This is the Swiss Army knife of camper vans.
We hate reminding you of the wonderful treasures we don't get to experience here, but once in a while, something too cool not to share comes along. The new Volkswagen Caddy California is one such machine, and we're absolutely pining over the pint-sized alternative to the Ford Transit Connect. We recently showed official renders of the new model, but now the finished product has been released, and it's a wonder of multifunctional recreational automobilia. Much like the Grand California, there are numerous variants, but each of them is a whiz at fulfilling a multitude of roles, making it the ideal small camper.
The Caddy California is based on the same MQB architecture that underpins the Volkswagen Golf and VW Tiguan. It boasts a pair of turbo-diesel engines under the hood, with either a 74-horsepower version of the engine or a 120-hp variant of the same. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel-drive is optionally available.
Like the latest generation VW products based on this same architecture, including the heavily-revised 2021 VW Atlas, there's a digital instrument cluster and infotainment displays measuring up to 10 inches in diameter. A range of online services is also included, such as a 'California on Tour' app that provides info on camping sites and businesses, as well as adventure activities like cycling.
There's a bed in the back big enough for a six-footer to live with, that shrinks to a third of its size when folded up and doesn't affect cargo space. In the past, this bed would have taken up a part of the second row of seating, but not here. It also comes with a mini kitchen that consists of two pull-out parts. The top part features a gas cooker with a wind shield while the bottom part has a cutlery tray. There's even a lockable compartment for the gas bottle. In addition, it feels bigger inside than it is thanks to the first-time inclusion of a panoramic roof.
Other sweet details include fly screens on the front doors, dimmable LED lights, a pair of camping chairs, and a matching table. These can be stowed in a special bag under the bed. A modular tent system is included and can be used separately from the vehicle, providing a sleeping area for up to four people.