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New hero

The Volkswagen Grand California

By Maxine Ashford | May 4, 2022


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Staycation is a word we’ve all been hearing a lot of in recent times with the COVID pandemic putting the dampers on many traditional package holidays

The Volkswagen Grand California

Staycation is a word we’ve all been hearing a lot of in recent times with the COVID pandemic putting the dampers on many traditional package holidays to warmer climes.

However, one advantage of having restrictions placed on our travel plans is the chance to explore some of the beautiful scenery closer to home with stunning coastlines, inland forests and theme parks and even mountain ranges all just a few hours’ drive from our doorsteps.

And what better way to explore our picturesque backdrops than loading up a campervan and heading off into the sunset for a totally self-sufficient holiday away from the crowds.   

By coincidence, it would seem that Volkswagen has the ideal vehicle for such adventures. It is called the Grand California and is an all-new motorhome based on the Crafter van available in two sizes. There is the 600 (six-metre long) model with double bed at the rear and additional overcab bed for children, or the larger 680 (6.8-metre) variant with a larger sleeping area for two adults.

The van has a wetroom with shower and toilet, plus a kitchen for convenience. And all these features are packaged neatly inside a vehicle that is still easy to drive and manoeuvrable through narrow country lanes.

Choosing an engine is simple as there is just the one for both vehicles – a 2.0-litre TDI 177PS diesel unit mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and with front-wheel drive. If you are planning on venturing away from the comfort of the Tarmac then 4MOTION four-wheel drive may prove preferable and this is available on the larger Grand California 680 version.

Climbing in and out of the Grand California is made simpler thanks to an electrically-powered step that moves out from the front of the sliding door and there is a two-part mosquito net in the door as standard to keep the little devils at bay. 

The interior looks spacious thanks in part to the really smart white and grey trim and there are pop-open windows at the back and side for added ventilation, along with skylights above the rear sleeping and living areas.

With swivel seats at the front and a bench seat (complete with ISOFIX fittings and top tether) at the rear, there is a delightful eating area around the removable table.

And when it comes to cooking and storing food the Grand California has all bases covered. There is a pull-out 870-litre fridge with freezer compartment, twin-hob gas cooker, sink and various drawers, shelves and pull-out compartments. There are 11 top cabinets to store away all your camping bits and pieces and an extra kitchen prep area is cleverly concealed when not being used.

One of the main features that distinguishes the new Grand California from the standard model is a wetroom measuring 840 x 800mm, with toilet and shower, plus fold-out wash basin, shelves for toiletries, a cupboard with toilet paper holder, towel holders and skylight ventilation. The wetroom’s lights are controlled by a motion sensor so are automatically activated when someone enters the room. This may sound like an unnecessary luxury, but it certainly beats trudging across a campsite to the public toilets in the middle of the night.

It is possible to carry 110 litres of fresh water and a waste water tank holds an additional 90 litres. Plus there is an external shower connection with adjustable water temperature at the rear of the vehicle. The water is heated via gas or electricity through a combi-style system and there are two 11kg gas bottles stored in the back of the campervan.

All models are fitted with a wealth of techno treats as standard, including Climatronic manual air conditioning, a navigation system with eight-inch touchscreen, a USB interface that is Apple compatible, voice control, plus App Connect to link up with smartphones via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and a whole lot more besides.

In addition, there are all manner of ways to really personalise your Grand California. For example, you can introduce two-tone paintwork, or a panoramic tilting and sliding sunroof, air conditioning for when the vehicle is stationary, a camping table and chairs for open air breakfasts, a solar panel for complete self-sufficiency, or even a top level info and entertainment system with satellite dish for TV reception.

There are optional loudspeakers for the living area that can be controlled via Bluetooth and there is the option of a digital control panel for the lights, water levels, temperature etc to help make camping life easier. It is possible to add a large roll-out awning to provide cover just in case there are any unexpected showers in the middle of supper – this would surely be a ‘must have’ feature in Britain!

Then when it comes to packing up and moving on, the VW Grand California boasts a four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that has been optimised for low emissions. It delivers 177PS of power with 410Nm of torque and models can achieve combined fuel efficiency between 22.0 and 24.0mpg depending on the vehicle’s size and drive systems. The carbon emissions figures range from 298 to 333g/km - again depending on the version of campervan selected.

The Grand California is packed with safety kit and driver assist features too and boasts the likes of front assist with city emergency braking function, cross wind assist and hill start assist, along with front and rear parking sensors.

You can add optional safety specifications such as lane assist to help the driver stay in lane, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert for reversing out of parking spaces and park assist for steering into them. There is sensor- controlled side protection, adaptive cruise control, a rear view reversing camera and trailer assist. 

So, down to the real nitty gritty then. How much will the VW Grand California set you back? Well, the answer is a whole lot more than a couple of weeks in the sun, unless you are hiring one of Richard Branson’s private islands. 

On-the-road prices range from £76,547 to £77,200 for the Grand California 600 and from £79,090 to £86,266 for the 680 model.

So not exactly cheap, but at the end of the holiday, it will still be yours to pack up and start thinking about the next break. And who knows we may even be ‘allowed’ to venture across the English Channel before too long for even more fun in the sun.

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