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Volkswagen California - Ocean vs Beach Review

Volkswagen California - Ocean vs Beach Review


If you’re thinking of buying a VW campervan, then it’s likely that you’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of the Ocean versus the Beach models. You’re definitely not alone in this!

California 6.1 Ocean Highlights

  • Ambient interior lighting, featuring dimmable LED cupboard lights
  • Climatronic air conditioning system and auxiliary air parking heater
  • Digital Cockpit
  • Discover Media DAB+ navigation including ‘Streaming & Internet’
  • Electro-hydraulic elevating roof
  • Fully functional kitchen with gas stove, sink and 42 litre compressor cool box
  • Fog lights including cornering function
  • Front and rear parking sensors, including Park Assist
  • LED headlights with separate LED daytime running lights
  • Kitchenette in Graphite Grey slate-effect

California 6.1 Beach Highlights

  • Manual pop-up roof
  • Foldable camping chairs and matching tables.
  • smartphone integration apps
  • 17-inch wheels
  • 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, linked to a seven-speed DSG gearbox. 
  • Beach Tour seats five as standard (with the option to upgrade to six or seven), with sliding doors on both the passenger and driver’s side,
  • The Camper specification has four seats as standard (option to increase to five), a full pull-out single gas hob. A pull-out awning is also included to help keep the elements at bay when sitting outside.

What's the Difference between the Volkswagen California Ocean and Beach?

VW California forums are full of prospective campervan owners asking for advice on which model would suit them best and there are as many ardent ‘Cali’ fans in favour of the Beach as there are of the Ocean.

We spoke to Guy Vincent, California Specialist at Volkswagen Van Centre in Preston to ask his opinion,

I’m going to give a diplomatic answer here and not plump for one or the other! What I do want to highlight are the reasons why buying a Volkswagen California, whichever model, is a very smart thing to do.

Back to the Ocean v Beach battle; why the big debate?

What is the difference between these two models and why does the discussion exercise the minds of so many campervan enthusiasts?

Well the first thing to note is that this VW campervan is just as loved and makes its’ owners just as passionate as its iconic predecessor. It’s universally acknowledged as a fantastic piece of kit, and the truth is that both the Ocean and the Beach have ardent fans, so, it’s really not possible to make a mistake.

Excellent build quality, lots of forethought and great design make this is a campervan for life, not just for Summer and whichever suits you best, you’ll find it changes your life in a very positive way.

Since the outgoing Beach model, the 6.1 Beach now features improvements including blinds for the front windows, a touchscreen camper-function control panel and engine upgrades.

Both California Beach models come with the same engine choices for both the Tour and Camper, 2.0TDI 150PS 7-speed DSG, however, the California Ocean comes with the additional option of 2.0TDI 204PS , 2.0TDI 199PS , 2.0TDI 204PS 4MOTION and 2.0TDI 199PS 4MOTION variants.

First up is the Beach.

The Beach slots in at the entry price point of the California 6.1 line and come in two versions – the Beach Tour and the Beach Camper.

The California Beach models are more MPVs with pop-up roof than fully equipped mobile getaways, but with the added flexibility to carry more people as a result.

california beach

If opting for the Beach Tour, you’ll be able to seat five people as standard, with the option to increase to six or seven, while the Camper carries four as standard (same as existing California’s) with a fifth optional.

The UK California Beach Camper variant, comes complete with a mini kitchen that folds out from the side panel and can be tucked away when not in used. There's no sink or fridge, unlike the California Ocean, but there is a single-burner gas stove and worktop.

Those happy with just a sleeper van will be able to get a more capable people-hauler by opting for the Beach Tour. This is set up as a ‘day van’, with a smaller storage unit along the side of the van and no standard kitchen, instead complete with twin sliding side doors to make loading up passengers a breeze. True Beach lovers won’t mind the absence of a full kitchen at all; they prefer the flexible space this more minimalist interior gives them and are happy to cook outside. Beach fans may already have a pop-up tent and camping stoves, if not, they buy these along with a coolbox and they’re ready to rock and roll.

california beach

Both Beach Camper and Tour , when the seats are folded down, provide a substantial double bed, providing comfy, cosy sleeping for 2 people or maybe even 3 if you have little people on-board. Another double bed is revealed, when you manually pop-up the roof and you very definitely get a comfy, snuggly, luxurious night’s sleep. With a picnic table and two chairs concealed in the boot lid and sliding doors, the added extra that most Beach buyers will be adding is the wind-out awning, just in case you need to hide from the thoroughly British showers or indeed keen in shade on sunny days.

For lovers of the Beach the ability to be flexible on seating means their California can be used more as an MPV when it’s not being used as a campervan. For ocean lovers however, this is a cop-out!

Find out more about the VW California Beach

And so, into the Ocean

If the Volkswagen California Beach Camper is a brilliant campervan, then the Volkswagen California Ocean is a simply fabulous Glampervan.

Opt for a California ‘Ocean’ model – the true top-of-the range camper – and this time the pop-up roof glides up hydraulically at the touch of a button; and when you wake from your comfy slumbers, you can pop the kettle on and get the bacon frying, on the built-in hob. You can wash up after yourself, keep food and drink chilled in the fridge and store your clothes in the wardrobe.

california ocean

What’s the pay-off for all this added glamping-ness? Well the downstairs bed is narrower to accommodate the kitchen/wardrobe etc, but it’s still super-comfy and pocketed sprung mattress bringing home comforts to the road!

In exchange for this narrower downstairs double, you not only get a kitchen, but also storage galore, a pull-out table and there’s still the option to configure your seating in different ways, just not up to 7 seats.

Referred to by ardent VW campervan enthusiasts, as the ‘full-fat’ option, the ocean will take you anywhere, anytime; keep you warm and your food cold; offer a haven in bad weather and a hotel in warmer climes.

On the outside the Ocean looks swish too with LED headlights and even double glazing in the rear cabin; there’s also state-of-the-art digital cockpit, rear-view camera system, climatronic three-zone automatic climate control and an auxiliary air heater. When a campervan just isn’t enough, then choose the Ocean, truly now a glampervan!

 Find out more about the VW California

Beach VS Ocean - Which is better?

So, you’ve decided to join the campervan crew, now you need to decide, which is the right Cali for you, the top of the range Ocean or the entry-priced Beach.

The Beach camper is easier and perhaps more practical day-to-day and arguably offers more flexible sleeping; the Ocean has everything, including the kitchen-sink and a touch of luxury.

In truth, whether you’re a camper or a glamper the Volkswagen California is definitely the campervan for you and don’t forget, with plenty of pre-loved VW campervans for sale, the choice isn’t just about Ocean versus Beach.

One of our VW California Specialists, Guy Vincent, at the Volkswagen Van Centre in Preston has shared his thoughts;

With such good residual values, you can’t really go wrong, so, my advice is to think about how you’re going to be using your Cali; will it be a car during the week and a campervan at weekends and holidays, or is it a second vehicle just to be used as a campervan. Make a list of what you need and stick to it.

If value for money and conserving your budget is uppermost, then the Beach will get you adventuring on a budget. If you want top of the range in every area and are happy to allocate a commensurate budget, then there’s no doubt the Ocean is for you. Exceptionally well spec’d with many things included that you’ve probably never even thought of.

 Find out more about the VW California   Buying a VW California: Ocean v Coast



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