What is it?
It may not seem like it at first glance, but this is the brand-new T6 Volkswagen California, the camper version of the Transporter van. The styling may be a subtle evolution of the T5 that preceded it, but it hides plenty of new stuff.
There's a choice of two models: the California Beach, which offers sleeping for four and plenty of space inside, and the range-topping California Ocean. This more expensive model is a far more self-sufficient camping vehicle and is the version we're looking at here.
Up front, the California has a reworked version of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel motor, with power outputs ranging from 101bhp in the Beach variant to the 201bhp bi-turbo unit of our test vehicle. Inside, there is a plusher, more car-like dashboard and everything you'd need for a weekend away, including the kitchen sink.
The rear has seating for two, a fridge, hob, cupboards, a shower and the aforementioned sink. You can fold the rear bench down to make one double bed and electrically raise the roof to reveal another. Could it be the ultimate all-purpose vehicle?
What's it like?
A 0-62mph time of 11sec may not sound particularly rapid, but when you’re sat higher than any standard SUV, it feels pretty darn brisk. Thanks to the twin turbos, you don’t need much more than 1200rpm for it to start pulling with vigour.
Should you need more pace, stoking it harder is easy, too. The gearlever sprouts from the dashboard in close proximity to the steering wheel and offers unobstructive shifts. The engine may be a little rumbly at idle, but it’s virtually inaudible at a cruise. That's partly down to a fair bit of wind noise from the large door mirrors, though.
It may go well in a straight line, but the California isn’t quite so adept at tackling twisty bits. Yes, there’s plenty of grip and you can give car drivers a hell of a surprise, but the California is not overly happy doing this.
Because of the soft suspension, which is aimed at providing a comfy ride, there’s comical amounts of body roll that will cause those in the back to loll from side to side on the flat bench seat. The steering is also a little lighter and more sensitive than we’d ideally like.