Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There are three engine options for the VW Caddy California: a 1.5-litre TSI turbocharged petrol with 112bhp, and a 2.0-litre TDI turbocharged diesel with a choice of two outputs, 101bhp and 122bhp.
The petrol can be had with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic. The 112bhp diesel is limited to the six-speed manual, while the 122bhp diesel gets the seven-speed auto.
If you start to drive a little more aggressively, you’ll notice that there is quite a lot of body lean. Then again, do you really want to spill your passengers’ morning bowl of cereal by attempting to take the racing line through corners?
The ride is surprisingly good. We say surprisingly because the larger VW California has the firmest ride of any camper we’ve tested.
The smaller Caddy has soft suspension that does an impressive job of soaking up undulating roads and smoothing out abrasive surfaces. Large potholes and expansion joints can cause the suspension to thump a bit, but we didn't experienced any rattles or shakes from the bed and cupboards.
In terms of refinement, the 2.0-litre TDI turbocharged diesel is impressively quiet by camper van standards. There’s a small grumble when it starts up, but on the move it fades into the background.
The Caddy California has lots more sound-deadening than the regular VW Caddy van, so there’s very little road or wind noise.