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Which California

T

Tukan

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4
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
Hello to everyone

This is my first post.

After thinking for a few years, finally this April we bought a California just 18 months old and with about 5,800 miles on the clock.

Before that I spent ages looking for one and reading a lot of comments here about 140bhp or 180bhp, what options to have and what not.

Some people wrote here that the 140bhp was too slow and that the way forward was a 180bhp. A chap said that "he was coming up the Alps with his foot through the floor" because his 140bhp was not powerful enough. A lady said that she bought the more powerful for safety reasons when overtaking.

Then there was the 3 zone air con system which was better than the standard one, and the electric sliding door that was a must for someone else and so on. The list can go on and on.

All this stuff really distracted me and confused me in deciding which one to go for. I know we are all different and everybody has his/her own idea and he/her thinks is right. So I decided that before posting my opinion I would wait after the holiday with the van.

We travelled with our California for 3 weeks up to Norway fjords covering 3,408 miles in total and crossing 5 countries and stay in some beautiful places.

We had not problems whatsoever going up and down the motorways travelling at 70 mph, overtaking when needed go and up down the Norwigian roads. Our California showed no lack of power taking 4 people and all the stuff around.

So my conclusions are as follows:

- 140 bhp is more than suffucient to travel in style and in safety speed;

- 180 bhp is a waste of money; uses more diesel, the engine is more complicated, the two turbos is a liability, you will hardly notice any more power than the 140 bhp, you will never use the 10 mph increased top speed because I do not see anybody travelling at 115 mph instead than 105 mph of the 140 bhp. And the safety reason does not stand up, because if you want safety you go and buy the 4motion;

- the 3 zone is a waste of money because the normal one is perfectly fine for a vehicle of this size;

- the leather inside is another waste as it looks like everybody use seat covers, so what is the point to have the leather seats if you cover them?;

- porta potty is pretty disgusting considering you probably stay in a campsite and you have to clean it. In our stay at different campsites I noticed how many (large and medium size) motorhomes used them, probably because the owners do not want to clean their toilets ...;

- electric sliding door is another waste of dosh because you have to close and open manually the front doors anyway, so why don't you want manually to open and close the sliding door as well?;

- spend more than £50k for a new one or more than £40k for a used one is like throughing cash down the porta potty. It is not logically and financially do not make sense because a California is a waste asset that loose money in a daily basis.

So my conclusion on what is important are:

- 140 bhp;

- 4motion for safety reasons;

- sat nav;

- front and rear sensors, no the reverse camera which is another waste of money;

- 16 inch tyres;

- basic alloy wheels just to differentiate it from the Transporter working van;

- ISO Top cover for the roof. You do not want the outside cover when you arrive at your stop place and it is raining or you leave in the morning with rain. And in general you do not want to set up and taking down the outside cover every time you raise or lower the roof;

- no spend more than £40k for a second hand or no more that £50k for a new one.

- The only objective comments/reviews I found on the California were on Parker.co.uk website.

My California is as follows:

- 140 bhp, 4motion, rns 510, bike rake, front and rear sensors, 3 zone air con, 4 seats, phone system, awning, 17 inches tyres and I spent £41k, £1k over budget.

I trust the above is in order.

Best regards.


Tukano
 
Hello & welcome.
Each to their own re choices of van. I guess your are happy with yours as I am happy with mine which differ from yours.
 
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Hi and welcome , you wrote some very thru facts ....and each there own is the most correct ;)
I agree most you wrote ...
Have lots of fun !
 
I agree with many of your comments, But not all. Porter Pottis in the kitchen cupboard, Leather seats and full electric sliding door. 4Motion is more than just 4 wheel drive. I travel, a lot, so far 17,000 miles in 9 months rather than just high days and holidays. Fuel economy is nowhere top of the list but cruising long distance is. Each to his own. These vehicles are capable of going round the clock if looked after. As far as I'm concerned this vehicle has been written off with regards depreciation and will be used. Having retired then there is a ticking clock running and this California will be used as intended as long as I can.
I've already booked out 2016, ( anyone know how to stop the grass growing while I'm away travelling:rolleyes: ) even booking time to do the garden in the diary.:)
I work on the premis, when people ask about What is a California?

Caravan with an engine = Motorhome

Tent with an engine = California

When retired you can do what you want, when you want. Might even get the van re-tuned when out of warranty.:thumb
 
How we are all different :D

I love my electric door. A godsend when having just "nipped out" the heavens open and you are making a run back to shelter, or hands and arms are piled high with bulky stuff and you can just fiddle with the remote.

My biggest regret is not having my seats recovered in leather. I do not use covers, and leather will be a must have next time. I spend one third of my life living in my Cali, I don't cover my seats up at home and most are leather so why not my home on wheels?

140 over 180? I think it is a very individual choice but then my mantra is if horsepower is available, have it. Either way the economy calculations make no difference to me, I am driving a 3 ton van so I have no aspirations to use diesel by the millilitre.

Porta potti? My life would be hell without one in the van :shocked The whole point to me of having a cali is not having to rely on civilisation being just around the corner and when nature calls I can't just stop by the roadside, walk up to the tree line, turn my back to the traffic and have a tinkle :eek:
 
Good morning all and many thanks for your comments.

I, of course, agree that everybody is different and each of us has his/her own ideas and that is good.

My comments were not aimed to put out a definitive list (which will be silly from me to only think about) but only to see what really it is needed on a California from the list of accessories (options as VW call them, which means they are not needed by the opinion of VW but if chosen VW make a lot of money from each of them).

Before buy mine I spent ages looking for what I thought I needed and when I identified a good one (which had most of the optionals I thought I needed) worry for what my California did not have, but I thought I would need.

So after driving it for over 3,400 miles in 3 weeks, I realised that only a few things I really needed, that some of the options installed were not needed (although before I thought they were a must) and finally that the accessories that my van did not have, for which I was that worried before, I just never noticed that they were missing because, really, I did not need them.

At the end, of course, it is not just money what matter most when you buy a California; because if money was the only reason then you would probably buy a converted van, not a VW branded one for which you pay a premium but from another maker.

With a VW California you buy a dream, a 1960s dream, a dream of to be young again, a dream of freedom and open spaces.

I am not retired as yet, at least another 20 years of work, but I wanted to start living these dreams now (with my family) and not wait until after finish work because too many people did that and then they found out that they could not do that anymore for medical reasons or other reasons.

My comments were only aimed to cut through the fog of accessories and to see what really, I think, is needed to live the dream.....

Good Sunday to you all.

Tukan
 
Tukan

I completely agree with your comments. Half the time I am driving so I am also thinking "next time I will not bother with that .... I wished I had that ..... what did I bother buying that for?

The other thing of course is that owning a camper is an ever-changing tapestry, there is always something new, something not tried before, to do tomorrow so the wasted bit of today may be the indispensable accessory tomorrow :)
 
Welsh gas - re the lawn.... Glyphosate!
 
Hello Tukan, great first post :thumb

The only extra I wouldn't bother with next time is the "flashlight"!
 
Ours ticks all those boxes other than the 4Motion :thumb
 
Tried the robot lawnmower from a local dealer You have to have a proper, level lawn. Mines more " au naturelle " with terraces. Can't cope. Glycophosphate might upset the rabbits.
Think I'll have to get a jobbing Gardner.
 
Whose idea was it start mowing lawns in the first place? Wants shooting! What's wrong with au naturelle?
 
I have resolved the problem.

It's called astroturf.
 
The sliding door question is a difficult one to answer.

We got a van ex-demo - and it was a surprise when we picked it up, as it wasn't on the spec sheet.

We like the sliding door when not camping - really helpful when shopping :)

We hate the sliding door at midnight when trying not to disturb the neighbours when camping.

It can be a bit over sensitive when closing, but a good clean of the rail fixes that.

So next time we buy a van would we have an electric sliding door - no idea. Maybe just get another ex-demo and get a surprise.



on the other comments:

140 vs 180 - if buying from list I would pick 140, but have 180 and love it

3 Zone is brilliant if you have people in the back - also worth it for the REST function

Leather - not got it don't miss it - if I had it I would want to keep it smart so would cover it with Inka covers - so may as well cover cheap seats!

Porta Potty - not got one - don't want one - more of a space issue than a hygiene issue.

Price - no real opinion - pay what you think it is worth when you are looking

4 Motion - haven't got it - never missed it - but don't drive in the snow and ice in the van. Never got stuck in mud.

SatNav - T5 SatNavs are fine (bit old), but nice being integrated. Happy to upgrade DIY to save some money - the list price is hideous. Hopfully the T6 sat nav will be better

Front and Rear parking sensors - a must

Alloy wheels - no options in the UK - all Calis have alloys - happy with VW standard

ISO Top - never had one - never missed it.

What we have learned is that everyone is different - I am sure it would be much easier on the VW production line if one spec fitted everyone.
 
I agree with many of your comments, But not all. Porter Pottis in the kitchen cupboard, Leather seats and full electric sliding door. 4Motion is more than just 4 wheel drive. I travel, a lot, so far 17,000 miles in 9 months rather than just high days and holidays. Fuel economy is nowhere top of the list but cruising long distance is. Each to his own. These vehicles are capable of going round the clock if looked after. As far as I'm concerned this vehicle has been written off with regards depreciation and will be used. Having retired then there is a ticking clock running and this California will be used as intended as long as I can.
I've already booked out 2016, ( anyone know how to stop the grass growing while I'm away travelling:rolleyes: ) even booking time to do the garden in the diary.:)
I work on the premis, when people ask about What is a California?

Caravan with an engine = Motorhome

Tent with an engine = California

When retired you can do what you want, when you want. Might even get the van re-tuned when out of warranty.:thumb
Hi WelshGas,
Re your grass, Sheep!
 
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I still think you need to have long term driven/owned both engines to draw conclusions.
Having owned a 140 and a 180, I wouldn't go back to a 140, the 180 simply drives so much better, its not just the power its the torque, fully loaded up driving through mountain ranges etc its a pleasure, it never feels heavy and is completely effortless, where as I found the 140 was hard work and constantly changing down gears..
This might sound strange but I feel cars/vans have a natural top gear cruising speed where they feel most comfortable and the revving is relaxed and in my opinion the 140 felt most comfortable at around 65mph where as the 180 was comfortable at 75-77.. So I always felt Like I was pushing the 140, this is based on my experience of driving both to south of spain and back. So this really depends on your driving style I found the 180 to be on par with driving a car on the continent and never felt van like at all.. I honestly don't think there is a fastest way to tour across county we must have over taken hundreds and hundreds of caravans and motorhomes, its why I love our Cali so much!

Then there is the 180 brakes which are more capable when you have weight with the van fully loaded with stuff and family I appreciate the extra safety.

I will bow down to the 140's fuel economy thou it was around 3/4MPG better but I'd trade that for the other benefits.

In regards to the Leather, our 140 had the cloth and as well documented it stains very easily (even with clean water and drove us mad so opted for the Leather this time and I'm very happy to report it wipes clean and doesn't stain :)

Again I disagree on the Climatronic, we found it fantastic especially from the South of France downwards but I guess where as you travelled north we travelled South so depends on what the owner is using the Cali for and whether you travel with rear occupants!

I totally agree the electronic sliding door is a gimmick and I often read about them failing.

The Sat Nav on all factory cars is vastly over priced and I will be honest I was initially very disappointed with it when comparing it to the free google maps on the phone.. its rather quirky and I think the software is poorly written, but once I got used to it I have found it useful, I also have the reversing camera so needed a dash screen and its great for that. It is well below par for the cost, very interested to see how the T6 version performs.

I love to read about other Cali owners experiences as we use these vans similarly but also so differently
 
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I still think you need to have long term driven/owned both engines to draw conclusions.
Having owned a 140 and a 180, I wouldn't go back to a 140, the 180 simply drives so much better, its not just the power its the torque, fully loaded up driving through mountain ranges etc its a pleasure, it never feels heavy and is completely effortless, where as I found the 140 was hard work and constantly changing down gears..
This might sound strange but I feel cars/vans have a natural top gear cruising speed where they feel most comfortable and the revving is relaxed and in my opinion the 140 felt most comfortable at around 65mph where as the 180 was comfortable at 75-77.. So I always felt Like I was pushing the 140, this is based on my experience of driving both to south of spain and back. So this really depends on your driving style I found the 180 to be on par with driving a car on the continent and never felt van like at all.. I honestly don't think there is a fastest way to tour across county we must have over taken hundreds and hundreds of caravans and motorhomes, its why I love our Cali so much!

Then there is the 180 brakes which are more capable when you have weight with the van fully loaded with stuff and family I appreciate the extra safety.

I will bow down to the 140's fuel economy thou it was around 3/4MPG better but I'd trade that for the other benefits.

In regards to the Leather, our 140 had the cloth and as well documented it stains very easily (even with clean water and drove us mad so opted for the Leather this time and I'm very happy to report it wipes clean and doesn't stain :)

Again I disagree on the Climatronic, we found it fantastic especially from the South of France downwards but I guess where as you travelled north we travelled South so depends on what the owner is using the Cali for.

I totally agree the electronic sliding door is a gimmick and I often read about them failing.

The Sat Nav on all factory cars is vastly over priced and I will be honest I was initially very disappointed with it when comparing it to the free google maps on the phone.. its rather quirky and I think the software is poorly written, but once I got used to it I have found it useful, I also have the reversing camera so needed a dash screen and its great for that. It well below par for the cost.

I love to read about other Cali owners experiances

Thank you for all of this, especially the 140-180 comparison. I only drove a 140 for a limited few miles and certainly noticed the difference although i am being swayed a little by the extra power in the 150.

What is also swaying me, for completely illogical reasons, are the prophesies of doom and gloom about the complications of BiTurbo and it's reliability. Illogical because my 180 has been absolutely faultless in terms of reliability and power delivery.

I think also road tests are of limited value and I hold tongue in cheek with the Auto express evaluation of 150 - 204. I think until you have chugged fully loaded over around 2000 miles in some steep and hilly terrain you can only really tell the difference,

I would not be without the climatronic after 42C in the South of France!
 
All down to personal preference really.

From a performance perspective I have owned three Calis, a T4 150, a T5 130 and a T5 174. All have managed long distance trips without fuss including over the Alps, thrift Italy and Greece etc. 174 but more relaxing to drive as less gear changing and more torque but the others were fine. Out of warranty can always remap for a bit more power at little cost.

I would always have privacy glass, heated seats, cruise control and a decent stereo. Ports Porta Potti has come in handy (and it doesn't smell) but everything else comes under the nice to have but not necessary banner.

As I tend to buy used (letting someone else take the major depreciation hit) it is better to be a bit more flexible on options or hard to find a van that ticks all the boxes. The expensive extras are good on a used van as easier for resale.
 

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