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GC680 Review

Hammer

Hammer

VIP Member
Messages
123
Location
Stamford, UK
Vehicle
Grand California 680
Ok folks this is a long one and apologise if I ramble on anywhere here but want to give as much feed back as possible as found this forum so helpful during my decision making and if below helps with some decision making all the better.
I have held back reviewing our new 680 until after we had good couple of trips under our belts, so having just completed week in Dorset feel time to give my first impressions. I have put into sections so you can skip sections if you don't want to read war and peace!!

Bit of history first on why we purchased 680:

We owned a VW T2 for around 3 years which was our first experience of campervaning and loved it, then moved to a VW California around 2012 which we kept for best part of 7 years. Having sold the California just before lock down we missed getting away but wanted something with a bathroom and bit more space so purchased a A class motorhome. We only kept this for around 1 years as never got along with it being so wide and driving narrow lanes was hairy to say the least. Obviously once you get onsite there was huge amount of space but also missed the feeling you get with a Campervan where you still feel your connected to the outdoors rather than enclosed in a white box.

All these above vehicles had there issues, the T2 was beautiful but driving for more than 2 hours was hard for many reasons, the California had varies issues from dealer incompetence, inverter failing, 3 x roof repairs/change, leaking water etc etc, and the A class was the biggest issue with varies warrantee issues that took near enough the year we owned it to resolve and I really hated the fact the warrantee was hard to use due to motorhome dealers not being paid by manufacturers so seem resistance to work on issues!

So started the search for the right camper! The first thing I wanted was VW or Merc base as really didn't like the Fiat base in the A class, so looked at few conversions and saw many posts about how expensive GC was but on further investigation to get decent conversion with similar spec I was looking at £70k-80k anyway. Westfalia do some great options but price and lead times plus without UK dealership network felt VW GC was way to go.

Finding one in UK was hard but ended up spending a day driving to see a 600 and 680, as its just two of us felt 680 was better option especially with extra kitchen storage. As soon as we test drove the 680 knew this was the camper for us and placed order following week via Autoebid.

What we options we ordered and why:

  • Solar panels as we had these on the previous motorhome and found really handy when van parked up not being used plus means with electric only fridge we can be off grid for as long as we need (only tend to do couple of days as toilet is always your limiting factor). plus for info off grid camping in forest and fridge (night mode over night), lights, heating and hot water all used had 70% next morning
  • Rear camera this is no brainer and really should be standard kit on van this size
  • Awning even though don't use huge amount certainly hand when in very sunny country, not so good for rain as there is a gap between van but will be looking to add foam strip
  • WAN hotspot as had this on motorhome and its a god send you get stronger signal than phone and saves screwing around with campsite wifi
  • inductive charger pad as seemed cheap compared to other options!!
  • Additional camper windows as wanted the rear to be nice and light also feel gives better look to van on outside
  • Diesel heating plus electric aux heater again having motorhome with normal gas and realising going into Europe is total pain unless you fit refillable system decided this was best option for us. plus to fit refillable system would cost from £600 plus so this was £1200 well spent in my mind.
  • Light and vision A no brainer for me so use to auto wipers and lights!
  • Lockable wheel nuts again should really be standard!!
  • Heated seats as wife gets cold and loves heated seats :)
  • Folding rear view mirrors due to being big van like the option to be able to pull these in on really narrow lanes when needed
  • Blind spot monitoring which makes motorway driving lot easier to judge when passed a vehicle
  • Step illumination as again cheap option and great when coming back to van at night as lights with unlocking
  • Drive assist A so have parking sensors all round just to make life easier due to size again
Driving

So now onto my thoughts about the GC680 starting with driving. At 6.8m long and almost 3m heigh its certainly large but compared to driving a A class motorhome its an total dream to drive. The narrower width really does make a huge difference when going down the small country lanes even to the point I didn't bother with special sat nav for motorhomes and just used Tom Tom (but did check route to was taking us before heading off as you still need to be careful). The best way I can describe the driving experience is car like but a very big car, with the options we have added it is so easy and gear box is great. The engine is a big harsh low down and revs at low end but once underway power is not an issue. In terms of build quality its a 100% better than the white box I had and so much quieter, I can hear the radio and doesn't squeak and rattle anywhere near as much. That said don't think you will ever have a camper or motorhome that doesn't have few squeaks so if you are OCD about noise in the car be warned it hard to stop all noises!!

Lounge

So this is the big difference for us as the A class was huge inside but space in the 680 is limited. The table is a pain in the arse and simply too big, we took it with us on the week away and its just simply gets in the way and storage is not possible unless you strip bed to strap it down. With this in mind I will be replacing with smaller version. The lounge area is far smaller than the motorhome but is more than enough for the two of us and when the door is open and table removed its a great place to sit.

Storage

Storage is huge and is taking us some time to workout where we put things and this will be ongoing for some time! Only thing I would like to have seen is a rail in the wardrobe and shelfs in some of the larger dark grey cupboards.

Kitchen

Cupboards and draws are great, and fridge/freezer work well. We are use to a large fridge in motorhome so this was bit limited to start but got use to size over the week. If you are coming from a California will be fine. That leads me to the sink and hob which I am not a fan of, don't get me wrong both work fine but hob is very small and sink tap just seem poor design. That said love fact you can stand with door open and cook looking out plus all smells then easier to vent.

Bathroom

It is a small area but very well thought out, love the sink works great and shower is more than powerful enough. Cupboard bit small and yes toilet roll gets wet.
This area is one of the main reason to go to a larger van so you are self sufficient and works exactly as intended. One think I would change is light, would love to see option in control panel where you could isolate the motion sensor so if going to loo in middle of night you don't get blinded and wake up the other half (have resorted to putting bit of cardboard over sensor at night!!).

Bed

Love the bed, its so comfortable and huge. Plus having it fixed is a joy as you just climb in without any faff. One issue here why the hell is the USB charging sockets only on one side!

Snagging list

So onto the dreaded snagging list, please understand I expect issues with any vehicle like this and its more about how its dealt with by the dealer network. For the people experiencing lots of major issues I really feel for you and hope you get sorted soon but we need to remember this is a very small number of owners. Also I see a lot of negative comments on here ref the GC and again had my fair share of issues with my California but loved it to pieces so just because people use the forum to get some help with issues doesn't mean the GC a failure or designed poorly. I am not going to list my issues as my dealer is working on the list and I have every confidence the problems will be sorted only major one we had that impacted my trip was on the second to last day the water pump started running so had to pull fuse.

Conclusion

Its early days but so far we love our new camper and really look forward to many more adventures. Having only owned it for a few weeks of course I am bias but am I happy we went for the GC? 100% and look forward to many years of ownership.
 
Moonlight Motel

Moonlight Motel

Messages
106
Location
Dublin, Ireland
Vehicle
Grand California 680
Hammer
Great to read your positive comments. We feel exactly the same. We spent 10 weeks in France this year in our 680 snd had an anazing time - do much so we have booked the start date for next year already!!. The van performed brilliantly with very little issues - easy to drive, comfortable to live and sleep in snd loads of storage. We couldn’t recommend the GC highly enough
 
Eber123

Eber123

VIP Member
Messages
1,062
Location
Kilcock, Kildare, Ireland
Vehicle
Grand California 600
Hello,

I wish you best of luck with your Grand California. I hope that doens't sound sarcastic after all my various posts, because it seems I am one of the owners who has one issue after the other. But I really mean it.

That this or the other is not working is ok, as long as there are only a few small issues. But VW pushes always that their products are build to the highest quality - and they charge for it. So in my opinion they have to deliver.

If everything is working the Grand California is a very nice campervan, no doubt about that, with advantages other manufactures can only dream. Beside everything I experienced so far I still believe it is a good campervan.

Again, all the best with your Grand California. May the roads always be empty, the camp sites wonderful and the diesel cheap.

Happy Grand California,
Eberhard
 
J

Jester

Top Poster
VIP Member
Messages
1,908
Location
Dorset
Vehicle
Grand California 680
Ok folks this is a long one and apologise if I ramble on anywhere here but want to give as much feed back as possible as found this forum so helpful during my decision making and if below helps with some decision making all the better.
I have held back reviewing our new 680 until after we had good couple of trips under our belts, so having just completed week in Dorset feel time to give my first impressions. I have put into sections so you can skip sections if you don't want to read war and peace!!

Bit of history first on why we purchased 680:

We owned a VW T2 for around 3 years which was our first experience of campervaning and loved it, then moved to a VW California around 2012 which we kept for best part of 7 years. Having sold the California just before lock down we missed getting away but wanted something with a bathroom and bit more space so purchased a A class motorhome. We only kept this for around 1 years as never got along with it being so wide and driving narrow lanes was hairy to say the least. Obviously once you get onsite there was huge amount of space but also missed the feeling you get with a Campervan where you still feel your connected to the outdoors rather than enclosed in a white box.

All these above vehicles had there issues, the T2 was beautiful but driving for more than 2 hours was hard for many reasons, the California had varies issues from dealer incompetence, inverter failing, 3 x roof repairs/change, leaking water etc etc, and the A class was the biggest issue with varies warrantee issues that took near enough the year we owned it to resolve and I really hated the fact the warrantee was hard to use due to motorhome dealers not being paid by manufacturers so seem resistance to work on issues!

So started the search for the right camper! The first thing I wanted was VW or Merc base as really didn't like the Fiat base in the A class, so looked at few conversions and saw many posts about how expensive GC was but on further investigation to get decent conversion with similar spec I was looking at £70k-80k anyway. Westfalia do some great options but price and lead times plus without UK dealership network felt VW GC was way to go.

Finding one in UK was hard but ended up spending a day driving to see a 600 and 680, as its just two of us felt 680 was better option especially with extra kitchen storage. As soon as we test drove the 680 knew this was the camper for us and placed order following week via Autoebid.

What we options we ordered and why:

  • Solar panels as we had these on the previous motorhome and found really handy when van parked up not being used plus means with electric only fridge we can be off grid for as long as we need (only tend to do couple of days as toilet is always your limiting factor). plus for info off grid camping in forest and fridge (night mode over night), lights, heating and hot water all used had 70% next morning
  • Rear camera this is no brainer and really should be standard kit on van this size
  • Awning even though don't use huge amount certainly hand when in very sunny country, not so good for rain as there is a gap between van but will be looking to add foam strip
  • WAN hotspot as had this on motorhome and its a god send you get stronger signal than phone and saves screwing around with campsite wifi
  • inductive charger pad as seemed cheap compared to other options!!
  • Additional camper windows as wanted the rear to be nice and light also feel gives better look to van on outside
  • Diesel heating plus electric aux heater again having motorhome with normal gas and realising going into Europe is total pain unless you fit refillable system decided this was best option for us. plus to fit refillable system would cost from £600 plus so this was £1200 well spent in my mind.
  • Light and vision A no brainer for me so use to auto wipers and lights!
  • Lockable wheel nuts again should really be standard!!
  • Heated seats as wife gets cold and loves heated seats :)
  • Folding rear view mirrors due to being big van like the option to be able to pull these in on really narrow lanes when needed
  • Blind spot monitoring which makes motorway driving lot easier to judge when passed a vehicle
  • Step illumination as again cheap option and great when coming back to van at night as lights with unlocking
  • Drive assist A so have parking sensors all round just to make life easier due to size again
Driving

So now onto my thoughts about the GC680 starting with driving. At 6.8m long and almost 3m heigh its certainly large but compared to driving a A class motorhome its an total dream to drive. The narrower width really does make a huge difference when going down the small country lanes even to the point I didn't bother with special sat nav for motorhomes and just used Tom Tom (but did check route to was taking us before heading off as you still need to be careful). The best way I can describe the driving experience is car like but a very big car, with the options we have added it is so easy and gear box is great. The engine is a big harsh low down and revs at low end but once underway power is not an issue. In terms of build quality its a 100% better than the white box I had and so much quieter, I can hear the radio and doesn't squeak and rattle anywhere near as much. That said don't think you will ever have a camper or motorhome that doesn't have few squeaks so if you are OCD about noise in the car be warned it hard to stop all noises!!

Lounge

So this is the big difference for us as the A class was huge inside but space in the 680 is limited. The table is a pain in the arse and simply too big, we took it with us on the week away and its just simply gets in the way and storage is not possible unless you strip bed to strap it down. With this in mind I will be replacing with smaller version. The lounge area is far smaller than the motorhome but is more than enough for the two of us and when the door is open and table removed its a great place to sit.

Storage

Storage is huge and is taking us some time to workout where we put things and this will be ongoing for some time! Only thing I would like to have seen is a rail in the wardrobe and shelfs in some of the larger dark grey cupboards.

Kitchen

Cupboards and draws are great, and fridge/freezer work well. We are use to a large fridge in motorhome so this was bit limited to start but got use to size over the week. If you are coming from a California will be fine. That leads me to the sink and hob which I am not a fan of, don't get me wrong both work fine but hob is very small and sink tap just seem poor design. That said love fact you can stand with door open and cook looking out plus all smells then easier to vent.

Bathroom

It is a small area but very well thought out, love the sink works great and shower is more than powerful enough. Cupboard bit small and yes toilet roll gets wet.
This area is one of the main reason to go to a larger van so you are self sufficient and works exactly as intended. One think I would change is light, would love to see option in control panel where you could isolate the motion sensor so if going to loo in middle of night you don't get blinded and wake up the other half (have resorted to putting bit of cardboard over sensor at night!!).

Bed

Love the bed, its so comfortable and huge. Plus having it fixed is a joy as you just climb in without any faff. One issue here why the hell is the USB charging sockets only on one side!

Snagging list

So onto the dreaded snagging list, please understand I expect issues with any vehicle like this and its more about how its dealt with by the dealer network. For the people experiencing lots of major issues I really feel for you and hope you get sorted soon but we need to remember this is a very small number of owners. Also I see a lot of negative comments on here ref the GC and again had my fair share of issues with my California but loved it to pieces so just because people use the forum to get some help with issues doesn't mean the GC a failure or designed poorly. I am not going to list my issues as my dealer is working on the list and I have every confidence the problems will be sorted only major one we had that impacted my trip was on the second to last day the water pump started running so had to pull fuse.

Conclusion

Its early days but so far we love our new camper and really look forward to many more adventures. Having only owned it for a few weeks of course I am bias but am I happy we went for the GC? 100% and look forward to many years of ownership.
As Mr T says a great read and positive. Your spec is identical apart from the diesel as have refillable Gaslow tanks and a BBQ outlet fitted.
We have been away in ours almost continuously for just over 3 months all around the UK at a number of campsites and off grid for 4 nights and the solar/battery coped easily.

Had my table cut down via a joinery and it was rebanded now works well.

Like you a few snags but if a house, car, boat, bike there are always snags thankfully like you not meany. I’m not looking forwards to the tap/pump problem.

Well written and helpfully informative.

Will
 
Eber123

Eber123

VIP Member
Messages
1,062
Location
Kilcock, Kildare, Ireland
Vehicle
Grand California 600
We got the table from Calicap.de. It is a huge difference. Now we can easily go from the front seats to the living area. The smaller table gives so much more room. For the 2 of us the smaller table is big enough.

What I also like is how easy and quick it is to store the new talbe at the side of the wall under the window. Takes just 30 seconds. I think that the table and the carpet was really worth their money and improves, for us, the GC.

Regards,
Eberhard
 
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