Volkswagen California review

Category: Camper van

Section: Passenger & boot space

Volkswagen California 2021 interior rear seats
  • 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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Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Up front in the VW California, you get big door pockets with a built-in bottle holder, two gloveboxes, a couple of pop-out cupholders and a covered shelf that hides the USB port and 12V socket. In other words, there’s ample storage.

The seats have handy drawers underneath for even more storage and rotate 180 degrees to face the rear bench. It is a little tricky to rotate them, and annoyingly you can’t swivel the driver’s seat with the handbrake engaged. The front chairs in the Ford Transit Nugget and Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo are tricky to turn too, but at least they don’t have handbrakes that get in the way.

If you step up to a Coast or Ocean, you get for the full camper experience. The Coast is a slightly less luxurious version with a manually raised roof and a few fewer toys. Both get a full kitchen with twin gas hobs, a sink with fresh and waste water tanks, a fridge and additional leisure batteries for extended stays away.

The Ocean’s electric roof is operated using a control panel above the rear-view mirror that also controls the standard fridge and auxiliary heater, and allows you to check on battery and water levels. It’s easy to operate and far clearer than the control panels in the Nugget and Marco Polo.

In the back, a two-person bench with storage is standard – there’s no three-person option. Whichever model you pick, folding the seats into a bed takes a fair amount of muscle power. It’s not quite as strenuous as the Nugget’s, but the Marco Polo’s electrically folding seats make life so much easier.

Beach Camper, Coast and Ocean models get an external 230v electric socket for hooking up to the mains as standard, and you’ll find a 230v socket along with some 12v ones, too. The tailgate hides a couple of folding camping chairs with the sliding door stowing a folding table on all models.

You also get a fold-out awning on Coast and Ocean models as standard (it’s optional with Beach). The boot has plenty of room, but it’s quite a tall, shallow area. It’s also worth pointing out that the lower bed stretches into the boot area when in use, limiting space significantly if you're storing stuff overnight.

Still, the Beach Camper gets a couple of cupboards at the very back, with the Coast and Ocean adding more under the kitchen unit. Those models certainly have more storage than the Nugget and Marco Polo.