The next-generation Volkswagen California has been spied testing in the snow without any disguise.

    We can tell this isn’t a regular Multivan because of its pop-up roof, while we can also see a charge door.

    The California was only revealed in concept form in August packing plug-in hybrid power, but though it was called a concept it looked particularly production-ready.

    Other than some intake slots below the Volkswagen badge up front, this prototype appears unchanged from the concept.

    The California has been confirmed for an Australian launch, though CarExpert expects it to arrive no earlier than 2025. The Multivan it’s based on is due in the fourth quarter of 2024.

    Volkswagen Australia confirmed it will launch the next-generation California with a choice of either a five-seat layout or, in a first for our market, a four-seat layout complete with a kitchen.

    The new California comes with dual sliding doors, which has allowed Volkswagen to offer a version with both the kitchen and right-hand drive.

    The California show car was revealed with a “three-zone [living] concept”.

    In zone one, the primary sliding door found on the right-hand side of the vehicle is sheltered by an overhead awning. This promotes easy access to the outdoors and rear of the van “enhancing the feeling of life in the great outdoors”.

    Zone two encapsulates the interior of the van, which has updated seating arrangements. The front seats are height adjustable and can swivel 180 degrees.

    This is complemented by new individual rear seats which are “lightweight, removable and very comfortable”. The flexibility of the removable seats allows the rear of the van to be configured for passenger seating, carrying larger items such as bikes, or turned into a “flat chill-out area”.

    Zone three incorporates a kitchen that has been moved rearward and is now more accessible through new sliding doors. The kitchen boasts a 230V induction cooktop, integrated gas cooker, drawers, sink and fridge, all of which can be accessed from both inside and outside.

    In addition to zone living, the California concept also features a pop-up roof controlled via a tablet-style interface on the C-pillar.

    This can also be used to check the fresh and waste water levels, control lighting, and check the power supply status, but it can also be used to play media.

    The pop-up roof features a lightweight aluminium roof shell and triple-layered bellows, with a large opening up front and USB-C outlets and LED lights within.

    By moving the T7 Multivan, which has already been on sale in Europe since 2022, to the MQB architecture, Volkswagen can offer it with a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain. The production California is also set to offer this.

    In the Multivan, the PHEV drivetrain pairs a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor and a 13kWh lithium-ion battery.

    The system produces a total of 160kW of power, sent to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

    The T7 Multivan has a claimed 50km of electric range based on the WLTP cycle.

    Buyers not after a PHEV camper van will be able to choose from petrol or diesel engines, with Volkswagen confirming the new California will be available with “all drive systems of the Multivan”.

    Volkswagen has thus far confirmed only a 110kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine for the Australian-market Multivan at launch, though it says another, as-yet unspecified powertrain will follow in 2025.

    MORE: Volkswagen California concept plugs in for electrified adventures

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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