When it comes to camper vans, bigger isn’t always better, especially when you’re always on the move and passing through tight cities. In Europe, Volkswagen is launching the Caddy-based California compact camper, which makes clever use of its space and offers a fold-out tent extending the living area even further.
The focal point of the cabin is a 6.5-by-3.5-foot bed that sits above the folded seats. When not in use, the bed folds into the cargo bay. A panoramic roof provides the feeling of sleeping under the stars, and dimmable LED lights contribute to the ambiance. Privacy curtains cover the windows, secured by magnets built into the fabric. On the rear side windows, there are storage bags for lightweight items.
Opening the rear hatch reveals a kitchen under the bed area. A pull-out cupboard contains a gas cooker and a tray for utensils. With the kitchen on board, the Caddy California is designated a motorhome.
Volkswagen has also created the “California on Tour” app giving drivers information on local camp sites, waste disposal stations, and recreational activities.
While only two people can sleep in the bed, an optional tent accommodates two more with room to spare. The tent affixes to the rear hatch and has windows that can be opened to bring in light during the day. The tent can also be used freestanding, apart from the Caddy.
It may be comfortable, but no one said it was powerful. The Caddy California can be had with one of two diesel engines: One making 74 horsepower(!) and the other making 121 ponies. Buyers can choose between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, and like many modern Volkswagen compacts, the camper van sits on the brand’s MQB architecture.
The standard model will launch before the end of the year in Europe. A long-wheelbase version, which extends the van’s length from 14.8 feet to 15.9 feet, arrives next year. It will probably never launch here in the U.S., but we can dream.
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