VW Caddy California: new compact campervan from Volkswagen

  • New member of the California campervan family, based on brand new fifth-generation Caddy
  • Successor to previous Caddy Beach camper, and comes complete with a number of new features
  • These include new bed design, panoramic roof, super-clean engines - and a kitchen

Volkswagen has been building campervans based on the Caddy van since 2005. Now it's taken the final step and named this latest one the Caddy California - in line with the larger California and Grand California campers that already exist. We've got all the official details.

The VW Caddy California is based on the all-new Caddy van, which was revealed earlier in 2020 and is set to reach UK buyers early 2020. The Caddy California replaces the previous Caddy Beach and comes with a number of new features - including a kitchen - that aim to make camping out in this compact van an even better experience.

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A Caddy? With a kitchen? Tell me more...

The new Caddy California is the first VW campervan to be based on the firm's exceptionally versatile MQB platform, which Volkswagen says helps deliver more space as well as greater on-board technology. There will be two versions: a standard length model from European launch in late 2020 and a long-wheelbase model that will follow in 2021.

Volkswagen Caddy California campervan, 2020, rear view, camping

The 'mini' kitchen is likely to be the biggest draw for the new Caddy Cali, as this is a new feature for this model - albeit an optional one. Something rarely seen on campers of this size, this is mounted on a rail on the left side of the load area beneath the bed, meaning it has to be pulled out under the tailgate to be used.

The design apparently places the cooking facilities at a comfortable working height, while the tailgate will do its best to keep the rain off. There are two parts. At the top there's a single gas hob with wind shield and shelf, while the bottom section is for storage. To the rear is a locked compartment for the gas bottle.

Volkswagen Caddy California campervan, 2020, kitchen, with kettle and storage

With the kitchen fitted, VW says the Caddy California meets motorhome type approval.

What about the sleep arrangements?

A new fold-up bed design means that occupants will no longer have to make do with partially sleeping on the folded-down rear seats. Insteat you get the same 'cup spring' system as the larger California and Grand California, which we know from experience should be good news for comfort.

Volkswagen Caddy California campervan, 2020, bed, viewed from the side

At 1,980mm by 1,070mm, the bed is a generous size for such a small vehicle. When not in use it folds up to a third of its length and fits above the boot space, so there should still be plenty of storage space as well. Since the bed is now separate, the rear seats can 'very easily' be removed, should you need more room when camping, too.

However, don't discard those rear sets too soon, as an optional tent system boosts the available accomodation by adding sleeping room for two more people. While the tent can be attached to the Caddy, it is also freestanding, so can be used separately as well.

My, what a big roof you have

The California takes full advantage of the new Caddy’s panoramic roof option – a 1.4 cubic metre glass panel up top that will allow the happy occupants to gaze up at the stars while they enjoy a night in the back of a van. There is a blackout blind for this – and all the other windows – in case you were wondering.

Volkswagen Caddy California campervan, 2020, panoramic roof

What's more, the rear-window privacy screens double as removable storage bags, for easy packing in preparation for your trips away from home.

Other neat features include integrated fly screens, dimmable LED spotlights and all the latest MQB infotainment options. You get 'classic' California-spec camping chairs and table, too.

What's the new Caddy van like?

Well, you can read full details in our new VW Caddy preview report from its official debut earlier in 2020, but this is a thoroughly modern van, completely new from the ground up.

Volkswagen Caddy California campervan, 2020, inside the optional tent

As such it comes with all the latest safety aids, including Travel Assist, which is a mild autonomous driving system that works over a wider range of speeds than ever offered on a Volkswagen commercial vehicle before.

It also has some particularly clean 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel engines, featuring a new ‘twin dosing’ AdBlue SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system to reduce nasty emissions. The California will be offered with 75hp and 90hp versions, and with optional 4Motion four-wheel drive as well as the standard front-wheel drive.

When does the new VW Caddy California camper go on sale?

More as soon as we have it, including pricing and any information about whether it will be sold in the UK. This is apparently under consideration, but no decision has been made so far. If you think you want one, start petitioning your local Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles dealer now.

Also read:

>> All-new Volkswagen Caddy revealed

>> Volkswagen California review

>> Volkswagen Grand California review