Freedom Runs In The Family


Arguably the most iconic of brands, Volkswagen has a rich RV history. Paul Owen went to visit the whole family of campers to find out more.


For Volkswagen, ‘van life’ began back in the 1950s when people began to convert Kombi vans into campervans. Then in 2001, the German auto giant set up its own special vehicle operation to continue the legacy. The result was the first campervan ever created by a large car-maker – the California. Fast forward 20 years, and the California name isn’t just attached to a single model anymore. There’s now a California campervan for every family, big or small.

Meet Four Members Of The Volkswagen Campervan Family:

Caddy California

The newest addition to the family is based on the compact Caddy van. Like other Californias, the Caddy version lives up to the same values as the original Transporter van-based model. Spacious, practical and with clever detail, it also comes packed with safety equipment such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane-Keeping Assist.

The Caddy California’s 1.5L turbo petrol engine drives the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. With 84kW of power and 220Nm driving force, the Caddy California can easily tow braked trailers up to 1500kg and feels nippy and agile to drive.

The Caddy California can comfortably carry five passengers in everyday use. What makes it unique is the area behind the front row seats converts into a spacious 1980 x 1070mm double bed, with a foam mattress mounted on springs for extra comfort. Below that is an optional stainless-steel drawer which can be pulled out to provide an outdoor workbench, sink, and three burner gas hob. When you’re ready for bed, the camping gear which includes camping chairs and table all folds, zips, or slides away in seconds. Starting from $70,000*, such Swiss army knife versatility creates the perfect blend of comfort and freedom.

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California 6.1

Cooler than a breeze whipping up the waves at Malibu, the new T6.1 California takes a huge leap forward in terms of driving aids, safety, interior furnishing, and increased refinement. The interior layout of the four-berth California sticks to the same template of the 2001 original, with an electric pop-up roof, pull-down loft bed, rear bench seat/double bed, and swiveling front seats all maximising the use of space within the van body. You can adjust it all to the occasion and the ‘daytime’ camping mode is certainly the highlight, with the two front seats facing backwards to the rear bench seat, allowing a lounge room-rivaling amount of space between them. There’s a hint of the old Kombi in the generous floor space and it allows the California to perform van-like tasks when required.

The California 6.1 in its natural habitat: the beach

Many California 6.1 owners use their camping-ready Volkswagen as an everyday mobility solution. The engine pumps 146kW of power and 450Nm of force with 4MOTION All-Wheel-Drive to enhance traction off-road. Safety systems include Stability Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Driver Alert, and Lane-Keeping Assist. Starting from $158,000* you get the pick of three 18” alloy wheel sets at no extra cost, plus those seeking a more dynamic drive can also add Adaptive Chassis Control and a mechanical diff-lock. With 30L grey- and freshwater tanks, a 42L fridge, programmable parking heater, three batteries, and an efficient kitchen consisting of a stainless-steel sink and two gas hobs, it all adds up to one of the most useful campervans on the market, and it’s perfect for your stress-free trip to the beach.

Grand California 600

Looking for those extra home comforts? The Grand California 600 is the member of the Volkswagen campervan family to provide it. Starting from $169,000*, this fully self-contained solution is packed with features including a 110L water tank, 95L greywater collector, a self-contained wet room, 104W solar panels, kitchen, awning and that’s just to name a few.

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The Grand California 600 sleeps four comfortably, with a large double bed and a pull-out loft bed for children. Factory built, both the Grand California 600 and 680 are based on the award-winning second-generation Crafter van. Therefore both come loaded with equipment such as Lane-Keeping Assist, LED headlights, 4MOTION all-wheel-drive, touchscreen control, parking sensors and reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

When you exit the surf, the second outdoor hot shower is handy for cleaning the sand from your feet and your board, or hosing down the dog after a muddy tramp or cleaning the mountain bike after riding a trail.  The Grand Californias get the most powerful engine in the Crafter inventory, a 2.0L turbo diesel developing 130kW and 410Nm, hooked up to an intelligent eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Enjoying the view from the rear bed of a Grand California 600


Grand California 680

Meet the largest member of the family, the Grand California 680. At approximately 6.8 metres long, the extra room means a few more luxuries for your travels. Sleeping two adults on an Olympic queen size bed, the 680 is 800mm longer, permitting Volkswagen to rotate the rear double bed by 90 degrees so it can better accommodate taller travelers.

A larger 174W solar panel replaces the 104W energy collector of the 600. Priced from $173,000*, it comes with single and optional two-tone colours available. Uniting the entire California family are the folded outdoor chairs and table, which are beautifully crafted from lightweight aluminum and cleverly stored across the whole range. In the Caddy version, they’re beneath the bed, in the California they’re in the lift-up tailgate, and in the Grand, they’re in the rear double doors. Their ease of access and stowage is just one of the many clever details  that makes touring by a Volkswagen California such an adventure.

Visit to learn more.


Both the Grand Californias come with a large awning


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