This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen California review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Volkswagen offers a choice of two power outputs with the California - 130bhp and 174bhp versions of its five-cylinder 2.5-litre TDI diesel. The 130bhp motor is the entry point to the range, but it seems to cope with the vehicle's substantial weight well once on the move. Still, the 0-62mph sprint is a leisurely affair - as going camping is, perhaps - achieving the acceleration benchmark in 16.3 seconds.

However, with plenty of pulling power at low revs, real-world performance doesn't feel quite so slow. The 174bhp version of the engine produces better in-gear pace and feels a little livelier. Whether choosing the more powerful engine two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive versions, or the rear-wheel drive with automatic transmission, all are capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in a little over 13 seconds, depending on the model.

Both manual and automatic transmissions have six-speed gearboxes.

The California feels like a heavy vehicle and with a lightweight bed concealed in the top, along with the motors and struts required to raise the roof, there is a slight top-heavy feel compared with the equivalent Transporter van or Caravelle people carrier. It doesn't ever feel as though it will roll over though, indeed the California's whole attitude is calm and deliberate.

There is a decent amount of grip, given that corners will hardly be taken at high speed, while electronic stability control, which helps correct a vehicle's line during a skid, is standard across the range. Driving the California confidently comes easy, with light and precise steering and good, progressive brake feel. The 4MOTION version comes with a rear differential lock - ideal for helping to get the vehicle moving out of a wet field.