When it comes to VW campervans, there seem to be two schools of thought – those who love them and those who look down their noses, thinking, “you’re just buying the name” or ‘For that kind of money you could buy…”.

I’m firmly in the first camp. Yes, I might have bought into the whole VeeDub culture – but why not? Like Macs versus PCs, I don’t just want function, I want style as well.

So when the chance came to take out a VW California Ocean for a few days, I jumped at it.

With time limited, we decided on a short hop to Henley, to stay at the highly recommended Swiss Farm Touring & Camping.

Out on the road

In many ways, it’s on the road that the California Ocean truly excels, as you would expect from one of the best Volkswagen camper vans. You jump in, you drive – it’s as simple as that. The footprint is similar to an SUV, so it’s like driving a large car, and the seven-speed gearbox gave a smooth drive. It’s easy around town, good for parking and well-powered, two things that led to it featuring in our best small campervan guide.

The dash is well laid out, with lots of storage options. The DAB+ navigation system is intuitive, and got us to our destination without problems, and the heated driver and front passenger seat offer comfort and plenty of lumbar support. In the back, passengers will enjoy the extensive legroom and the spacious interior.

There’s more fun when you arrive on site and the Ocean’s vast reservoir of features comes into play – like a real ocean, much of this is hidden under the surface. The sliding side door is on the UK driver’s side, although Brits might prefer it on the nearside. This brings you into the living area, where the seats can be pulled back and forth to create space, and underneath is a large drawer.

The interior styling is fine, but would benefit from a touch more design flair to match the cool exterior (although that two-tone Candy White/Bay Leaf Green paintwork comes in at a hefty £2880).

Digital controls

Kitchen provides a two-burner hob, fridge and sink

The digital cockpit allows you to raise the roof at the touch of a button, so in seconds, you have a bedroom above, which can be pushed up for increased headroom when not in use. You can also rotate the front seats before pulling out the hidden table. In the kitchen, there’s a two-burner hob, fridge and sink, and for more living space, just crank out the integrated awning and retrieve the outdoor chairs and table from the tailgate. To make the bottom bed, you pull out the rear seats and drop the headrests. We found the roof bed comfier, and the auxiliary heating was great.

There’s no toilet or shower, so it’s a lifestyle choice – the convenience of being able to drop everything and go, or the comforts of home.

We enjoyed it immensely, but it’s not a cheap option. VeeDub fans will love it, though.

Our motorhomes are stored at Camberley Secure Storage (01276 670 066; www.cassoa.co.uk), a CaSSOA Silver award-winning site.

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