Ever since Volkswagen produced the first Transporter, there have been camper versions roaming the countryside. They make the most of their compact size, which has earned them a devout cult following. That’s why when Volkswagen introduced a California camper based on the latest Multivan, Top Gear was there for a walkaround.
Volkswagen calls the new California a concept, but it’s based on the current T7 Multivan which launched in 2022. Unlike previous versions, the new California has two sliding doors for added versatility. The second door does cut into the space for the kitchenette, but the new model manages to pack a refrigerator, cooktop, foldout table, prep space, and storage in a small package.
Top Gear notes that the California Multivan is the Goldilocks of Volkswagen’s camper lineup. It has more room than the smaller Caddy yet is a more manageable size than the Crafter. It also has four seats, making it practical for everyday use.
The rear seats fold flat, transforming into a small double bed. With the addition of the pop-top, there’s enough space to sleep four people. Volkswagen touts the camper as having three living spaces. In addition to the van’s interior, there’s a triangular sunshade on the passenger side and an awning on the driver’s side to provide outdoor space that’s partially protected from the elements.
Engine choices will likely include 1.5 and 2.0-liter gasoline engines along with a 2.0-liter diesel, which is still a popular choice in Europe. However, the real news is the option of a 1.4-liter plug-in hybrid producing 215 horsepower. It’s the first PHEV camper and has the ability to charge the battery from a campsite electrical connection.
The T7 California camper recently debuted at the 2023 Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, Germany. Volkswagen has not indicated it will bring the California camper to the US, but it is expected to be available in the European market in 2024. VW exited the US van market when it pulled the Transporter in 2003 but older versions are still popular and in use as campers today.