There's much love for the Volkswagen California camper around the world, and it seems that love has only grown to embrace the larger Grand California. So we knew going into the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon that the Grand California would be a key stop. What we didn't know was that Volkswagen would surprise the show with a second model that wasn't part of its original announcement earlier in the month. The larger 6.8-m (22-ft) wheelbase Grand California headlines VW's Düsseldorf appearance, bringing with it a more streamlined roof and a longitudinal double bed. And just like that, the Crafter-based Grand California camper van is officially a family.
The Grand California that Volkswagen detailed in its first announcement in early August is the 6-m (19.7-ft) wheelbase Grand California 600, which comes with a fixed, 1.95 x 1.4-m (6.4 x 4.6-ft) transverse rear bed and optional kids' roof bed. The 6.8-m wheelbase Grand California 680 that VW announced at the show uses its extra size for a larger 2 x 1.7-m (6.6 x 5.6-ft) bed fixed lengthwise in the rear.
The 680 doesn't offer the optional roof bed and comes with a more streamlined, non-alcove super-high roof that gives it a more traditional van profile. That roof measures 2,850 mm (9.4 ft) high, versus the 600's 3,030-mm-high (9.9-ft) alcove roof. As such, the 680 is positioned as a roomy, luxurious road traveler for two, as opposed to a family camper van.
We haven't seen a full pricing sheet on the Grand California just yet, but Volkswagen has announced that the van will start just under €55,000 (approx. US$64,325) when it goes on sale next year. The entry-level model will be a 600 with 174-hp (130-kW) turbo-diesel four-cylinder driving the front wheels with the help of an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system will be available optionally, as will navigation, Volkswagen Media Control, a tow bar and other features. The camper options list will include satellite, LTE/Wi-Fi, solar panels, a 2.2-kW roof-mounted air conditioner (replaces rear skylight) and a passenger-side awning.
Unlike the smaller, multifunctional Transporter-based California, the Crafter-based Grand California is really a dedicated full-time camper van with a permanent camper layout that includes the fixed rear bed, central wet bath and high roof. Beyond their different rear bed and roof layouts, the 600 and 680 are configured the same inside, with a kitchen block just inside the sliding entryway, swivel front seats and a two-seat bench around a dining table, and a central washroom with shower, toilet and fold-down sink.
Volkswagen looked to the world of yachts for design inspiration, bringing over light, bright interior colors and boat deck-style flooring to give the Grand California a clean, modern look. Light floods in during the day through two standard 700 x 600-mm (28 x 23-in) skylights, and at night an array of direct and indirect lighting fends off darkness. The lights are controlled via individual switches or centrally using the control touchscreen mounted next to the wet bath.
Other standard features of note are the dual-burner stove and 70-L indoor/outdoor pull-out fridge in the kitchen, the 110-L fresh and 90-L waste water tanks, and the gas air and water heating system. The living area includes Bluetooth speakers that can stream music directly from a connected device, like a smartphone or laptop, or play music through the Crafter's infotainment system.
Source: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
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