Volkswagen goes tiny but expandable with new Mini-Camper van
Following up on the full-size Grand California it launched in 2018 and the updated midsize California it launched last year, Volkswagen now turns its vehicle-camping mastery to its smallest van. A new-generation Caddy calls for a new-generation Caddy Beach camper, and in this case, a new name: the Mini-Camper. One of the smallest, cutest camper vans we're likely to see until the eBussy Camper comes rolling into the real world, the new Caddy Mini-Camper sleeps adventure-loving couples and turns into a larger "glamping lodge" on demand.
Volkswagen introduced the new fifth-generation Caddy back in February, and at the time, we figured a Caddy Beach might follow at the 2020 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. Of course, a whole lot has happened since February 20th, casting future products of all types into doubt. So it's good to see Volkswagen teasing the new Caddy Mini-Camper during the same month of July it previously teased the T6.1 California and Crafter-based Grand California.
A small van like the Caddy is already positioned as an inherently versatile vehicle, combining some of the volume and utility of a proper van with nimble handling and easy parking more similar to a passenger car. With the new Mini-Camper variant, VW adds to that versatility in creating a vehicle that commutes like a minivan for everyday use but holidays as a light camper optimized for "spontaneous micro-adventure."
The new Mini-Camper looks to maintain a similar layout as the outgoing Caddy Beach, relying on a folding rear bench to create a two-person bed. Volkswagen says the bed has been redesigned for versatility, and while it doesn't offer further explanation, that versatility could follow the California Beach 6.1 in offering a lounge chair setting between bench and bed so that occupants can enjoy a more relaxed sit at the campsite.
The near-2m (6.6-ft)-long reworked disc spring bed will be complemented by the available panoramic glass roof offering 15 square feet (1.4 sq m) of display space for viewing twinkling stars or cloud-smeared blue sky. Occupants will be able to black out that roof, along with the van's windows, to ensure a proper night of sleep, even when the van sits exposed to the full strength of the early-morning sun.
That basic configuration will be great for cozy couples, but the new camper is also designed with sporty young families in mind. To accommodate more people, Volkswagen will offer an expandable tailgate tent system it describes as a "glamping lodge." We're not sure about that, but the design definitely steps beyond the basic hatch tent, appearing to work like POD Tents and other modular tent systems to create large indoor spaces, like the L-shaped expansion pictured at the top of the page.
The Mini-Camper will also carry an outdoor dining table and chairs on the lift-gate.
Another feature the California 6.1 could potentially lend to the Mini-Camper is its clever fold-out kitchen. With last year's updates, the California Beach expanded its role from pure sleeper van (bed but no kitchen) to more of a full-blown camper van. Its innovative little kitchen packs away neatly in the driver's side rear sidewall and folds out when it's time to cook. The Mini-Camper could benefit equally from that style of kitchen, whether offered standard or as an option.
We'll learn more about that kitchen or lack thereof when VW hosts the full Mini-Camper world premiere. It won't happen during the 2020 Caravan Salon, which is scheduled to proceed on adjusted September dates. Volkswagen does not appear on the list of Caravan Salon exhibitors and makes no mention of the show in today's Mini-Camper teaser, saying only that the full reveal will be held virtually in September.
Volkswagen won't be the only one adjusting its 2020 RV show schedule. Erwin Hymer Group, part of the world's largest RV conglomerate, announced in May that its brands will not attend any European trade fairs for the remainder of 2020. Last year, the Hymer and Eriba brands filled an entire Düsseldorf show hall, with additional EHG brands spread around other parts of the show. Hymer also had the show's most talked-about debut.
Source: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles