Long term report: Volkswagen California


An intense storm was brewing somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and its course was set to travel to the north of the country, leaving in its wake a train of watery swell that was due to hit the south coast.

All things going well, some blustery waves were due to appear very near to where I live so naturally, the California was primed with surfing equipment, friends were called and excitement brewed.

What actually happened was the wind picked up so much that sea became one giant, slopping bowl of salty soup that was only really good for grinding bits of rock and turning it into sand and definitely not for surfing.

But what I discovered while solemnly sat on the Boscombe seafront was the California made for the perfect 'plan b', quickly transforming into a cosy kitchen to create steaming cups of coffee, with seats easily spun around to allow friends to gather around the table for impromptu games of Rummy.

While wind and rain battered the windscreen we remained exceptionally warm, dry, comfortable and completely entertained.

Long term report: VW California

Long term report: VW California

It was nowhere near as fun as actually partaking in the activity that we drove almost 50 miles to do but it was a giggle nonetheless.

In other news, our happy camper has been racking up the motorway miles dispatching various writers to events up and down the country.

Fuel consumption hasn't exactly been headline-grabbing but the brilliant Freewheel Function – that disengages the clutch and holds the engine at idling speeds in order to coast – has definitely saved a few pennies at the pumps.

The clever bicycle racks will be put into use next when the California hosts a bunch of mountain bikers on a trek up and down a gusty highland.

The knowledge

Model: Volkswagen California SE 2-litre TDI
Price: £56,440 (as tested)
Engine: 2-litre BlueMotion diesel
Power: 138bhp
Max speed: 104mph
0-60mph: 16.6 seconds
Emissions: 206 g/km CO2
Mileage this month: 1000
Costs this month: 0