Volkswagen has confirmed that it will sell a compact campervan in the UK from a month’s time – and it will be priced at less than £30,000 could be delivered in time for your 2021 summer staycation.
The Caddy California, revealed by the German car manufacturer last year, is designed for holidaying couples, with the dinky (by campervan standards) vehicle featuring a double bed that folds out over the rear seats.
When it was first previewed last September, VW UK said it would be measuring demand before making a decision on whether to sell the compact camper in Britain.
With people set for another summer of holidays at home – especially with overseas travel restrictions likely remaining in place for the next few months – and a reported short supply of motorhomes and campers as a result of growing orders, it’s no surprise that Volkswagen has given the affordable camping vehicle the green light.
Compact camper is coming to Britain: VW confirms the new – and smallest – California campervan will be available to order from May – and first deliveries will arrive in the summer
With prices starting from £29,965, the Caddy California is almost half the price of the £54,733 conventional California, and a fraction of the cost of the bigger Grand California (starting from £74,801).
It will go on sale from late May, with first deliveries arriving in the summer – ideal timing for that planned British getaway.
In a statement released by VW UK today, the manufacturer said: ‘The compact camper, based on the award-winning fifth-generation Caddy, is a unique offering within the camping segment enabling variable living, sleeping and storage space for everyday life and travelling.’
It only sleeps two – but has the option of a tent extension…
The bed, which when stored is a third of its total length, has to be unfolded in the boot section and lays across the rear bench, is two metres long and features the same ‘cup springs and a high-quality mattress’ you get in the bigger California and Grand California models.
For couples on a trip as a duo, they can remove the rear seats entirely, providing van-like luggage space and that means you can have the bed folded out at all times.
New for this model – and not available in the conventional Caddy MPV – is the addition of a 1.4-metre panoramic glass roof, which allows owners to star-gaze from their double bed in the evening.
Prices will start from £29,965 in the UK, making the Caddy camper almost half the price of the conventional California and far cheaper than the £74,000 Grand California model
With more Britons looking to staycation again this summer – and there being a reported shortage of available campervans – the arrival of a more affordable model will be music to the ears of those looking to get their hands on a small motorhome
And if a romantic weekend under the stars results in your family growing some nine months later – or you want to vacation with a group of friends – and you need additional sleeping quarters, VW has the answer without having to upgrade to the bigger – and far pricier – models in the California range.
It has added the option of a specially-made tent that attaches to the back of the Caddy that doubles as bonus sleeping capacity.
It uses ‘air poles’, which VW says makes it easier to erect than a conventional tent, and with direct access to the boot of the compact California has space to sleep another two people.
For additional comfort, there is also a California Plus pack that costs an extra £960. This adds a front centre armrest in the cabin with space for two drinks, a 230V inverter and three-pin UK domestic plug socket, dark tinted rear glass, two USB points, power latching on all doors to avoid waking your camping neighbours at night and LED rear combination lights.
A one-metre long bed folds-up to just a third of its overall length so it can be stored in the back. Unlike other models, the bed isn’t incorporated into the rear seats, so these can be removed entirely if not in use – thus increasing luggage space
The bed features the same ‘cup springs and a high-quality mattress’ you get in the bigger California and Grand California models
While the bed is two metres, it does mean there is just sleeping for two inside the vehicle. But there is the option to sleep another two people…
An additional tent, which fits to the boot section of the Caddy California, means you can take another two people (or more, looking at these images) on tour with you
The tent attaches directly to the rear of the Caddy California to provide extended camping quarters for holidaying groups
Pull-out micro kitchen has a single gas burner and a cutlery drawer
Owners will be able to cook for their guests from their mini-motorhomes, as the Caddy California comes equipped with a clever micro-kitchen on rails that extends from a small compartment in the boot.
Pull the section out and it handily sits underneath the raised boot lid – so you don’t need to worry about getting wet while you’re flipping burgers.
It comes equipped with a single hob, a section to house a small gas canister to power it and a draw for your utensils.
In the boot is also a lightweight set of camping chairs, table and pair of storage bags.
The latter have a dual function: first to carry heavy items from your home to the van and back; second as a set of curtains that can clip to the rear windows for additional privacy while you’re having a kip.
There’s a mico kitchen which slides on rails from a compartment slotted into the boot, providing a cooking solution from the most compact campervan design
It features a single hob, space for a gas canister, sections to keep some (but not much) food, and a cutlery drawer
Volkswagen UK said last year it would only sell the Caddy California – which is based on the Caddy van and MPV – if Britons showed enough interest. Demand for campers has been at record high levels during the pandemic, so it’s no surprise to see the vehicle made available for the summer
The Caddy California will be the smallest camper in VW’s range, sitting below the standard California and enormous Grand California
A lightweight set of picnic chairs and table can be stored in a second compartment in the boot, next to the micro kitchen storage
With the coronavirus pandemic hammering the travel industry, more people are considering holidaying in the UK again this year. The Caddy California could be the ideal vehicle for a new era of staycations
Choice of petrol or diesel engines
Powering the tiny camper will be the choice of two engines – a petrol and diesel.
The cheapest model from £29,965 is a short-wheel-base version with a 1.5 TSI petrol engine, with 112bhp and a manual gearbox.
Pricing rises to £34,699 for the 2.0-litre diesel motor with 120bhp, which also comes with a DSG automatic transmission.
If you want a bit of extra space, the Caddy California is also available in Maxi size, priced from £31,285 for the petrol and £36,019 for the auto diesel.
Carry bags in the boot are used to transport goods to and from the van but also have a second purpose…
The bags also double as curtains by clipping onto the window frames. Buyers can also spec this huge glass panoramic sunroof
The Caddy California camper even has a section to store this lightweight picnic chair and table set
Smart tech means the VW camper can direct you to your nearest – and open – campsite
There’s plenty of tech crammed inside the Caddy California.
This includes the optional ‘ ‘Innovision Cockpit’, which is made up of a 10-inch touchscreen, VW’s ‘Discover Pro’ navigation system and an online connectivity unit with integrated eSIM so users always have internet access.
The driver can link this system to the ‘California on Tour’ app, which has been created for the model range to locate campsites, legal locations to pitch-up for the night and leisure activities that are available in close proximity to where you’re staying.
The Caddy is also fitted with ‘Travel Assist’, which is an automated driving mode to be used in heavy traffic.
This is just one of 19 driving aids buyers can choose in the compact campervan, which also includes ‘Trailer Assist’ for those using the vehicle to tow.
The system helps the driver when trying to reverse a trailer or hitched caravan into a spot.
What are the best campervans on sale in the UK today?
Want to know which are the best machines for your summer holiday in Britain this year?
Read our guide to the top five campers you can buy from manufacturers and dedicated campervan dealers right now.
The list includes the Caddy California’s bigger brothers as well as rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Ford.
And if you don’t want a campervan, we also have another solution in the shape of a camping trailer that has most of the features the vehicles can boast.
> You can also read Simon Lambert’s review of a 2,000 mile family road trip in a VW California
Demand for campervans and motorhomes at an all-time high
The arrival of the Caddy California will be music to the ears of many – especially those looking for a more affordable way into campervan ownership.
It will also – hopefully – help to release some of the growing demand for vehicles of this type, which have seen a recent boom as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic restricting holidaying abroad.
With record numbers of Britons buying motorhomes for staycations, it has reportedly caused a shortage of the vehicles.
Alistair Norman, of Revolution Campervans in Northamptonshire, told the Daily Mail that demand has gone through the roof in recent week; ahead of the pandemic he claims to have dealt with 20 enquiries a week – now it’s around 500 a day. ‘Demand has gone up exponentially,’ he explained
Karl Pearce, of KTG Caravans and Campers in Staffordshire, said buyers were waiting up to six months, adding: ‘It’s crazy. Prices have shot up.’
The Caravan and Motorhome Club said a record number of members joined last month.
The National Caravan Council says there are 225,000 motorhomes in Britain – and sales have tripled since 2000.
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