New Volkswagen Caddy California officially unveiled

Volkswagen has launched the dinky Caddy California campervan – and it’s loaded with clever space-saving technology

This is the new Volkswagen Caddy California campervan. It’s the successor for the old Caddy Beach, and it’s fitted with all the usual camping accompaniments plus Volkswagen’s latest range of powertrains and in-car technology.

The Volkswagen Caddy California is based on the same MQB underpinnings as the recently unveiled fifth-generation Caddy panel van. As such, it’ll be offered with the same engine lineup: a 114bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel with either 74bhp, 101bhp or 120bhp.

Only the entry-level and range-topping diesel options will be available from launch, but the rest of the line-up will likely follow later next year. As standard, every engine will send power to the front wheels, although Volkswagen also says that the Caddy California will be optionally available with four-wheel drive.

On the outside, the Mini-Camper looks almost identical to the standard Volkswagen Caddy MPV, retaining the same alloy wheels, LED headlamps, vertical tail lights, roof rails and 1.4 square-metre panoramic glass roof as the passenger model.

However, Volkswagen has given the Caddy California’s cabin a serious overhaul. The standard MPV’s rear bench has been swapped for a two-metre-long folding bed and all of the van’s rear windows – including the glass roof – have been fitted with blinds to prevent the morning sun from waking the occupants.

At the rear, Volkswagen has fitted a space-saving pull-out kitchenette, which includes a gas hob, cutlery tray and a storage box for food and cooking utensils. Also, as the kitchen is mounted at the rear of the vehicle, the Caddy’s tailgate doubles as a weathershield to provide protection from the rain while cooking.

Buyers also get the same foldable camping chairs and table from the larger California, which can be stowed in bags under the bed – and there’s plenty of support for add-ons such as roof racks and detachable awnings. What’s more, the bed can be removed completely to turn the Mini-Camper back into a van.

Finally, Volkswagen has launched a new, modular tent system – designed specifically for the Caddy California – which can either be connected to the rear of the campervan or used independently. Volkswagen says the tent increases the size of the campervan’s living space, allowing enough room for a family of four.

Like the standard Caddy, the Mini-Camper will get Volkswagen’s latest MIB3 infotainment setup, which features a central screen measuring up to 10-inches across. There’ll be a host of safety equipment too, such as side assist, rear cross-traffic alert and Volkswagen’s trailer assist system.

Are you in the market for a camper van? Check out our long-term report of the Volkswagen California Ocean

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