Volkswagen Caddy California Review 2024

Volkswagen Caddy California At A Glance


+Relatively affordable micro camper than you can use every day. Comfortable bed.

-Has its limitations compared to bigger alternatives like the Volkswagen California and Grand California. Kitchen is basic. Desirable options soon add to the list price.

Camper van conversions of the Volkswagen Caddy have developed quite a following in recent years, popular with lifestyle buyers who want a car-like vehicle they can drive every day yet with the ability to provide back-to-basics accommodation at the weekend. That's why you can now buy a Volkswagen Caddy California – an official factory-developed camper that sits below the regular Volkswagen California and Grand California in the manufacturer's range.

The Volkswagen Caddy California is available in short or long (Maxi) wheelbase forms, with the latter providing some welcome additional room in the boot area. It's available with petrol or diesel power, with prices starting from a little over £30,000. That makes it a very tempting proposition alongside aftermarket conversions.

So what do you get for your money? Well, on the face of it, not a huge amount. There's a double bed that folds up, as well as some extra storage and a kitchen unit that pulls out at the rear of the Caddy. Don't expect to cook a three-course meal on this; it is simply a single-burner hob connected to a gas bottle. You also get some handy magnetic window blinds to provide some extra privacy.

Just like the regular Volkswagen Caddy, the California's interior is comfortable and well-finished. The infotainment is a little irritating to use, but no more so than in a Volkswagen Golf. You can also upgrade the system to a 10-inch unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, if you wish.

There are five seats, allowing you to use the Caddy California as a family car during the week. The fold-up bed and related camper van paraphenalia eats into boot space a bit, but there's still a fair bit of room for a shopping trip (especially if you opt for the long-wheelbase Caddy California Maxi).

You can choose from 1.5-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel engines as well as manual or automatic gearboxes. We've driven the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel with the seven-speed DSG gearbox and reckon it's a winning combo – the grunty engine makes life easier, as does the smooth-shifting automatic transmission.

On the face of it, the Volkswagen Caddy California looks like good value for money, especially alongside bigger Volkswagen camper vans. There's not much else to compare it, too, though (you'll be looking at aftermarket conversions if you want to shop around), and it's easy to go to town on the options list and add a significant chunk of cash to the purchase price.

At less than £1000, the optional California Plus pack strikes us as good value – you get a 230V inverter and three-pin plug socket; a front centre armrest with space for drinks, dark tinted rear glass, a pair of USB points and LED rear combination lights. You also get power latching on all the doors, meaning you don't have to slam them when you sneak out to the loo in the middle of the night.

Ask Honest John

What's a good small car that will also suit an outdoor enthuisast?

"I spent 17 years in London so I never bought a car or had a car in the UK. I am a mid-40s female and ot entirely sure how I will use a car as I've mostly been "car free" and owned a car when I lived in my home country. I live in Brighton and I dream of buying a microcamper van. I'm not sure it's a wise choice as I'm not entirely clear how I will use the car just yet but I am wondering if there are any cars that are good for city living but are suitable for outdoor enthusiasts who might want to throw a tent and lots of stuff from home into a boot. "
Many people in your situation buy something like a Citroen Berlingo. A used Berlingo represents good value for money while it should also be cheap to run. There are a number of ways you can convert it into a comfortable microcamper - from a basic 'boot jump' to a more luxurious conversion. You might be able to save time and effort by finding a pre-converted example. And as they're always popular, you're unlikely to lose a lot of money if you decide it isn't for you. A Volkswagen Caddy could be a good alternative - although the VW badge does attract a price premium in the camper market. We really rated the Caddy California when we tried it: Alternatively, you could look at a more conventional car like the Dacia Jogger. The Jogger is a very practical (and affordable) seven-seat car. You can even order it with a Sleep Pack which adds a storage box that doubles up as a base for a mattress. It's a really clever idea that could be ideal for your needs.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Caddy California cost?