Automotive

VW T6.1 brings a new face to camper vans, from city center to off-grid

VW T6.1 brings a new face to c...
Werz Magnum 463 High Roof
Werz Magnum 463 High Roof
View 53 Images
Some stands are not built to get a proper exterior photo; we did our best with this Campmobil HK 5.3 with high roof
1/53
Some stands are not built to get a proper exterior photo; we did our best with this Campmobil HK 5.3 with high roof
The Campmobil HK 5.3 has a unique sleeper layout in which the bench and swivel driver cab seats convert and expand into a lower bed and a fold-down bed over top provides sleeping in the high roof
2/53
The Campmobil HK 5.3 has a unique sleeper layout in which the bench and swivel driver cab seats convert and expand into a lower bed and a fold-down bed over top provides sleeping in the high roof
With the front dedicated to sleeping, the Campmobil HK5.3 allots its rear to the neatly-labeled kitchen
3/53
With the front dedicated to sleeping, the Campmobil HK5.3 allots its rear to the neatly-labeled kitchen
The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf package includes a simple removable dining table and a compact collapsible kitchen
4/53
The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf package includes a simple removable dining table and a compact collapsible kitchen
The Bike 'N' Surf's height-adjustable bed frame allows drivers to store gear in back
5/53
The Bike 'N' Surf's height-adjustable bed frame allows drivers to store gear in back
Reimo Bike 'N' Surf
6/53
Reimo Bike 'N' Surf
The Bike 'N' Surf's stove stores away vertically in front of the small fridge box. Pricing on the catalog pictured differs from the T6.1 Bike 'N' Surf's price listed on Reimo's website, so we went with the latter: €32,690
7/53
The Bike 'N' Surf's stove stores away vertically in front of the small fridge box. Pricing on the catalog pictured differs from the T6.1 Bike 'N' Surf's price listed on Reimo's website, so we went with the latter: €32,690
The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf's single-burner stove flips out in seconds
8/53
The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf's single-burner stove flips out in seconds
Tilt the Bike 'N' Surf stove up and it slides back away into its storage slot
9/53
Tilt the Bike 'N' Surf stove up and it slides back away into its storage slot
There's the big dual-level grille that gives the Reimo Bike 'N' Surf away as a T6.1
10/53
There's the big dual-level grille that gives the Reimo Bike 'N' Surf away as a T6.1
Reimo T6.1 Bike 'N' Surf
11/53
Reimo T6.1 Bike 'N' Surf
This Reimo MultiStyle camper van is actually based on a T6, but its floor plan is unique enough for a look
12/53
This Reimo Multi Style camper van is actually based on a T6, but its floor plan is unique enough for a look
Like the Westfalia Club Joker series, the Reimo MultiStyle squeezes a bathroom inside the rear of the mid-size VW van
13/53
Like the Westfalia Club Joker series, the Reimo MultiStyle squeezes a bathroom inside the rear of the mid-size VW van
Reimo MultiStyle rear galley
14/53
Reimo MultiStyle rear galley
The Multi Style maintains a free central aisle, with camping equipment pushed to the two sides, including standalone rear seats that fold into individual single beds
15/53
The MultiStyle maintains a free central aisle, with camping equipment pushed to the two sides, including standalone rear seats that fold into individual single beds
We're still not sure why VW thought it a good idea to take this neat, clean T6 grille/headlamp design and add a whole extra layer of grille below it
16/53
We're still not sure why VW thought it a good idea to take this neat, clean T6 grille/headlamp design and add a whole extra layer of grille below it
Back to the T6.1s: Reimo Sportcamper
17/53
Back to the T6.1s: Reimo Sportcamper
The Reimo Sportcamper has a classic, California-style layout of folding rear bench/bed and driver-side kitchen block
18/53
The Reimo Sportcamper has a classic, California-style layout of folding rear bench/bed and driver-side kitchen block
Dual-burner stove and sink on the Reimo Sportcamper
19/53
Dual-burner stove and sink on the Reimo Sportcamper
The Reimo Sportcamper starts just under €47,000
20/53
The Reimo Sportcamper starts just under €47,000
With its standalone seats and lack of front kitchen block, the Reimo MultiStyle offers a little more elbow room in its front lounge
21/53
With its standalone seats and lack of front kitchen block, the Reimo MultiStyle offers a little more elbow room in its front lounge
Looking at the split interior design of the Reimo MultiStyle (base price: €53,560)
22/53
Looking at the split interior design of the Reimo MultiStyle (base price: €53,560)
In addition to its larger gas-free Crafter camper, Nordvan offers this T6.1 Po
23/53
In addition to its larger gas-free Crafter camper, NordVan offers this T6.1 pop-top
The Westfalia Club Joker City is quite impressive in its use of space, packing a bathroom into a sub-5-m VW van
24/53
The Westfalia Club Joker City is quite impressive in its use of space, packing a bathroom into a sub-5-m VW van
Dual-seat rear bench on the Westfalia Club Joker City
25/53
Dual-seat rear bench on the Westfalia Club Joker City
Unlike the VW California and most other T6/T6.1 camper vans, Westfalia's Club Joker series fits in a toilet and shower in back
26/53
Unlike the VW California and most other T6/T6.1 camper vans, Westfalia's Club Joker series fits in a toilet and shower in back
Westfalia Club Joker City tailgate area
27/53
Westfalia Club Joker City tailgate area
The more expensive Club Joker does away with the Club Joker City's pop-up roof in favor of a high roof
28/53
The more expensive Club Joker does away with the Club Joker City's pop-up roof in favor of a high roof
With its permanent height, the Club Joker accommodates a more complete, full-time rear wet bath
29/53
With its permanent height, the Club Joker accommodates a more complete, full-time rear wet bath
Easy Camper shows its own VW T6.1 package
30/53
Easy Camper shows its own VW T6.1 package
The Easy Camper T6.1 camper van starts just under
31/53
The Easy Camper T6.1 camper van starts just under
Easy Camper offers plenty of outdoor worktop
32/53
Easy Camper offers plenty of outdoor worktop
SUmmermobil shows one of the more rugged T6.1 packages of CMT, the Offroad Beach Premium 4Motion
33/53
SUmmermobil shows one of the more rugged T6.1 packages of CMT, the Offroad Beach Premium 4Motion
A peek in the Summermobil Offroad Beach Premium T6.1` 4Motion
34/53
A peek in the Summermobil Offroad Beach Premium T6.1` 4Motion
The Summermobil Flexi K T6.1 was listed for a "show price" of €49,300
35/53
The Summermobil Flexi K T6.1 was listed for a "show price" of €49,300
Summermobil's Flexi K has a more compact kitchen block than average and a longer side storage console
36/53
Summermobil's Flexi K has a more compact kitchen block than average and a longer side storage console
Single-burner stove and small sink on the Summermobil Flexi K
37/53
Single-burner stove and small sink on the Summermobil Flexi K
Werz Magnum 463 High Roof
38/53
Werz Magnum 463 High Roof
Werz fills its Magnum B interior out a little differently, with a compact wraparound sofa, tall drawer console and compact kitchen block
39/53
Werz fills its Magnum B interior out a little differently, with a compact wraparound sofa, tall drawer console and compact kitchen block
Werz Magnum 463 High Roof
40/53
Werz Magnum 463 High Roof
The classic Volkswagen California was the first camper van to show up atop the VW T6.1 last summer
41/53
The classic Volkswagen California was the first camper van to show up atop the VW T6.1 last summer
Looking in through the tailgate of the SpaceCamper Limited and its strap-adjustable headboard
42/53
Looking in through the tailgate of the SpaceCamper Limited and its strap-adjustable headboard
SpaceCamper gives the Limited a little more pep with Drive Dressy seat covers
43/53
SpaceCamper gives the Limited a little more pep with Drive Dressy seat covers
The Multivan is more of an MPV than a camper van, but its bench can fold down to create a bed, so it's also something of a California Beach without the pop-up roof or hideaway stove
44/53
The Multivan is more of an MPV than a camper van, but its bench can fold down to create a bed, so it's also something of a California Beach without the pop-up roof or hideaway stove
VW California camper van
45/53
VW California camper van
The SpaceCamper Limited comes with a Trangia cookset
46/53
The SpaceCamper Limited comes with a Trangia cookset
The SpaceCamper Limited's Trangia cookware attaches securely to the alcohol stove, helping prevent spills and accidents
47/53
The SpaceCamper Limited's Trangia cookware attaches securely to the alcohol stove, helping prevent spills and accidents
Another rough location for a full photo, but you can see the SpaceCamper Limited's T6.1 grille poking out from behind the posters
48/53
Another rough location for a full photo, but you can see the SpaceCamper Limited's T6.1 grille poking out from behind the posters
The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf is an affordable, versatile T6.1 camper van, with or without mushroom top
49/53
The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf is an affordable, versatile T6.1 camper van, with or without mushroom top
Volkswagen does away with the outdated monochrome display in favor of a more comprehensive touchscreen system on California 6.1 models
50/53
Volkswagen does away with the outdated monochrome display in favor of a more comprehensive touchscreen system on California 6.1 models
With a new recline function, the California 6.1 rear bench serves as a comfy lounge, as well as a seat and bed
51/53
With a new recline function, the California 6.1 rear bench serves as a comfy lounge, as well as a seat and bed
The new fold-out kitchen is the highlight of the California Beach 6.1, bringing a single-burner stove and worktop to the van
52/53
The new fold-out kitchen is the highlight of the California Beach 6.1, bringing a single-burner stove and worktop to the van
With the kitchen folded neatly, the California Beach has room for a three-seat rear bench, plus one or two additional seats
53/53
With the kitchen folded neatly, the California Beach has room for a three-seat rear bench, plus one or two additional seats
View gallery - 53 images

The world doesn't need a new reason to celebrate the Volkswagen camper van, but it has one anyway. Last year's launch of the T6.1 throws the spotlight on the fun-loving VW camping bus once again. Volkswagen itself kicked off the festivities with the launch of the updated California and redefined California Beach, and European conversion shops followed suit in transforming the 6.1 into their own unique camper creations. From multipurpose mini-campers, to rambling off-road penthouses, these are some of Germany's best and brightest T6.1 camper vans.

The T6.1 is a fairly minor refresh ahead of the T7, which has already been spotted out and about testing. The most noticeable change comes up front, where VW tugs the lower lip of its famed van down, nearly doubling the size of the grille. Frankly, we hated the new grille when we first saw it, but walking the floor of this year's CMT show in Stuttgart, we gradually warmed to it. It definitely wasn't because it looks better in person – it does not – but because that double layer of grille makes it very easy to distinguish T6.1 from T6. And since we were looking for the very latest camper van updates, it provided a big helping hand.

Outside of that incredulous gape, the T6.1 update brings some equipment additions, including electromechanical steering, an available 10.3-in digital cockpit, available 9.2-in Discover Pro nav-infotainment system, and driver-assistance options like trailer assist and lane-keeping assist. Unfortunately, none of the T6.1 camper vans we've seen so far have taken advantage of the available 248-mile (400-km, NEDC) electric powertrain, leaving T6.1 camper van updates centered around the more robust available equipment and tech.

All in the family


Built and sold by Volkswagen itself, the California camper vans were the first T6.1 campers to follow the debut of the T6.1 van. We looked at them in depth ahead of their 2019 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon premieres and spotted a couple again around the halls of CMT. Originally built by iconic converter Westfalia, the California launched in 1988 on the angular T3. Volkswagen brought production in-house in 2003 and has been building the camper vans at its Hannover plant ever since.

VW California camper van
VW California camper van

Being Volkswagen's own camper van series, the California enjoys some of the biggest updates among T6.1 camper vans. All California models gain a color touchscreen command center providing control and viewing of equipment like the fridge, lighting and pop-up roof. A recline function on the dual-seat bench of Coast and Ocean models makes for comfier lounging at camp, while light, natural trim selections keep the look bright and modern. Perhaps the biggest single addition comes to the entry level California Beach, which matures from a sleeper van without a kitchen to a more fully equipped camper van with a clever new hideaway kitchen that stows in the driver-side wall. The Beach now serves as a space-optimizing MPV that transports five to seven people while still offering the sleeping, cooking and dining support of a motorhome.

With the kitchen folded neatly, the California Beach has room for a three-seat rear bench, plus one or two additional seats
With the kitchen folded neatly, the California Beach has room for a three-seat rear bench, plus one or two additional seats

The California Beach starts at €48,796 (approx. US$55,300), higher-spec California models at €56,204 ($63,700), both including VAT.

Just down the road


The Westfalia and VW brands are forever intertwined in camping lure, but nowadays Westfalia does its conversion work for competitors like Mercedes-Benz and Ford. The German shop has not abandoned the VW camper bus business altogether, though. In fact, its Joker vans predate the California, having been first introduced in 1978, not long after other popular models like the Sven Hedin and James Cook.

The Westfalia Club Joker City is quite impressive in its use of space, packing a bathroom into a sub-5-m VW van
The Westfalia Club Joker City is quite impressive in its use of space, packing a bathroom into a sub-5-m VW van

In addition to a bit of extra history, the modern-day Club Joker offers a feature the California is sorely lacking: a proper bathroom. It's not all that common, but Westfalia proves it possible to fit a bathroom inside VW's mid-size van, shoehorning a toilet into the rear corner of the T6.1, right across from the kitchen. The shower drain sits in the middle of the tailgate area, ready to work with the pull-out sprayer. The 9.2-foot (2.8-m) high roof of the 208-in (529-cm) Club Joker allows for a more proper bathroom compartment, but the 193-in (489-cm) Club Joker City pop-top does still manage to fit in both the toilet and shower. Each model sleeps four people with a roof bed and convertible front dinette bed.

Unlike the VW California and most other T6/T6.1 camper vans, Westfalia's Club Joker series fits in a toilet and shower in back
Unlike the VW California and most other T6/T6.1 camper vans, Westfalia's Club Joker series fits in a toilet and shower in back

The Club Joker starts at €65,740, the Club Joker City at €60,840, both including VAT.

Off the road


It seemed most of the off-road specialists we dropped by at CMT were still working with T6 vans or other vans entirely, but Werz had its rugged Magnum camper planted firmly atop a T6.1 4Motion with high roof and Yokohama tires. The van also includes a Seikel suspension lift and underbody protection. The Magnum B floor plan inside has a familiar driver-side kitchen/convertible bench-bed layout but with a couple unique twists. A small seat wedged between the kitchen and rear storage console creates a rear seating group for three, four when you add in the swivel passenger seat in front. The kitchen is a bit more compact because of it, the sink and dual-burner stove packed below a lid on the short front block, a square worktop topping the taller stack of drawers next to it. A fridge fills out the lower section of the kitchen block.

Werz Magnum 463 High Roof
Werz Magnum 463 High Roof

At night, the Magnum sleeps four people on the sleeper roof bed and folding bench. It doesn't have a full wet bath like the Club Joker series, but that conspicuous third rear seat is built atop a storage compartment sized for a portable toilet, so it has the most important function covered.

Werz fills its Magnum B interior out a little differently, with a compact wraparound sofa, tall drawer console and compact kitchen block
Werz fills its Magnum B interior out a little differently, with a compact wraparound sofa, tall drawer console and compact kitchen block

The Magnum "B" starts at €66,507, and the show floor model was optioned up significantly to €95,419, after VAT. For those who aren't thrilled with that layout, Werz also advertises Magnum A, C and E floor plans, though D appears to be missing in action.

Lighter side


The California Beach isn't the only T6.1 light sleeper van roaming forests and coastlines, and it's not even the only one with a clever hideaway stove. Our favorite camper van of the entire CMT 2020 show, the Surf 'N' Bike from Reimo shows a sportier, more whimsical take on the weekend warrior sleeper van. This time, the kitchen console is on the passenger side just inside the sliding door. It packs a small 18L fridge box in back and a single-burner stove that pulls up and forward to fry up dinner or heat morning coffee. A small table attaches to the outside of the console to add prep space, and a removable table inside turns the two-seat rear bench and swivel front seats into a dining room.

The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf is an affordable, versatile T6.1 camper van, with or without mushroom top
The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf is an affordable, versatile T6.1 camper van, with or without mushroom top

The rear bed stretches over top the folded rear bench at night, and its adjustable raised frame and removable side panel make good on the van's namesake by adjusting around bikes, boards and other gear during the drive. Unlike other VW pop-tops, the show van featured a mini pop-up "mushroom roof," good for added ventilation and headroom but not for sleeping in. That pop-top is optional, though, as is a full pop-up sleeper roof for two additional people, helping keep the base price down to a very affordable €32,690.

The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf's single-burner stove flips out in seconds
The Reimo Bike 'N' Surf's single-burner stove flips out in seconds

Tropical retreat


We've liked SpaceCamper's vans since we first stumbled upon the Darmstadt-based builder more than a decade ago, and we've covered a few different variants since. This year, along with showing what its Limited package looks like with a mouthy T6.1 face, SpaceCamper adds some serious tropical style by partnering up with Drive Dressy seat covers. Those seats sprinkle a little zest on top, but the real appeal of the Limited's interior is in its smart, compact packaging. Its kitchen is one of the simplest, most streamlined you'll find, relying on the cabinet face to pull up and double as counter and dining table while providing access into the pantry. A small alcohol stove pairs with Trangia lightweight pots and pans that can lock onto the burner to prevent spills in the tight living space. A 25L compressor fridge box stands on its own behind the main kitchen unit.

The SpaceCamper Limited comes with a Trangia cookset
The SpaceCamper Limited comes with a Trangia cookset

The other critical component of the Limited package, the rear bench is a three-seater with under-bench storage that folds out into a full-width double bed with strap-adjustable head. The pop-up roof houses a second two-person bed. Other standard equipment includes two 75Ah AGM batteries, a rear shower with privacy tent and various storage solutions. Pricing starts at €59,990, and the model pictured costs €74,170 after its myriad van and camper options and 19 percent VAT.

Take a closer look at all these layouts and a few others in our VW T6.1 Camper photo gallery.

View gallery - 53 images
0 comments
There are no comments. Be the first!