Planning a staycation? The Volkswagen Grand California 680 motorhome comes with everything including the kitchen sink, plus a hob, loo, shower, double bed, swivel seats, storage and picnic furniture.
I tested one and, despite being seven metres long and four tonnes, it’s nimble. Powered by a 2-litre TDI engine linked to an eight-speed auto gearbox, it has a top speed of 99mph and does 22.8mpg from the 75-litre tank.
The extras on mine – from ambient lighting and blind-spot warning to rear-view camera and ‘toilet ventilation’ – bumped the price up from £82,258 to £87,994, enough to merit a mortgage.
‘Shades of a luxury yacht’: The Volkswagen Grand California 680 motorhome
But who needs a house or a hotel room when you’ve got your own home on wheels for a Bank Holiday getaway?
My Grand California had masses of storage, a big side sliding cabin door and 180-degree rear doors, a 110 litre fresh water storage tank, plus some really clever and flexible features including folding picnic table and chairs stowed cleverly in the rear doors.
With its dark tinted windows (including partial sunscreen and full black-out blinds for sleeping privacy) and smart minimalist styling, it has shades of a luxury yacht. You can link directly to the mains and the fully-charged cabin battery will last about a day.
A big sliding side door – separate from the driver and passenger doors – lets you in and out and there’s a screen to keep the flies out too, when it’s open.
Flexible front seats swivel around to give a conference style set up around a removable table top. A handy electric step pops in and out to help you get into the motorhome and prevent you stumbling out.
My Grand California has masses of storage and a big side sliding cabin door
Out on the road and sitting up front as high as truck, it is surprisingly easy to drive and exceptionally manoeuvrable.
Aided by super-grippy four-wheel drive and comfortable suspension, it’s anything but a hard ride and not at all intimidating. Giant mirrors and electronic cameras and sensors help give you a great view of your surroundings too.
It drives like a delight on motorways, whizzes through winding country lanes, and negotiates the tightest of city streets.
The Volkswagen Grand California 680 motorhome has a double bed
Thanks to a sat-nav ‘diversion’ which was not on the agenda, I also, unexpectedly, drove it through jam-packed traffic and over Tower Bridge in London. Smashed it. With its huge footprint, not even BMW drivers dare argue with it, and van drivers were also suitably respectful.
It has a range on one tank of around 376 miles, which should get you from London to the Northumbrian coast north of Newcastle, and almost but not quite to Edinburgh.
Working ‘from home’: Ray Massey’s laptop on the motorhome’s table
My real test, however, came just as I was en route to hand it back in Milton Keynes when I was called on, at very short notice, to write a big feature on driverless cars. But who needs an office when you can ‘work from home’.
Parked up at the hand-over depot until security were about to throw me out – with power and a table for my laptop – I kept hold of my motorhome, and met my deadline for the next day’s Daily Mail. Now that’s what I call living on a deadline.
Drive a ‘flying carpet’
Citroen hopes that you will soon be sitting comfortably in its handsome new C4 compact hatchback.
That’s because the French car-maker believes its blend of style, tech, design and engineering will offer a chic gallic alternative to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
With an electric, petrol and diesel version, the C4 promises to provide a super-smooth suspension and hydraulic system, which Citroen says will be like ‘travelling on a flying carpet’.
Bright future: The C4 compact hatchback offers an alternative to the Focus or Golf
That may be overegging it, but there are 20 new patents on the suspension, so a great deal of work has gone on.
The comfort-factor goes doubly for the pure electric E-C4 version, which will add ‘exceptional silence’ to the mix.
The comfort-factor goes doubly for the pure electric E-C4 version, which will add ‘exceptional silence’ to the mix
Citroen promises extra knee room in the back (198mm, which it claims is best in class) thanks to an extended wheelbase. There’s also plenty of elbow room in the rear, even when sitting three abreast.
Seats are to be filled with high density foam to avoid the ‘settling effect’ after hours of driving. Clever storage will include 39 litres of binnacles and cubby holes dotted around. The practical 380-litre boot has a convenient loading sill.
Seats are to be filled with high density foam to avoid the ‘settling effect’ after hours of driving
The new motor — the tenth version of the C4 compact hatchback since 1928 — will also have a slide-out computer tablet or iPad holder for the occupant of the front passenger seat.
The petrol-powered C4 will come with a choice of three 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo engines. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is available on the most powerful petrols. There are also two four-cylinder diesels. The zero-emissions all-electric E-C4 is powered by a 136hp (100kW) electric motor and 400V (50kW) lithium ion battery.
It accelerates from rest to 62mph in 9.7 seconds, up to a top speed of 93mph. The range is said to be 217 miles.
It has three driving modes: eco, normal and sport.
Order books open on October 1 ahead of first deliveries in the New Year. Prices are expected to be from around £19,000.
The new C4 will have a slide-out computer tablet or iPad holder for the occupant of the front passenger seat
Land Rover’s new purification system
Land Rover has brought a breath of fresh air to its compact 4X4 range with a new purification system.
It is one of many technical, infotainment and engine upgrades for its Range Rover Evoque (from £32,100), and Land Rover Discovery Sport (from £31,915), ahead of the new ’70-plate’ from Tuesday.
The filtration system removes fine particles including allergens, pollen and strong smells. The driver can even check the levels.
Costing £279 on the Discovery and £335 on the Evoque, the system complements existing cabin air ionisation tech introduced last year.
A spokesperson for Land Rover says: ‘The air customers breathe inside is purer than outside.’