VW California – Beach / SE or Alternative ?
As a bike rider, I had a Cali se and have just switched to a beach. The beach is much more suited to our lifestyle. Just been to France with 5 adults and 5 bikes no problem, you would struggle to do that in a se.
It also drives better as it’s lighter. And as a final bonus, it’s also cheaper!Posted 3 years agoiamtheresurrectionSubscriber
I’d be keen to know if you find any really good offers PCPs on the Beach, TLR. The standard VW offer is good but I don’t want to put a large deposit down (I don’t like big deposits on PCPs).
I think the Beach is better for us too. We wouldn’t cook in a small van, it has a better seating arrangement for us and it is lighter. Wish it was available with the 180 or 4motion but that’s not the end of the world… I can’t think of a reason not to buy one.Posted 3 years agoski99Subscriber
The Beach roof is raised/lowered manually instead of by a button.
It must be lowered absolutely evenly otherwise the fabric sides to the sleeping area may get pinched by the scissor support and could eventually tear. It uses a strap which instead of being attached centrally can move almost the entire width of the roof.
Last I knew VW weren’t honouring any warranty claims, but I saw more than a handful on vans with less than 10k miles on, so their viewpoint may have changed over recent months? Something to look for if you choose a used one.Posted 3 years ago
I’ve got an SE, the bi tdi 4 motion one. It’s my second Cali as I had one in NZ, love them. We prefer the full monty van as there are only 3 of us and it works with nzcoljnr really well. Yes they are expensive and a bit fragile but they are very Germanic in their efficiency. Depends what you want it for.Posted 3 years ago
There’s a few tricks and tips, one being a long bungee round the roof fabric which holds it in when the roof goes up and down, makes it a no drama exercise. There is also a well documented problem with paint bubbling on the join between the raised roof and the main van roof. Overall though it’s my only vehicle and I still find myself having a brew in some interesting places because I just bloody well can. Oh and I use a atera srada dl3 rack as it lets you open the tailgate while loaded really easily. I’m in edinburgh if you want to see it for real.
Edit: sorry lots of random words in that due to iPad
We got a second hand Cali last yr. we had a self converted t4 before that and wanted to get a newer van. When I looked at the cost of a decent van and converting it with decent (safe) seats etc it was a no brainer to get a Cali as the residuals are so good. We both walk or bike to work so no commuting makes it work for us as we’re not putting loads of miles on it. Wife uses it as her daily driver and no probs in car parks/ spaces. It is heavy and it doesn’t give brilliant mpg but it has 180hp and goes really well. We make the most out of it and did about 55 nights away in it last yr. even in winter it’s cosy to sleep in due to the heater. We use it as a camper and wouldn’t be without the storage, cooker, fridge etc so the beach just wasn’t what we were after. Good compromise though I guess. You can get a Cali with a fifth seat if you need the room but the bike rack only takes 4 bikes anyways….Posted 3 years ago
thanks folks – looks like a beach for us with awning and fridge.
has anyone used the maxxcamp storage units ?Posted 3 years agoallfankledupSubscriber
We’ve got a kombi – use it for tent camping now and again, got a tow bar rack that carries the bikes.
Mostly we rent a cottage when we travel – as it makes life easier (3 kids and a large dog – camping is fun but hard work), so decided not to go down the camper route in the end.
If I was going to invest in a camping van, I would look at Bilbo – neighbours lost 3k over 3 years when trading one back in, great reputation, sliding door on the right side etc.
The speed thing (beach not available as a 180) can be sorted with a trip to Pendle Performance.Posted 3 years ago
Tlr- the new my14 Beach has the same split charging and 240v hookup as the SE. You can retrofit though in a few ways. Privacy glass, not sure, download the brochure and it gives the options. The parking heater is useful of you plan to camp, runs on diesel. We used our SE to camp in the snow with it set on 3 all night it was toasty warm. Otter useful options are 4m bit not on the beach, mfsw, Bluetooth and reverse camera, towbar for a rack get it factory otherwise doesn’t integrate very well. Using ours now for a cuppa post comm games.
If it’s mainly about camping then either will be great. We love the kitchen and setup of the SE but a beach could be equally useful. Buy the awning sides from comfortz leisure as they are awesome and give you an extra room in bad weather.Posted 3 years ago
I’ve had a Beach for about 18 months now as a daily driver and weekend dossabout for 2 adults and 2 kids (soon to be three). It’s a great vehicle and as Col says get on http://vwcaliforniaclub.com/forum/ for the lowdown. The ex-demos are all very low mileage (ours had 60 on it) and available for some great prices but you’ll struggle to get them with a parking heater which can be retrofitted for about a grand. Check out http://used.volkswagen-vans.co.uk/ but they’re probably thinner on the ground this time of year (we bought in April).
We’ve just bought a Vango Kela drive away awning to make longer stays more manageable but recently I had a few days in Scotland with a mate and we were able to keep the bikes (wheels off) in the boot, live downstairs and outside (midge pending), and sleep upstairs so for two its easy. I never considered an SE because I couldn’t afford it and as a daily driver didn’t fancy lugging all that extra stuff around.
We have the three seat bench and an extra seat to fit friends, grandparents etc in. The general consensus is that the three seat has lots more flexibility but then if there’s only two of you it mightn’t be a big deal. Regarding the manual roof on the Beach lots of SE/electric owners reckon they’d prefer a manual on the basis that with a little bit of practice and caution (always) it’s safe and easy to put down. Just make sure you have the door open.
It’s a fantastic vehicle and if you’ve never driven ‘up there’ before it’s loads more pleasurable doing 70 up the M6/74, armrests down, cruise control on, than in a normal car. We have a new word in our family dictionary too – van-nic which is another simple pleasure, seats around, roof up, door open, gourmet lunch either inside or outside dependent on the weather. Happy days.Posted 3 years ago
nzcol, scuttler , thanks – great info – appears the glass in the new SE is double glazed but not in the beach. that may make a difference in winter up glenshee / cairngorm do you think ?
i like the simplicity of the beach, but feel the SE has some very comfortable options as standard ! ? !
can you send a link to the forum you suggest – is it vwcaliforniaclub ?Posted 3 years ago
Yep that’s the one, register for the forums as there is a mine of knowledge there. As said they are really two different vehicles – an SE is based on a multivan comfort line and the beach on a more basic multivan from memory. The SE as you say weighs a bit but has better camping potential at the expense of general day to day space, it’s a camper van. The Beach is a people carrier you can sleep in with a pop roof. Can you be bothered to rent one of each and try them ? VW can be quite good like that and give you a loaner. As I said, if you want a more detailed look then feel free to get in touch.Posted 3 years agotowzerMember
After lots of research we went nuevo ek, 5.71m, the vws were expensive and a lot smaller ‘in use’, the nuevo is the ‘smallest’ we could find that had everything we felt we needed for month and longer jaunts to places where weather can be iffy and facilities limited, after 6 weeks in Scotland we’re pretty pleasedPosted 3 years ago
I see Californias have rails in the floor. Does that mean you can have the rear bench slid up closer to the front seats and stow bikes in the back? Does it also mean the rear bench can come out for two bikes downstairs and sleeping upstairs?
Yes, the bench in the cali slides right up behind the front seats and then there’s a massive space behind as you can remove the rear 2 level shelf and mattress part completely in 2 minutes. We use ours slid forward as a daily driver as it’s more like a car then, passengers within talking distance. There truly is a massive amount of room there then. I havent put my bike in there as I have the rack and dont want the inside beat up or dirty. I guess you could get/ make a front wheel holder and clip it in the track if you had a bit of engineering knowledge.
you can remove the rear seat completely but its a two person job/ ballache apparently as its very heavy.
we love our cali. luckily we dont commute to work by car so it is our daily driver for everything else apart from my old pikey ford ranger for logs etc.
campervantastic will rent you one for a weekend/ week and they also have good deals on ex rentals IIRC. I’d rent one and try it.
We came to ours via a self converted t4 so we sort of knew what we wanted. I wouldnt have splurged the cash before knowing we were going to use it and that its configuration suited us.
Ours was second hand, still in warranty and cost a lot but they do hold their value, much better than you’d get from any other car. Some people on the cali forum have had one a couple of yrs from new after discounts from drive the deal or similar and than sold them for almost the same as they paid new 2 yrs later due to waiting lists/ demand for calis.Posted 3 years ago
Have a look at this…. Someone on here?
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=T5+california+with+rear+seat+slide+forward+and+shelf+removed&rlz=1C1SVEE_enGB422GB422&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=IRDeU_yLCYTWPODmgOAF&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAg&biw=1536&bih=771&dpr=0.83#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=F6kNmTrfMaYQSM%253A%3B1hSOoTzWNTRQVM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimg.photobucket.com%252Falbums%252Fv125%252Fsutherlandm%252Fimage-6.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.vwcaliforniaclub.com%252Fforum%252Fviewtopic.php%253Ff%253D63%2526t%253D5328%3B1024%3B768Posted 3 years ago
With the absence of wardrobes/cooking etc in the Beach (particularly the three seat version), by sliding the seats or optionally removing them which as was said is a 2 person job, it’s really flexible and there is a ton of room in there. If we go out on bikes for the day I can get four bikes wheels on in the boot, with similar space in the rear seats as a mid-sized car.
@OP with some 2 person skiing trips planned I’d be tempted to go all out for a 4-motion SE. Plenty of people use them out in Europe for that. Not sure on the thermal effect of the better glass but by all accounts the parking heater throws out more than enough heat and with an extra ‘jacket/cap’ over the popup roof its supposed to be well toasty. The blinds when drawn probably also add some insulation as they’re quite close fitting.
Have a search for some of the ski threads on the California forum – plenty of experiences there on cold weather camping.Posted 3 years ago
No probs. We love our cali SE and have done 30 nights in it in france at a time stopping at Aires and Municipal Campsites. The cooking, water and heater facilities are great and we have a top cover for the pop up roof that we have used to camp in the winter as well. You can leave the heater on 24/7 as its on a thermostat. Its great really and we wouldn’t be without it for holidays as you can really explore and find places you just wouldn’t chance upon if you were tied to a tent or holiday cottage.Posted 3 years ago
wow – thanks folks – looks like we’d be better going for the SE. splurging on 4motion 180 dsg bi turbo seems nuts, but it would tick all the boxes for years into the future…….
will have to save a wee bit harder i s’pose…….
is it possible to get the thermostatically controlled heater in the beach ?
and what is the jacket/cap for the roof ? i suspect this would also work on a beach ?
i like the idea of the beach in basic form, but as it’s a true camping machine, the SE makes better sense.
for the owners , where do you usually sleep ? up or downstairs ?
if we buy an SE it would mean upstairs has a bigger bed. the beach with 3 bench rear seat has a big bed downstairs !
aargh 🙂 nice problem to have !Posted 3 years ago
In the SE you can also take the seat stops out to move it forward more than normal, that’s what we do, in can get 4 bikes in the back with front wheels off.Posted 3 years ago
Sleeping wise the upstairs bed is huge and comfy, we stick a couple of therm a rests in underneath as well for mega luxury. Our little one sleeps up there now while we get on with things downstairs.
I know there is a SE 4m manual for sale at the van centre in Bilston, edinburgh. The bloke that ordered mine ordered 2 by accident !
Topper can be made for about 50 quid or buy one and awning from http://www.comfortzleisure.co.uk who are mega helpful. Also budget for Inka seat covers, a bit utility like but waterproof and save your seats. 120 quid for the set.
You can get a parking heater in a Beach now.
We are around the north west of Scotland in ours next week so keep an eye out
A parking heater can be factory fitted on an ordered Beach or put on afterwards – http://vwcaliforniaclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=104&t=4183 – the same components, fitting kit, controls etc.
The three seat bench in bed format is not particularly comfy and needs some inflatable mats or a topper over it to make it better. Upstairs is slatted + matress so very comfy but the kids get that most of the time.
Sounds like you’ve made your mind up though
Posted 3 years ago
We sleep upstairs, nice comfy slatted bed plenty side for 2. We don’t use any other mattresses up there other than the std one fitted.
I have slept downstairs and still loads of room but not as comfy as upstairs. We usually have the dog cage on the back shelf so sleep upstairs and leave the seats up so we can come down in the morning and get the coffee on easily.
We have one of these for winter/ autumn camping. Just keeps the heat in better and stops the rain completely if torrential. The guy who makes them is very helpful.
We have the 180 but 2 wheel drive. The guy in VW Edinburgh billston who was excellent when we bought ours said that the traction control on the 2 wd was so good that it was hardly worth having the 4wd. We haven’t missed 4wd to be honest. I have a 4 wd ford ranger that I can go off road in! The 180 engine is a bi-turbo and revs right through the range, it really is a beast despite hauling round 2.5 tonnes it accelerates amazingly up slip roads etc
The California forum seems to be the place to buy and sell second hand models. There are usually a good few on there but they sell pretty quickly especially this time of yr.
We got the VW bike rack for ours, it looks cool and works uber well. Good for ferrying dirty bikes to trail centres etc and bungeeing other stuff on when travelling. I take an old orange clockwork single speed with a basket with me when were on trips and just lock it to the tow hitch and back right up into a hedge if leaving it.Posted 3 years ago
sounds like the SE then. 180 dsgh 4motion in candy white with some nice black 18″ alloys.
privacy / awning / parking sensors f&r / creta cloth interior / vw bike rack / std aircon / DAB / MDI + USB / Safe Box / xenons / tailgate trim / reversing cam / bluetooth
what else is recommended ?Posted 3 years ago
Wouldn’t recommend vw rack personally as you can’t secure them that well but your call
We have 4m with diff lock, much better than the 2wd if you need to get up and down anything slick
S and m tyres from factory
Media in note aux in is just a headphone socket
Ambivalent about safe
Delete electric door, pain in the arse, prone to problems and for us the beep was a pita with a small kid asleep.
Reverse camera needs rcd510 , spec the travel pack I think as it’s cheaper and gives privacy glass etc
Towbar towbar towbar – nightmare to retrofit so get it std
Lowering kit -30mm
Will be lovely and you won’t regret it. We love ours. Not cheap but on that spec we got about 10 pc off list but long lead time circa 5-6 months normally. There’s a guy selling complete sets of steel wheels with winter tyres cheap as well, I got a set and will stick them on in Oct/nov to save my nice wheelsPosted 3 years ago
Get the Bluetooth, dab as its easier to get at new than retrofit. F&r parking sensors a must. Normal
Aircon fine. The awning is a must and we use ours loads, even when keeping the side door open when raining.
Colour wise, just think it’s a vehicle that has a longer life than your std family car so stay away from fashionable colours etc we got the met grey colour and it looks mean but classy and understated in that VW/ Audi way.
The bike rack is good and looks better than any other rack. The door struts will hold the boot up with my genesis latitude on it still. Like I said, I tend to chain the bike up to the wheel overnight or cable lock to the towbar for short in view stops. The towbar is useful and as above get it specked to start off with.
The rear bumper guard is good for stopping scuffs and the mudflaps keep the van clean.
The ride suffers if you get bigger alloys too, might be worth bearing that in mind. It’s a heavy van and the suspension isn’t as refined as your average VW!
I think the se comes with privacy glass in the uk. I don’t think I’ve seen one without it.Posted 3 years ago
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