Volkswagen California 6.1: First official pictures

Published 02 August 2019

Volkswagen has released the first official pictures of the California 6.1. Based on the T6 Transporter, the camper van gets new safety tech, better comfort and lower fuel costs.

Prices for the California 6.1 are expected to start in the region of £47,000 when it goes on sale in the autumn. The new van is immediately identifiable, however, with new front-end styling, larger air intakes and LED daytime running lights fitted as standard to high spec models.

As before, the California is offered in Beach and Ocean trims with the former seating five and sleeping four while the latter has one less chair but includes a fully-fitted kitchen. The living quarters of the Ocean model has been completely redesigned with a new kitchen surface (sink, cooker, fridge). The shutters in the rear cupboard now use sliding doors and the units, flooring and surfaces are offered in Bright Oak and darker Graphite Grey (pictured below). 

The new camper van gets a useful level indicator, which shows the lengthways and crossways angle at which the California is parked. This means it will be easier than ever to get the van level on a campsite. The multifunctional camper control unit in the roof console - that operates the electric pop-up roof, fridge and heater on Ocean models - has also been redesigned and digitalised.

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Ocean models now get an auxiliary heater as standard, along with a sprung-bed base in the pop-up roof compartment. Getting to sleep in the top bed should be easier, thanks to darker grey canvas sides that will reduce the level of light reaching the sleeping area. A new sunrise function will gradually wake the van's occupants in the morning, however, by gradually filling the cabin with LED light slowly over a user-definable length of time.

Driver and passenger safety has been improved, with the option of a side-wind compensation system that will automatically adjust the power steering so the driver doesn’t have to continuously countersteer against heavy side winds. Volkswagen’s semi-autonomous trailer assist is also offered for the first time on the California, allowing the van to steer the trailer automatically when reversing at low speeds.

A key technical change in terms of handling is the switch from hydraulic to electro-mechanical power steering. Volkswagen is also offering its Digital Cockpit system along with two new navigation systems - Discover Media (8-inch touchscreen) and Discover Pro (9.2-inch) - and built-in eSIM provides real-time fuel prices and traffic reports via the touchscreen infotainment screen.

The front-wheel drive van is powered by Volkswagen's familiar range of 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines, paired with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto. Engine outputs are still to be confirmed, but will most likely span 102PS - 199PS. Volkswagen is promising lower running costs, while emissions and fuel economy will meet the latest WLTP standards, which means claimed mpg should be more reflective of real-world driving. The 2.0 TSI petrol engine, however, has officially been axed from the line-up. 

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