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Volkswagen California Surf Edition Now Available in the United Kingdom

The California 6.1 has been one of the most successful vehicles of its kind ever, with more than 175,000 units produced across four generations, and remains a popular van for moderately adventurous families. The California has hardly wavered from its original design philosophy, is beautifully packaged, and, in true German style, is built to remarkably high standards throughout. Volkswagen has now released a new version of its short-wheelbase California camper van called the Surf. The Surf is a specific trim for the Transporter 6.1 and is essentially a small home on four wheels boasting a kitchen, a pop-up top, and fold-down seats that can accommodate up to four people for sleeping (but bring your own loo). The California Surf fills the gap between the current Beach Tour and Ocean in the VW California range.

The interior layout of the Surf can perhaps best be described as minimalist, as the kitchen features a cool box, a two-burner stove, and a small stainless steel sink. The heated driver and passenger seats do swivel, but there are few frills or superfluous features. There is, however, a sensor suite to help you tow a trailer (not that we have ever seen anyone towing anything behind a VW bus), and the exterior boasts an awning.

Thanks to its standard pop-up roof and two sleeping areas (up top and down below), the California can transform itself from an MPV into a four-sleeper motorhome. The expanding roof offers an extended living area, and elevating it is a touch-button affair as it is electrically operated.

If you are interested in modern VW camper vans (i.e., the California and Transporter), look at this video by Kirsten Dirksen and skip to 15:00 (the entire video is worth a watch if you also have a thing for simple, German design).

The California 6.1 is available with a 2.0-liter TDI engine with outputs of 150 or 199 horsepower. The California 6.1 TDI engines meet the latest Euro 6d TEMP EAVP ISC emissions standard and come with a 7-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission. 4MOTION all-wheel drive can also be specified on the 199-horse engine.

The Surf may not be the top-of-the-range Transporter 6.1 camper van, but it is nonetheless a significant investment with prices starting at a hair over $82,000 (£68,234).


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Graeme Bell is an author and explorer who has dedicated his life to traveling the planet by land, seeking adventure and unique experiences. Together with his wife and two children, Graeme has spent the last decade living permanently on the road in a self-built Land Rover based camper. They have explored 27 African countries (including West Africa), circumnavigated South America, and driven from Argentina to Alaska, which was followed by an exploration of Europe and Western Asia before returning to explore the Americas. Graeme is the Senior Editor 4WD for Expedition Portal, a member of the Explorers Club, the author of six books, and an Overland Journal contributor since 2015. You can follow Graeme's adventures across the globe on Instagram at graeme.r.bell