Volkswagen T6 California (2015–)

Model History

June 2015

New Volkswagen California launched

Based on the recently revealed Transporter T6, the new California offers a host of improvements and new features for buyers who want the ultimate home from home.

The new California is the fourth model to bear the name. The range incorporates all the key features introduced on the new Transporter T6, including new, more efficient engines that are up to 15 per cent more economical than the outgoing units. The new California also features a range of advanced technologies designed to make life safer and even more enjoyable for occupants. These include driver assistance systems, a completely refreshed infotainment system and the availability of adaptive suspension.

The launch engine range includes both diesel and petrol options, along with DSG and 4Motion four-wheel-drive. Power outputs for UK models range from 102PS for the entry-level 2.0-litre TDI engine (Beach models only) up to 204PS for the 2.0-litre TSI petrol unit (Ocean models only).

Naturally, the new California retains the legendary practicality and storage ingenuity of its predecessor. Available in two forms; Beach and Ocean (which replaces the current SE model), the California can sleep four occupants courtesy of its acclaimed pop-up roof (electro-hydraulic on Ocean models) that neatly integrates a 1.2m x 2m double bed.

Ocean models also feature a fully-equipped kitchen, complete with 42-litre refrigerator, twin-burner hob and stainless steel sink unit. Ocean models also gain a dimmable LED lighting system for the pop-up roof and tailgate and a clever multi-functional holder for the rear compartment that incorporates a cup, ashtray and towel holder all in one.

July 2015

Volkswagen California prices announced

Prices start at £37,657 (RRP OTR inc VAT) for the Beach model. Continuing a campervan tradition which spans more than 60 years, the Volkswagen California is the only vehicle in its class to be designed, engineered and built in-house.

The new California is available in two trim levels – Beach and Ocean – and with a choice of three 2.0-litre engines ranging in power from 102 to 204 PS. All are EU6 compliant and feature BlueMotion Technology modifications to give fuel consumption and emissions figures which have been lowered by up to 15 per cent. A 4MOTION four-wheel drive version is also offered in conjunction with the 150 PS or range-topping 204 PS powerplant.

Entry to the California range starts with the Beach model which offers up to seven seats and sleeping space for four. The bench-seat easily folds to convert to a two-berth bed across the width of the vehicle, while a manual pop-up roof gives access to a further double bed. A fold-out table and chairs are cleverly stored in the sliding door and tailgate, while an integrated awning makes for a comfortable and practical camping experience. The Beach is available with a 2.0-litre 102 PS TDI engine with a five-speed manual gearbox, and a 2.0-litre TDI 150 PS with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG transmission.

The California Ocean replaces the SE model from the previous generation, with prices starting from £47,840 (RRP OTR inc VAT). Customers can choose from two engines with either 150 or 204 PS and six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearboxes. 4MOTION four-wheel drive variants mean the ultimate ‘home from home’ can go further and wider afield. The Ocean also adds an electro-hydraulic pop-up roof with lighting, plus a kitchenette with two rings, a fridge and sink.

July 2017

2.0-litre TSI petrol engines added to California T6 range.

Buyers can choose between two 2.0-litre (1984 cc) TSI units that develop 150PS and 204PS. The latter is equipped with a seven-speed DSG gearbox as standard and available for front- or four-wheel drive, while the former comes with a six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive only.

Maximum torque is 280Nm from 1500 to 3750rpm for the 150PS version, and 350Nm from 1500 to 4000rpm for the 204PS. The units are available for order now, and can be specified across the Transporter range, including in California, Caravelle Executive, window van, Shuttle, motor home, kombi and panel van variants.

April 2018

California Edition launched

Available on both Beach and Ocean models, Edition combines an improved design and equipment package with the practicality and design of the standard California.

Beach Edition models are priced from £52,985 OTR with range-topping Ocean models priced from £65,879 OTR.

The Edition on California Beach has the 2.0-litre TDI 150PS engine while the California Ocean uses the 2.0-litre TDI 204PS. Both are equipped with Volkswagen’s seven-speed DSG transmission as standard, along with a raft of additional equipment designed to make life on-board even more comfortable.

In terms of exterior styling, both Beach and Ocean Edition models feature 17-inch Cascavel alloy wheels with black inlays, black gloss contrast roof and door mirrors and LED headlamps as standard. The design package also includes unique Edition decals, rear privacy glass and front side windows made from heat-insulating glass.

To help owners find their perfect pitch on the campsite, both models are equipped with Discover Media navigation system with App-Connect and front fog lights with cornering function, with the Ocean model also coming with a premium multifunction colour display.

Inside, the Beach Edition comes with a leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel, comfort dashboard and Climatronic 3-zone climate control with allergen filter and auxiliary heater. The higher-spec Ocean adds kitchen cupboards finished in white wood, an outdoor shower connection and a bed extension with comfort sleeping mat. Ocean Edition buyers also benefit from additional comfort lighting in the passenger compartment.

November 2018

Volkswagen California 30 Years edition launched

The California 30 Years is a limited production run special with just 999 scheduled for build. Of these, just 30 examples will come to the UK.

Based onthe range-topping California Ocean model, the 30 Years special adds a host of additional equipment, along with bespoke design details. All examples come with a numbered plaque on the B pillar, full LED headlamps, removable towbar and a contrast roof and wing mirrors finished in either Reflex Silver or Indium Grey metallic. Customers can also select a brand new colour – Turmeric Yellow – which is available for the first time on the California range.

Inside, it has Volkswagen’s Discover Media Navigation Pro infotainment system as standard, along with front and rear parking sensors, side scan and cruise control and heated front seats.

Power outputs from the 2.0-litre TDI engine are either 150 or 199 PS, all have a seven-speed DSG gearbox as standard, and the range-topping 199 PS version is available with 4MOTION four wheel-drive.

Prices start at £64,307 (OTR) for the 2.0 TDI 150 PS model and rise to £70,629 (OTR) for the range-topping 2.0 TDI 199 PS 4MOTION variant.

July 2019

California 6.1 announced

The key technical change in terms of handling is the switch from hydraulic to electro-mechanical power steering. As a result of now having a steering system that can be actively controlled, the California 6.1 gets numerous new driver assistance systems.

The extended range of systems includes Lane Assist, Park Assist, a side protection function (warns of obstacles when manoeuvring) and Trailer Assist (simplifies manoeuvring with a trailer). Also included as standard will be Cross Wind Assist; it automatically stabilises the camper van in the event of strong winds.

The California 6.1 is offered with the familiar 2.0-litre turbodiesel, paired with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto.Engine outputs span 102PS - 199PS, while emissions and fuel economy meet the latest WLTP standards.

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.

The cabin has been given a complete overhaul, with a new dashboard that includes the option of a fully digital instrument cluster. The multifunctional camper control unit in the roof console - that operates the electric pop-up roof, fridge and heater on Ocean models - has been redesigned and digitalised, while a built-in eSIM provides real-time fuel prices and traffic reports via the touchscreen infotainment screen.

The beds will from now on provide even greater comfort. The high bed is equipped with a sprung base, while the double rear bench seat that folds out to create a bed can also be transformed into a lounge. Simply fold down the backrest and raise the bed extension at the very back up to the desired height – and the interior transforms itself into a cosy lounge for reading and relaxing.

Increased protection from too much incoming light is provided by the now darker grey canvas sides of the pop-up roof with integrated top bed. Waking up, meanwhile, is made particularly pleasant by a new sunrise function that uses individually selectable LEDs in the roof and living area to dim up the lights to the desired level of brightness deliberately slowly over a user-definable length of time.

The sunrise function is controlled – like all main camper settings in the California 6.1 – via the newly developed control panel in the overhead console. The previously used monochrome display has been replaced here by a large, full colour touchscreen with considerably more functions.

All sorts of information can be accessed via the control panel and numerous features controlled, including the following menu items: ‘Camping’ (mode), ‘Cool Box’, ‘Light’ and the ‘Set-up’ of the system. In the California Ocean 6.1 the pop-up roof, in this case with electro-hydraulic operation as standard, is additionally controlled via the ‘Pop-up Roof' menu and the air heating that also comes at no extra charge in the top model via ‘Auxiliary Heating’.

An extremely practical feature is the new ‘Level’ function: a level indicator shows the lengthways and crossways angle at which the California is parked on the campsite. That makes it very easy to get the Bulli level. The sunrise function, meanwhile, is on the ‘Light’ menu and activated via ‘Alarm’.

For the first time, the instruments are optionally digital – the new ‘Digital Cockpit’ on the new instrument panel. The infotainment range has also been reconfigured. It begins with the Composition Audio (line display) and Composition Colour (6.5-inch touchscreen).

A new feature of the California 6.1 is the use of two navigation systems, Discover Media (8-inch touchscreen) and Discover Pro (9.2-inch), from the third generation of the Modular Infotainment Matrix (MIB3). The most important new feature of all systems is an integrated eSIM (optional for Composition Audio). It forms the interface to Volkswagen We and thus to numerous online functions and services.

Over and above this the MIB3 systems provide features such as integration of the Apple Music and TIDAL streaming services, natural voice control and App Connect Wireless. Thanks to this new version of App Connect, iPhone apps such as the Media Library and Google Maps can for the first time be incorporated wirelessly into the infotainment system via Bluetooth.

What does a Volkswagen T6 California (2015) cost?