For those of us of a certain age, the old VW camper van introduced in the 1950s held the promise of a compact, affordable home away from home – or just home. Never mind that it had an engine like something off a sewing machine, steered like a bucket, and negotiated hills on a 50-50 basis – it represented the freedom of the road. Volkswagen is continuing this tradition with a new California variant of its recently released Transporter T6.
The new Transporter T6 may not be the successor to the classic microbus we'd been hoping for, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in updated engineering and cautious modernization. So while it may not have the romantic charm of the old bus, but it does try for comfort.
The new van is the fourth and latest of the California campervans first introduced in 1988. It's the only factory-built camper van, and is produced at Volkswagen’s bespoke assembly facility in Hanover, Germany.
Inside, the California boasts the usual compact living arrangements that one expects from a small camper van, sleeping four with a double and roof bed. The Ocean model has an electrohydraulic pop-up roof and dimmable LED lighting in the roof and tailgate, as well as a full kitchen with a 42-liter (11 gal) fridge, twin-burner stove, and a stainless steel sink. There's even a combination cup, ashtray and towel holder.
This being the 21st century, the California puts a strong emphasis on new driver-assist safety features. These include a Driver Alert System that can detect unusual steering patterns indicating fatigue and advise the driver to take a break; Brake Assist, which applies full braking pressure in emergencies; and Automatic Post-Collision Braking, which activates the brakes during an accidents to prevent secondary collisions.
Volkswagen says the price for the new California will be announced soon.