VW California Beach brings lower pricing for factory-built camper

  • Beach models return to VW California range in the UK
  • Available in two versions: Tour and Camper
  • Lots of seating, but no proper fitted kitchen

Volkswagen is adding a pair of lower-cost Beach models to its California 6.1 campervan range. Lower-cost in this instance is relative – they still cost a minimum of £52,062 – but this is still good news if you’re looking for an extra-versatile people carrier that can double as overnight accommodation.

The new VW California Beach comes in two versions – Tour and Camper - and is based on the Volkswagen Transporter van. It's probably best thought of as a 'day van', rather than a full-on campervan; full details below.

What’s different about the California Beach?

Unlike the fancier Volkswagen California models that are already on sale, the Beach comes without a fully fitted kitchen area – though you still do get the pop-up roof (if manual rather than electric control) and a camping table with two folding chairs.

Volkswagen California Beach, 6.1, 2020, pop-out kitchen

The pricier California Beach Camper does come with a clever pull-out mini kitchen that hides away in the side of the van when not in use, and an awning.

According to VW, this is enough to qualify the Beach Camper for 'motor caravan' status as far as the DVLA is concerned. The Beach Tour is just a car, however, which might have some implications for camp site use and insurance.

So what’s the point of the California Beach Tour?

The Tour majors on carrying people. It has seating for five as standard (regular California only carries four) and buyers can increase this to six or seven.

It also has twin sliding side doors, whereas the Camper only has a single one, which is on the driver's side for UK models, rather than the passenger side (and therefore typically closer to the pavement).

This is great if you want to travel with more friends or family, but you’ll have to leave room for a tent or two as you won’t be able to sleep that many inside the van.

The Beach Camper seats four as standard with the option for five.

What engine do you get with the California Beach?

Both models are available only with the 150hp version of VW’s latest 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel – though this is hooked up to a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

Volkswagen California Beach, 6.1, 2020, rear view, showing chairs in tailgate

Front-wheel drive is your only choice here; more expensive Californias can be upgraded to 4Motion four-wheel drive, if required.

What’s the difference in price?

Not a lot. The California Beach Tour is priced from £52,062, while the California Beach Camper starts at £52,302 – that’s including VAT but excluding on-the-road costs. Both should be on sale by the end of October 2020.

The non-Beach California range starts at £56,395 for the Coast model, with the top-spec Ocean priced from £64,873.

The decision to introduce the lower-spec Beach range into the UK is a direct reaction to increased campervan interest as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Also read:

>> Our Volkswagen California review

>> Our Volkswagen Grand California review

>> Volkswagen Caddy California full details

>> Volkswagen launches new California camper in 6.1 form