Volkswagen California review

Category: Camper van

Section: Costs & verdict

Volkswagen California 2021 interior infotainment
  • Volkswagen California 2021 front right cornering
  • Volkswagen California 2021 rear cornering
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior dashboard
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior rear seats
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior infotainment
  • Volkswagen California 2021 right tracking
  • Volkswagen California 2021 left static rear door open
  • Volkswagen California 2021 badge detail
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior front seats
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior living space
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior bed
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior pop-up roof
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior under-seat storage
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior kitchen
  • Volkswagen California 2021 rear door open
  • Volkswagen California 2021 front right cornering
  • Volkswagen California 2021 rear cornering
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior dashboard
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior rear seats
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior infotainment
  • Volkswagen California 2021 right tracking
  • Volkswagen California 2021 left static rear door open
  • Volkswagen California 2021 badge detail
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior front seats
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior living space
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior bed
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior pop-up roof
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior under-seat storage
  • Volkswagen California 2021 interior kitchen
  • Volkswagen California 2021 rear door open
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Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The VW California undercuts the Ford Transit Nugget and the Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo, but only in the lower trim levels. If you’re looking at full-on campers, the California Ocean is pricier than both rivals before discounts, although the California is expected to hold on to the most value after three years.

All but the four-wheel drive version are capable of more than 30mpg in official economy tests, with the TDI 150 clocking up 33.5mpg during our tests. Carbon emissions are high, though, with all models sitting in the top 37% bracket for Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) company car tax, just like its key rivals.

Overview

You can tell plenty of thought and experience has gone into the VW California’s practical interior, even if folding out the beds takes a bit of muscle. It handles well by camper standards and has reasonable performance, but the Mercedes Marco Polo is better to drive, plusher inside and has easier to convert beds.

  • Strong diesel engines
  • Well thought out interior
  • Slow depreciation
  • Expensive
  • Not particularly refined
  • Gearbox jerky when manoeuvring