Let’s hope Volkswagen turns this luxury camper into more than just a concept

Summer is as good a time as any to go out and enjoy the outdoors. It’s just too bad that the Volkswagen California XXL Concept isn’t a real thing yet; it would make an incredible companion for a weekend of camping. It’s unlikely to be made available anytime soon, however, but that doesn’t mean can’t wish for it to arrive in some form at some point in the future. For now, we’ll have to be content seeing the concept motorhome at the Caravan Salon Düsseldorf later this month. Who knows, if the concept’s reception ends up being as good as we hope it is, Volkswagen may end up green-lighting the possibility of offering conversions like it for the Crafter.

Before I start getting ahead of myself, it’s important to establish what the California XXL Concept is first. It’s basically a Volkswagen Crafter, the same vehicle that VW launched in 2006 as a commercial van to compete against the likes of the Ford Transit and the Nissan NV400, albeit one that has gone through a massive transformation courtesy of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. It even takes the look of the Volkswagen T6 California now, but even that isn’t the biggest talking point about the concept. It’s everything else about it, really, and the final product speaks to the potential of the Volkswagen Crafter as more than just a commercial van. Apparently, it can be turned into a hotel on four wheels, too.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Volkswagen California XXL Concept

Exterior

2017 Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept Exterior High Resolution
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It doesn’t have anything fancy in the way of futuristic designs that will unlikely see the light of day.

This is the kind of concept vehicle that I can truly get behind. It doesn’t have anything fancy in the way of futuristic designs that will unlikely see the light of day. it doesn’t have fancy tech either. What it does have is a reworked body, born from a regular Volkswagen Crafter with its own medium-sized wheelbase. It also has a different front end, one that takes the face of the T6 California from which it takes inspiration from.

2016 Volkswagen T6
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note: photo of the Volkswagen T6 California

I suppose this is a good thing considering that the front end design of the T6 California looks a lot better than that of the Crafter. It’s a surface change more than anything else so it doesn’t change the whole complexity of the concept. That said, it is a change that’s warranted since those who would fancy the California XXL Concept would appreciate it more if it had a better face to go along with all the features it’s carrying.

Again, it’s a small aesthetic alteration relative to what we’ve come to expect from concept vehicles, but it is important from an aerodynamic point of view, especially for a car that’s carrying all this weight in it.

Other evident changes in the physical makeup of the concept van is the redesigned tall roof and the special indentations that it’s carrying. Again, it’s a small aesthetic alteration relative to what we’ve come to expect from concept vehicles, but it is important from an aerodynamic point of view, especially for a car that’s carrying all this weight in it. A concept as big and heavy as this one will have to be designed to take aerodynamic improvements into consideration if it’s going to remain standing upright. Diving deep into the exterior design of the California XXL Concept also reveals sliding passenger doors that provide entry to the lavish cabin and what looks to be a canopy that can be accessed through a slit in the tall roof.

Apart from these observations (Volkswagen has been coy on details at this point) the California XXL Concept’s real worth in the eyes of many lies in the interior.

Interior

2017 Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept Interior High Resolution
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To be clear, Volkswagen hasn’t revealed the interior of the California XXL Concept because we all know it’s keeping that for the Caravan Salon. It’s understandable given the amenities the concept has. Give credit to VW though because it at least gave us a piece of what we can expect when the California XXL Concept opens its doors for all the world to see.

From what we know at this point, the cabin of this motorhome is massive, big enough at least to fit a two-meter-long bed that’s part of a screened-off living area and a fully equipped kitchen that itself comes with a sink, an extendable work surface, a fridge, and twin-hob cooker. Sitting arrangements were also addressed and there’s enough for an entire family, including the front seats that can be rotated 180 degrees to go with a bench seat. There’s also ambient lighting throughout the interior and large window blinds that not only provide as much hotel-like luxury as it does some well-deserved privacy. And if those aren’t enough, the caravan even has its own shower room, which also includes a toilet and what appears to be a collapsible sink. At the very least, it makes what Richard Hammond once came up with on Top Gear look prehistoric by comparison.

2017 Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept Interior High Resolution
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Safe to say, the Volkswagen California XXL Concept is the caravan that Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and Richard May could’ve have built for themselves if they had the money and time that the German automaker has.

Drivetrain

2017 Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
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There’s no word yet on what kind of powertrain the Volkswagen California XXL Concept will get. Not that it’s going to matter because the model is still a concept and until VW decides that it deserves to be sent into production, it makes no difference if the concept has an electric powertrain or by some weird twist of sensibilities, a V-12 engine powering it.

It is far more likely that the California XXL Concept will get a hybrid or electric powertrain as opposed to a V-12.

That said, it is far more likely that the California XXL Concept will get a hybrid or electric powertrain as opposed to a V-12. There’s already some kind of precedent of a concept version of the Crafter getting an electric powertrain. For those who don’t remember, Volkswagen went to the same show last year and presented the e-Crafter, an electric-powered commercial van that came with 134 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque to go with a maximum range of 124 miles. It’s unclear if the California XXL Concept will receive something of a similar variety, but my guess would be that it’s going to need more than 124 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque to be able to carry all that weight around and still function the way a commercial van is supposed to.

So, what do I think is the drivetrain going to be? I’m guessing a hybrid of some sort, one that’s made up of a four-cylinder engine and electric motors that combine to produce at least 300 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. That’s my hunch, so at this point, don’t take my word for it.

Conclusion

2017 Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept Exterior High Resolution
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I’ve been fortunate to have been in some pretty impressive caravans in my day. The amenities can get a little overboard with some of the most lavish ones I’ve seen, but they did have one common factor among them: they’re all built through custom means, often times by way of the aftermarket community. The Volkswagen California XXL perhaps shares its roots in that regard, having been built from a Crafter commercial van with elements of the T6 California thrown in for good measure. But this concept is also purely made by Volkswagen and if anything, the German automaker has shown that it can do custom, luxury caravans just as good as the aftermarket community does.

Now I don’t know what kind of future this concept will have once it’s been showcased at Caravan Salon later this month. What I do know though is that I’m excited to see what kind of reception it’s going to get at the event. If it ends up being received favorably, it could be the reception Volkswagen needed to justify turning it into a production model. I’m all for it provided it’s developed in limited quantities. It’s got enough promise and potential to be a real game-changing model in its segment and it’s built from the ground-up by Volkswagen. That’s a good combination to have when you’re going to spend the money for one. Trust me on this too: a production version of the California XXL Concept isn’t going to come cheap.

References

2016 Volkswagen T6
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Read our full review on the Volkswagen T6 California.

Press release

The Volkswagen California, with its rich heritage from the Bulli, serves as the archetypal motorhome. It has won the hearts and minds of thousands, with a well thought-out and highly flexible interior. Now, the new and bigger Crafter with its large number of driver assistance systems, comfortable handling and low fuel consumption offers a unique opportunity to transfer the qualities of the California to the next size up. The California XXL concept vehicle now being presented by the Hannover-based manufacturer is a fully-grown variant of the motoring globetrotter.

2017 Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
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The innovative vehicle body and interior layout creates lots of space inside the California XXL, including for a comfortable bed of around two metres in length. In addition, a screened-off, spacious living area allows great freedom of movement. A bench seat and the front seats, which can be rotated 180 degrees, provide plenty of room. Purpose-built and designed as in the California are the kitchen with twin-hob cooker and fridge, sink and extendable work surface. Thanks to the large dimensions of the California XXL, a cleverly devised wet room with shower and WC adds comfort and convenience.

2017 Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept Interior High Resolution
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Despite its size (at 2.9 metres high) the sophisticated aerodynamics of the California XXL, including special indentations in the redesigned high roof, ensure that the drag coefficient remains within the favourable range of a conventional Crafter.

Further information on the new California XXL concept vehicle will follow at its world premiere at the ’Caravan Salon Düsseldorf’ from 26 August to 3 September 2017.

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Press release
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