What's the news?
It's here at last - the super-sized Volkswagen California camper van of our dreams, the Grand California. Unlike the standard California, which is based on the Transporter van, this one is based on the bigger Crafter chassis, so there's more space, bigger beds, and yes - for the first time ever - a toilet and shower-room.
The Grand California is getting its global debut at the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf that kicks off on the 24th of August. It's the first time Volkswagen has had a camper-van in the six-metre class, and it'll be on sale in early 2019.
The biggest difference between this Grand California and the regular Transporter-based version (aside from the sheer size) is the fitted bathroom, which includes a toilet, a shower, a fold-out wash basin, shelves for toiletries, a covered toilet-roll holder (which stops the paper getting damp when you're having a shower) and a skylight for, ahem, ventilation. There are no electrical switches in what is effectively a full wet-room, but the lights are switched on automatically by motion sensors.
On the outside, the Grand California can be, as with the regular California, equipped with two-tone paint. The single colour paintwork options are Candy White, Reflex Silver or Indium Grey. Available as two-colour paintwork are combinations of Reflex Silver and Indium Grey, Candy White and Cherry Red, Candy White and Deep Ocean Blue or Candy White and Mojave Beige Metallic.
Engines will vary from single-turbo to twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesels, with optional 4Motion four-wheel drive for camping in trickier terrain.
The driver assistance systems include the Front Assist surroundings monitoring system with City Emergency Braking function, Lane Assist to help the driver stay in lane, Blind Spot Monitor for changing lane, Rear Traffic Alert for reversing out of parking spaces and Park Assist for steering into them, the sensor-controlled side protection system, adaptive cruise control and the rear view reversing camera.
Most of the units and panels in the living space are finished in gloss white, so as to make the cabin as bright as possible. There are pop-open windows at the side and at the back, and large skylights too. At the rear of the cabin is a large double bed, and there's an optional high-rise bunk-bed for the kids. There's an electric pop-out step for the sliding side door and an external shower hook-up for those who get a bit muddy when they're out and about. Meanwhile, the rear entertainment system is decoupled from the front, so those in the cab can listen to something different to those in the back.
There are swivel seats up front and a bench seat in the back, which has ISOFIX points, as well as a large dining table. There's a 70-litre fridge, with a freezer (which can be accessed from outside for barbecues), a twin-hob gas cooker, a sink and various drawers and cupboards.
Options will include a roof-mounted air conditioning unit, an awning, a rear bicycle rack, a camping table and chairs (which, as with the standard California, can be stashed inside the doors), gas heating, a solar panel, an integrated satellite dish for the telly and an LTE WiFi hotspot router.
Yes, of course we want one. As if you have to ask.