I was recently loaned a Volkswagen California ‘Ocean’ for a family summer holiday a few weeks ago – and whilst I had it, I took the opportunity to test it by taking the whole family on a ‘real’ camping trip – as this would allow us to use the ‘Ocean’ to cook for the family – and test out it’s ability of sleeping four adults in what some say is comfort camping. Also being a campervan – you have everything you will ever need for all those times you need to get away from it all – with the bonus of having some of those home comforts we all seem to miss when camping out.
Now, I know camping is not for everyone – and up to a few years ago, I felt the same – but then I bought an old Peugeot campervan which was rubbish – but it did it’s job of keeping my family dry whilst we camped in Wales. Of course it was old and I only paid £500 for it and if I’m honest it did have 120k miles on the clock – but in the end it was our campervan – and we loved it.
So, when the ‘Ocean’ arrived with it’s shiny blue paint and modern lines, we were very excited indeed. I will give you a brief rundown on some of the kit you can expect to find inside a modern version of the California. It starts with a DAB Radio with 5” touchscreen and 8 speakers, 2-seater bench/bed foldable into a bed for two persons, roof berth for additional sleeping, 42litre cool box, camping table and two chairs, electric hook up, fresh water tank, Gas storage compartment, kitchen units, 12v and 230v sockets, two 72Ah auxiliary batteries and a waste water storage tank. This of course is just what you get on the camping side – there’s also a lot more to start looking for once you start reading the manual (which I didn’t).
The ‘Ocean’ version of the California is fitted with a 2.0 litre TDI turbocharged 16v diesel engine with DPF – and an excellent 7-speed DSG gearbox which is stunning even when it was weighted down with all our equipment.
The engine pulls really well thanks to 204PS on tap and 450Nm of torque. Remember on it’s own the ‘Ocean’ weighs in at 3080(kg) which you would assume would have a massive impact on fuel economy – but you would be wrong, as it returns a healthy 42mpg even when you are up and down the many hills in and around Lake Windermere and Coniston, which is where we decided to spend the other half of our week with the California.
Standard equipment that underpins the ‘Ocean’ comes in the form of 4MOTION all wheel drive, ABD, BAS & EBD. Along with traction control (TCS & EDL) & ESP. Plus, airbags for the driver and front passenger with head/side airbags, remote central locking, side scan and lane assist is also fitted so the safety aspect is perfect.
On the inside you get automatic climate control, heated front seats, electric windows, blinds for side windows plus so much more additional equipment that I would need another 600 words in this review just to cover that part off. As I don’t have that kind of space – you will have to make do with me finishing off with a short run down on what I think of the VW California ‘Ocean’.
If you are a couple or a family with two children – then the ‘Ocean’ is perfect for getting you away with the minimal of fuss – thanks mainly to it pretty much having everything you will ever need – including the kitchen sink. Also, the fact that you can sleep four people in perfect comfort is utterly amazing.
Things we liked; we liked the electric roof system that raised and lowered and the additional sleeping space- which to be honest my children spent most of their time in due to it raining, so this was perfect. My children also told me it was “very cool to be sleeping in the roof” and I loved spending some time in their myself reading to them at night whilst keeping us all warm thanks to the onboard heater.
As for myself – I like that the ‘Ocean’ comes already equipped with electric hook up which minimises all the fumbling around in the dark trying to find the right connector. I also liked that everything you will ever need is there to hand with little fuss. Plus if it does rain all week – you have the ability to wind out an awning on the side which is just brilliant and even in high winds it stood firmly to the ground removing the need to wind it back in during storms, allowing you to sit outside taking in the ambience of a local rain storm – that actually, can be quite exciting as long as it’s not severe.
In the end – the ‘Ocean’ did us proud and kept my family safe and warm throughout our holiday thanks to VW doing a fantastic job giving you all you will ever need. So if you are interested in rushing out and buying one – then you might be a little surprised by the price. Prices for the model I had on test starts at around £54,678 which is quite a lot for something you may only use for a few weeks of the year – but to be fair if you own an ‘Ocean’ – you can use it pretty much as the family run around for all those early morning school runs – thanks to it’s compact design and features.
To sum up; Yes the high price of the ‘Ocean’ could be a bit problem for some – but in my eyes ‘it’s worth every penny’. So, buy now and I promise that you won’t regret a single minute of it.