Get ready to live out your Beach Boys-addled fantasies, Europe: Volkswagen’s newest camper van is called the California Beach.
The van is essentially a cross between the current VW California and Caravelle vans: the California is VW’s camper van, which comes with an extendable roof and a kitchenette, while the Caravelle is VW’s six-seat people carrier – previously sold here in past generations under the Eurovan banner. The California Beach preserves the seating from the Caravelle while also getting the extendable roof from the California, although it loses the sink and stove.
The California Beach gets three rows of seating for up to seven people. The middle row of seats can recline 180 degrees, creating a bed that spans the width of the car. Pop the roof and there’s an another double bed for sleeping, and the front two buckets can swivel around when the car is parked and act as lounge chairs. Especially trick is the California Beach’s portable furniture set: the sliding door holds a portable table while the liftgate holds two folding chairs.
The California Beach has two powertrain options, both of them 2.0-liter turbodiesels: the base engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission and offers 114 horsepower and a combined 33.6 mpg, while the upgraded motor produces 140 hp and returns 30.6 mpg with a six-speed manual transmission.
Good fuel economy and fold-flat seats are nice, but VW makes the van truly worthy of a name like California Beach with a number of visual upgrades, including available Sunny Yellow paint and Takato color-striped upholstery, as well as available Miyato alloy wheels.
The California Beach starts at £34,970 ($53,980) and is available for order now at VW Van dealers in the United Kingdom, but it raises the question: should VW bring a California van to the states? Is there a market for driving California Beach vans to California beaches? We’ll leave that answer up to you--let us know in the comments below.