Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Being based on the highly functional Crafter means there are lots of storage areas up front, including three open areas above the dashboard, the one directly in front of the driver housing a USB port. You also get four cupholders and deep storage pockets in the doors.
Just behind the front seats is the dining area, where you’ll find a bench seat for two (complete with Isofix points and top tethers) and a cutout into which a removable table can be fitted below the window. The front seats can be swivelled to create a four-person dining area.
In the 600 model, there’s a slide-out bed area above the front seats. It can take up to 150kg of weight, but, because it’s quite close to the ceiling of the van, it’s best suited to children. Adults are likely to bump their shoulders when turning over in the night.
Moving towards the middle of the Grand California, you’ll find the kitchenette area just inside the sliding door and the wet room along the opposite side. Sliding out of the front of the kitchen unit is a 70-litre fridge freezer, while a two-burner gas cooker and sink are set into the countertop, both being covered by hinged glass panels. The 600 has an additional pop-out surface for extra counter space, while the 680 simply has a longer kitchen unit. All drawers can be easily locked to prevent items from spilling out while on the move.
Having a self-contained wet room is perhaps the biggest news for campers; it brings an end to setting your alarm early to beat the rush for the public showers. It contains a toilet, a shower (with two drain plugs to cope with an uneven pitch) and a fold-down sink tray. Both the 600 and 680 have a fresh water tank capacity of 110 litres, and the combined gas and electric boiler can also be used to provide hot water, central heating or both.
The boiler’s exhaust is directly below the dining room window and, as a safety precaution to guard against the dangers of carbon monoxide, a microswitch will automatically shut the boiler down if the window is opened, preventing any fumes from getting into the van.
At the rear of the van, you’ll find the main bedroom area. There are aircraft-style overhead lockers and a couple of bigger storage areas under the fold-down bed. The sleeping arrangement differs between the 600 and 680; the 600 has a shorter bed on which two people can sleep across the van widthways, while the 680 has a longer mattress that allows those same two people to rest their heads lengthways. Both setups are enough for a decent night’s sleep, despite the mattress being pretty thin to save on space when folded away.
Just like the smaller California Ocean, inside the rear doors are two fold-out camping chairs for when you want to sit outside. All the windows and skylights in the living area have insect nets and blackout blinds that do an excellent job of keeping unwanted bugs and light from getting in, and you can get additional covers for the windows up front for extra privacy. The sliding side door has a mosquito net to help prevent you from being bitten.
The Seat Alhambra is clever, spacious and good to drive. It's...
If you want lots of space for not a lot of money, then the Tur...
Neither the best hybrid nor the best seven-seat MPV, but the T...
The Volkswagen Golf SV is a good MPV, but it’s hard to forget...