Go down


Post by Cliff Durant on Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:40 am

Why buy a VW California ?

Because it’s the coolest van around of course.
But why did we choose a VW California, ?
With so many different types of campers to choose from why choose a Cali.
Actually, I very quickly dismissed all other campers, for me, no other vehicle even came close for comparison.

I need to get from a to b in the shortest time possible, I have a very busy lifestyle plus I am impatient, I also enjoy driving immensely,
I certainly have no wish to be driving around in one of those huge carbuncle’s of a camper van.
I tested a lot of vehicles, with most of them it felt as though you were about to go around corners on two wheels they were so top heavy and wallowy.
I require a camper van that will perform just like a car, but more than that, I need a multipurpose vehicle that would fit in with my lifestyle therefore I needed a lifestyle vehicle and for that there really is no equivalent to the VW California.

The Cali is a Campervan alright and a very good one at that,
Actually It’s the only factory built camper van made that is not a conversion.
The Autosleeper or the Bilbos, all started life as a productionline vans, they then had their roofs cut off and bits added, due to that fact the road tax on these conversions is twice as expensive as the California because they are both taxed as conversions which carry an additional road tax levy.

The California is different, it was designed from the word go as a Camper, they go right though Volkswagen solely as a Camper designed solely for it’s intended finished purpose.
It’s far more than a camper van though!! It has so many other uses, it really has been designed properly and well thought out.
The bench seat for instance can slide back and forth to give a huge cavernous space for shifting anything you want, I have had a cement mixer in the back, a chest of drawers, an inflatable dingy, not to mention the sheets of board and tools, I have even moved windows.
I have quite an elderly Mother, she has difficulty getting in & out of any vehicle, with the Cali though, she is quite happy in the back, the Cali has a large door to get in & out of with very comfortable rear seating.

This is our second Cali, our first was a second-hand low mileage 2007, 174 ps in Black with a tiptronic gearbox.
It looked very smart and went like the wind, this model had the very torquey 5 cylinder 2.5 litre engine which I loved.
We had changed the interior to leather and VW lowered it by 30mm and we also changed the wheels to 19”. It was a lot of fun.

When we first bought our first Cali the www.thevwcalifornia.com website was then newly formed, so we joined as members.
Cali‘s were pretty thin on the ground back then, It’s was nice to get to know other Cali owners, you really felt as though you belonged to a specialised motoring group.
During the past years we have met some lovely like minded Cali owners. It’s nice to belong, any query at all that you have, there is always someone that will help in answering any related question.

When our Cali came up to 3 years old we wondered if we should purchase the additional VW warranty but as we hadn’t had any problems we decided against and kept it for another year without warranty and during that time we didn’t encounter any problems.

We finally decided to buy a new 180 DSG also in Black,
we would then be able to order exactly the options that we wanted.
We are very lucky to have just be made (young) grandparents, we therefore ordered as part of our options the fifth seat, we thought this would be handy to put the baby seat in, when we have no further need for it the 5th seat can easily be sold as they are quite rare.

The new model T5.5 has had quite a few alterations from the T5, one of these changes was the interior seating colourway,
we decided it was a bit stripy for us, therefore we decided on the grey leather/alcantara option, this colourcodes with the interior nicely and is quite a reasonably priced option.

All of the VW California’s numerous merits are very well founded, this vehicle is great to live in, even better than a car to drive because of the elevated driving position, and it has brilliant residual values, It’s going to be expensive to buy, yes ! but you are buying the guarantee of a quality vehicle with unbeatable residual values.
The roof bed is comfortable and big, it also has good headroom, the electro-hydraulic elevating roof is simply brilliant and easy to use, no other manufacturer can compete with it.
The T5.5 has a new engine to meet Euro 5 emission standards,
It comes in two variants the 140PS and 180PS, We bought the latter, it has twin turbo’s and I can say without fear of contradiction that it is faster, smoother and more refined that the outgoing 174PS engine which I loved, but it’s even better, we also opted for the seven speed DSG. Gearbox, we have found it so smooth you can hardly feel any gear change, no wonder these gearboxes are so popular.

The new model comes with a smart dashboard with chrome bezels a three spoke steering wheel, you can order it with a multi function feature, it’s also available with a Bluetooth premium option, it has telephone speakers near the central computer and a microphone above the drivers head, It’s all very cleverly inbuilt just as you would expect from Volkswagen.
The Climatronic option is very useful, passengers in the rear can adjust the climate themselves during travelling and the driver has ultimate control.
Tempered Glass with double glazing is standard in the living quarters, I personally feel that the factory tinted glass is a must.
The same central computer houses the controls for the electro hydraulic elevating roof which raises or lowers at the push of a button plus battery and water levels.

This is a Classic VW camper in the making, It has a nearside kitchenette, a very nice bench seat that converts into a double bed.
The kitchenette table is almost hidden alongside the sofa bench, it folds into position then the two front seats swivel to make a table for four and it’s perfect for a family of four.
The separate Central heating system is by a very efficient, it will heat the Cali in minutes it can also be operated by remote control.
An electric tap for water is housed by the sink, the fresh water and waste tanks are inbuilt with ease of filling and emptying.

There is a freestanding outside table, it clips internally into the sliding door, there are also two folding seats for outside use these are both housed in the tailgate door.

The kitchen unit houses the sink and a two ring burner which is smart and efficient both are covered with a single piece of toughened glass, underneath there is a drawer for cutlery with two good storage cupboards underneath, there is another cupboard under the bed, another one over the bed plus a rear access cupboard that houses the gas bottle plus plenty of storage above, there is also a small wardrobe to hang clothes in, an option here is to have a safe fitted inside the wardrobe base.
A good sized Waeco 42-litre compressor fridge is standard, it is again operated from the central computer.

Standard issue loose-fit cab screens are a simplistic but very clever addition and if left in the open position they can be stored under the top bed ready for action at night time.
Good illumination of the interior is from an array of lights, another light for the top bed, this bed is made-up quick and easily.
The lower bench seat also converts into a double bed, the back rest lays flat to form a 200 x 114cm double bed downstairs, while the roof bed is slightly larger and our preference at a size of 120 x 200cm.

Volkswagen claim a combined mpg figure of almost 35mpg.

Good roof rack fixings are standard for roof bars to take a boat, ski’s or surf boards.

The VW tailgate bike rack fits four bikes and looks good too.

This is a vehicle that stirs emotions , I am sure other owners will be pleased to add their experiences of their VW California’s too.

Cliff Durant March 2012[b]

180 DSG Deep Black Pearl[/i][b][i]

Cliff Durant

Posts : 33
Join date : 2012-02-24
Location : West Sussex

Back to top Go down


Post by HubertK on Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:31 pm

Excellent summation Cliff, couldn't agree more.
Like you, I had a 174ps from new in 2009 and have just taken delivery of a new 180 DSG.

Resale value is also critical when deciding, I am very happy with the deal on part ex I got and there was still profit for the dealer (they have to make a profit after all)
The point regarding the base vehicle is a very important one, all other conversions are on the van, whereas the California is I believe based on the Caravelle ?. This put me off most of the competition, sitting hoilidaying in the van and seeing all the painted metal surrounds to doors and windows and press-studded fabric or board panels would annoy me. The California is superbly finished in comparison.

Like all the improvements to the facelift model other than the table, why is not the same finish as the furniture units. As you can tell by the last remark, if that's my only complaint, I must be a happy bunny.

The Hyundai from Wellhouse is built on the people carrier also but it doesn't have the street cred and won't have the residual value.

Hubert K


Posts : 3
Join date : 2012-03-01
Location : North Yorkshire Coast

Back to top Go down


Post by joeaguilar on Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:19 am

Good summary Cliff,
We have been campers for years - we decided on a campervan some few years ago and after having tediously studied different options came to the same conclusion that you did. No other vehicle can possibly compare with the VW California! We have owned ours for a year now and are more 'smitten' than when we first took delivery.
We have begun to understand the space and how best to work with it - travelling light brings with it a sense of relief and freedom in a vehicle you can drive long distances in total comfort and in the sound knowledge that you are driving a vehicle that is built to last.
We believe we are converted for life! We will undoubtedly upgrade in the future and without a doubt it will be a Cali! We certainly feel privileged and part of a special community. Joe

Cali Sand Beige, 180, 2011


Posts : 8
Join date : 2012-03-05

Back to top Go down


Post by Sponsored content

Sponsored content

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum