Of course, even for our least-epic drive, we can’t resist the urge to take to the roads. And while using the California as a daily driver around a Somerset town, with an occasional motorway jaunt thrown in, isn’t really its intended purpose, it handles the task with ease. Of course it does: lower the pop-up roof and fold away the tray-sized table and the California is essentially a hugely versatile midsized van, which means it has to be easy to drive in all situations.
The high-up, van-based driving position offers great visibility, the boxy design makes it easy to place and the 196bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, driven through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, makes relatively light work of a machine that weighs 3080kg unladen. Given that weight, the ride is pretty decent, too, and as long as you’ve taken a bit of time to stash everything away properly, you won’t hear too many rattles from the cabin.
So is the drive dynamic? Thrilling? Well, no, of course not. It’s a commercial van, with all that entails: it’s perfectly functional and incredibly easy, without offering either thrills or complaint. Certainly, you could drive one for hundreds of miles, say from London to central Germany, in ease and comfort.
But why waste the time doing so when the real joy of the California is to be found not in the journey but in enjoying it once you’ve reached your destination? Especially if that destination is, ooh, 10 feet from your starting point.
It doesn’t take an epic drive to understand the enduring appeal of the Transporter. When Autocar reviews cars, one of our key criteria is ‘fitness for purpose’ – how well it does the job for which it was intended. That’s the most remarkable thing about the Transporter: for seven decades, it has been designed to do a whole range of jobs, and it has succeeded because it excels at all of them.
And so, as the California departs, it’s with genuine sorrow that I return to my current home office. Which has given me an idea: instead of reopening the Autocar office, perhaps we could all just work out of Californias in the future…
BUZZ ISN’T LIGHTYEARS AWAY…