Perhaps the busiest stand we saw at the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf was in Hall 16, where the new Volkswagen California was being mobbed.

This is Europe’s largest motorhome, caravan and leisure vehicle show; it’s a great place to see the motorhomes of the future – and it also offers a chance to gauge people’s reaction to them. 

All three new versions of VW’s iconic campervan were available to view, and Germany’s Caravan Salon visitors didn’t need any encouragement to get involved. Maybe the delicious juice cocktails being served from a converted T2 on the stand had something to do with it. Trying to photograph the California range of campervans without people inside – generally not a problem during the event – proved impossible. 

Three new VW California campers

Three new VW California models have just been launched for the 2016 touring season. Beach is the lead-in version, with Coast in the middle, followed by the range-topping Ocean. Each model sees a progressive increase in specification, from the pretty barebones Beach to the all-mod-cons Ocean. 

Although it is basic, the California Beach campervan isn’t completely Spartan. There are seven belted seats and space can be increased thanks to the pop-top. The seats are flexible – they can be folded, rotated and removed entirely. In the rear tailgate, you’ll find a folding table and chairs. 

California Coast offers more living space refinement, with kitchen facilities added at the expense of two of the seats. The resulting galley comprises of a sink, gas hob and compressor fridge, plus storage units. 

The money-no-object option is the California Ocean, which augments the Coast specification with a climate-controlled cab, a space heater for the living area, double-glazing and LED lighting. The mechanism for the pop-top roof is now electrically operated. 

Motive power comes from new 2.0-litre TDI Euro 6 units, or one TSI Euro 6 petrol engine, with a range of power outputs including 84ps, 102ps, 150ps and 204ps; VW claims they are 15% more efficient than the previous versions. VW California campervan buyers also have the option of a DSG gearbox, with the 204ps petrol engine, or 4MOTION four-wheel drive coupled to a 204ps TDI, across all three models. 

Driver and safety aids available include adaptive cruise control, Brake Assist and the Driver Alert system to detect tiredness at the wheel. Adaptive dampers, to adjust the ride quality, can be fitted as an option. 

The price of an icon

Official information and UK prices have yet to be released for the British market. To give some rough idea of possible costs we can report that the German brochures quote the following prices.

The VW California Beach: €46,344.55 (150ps TDI, six-speed manual), €50,473.85 (204ps TSI, seven-speed DSG) or €54,079.55 (204ps TDI, 4MOTION). 

The VW California Coast costs €53,288.20 (150ps TDI, six-speed manual), €57,363.95 (204ps TSI, seven-speed DSG) or €61,041.05 (204ps TDI, 4MOTION). 

The top-of-the-range VW California Ocean costs €60,818.60 (150ps TDI, six-speed manual), €64,706.25 (204ps TSI, seven-speed DSG) or €68,371.45 (204ps TDI, 4MOTION). 

All prices include German VAT rated at 19%. 

As soon as the new California is available in the UK, we hope to test one, so watch this space.