Powered by
Subscribe to the only car newsletter you’ll ever need

Volkswagen California Beach 2021: retro campervan brings Kombi vibes to Australia

John Law

Volkswagen has brought a slice of the Kombi back to Australia with the updated California Beach which functions as the flagship of the T6.1 range.

For the 2021 T6.1 California Beach, Volkswagen has taken the Multivan people-mover and tweaked it in-house to become a fully-fledged “adventure vehicle” with pop-up sleeping quarters and other rather neat touches included.

Of course, that all comes at a cost, with the California Beach starting from $82,990 before on-road costs and options here in Australia.

Volkswagen California Beach 2021 Rolling
The California Beach will roll out of dealerships ready for adventure.

The Australian market has recently seen a boom in vehicles suited to domestic holidays with full-size SUVs like the Toyota Landcruiser and Nissan Patrol garnering much of the attention.

That has led to strong demand for the California Beach in Australia. Kurt Mcguiness, public relation and brand experience manager for Volkswagen Australia, confirmed that the majority of the first shipment has been pre-sold.

But the California Beach is not a limited edition and will become a mainstream offering from the third quarter of 2021 onwards. Think of the California like the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo, but with an extra dollop of retro-chic.

Volkswagen California Beach 2021 Awning
The package includes a roll-out awning and some other gear.

Volkswagen Australia describes the California Beach as a “turn-key solution to take advantage of the booming (domestic) tourism market”.

Backing up that statement is the standard fitment of pop-up sleeping quarters, an extra $2,990 sees that taken care of electrically. 

Additionally, the rear bench can be folded flat to make a second bed for the night with block-out blinds fitted on the windows – the California Beach should sleep four in relative comfort.

Volkswagen California Beach 2021 Bed
Pop-up sleeping quarters feature and the California should be able to sleep up to four adults.

Outside the California is outfitted with a roll-out awning, cleverly stowed camp chairs and fold-out picnic table. The front captain’s chairs can swivel to seat four inside for dinner in inclement weather, and there is a nifty auxiliary heater to keep occupants warm when the mercury plummets.

There is no need to fret about battery levels dropping in the California, a screen in the rear quarters displays battery health alongside a roll and pitch indicator to help campers find level ground.

Under the bonnet, Volkswagen offers two four-cylinder turbodiesel engines, the more affordable being the TDI340 with 110kW of power and 340Nm of torque. Initially, all California Beach models will be powered by this engine with all-wheel drive fitted for $86,990.

Volkswagen California Beach 2021 Chairs
Camp chairs are stowed in the rear tailgate, with a fold-out picnic table included.

Later this year a gruntier TDI450 will join the lineup, it sees outputs bumped up to 146kW and 450Nm from the same sized motor. All-wheel drive is standard, and the TDI450 sees the price climb to $92,990 before on-roads. 

For those taking their California Beach into the mud, a rear locking diff is available for an extra $1,420 and hill-descent control $180. All California Beach models are fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Other notable options include Art Velour synthetic leather-upholstery for $1,890, adaptive suspension ($1,890) and an optional digital cockpit which Volkswagen will charge $900 for.

Volkswagen California Beach 2021 Lights
The California benefits from all the updates made to the 2021 T6.1 van and people-mover range.

The California Beach benefits from the host of updates made to the rest of the T6.1 people mover range, getting the same updated chrome grille, halogen headlights and LED taillights. Bespoke touches include the California Beach badging and the ability to get some fantastic colour schemes.

There is a new active steering system under the skin – as in all T6.1 products – with safety increased to comprise rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control in the California Beach.

The California Beach is available for order now alongside the rest of the refreshed T6.1 range in Australia.

Volkswagen T6.1 California Beach 2021: pricing in Australia

Prices listed are before on-road costs.

  • California Beach 340TDI FWD – $82,990
  • California Beach 340TDI AWD – $86,990
  • California Beach 450TDI AWD – $92,990

Related articles