Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations


Paul Owen knows more about recreation­al vehicles than most. He explains why he put his money where his mouth is with the Volkswagen Grand California 600.


When anyone asks me why I bought a Volkswagen Grand California 600, my mind immediatel­y focuses on the travails of driving the rugged, narrow, and winding road from Coromandel township to Kennedy Bay in a large motorhome. My wife, Joy, and I often clenched our teeth as we regularly rattled, banged and bumped our way on this road in our former 7.4-metre, six-berth motorhome. And so began our search for something more structural­ly sound, with a smaller footprint in terms of wheelbase and width, and all-wheel drive if possible.

With 130 kw of power and 410 Nm of driving force, the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine has enough grunt to make the 3000+kg GC feel quite lively and frisky by normal motorhome standards.

The shorter wheelbase means the Grand fits into parking spaces designed for the average passenger car.

Getting out of these or backing down rollercoas­ter driveways is an absolute doddle thanks to the wealth of proximity sensors, wide dual-lens mirrors, and the generous view and large display of the reversing camera. Other driving aids fitted to Grand California­s include blind-spot monitors and warning lights on the side mirrors, radar-enhanced cruise control, and lane-keeping assist.

You do have to compromise when choosing a smaller motorhome. The height of the roof, long sliding side door and light white/grey interior all serve to keep ‘cabin fever’ at bay. There’s lots that we love about the 600’s interior though. The cupboards above the bed are more spacious than they first appear, although they do have a talent for ejecting stuff when you open them.

Lying in the comfortabl­e bed, with the double rear doors open to present a panoramic view of somewhere scenic, is a highlight of touring in a Grand California. As is using the chemical-free toilet with the SOG ventilatio­n system sucking away the fumes and ushering them through a charcoal filter before ejecting them, smell-free, outside.

All the lessons Volkswagen learned with the California have given this fully self-contained variant a similar surf-andsand vibe. The emphasis is on adventure rather than luxury, yet all your needs are taken care of. Find out more at

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