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New Volkswagen California Edition 2018 review

VW has added a limited-run Edition variant to its California campervan range, but is it worth the costly premium?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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In any guise, this latest camper is full to the brim with ingenious space-saving solutions and creative design features. The Volkswagen California continues to set the standard rivals struggle to match, but we’d question the added value this limited-run Edition model offers. Unless you’ve fallen for the unique decals and gloss trinkets, we’d stick with the standard Ocean variant.

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Home is where you park it. As our American road trip feature recently revealed, the California nameplate has been a fixture in the VW range since 1988 – and it’s as popular now as it was back then.

The latest addition to the California range is this limited-run Edition model. Just 80 will come to the UK, and there’s a choice of entry-level Beach or kitchen-equipped Ocean variants. Prices start from £52,985.

VW California Edition prices and specs

The van we’re testing here is the range-topping Ocean Edition. While the basic Beach comes with a 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI, our version is available exclusively with the punchy BiTDi 201bhp diesel unit. All Edition models get a seven-speed DSG auto as standard.

It gets all the usual Ocean luxuries, including a gas hob, sink and deep refrigerator, as well as an electrically-operated pop-up roof, a six-inch touchscreen infotainment system and three-zone climate control. VW’s Discover Navigation set-up is standard, as are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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What’s more, the new Edition version gets gloss black details for the roof and door mirrors, tinted windows and tail-lights, and unique decals on the doors and bootlid. The 17-inch alloy wheels are exclusive to this model, and every version gets powerful LED headlamps and sharp daytime running lights. There are five colours to choose from.

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As usual, the California will sleep four at a push; two in the raised roof and two in the lower cabin. But thanks to a variety of genius storage solutions, all the kit you need for a weekend in the country can be hidden out of sight. There’s a table in the sliding side door, and you’ll find a pair of folding chairs zipped away in the tailgate. There’s even a small wardrobe, two kitchen cupboards and some additional shelves in the back for odds and ends.

Up front, the driving position is high but comfortable. You get a commanding view out, and the all-round windows means visibility on the motorway is excellent. The door bins are huge and there’s a pair of gloveboxes, with 12v and USB charging within easy reach.

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Like the Transporter van on which it is based, the California drives really rather well. Our test model’s bi-turbo diesel engine has plenty of grunt, and the slick DSG auto means all that performance is accessed via a simple flick of the foot. Refinement is, as ever, a VW strong point; the Cali is almost as quiet as the firm’s passenger cars.

But whether the Edition’s extra kit represents decent value will come down to whether you want all those chintzy trinkets. No California is particularly cheap to buy, but at more than £65,000 this is one seriously expensive campervan. Residual values are famously strong, but even the most committed camper will struggle to justify the £6,500 premium this model commands over a like-for-like standard-spec Ocean.

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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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