this model also features VW's 4Motion all wheel drive system - perfect for extra traction when camping in potentially muddy areas.

The interior features a new touchscreen in the roof console. Which manages campervan functions. It controls the opening and closing of the electric pop-up roof, and monitors fridge operation and water levels.

At first glance, It never seems like there is enough space to store all your holiday paraphernalia, but with ingenious hidden cubby holes, cupboards and storage areas, an awful lot can be stored.

It even includes a cleverly concealed mini wardrobe.

Space is at a premium but the rear seats fold to create a double bed, which features individual lights, while the two front chairs are captain style, which means they swivel around.

Ingenious touches include a table next to the rear seat which slides along a rail and then opens out to create a mini dining area, and an outdoor dining table, cunningly concealed in the van's sliding door. In addition, two comfortable camping chairs can be stowed away the rear door.

Also the electrically-operated fabric roof can be raised to accommodate a couple of children in the sleeping area above the main bed. It is worthwhile taking an extra foldaway mattress, because without it, unless you like sleeping on a board, it can be uncomfortable. It can be completely unzipped to facilitate sleeping under an open sky.

The kitchen facilities offer a two-burnercooker and deep fridge, and a tiny bowl with electric water pump. Weather permitting, and awning is available as an option, portable barbecues offer a rustic cooking alternative. An air fryer is also a handy addition and can be run off the camper's mains outlet.

For convenience, there is a mains socket and an additional double USB socket.

On the road, the powerful diesel mated, with the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox offers plenty of pulling power and quite a turn of speed when required. It also proved extremely economical, with economy at one point showing at nearly 40mpg against the official 34.9. Impressive considering the amount of weight involved.

A central "Digital Cockpit; is standard on this is model and it offers an excellent infotainment system and smartphone connectivity, together with the online connectivity unit (OCU) with integrated eSIM, they provide access to the new We Connect Plus mobile online services and functions.

The ride is comfortable and the van always feels stable, and the Cross Wind Assist; system automatically stabilises the camper when buffeted by high winds on the motorway. It also features an excellent turning circle, ideal when manoeuvring into tight camping areas.

Safety systems area also impressive, with full range of stability functions and airbags, plus Lane Assist, Park Assist, a side protection function (warns of obstacles when manoeuvring) and Trailer Assist (simplifies manoeuvring with a trailer).

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen California 6.1 Ocean SWB 2.0 TDI

Price:£76,172

Mechanical: 204ps, 1,968cc four cylinder diesel engine driving all wheels via seven speed auto gearbox

Max Speed:126mph

0-62mph:11.9sec

Combined MPG: 34.9

Insurance Group:213-225g/km

C02 emissions: 37%

Warranty:3yrs/100,000 miles

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