Watershed Brand
Description | VW launches California XXL
Words | Jake Patterson
Images | Volkswagen

I have been an avid fan of Volkswagens since I was 5 years old. I used to get a to lift to school in an Orange 1979 VW bay window. The Van was owned by my best friends grandad and I remember thinking that one day I would own one of these. As I grew older, I thought maybe I could actually own this very van. I would often say "if you ever want to sell this van I will buy it" some years past and I would see the van regularly, either full of hay, people, or pretty much anything that needed transporting.

In 1997 I bought my first Volkswagen which was a 1972 beetle, quickly followed by 2 Polo's and a rather beautiful 1967 beetle. I was very content but still hankered for a Van, the time eventually came, in 1999 the Bay was put up for sale and I was given first refusal, i paid the very modest price of £500 and was now the proud owner of a van I had know for about 15 years. For anyone who knows about old vans it wasn't the most sort after Bay window to own but I had such a sentimental attachment to it.

Fast forward another few years and I have owned 5 different VW vans (including a huge LT35). I was fortunate to Wolfsburg for the launch of the first factory built VW camper van which was the T5 California, so you can imagine my excitement when they announced the launch of the California XXL.

vw california xxl

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vw crafter interior

vw california xxl motorhome interior

The new California XXL, which at the moment is just a concept but appears close to a production model, is a four-berth high-top camper van. It comes equipped with a fixed panoramic roof that means internal headroom is 2.2m. It also has an extended rear section with a heated and cooled bed rear double bed, which sits longitudinally and which can be split into twin singles.

During the day, the bed is stowed in a storage compartment giving access to the walkway in the kitchen area. This walkway also provides access from inside the vehicle to the lower rear storage compartment, while simultaneously creating another corner seating unit. Forward of this sits a separate retractable washroom with fixed toilet and shower, which looks like a cabinet front when not in use. If anyone needs to use the shower or toilet, the cabinet front is pulled out via a handle towards the kitchen unit. Looking at it from the living area, it just looks like a sliding door. The floor of the wetroom is also connected to the pull-out compartment and extends along with the integrated shower tray. When it is extended, the floor area of the wetroom doubles to 1,200x600mm. The wetroom is fitted with a full-size fixed toilet. Fitted above the toilet is a wall-mounted, foldaway sink with a tap that also folds away. This tap can be pulled out for use as a shower head thanks to a hose extension. When it is folded up, the sink disappears behind a swivelling, illuminated mirror. In this configuration, the drains are automatically shut off to keep out bad odours.

Located just below the ceiling of the wetroom there is a big rain showerhead. An electrically controlled skylight window in the roof over the wetroom can be completely opened or, if it is raining, slanted towards the back or front of the vehicle to provide ventilation. Up front, the front dinette features twin forward-facing rear travel seats, which face the driver and front passenger seats that can be rotated 180 degrees when on site.

The extendable table can be removed and stowed when not needed. In the overhead cabinet above the seats there is even an integrated espresso machine.All the windows in the living and sleeping areas are fitted with double plissé blinds. In the cab, ‘movable fabric elements’ – curtains! – are used for privacy.

This kitchen features an extendible work surface that pulls out to the left and a second board that swivels to the right and that folds up to serve as a partition to the sleeping area at night. The kitchen area is also fitted with a retractable twin-burner gas hob, a sink and a double fridge. A chopping board can be slipped into a specially designed slot in the fridge door. There are two fridges, each with a capacity of 50 litres. The first is under the gas hob, while the second one is housed within the wall unit over the cooker and the sink. This one also has an has an integrated four-litre freezer compartment. The cabinets are fitted with drawers for dishes and cutlery, a waste bin and a magnetic spice rack. There are more cupboards with sliding doors to the left and right of the kitchen walkway under the central bed, which is folded away in this configuration. There is underfloor heating throughout.

The new California XXL has two reversing cameras, one of which is integrated into the bodywork on the edge of the roof and the second is further down near the handle on the tailgate.
Connectivity on board is also no problem, with a total of nine 220V sockets and six USB charging ports distributed around the interior (three in the living areas and three on the dash panel).
As you’d expect from a new leisure vehicle, all the main functions can be controlled using a new app installed on a tablet. This tablet can be used to control a range of functions, including the lights, entertainment and even to open the skylights automatically.

Unique touches include an electrical system that can be used to heat the bed in the winter or to ventilate and cool it in the summer. In this concept there is even an integrated digital projector in the overhead cabinet at the head end of the bed, which can be used to project videos, photos and TV via smartphone or tablet onto the white back wall of the wetroom.

The medium wheelbase Crafter upon which this new concept has been built will be available has an overall length of 6.23m including the extended rear panel. It is 2.9m high with this new ‘Super High Roof’ extension that not only includes a bed but also an alcove above the cab that has been designed as an alcove for children and young passengers.

The alcove is fitted with a cot that can be extended to 2.0m – large enough for a teenager. Children can climb up to this bed via a stepladder that can simply be folded away. When the bed is not in use, it is be used for storing bedding, coats, blankets, etc.

As with other Calfornia models, camping chairs can be stowed inside the tailgate, while the interior table from the living area can be removed and attached to the rear panel of the kitchen unit.
This concept model is fitted with VW’s all-wheel drive 4MOTION coupled to its range-topping 175bhp Euro VI diesel engine.

It also comes with the Crafter’s pneumatic suspension system that optimises ride comfort and allows the campervan to be leveled on site.

Life support systems include a fresh water tank (140 litres) and a waste water tank (90 litres). The gas tank (37 litres), meanwhile, is located on the outside, underneath the vehicle. Filling the water and gas is via two flaps on the left and right of the extended rear section. Another outside flap provides easy access to the WC tank.

Details of if and when this model will go into production have still not been confirmed.