Best A-class motorhome: Hymer Exsis-i 580
The July 2020 issue of What Motorhome magazine has revealed its choice of the very best new campervans and motorhomes of 2020 – and coming out on top of the prestigious Best A-class category is the compact and modern Hymer Exsis-i 580...
Think A-class motorhome and one name will probably jump into your head – Hymer. But as your little grey cells are conjuring up an image, you’ll also no doubt be thinking of something big and expensive.
Now, let’s try again. Shrink that image in your mind, but retain the classic Hymer shape, style and proportions. And look at the price tag. OK, £66,980 (or more like £80k with a tasty selection of options to bring the spec up to what UK buyers want) is still a lot of money – and a good deal more than some of our other award winners – but it’s not a huge figure for a top-quality A-class.
Neither is the Exsis-i 580 a huge motorhome – it’s under seven metres long and just 2.22m wide.Of course, the Exsis name has always been associated with compact Hymers and the current style replaced the previous Ford-based models in 2012. This is a lower motorhome, too, at just 2.77m and, combined with the wide-track rear axle, it promises stable and surefooted handling.
Crucially, it can also offer a respectable payload on a 3.5-tonne chassis, so you can drive it on a standard car licence and not suffer the reduced speed limits and higher tolls that apply to heavier vehicles when touring on the Continent. Lightweight doesn’t mean any loss of quality, though – Hymer’s proven PUAL 2.0 construction is wood-free and eliminates thermal bridges.
The 580 is a new model for the 2020 season, based on Fiat’s own low chassis, rather than the Al-Ko frame of yore. That’s helped to give the newcomer more competitive pricing.
Not only that but, of course, the latest Fiat chassis comes with updated Euro 6d engines – 120bhp is standard but 160bhp would be our pick – and the new nine-speed automatic gearbox option. There are new assistance systems, too, including Full Brake Function (FBC), Blind Spot Assist (BSA) and High Beam Recognition.
Also new for the 580 model is the interior design. The layout adopts that continental favourite of high single beds over a rear garage but the full-width cab and giant windscreen give an added feeling of space. That’s enhanced by the light wall colouring and contemporary décor featuring new Sauvignon Oak. Good headroom of 1.98m also helps with the roomy feel.
A stepped floor maintains the same comfortable level for all four occupants of the lounge, while a deep window in the door and a Hymer-branded wind-up sunroof ensure there’s plenty of daylight. Over the cab, the drop-down double bed operates easily, demonstrating the brand’s preeminence in the A-class world.
The galley has a subtle angle at the forward end to broaden the aisle. The big news here, though, is that you can have your Exsis with a full British-style cooker with separate oven and grill. Kitchen storage is taken care of by four soft-closing drawers, while the cabinetwork is a mix of modern high-gloss white, lots of pale grey and that new wood. There’s a flip-up worktop, as well as a loose-fit sink cover, to ensure that you don’t run out of preparation space and the fridge is a tall/slim number with a generous 142-litre capacity.
The rear beds are 1.88m and 1.90m long but, if you’re especially tall, it’s possible to delete the floor-to-ceiling wardrobe (next to the fridge) and add 20cm to the mattress length on this side. There’s a generous (if not particularly tall) wardrobe under the offside bed, anyway. Unusually, Hymer has deleted the cupboards over the head of the beds, so you can now sit up comfortably and use the corner reading lights to enjoy a good book.
The final aspect of the floorplan is the nearside washroom with its bench cassette toilet, stylish angled basin and a semi-separate shower with doors that pull around you on a ceiling track.
On the outside, the most important feature is the generous garage with bike-friendly 1.19m headroom and a maximum load of 350kg.
Of course, there are plenty of extras to bring the Exsis spec to your exact requirements. Or, if you’re quick, you might be able to bag one of the limited edition 580 Pure models, which swap Fiat power for a Citroën chassis and offer a like-for-like saving of over £11k. Even better!