Volkswagen – Caddy California
ith very little on offer in the way of foreign holidays in the last two years due to coronavirus restrictions, more Irish families have no choice but to enjoy a break on our own little Emerald Isle.
Honestly, and I think many would agree with me, if we were guaranteed Mediterranean-like weather here during the summer months I wouldn’t set foot outside of this little island paradise.
But with many hotels pricing us out of the market for a luxury staycation, families are turning to the great outdoors for an affordable solution for a well-earned break.
Camping and glampsites are popping up around the country faster than Covid test centres these days and camper-vans are selling out quicker than HB ice-creams on a scorching hot summer’s day.
As always, the Germans were ahead of the curve in the camper-van market and the Volkswagen group, in particular, has recently come up with a solution for those of us who can’t afford a €100k-plus motor-home.
Step forward the Volkswagen Caddy California. Loosely based on the Caddy commercial vehicle and replacing the Caddy Beach model, the all-new California might just be the most versatile family vehicle to arrive on our shore in years.
The back impresses with camper van fittings cleverly thought-out down to the last detail. These include a new fold-out bed. With cup springs and a high-quality mattress, its construction provides the same high level of sleeping comfort as the beds in the T6.1 California and Grand California.
Measuring 1,980 x 1,070 mm, we found the bed extremely big and comfortable enough for two adults. Folded up, it reduces to a third of its length and sits compactly above the boot space.
While on the previous model the second seating row was part of the bed construction, this is now no longer the case. Before the journey the seats of the second row can be very easily taken out. In this area, too, the Caddy California now provides appreciably more storage space.
Also on offer in the all-new Caddy California is a new mini kitchen. Hinged to the left cargo space wall beneath the bed, when the boot is open it can be pulled out to the rear. Volkswagen says that by doing this it also provides protection from the rain while cooking. The new mini kitchen consists of two pull-out parts.
Integrated in the top part is a single hob gas cooker, inclusive of wind shield and preparation shelf. The bottom pull-out part contains a cutlery tray and further storage space for cooking utensils and provisions.
Built into the rear part of the kitchen is a securely locked box (with floor vent) for the small gas bottle.
Personally, I would rather have it without the kitchen as it takes up too much space for my liking. You’d be far better off doing what I did and bringing a small barbecue and two-ring camping stove with you and cooking outside. Who wants to stink out the van with the smell of burnt bangers and burgers anyway?
Other than that, the Caddy California is very well thought out and comes with a stowable folding table and chairs.
Unlike most other campers and motor-homes out there, Volkswagen build all the components in-house themselves and you can tell by the way it’s very well pieced together.
Another new feature in the Caddy California is a modular tent system.
As it is free-standing, this tent system can also be used separately, without being attached to the van.
The tent can also be extended by adding a sleeping cabin. It increases the size of the living space in such a way that enough room is created on the pitch for a family of four along with all their camping gear.
I love the fact that you can remove the bed altogether and use the Caddy California as a normal family car all year round and, unlike its larger sibling, this smaller model comes with five seats in total – the Transporter California only seats four.
Overall, I found the new Caddy California to be brilliant fun. It’s the perfect year-round family vehicle that can be converted at weekends at the drop of a hat if you fancy a short break away from it all.
My only criticism would be that the bed definitely needs two pairs of hands when laying out, as I found to my frustration.
Finally, the question that you are all asking – how much? Prices start from €43,670, which I think is very reasonable considering you can use it as an everyday family car.
It’s a wonderful little camper van well worth thinking about in my eyes.