Volkswagen California vs Panama at Ford

Volkswagen California vs Panama at Ford – main image

Recently, I had the opportunity to directly compare 2 small campervans, which are practically no different in terms of functionality. However, something distinguishes them. We are talking about the already iconic Volkswagen California Coast and a new brand on the Polish and European market, i.e. the Panama P10 + model.


Both campers are built on short chassis versions, which do not exceed 5m, while California is not available in the longer version. Panama can be ordered according to your needs - the P10 + model with a 497 cm long chassis or the P54 model with a length of 534 cm.

Of course, California is only available on a Volkswagen chassis and Panama is built on a shapely Ford Custom chassis, which has recently become a very popular base used by motorhome manufacturers.

Panama is being built in Spain directly at the Benimar factory because both of these brands belong to the giant caravanning concern Trigano, which proves that it is a new brand but built by experienced engineers in the world of caravanning.

Functionality and its differences

The functionality and interior layout of both vehicles is almost identical. At the bottom you will find two swivel armchairs with armrests, built-in furniture with a gas stove, sink, compressor refrigerator and various cabinets, and a sofa that easily transforms into a bed for two people. Another double bed can be found in the sunroof.


The presented Panama is dominated by white with the black upholstery of the armchairs, and in California the colors seem a little warmer.

The main difference is the number of people that can travel in each car. California has only 4 seats, while in Panama we can easily accommodate 5 people and the airline rail system used here gives the possibility to install 2 additional seats with approval.

It is worth remembering, however, that the vehicle's GVM may be a limitation and here it is worth opting for a higher GVM when ordering the vehicle for yourself - both Panama and Volkswagen give such an option when configuring the vehicle when ordering.


An additional advantage of Panama is the possibility of easy (2 people) disassembly of the rear seat. This will allow us to use the car as a van if we need to transport something larger. California is said to have the option of such disassembly, but even an employee of the VW showroom claims that it is complicated. In both vehicles, there is a large drawer in the couch, but in California it seems to be more spacious.

The designers of Panama, I think, followed the example of California and placed a table in the sliding door, which nicely solves the problem of transporting it. The table can also be used outdoors. However, in California, the table has permanently installed folding legs. In Panama, we have to additionally install a leg and a tripod, which requires us to find additional space for the transport of these large elements.

The trunk in Panama is also resolved a bit differently. If we want to transport something high, the rear part of the bed (the back of the chair) is simply raised to the vertical and there is no limitation in the trunk, which unfortunately occurs in California, because the bed with the bed is not raised to the full vertical.


As for the bathroom part, both motorhomes have a clean water tank. In California there is a 30l tank and in Panama we will collect as much as 50 liters of clean water and 30 liters of dirty water.

Unfortunately, in Panama we do not find enough space to hide a chemical toilet and you have to transport it in bulk, e.g. in the trunk. It looks different in California - here the cabinet in the living area is so spacious that we can hide a portable chemical toilet in it, but we will automatically take a spacious storage space.

The great advantage in California is its height, which does not exceed 2m and gives access to most underground garages. The height of Panama is 208 cm, which brings some limitations.

Building quality

When it comes to the quality of buildings, everything works very well in Panama. The drawers and blinds slide very lightly, and you don't hear any rattling or rattling sounds while driving. The interior of Panama is also kept in an interesting, modern style in gray and white colors. It looks very aesthetically pleasing.

If I had to stick to something, I would improve the place where the floor of the building is connected to the floor of the cab. In addition, the manufacturer could use more space on the right side of the lower bed, in the wheel arch area, by making additional furniture with a cabinet or a swallow. Currently there is a hole with unused space.


The quality of the construction in California is on a similar level, but it can be seen with the naked eye that California is refined in every, even the smallest detail. There, everything was designed exactly for this model and everything fits together and each element of the space has been used. Starting with the built-in right wheel arch next to the bed, through the functional cabinet under the ceiling above the lower bed, and ending with the appropriate arrangement of speakers and lighting throughout the vehicle.


However, these are details that have a huge impact on the final price. The catalog price of California with decent (not basic) equipment starts from PLN 320-330 thousand gross, and if we are fanciful during configuration, we can easily exceed the amount of PLN 400,000.

For a well-equipped Panama with an automatic transmission, we have to reckon with an expense of PLN 285 thousand gross and these vehicles are available immediately at Campery Złotniccy in Lesznowola near Warsaw. However, the waiting time for California at the time of writing this article can be up to 1 year.

We got California Coast for comparison with the California rental company from Warsaw, which specializes in renting Californian Volkswagen, and Panama from Campery Złotniccy , where you can rent or buy Panama brand campers.

See the presentation video

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The main driver, founder and the brain of CampRest. He is the one who runs the whole mechanism, implements new ideas faster than he is able to invent them. He used to be a professional driver and have run his own freight forward company - as you can see, he has always been drawn to sleep in the car;) He likes to drive large motorhomes and encourages you to get a C driving license and buy motorhomes over 3.5 tons.

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