08/07/2020
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Best family coachbuilt: Benimar Primero 313 motorhome

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Family motorhoming holidays are proving increasingly popular, and so coachbuilts to suit four or five people are in big demand. It's a competitive class, but in the What Motorhome Awards, it's the Benimar Primero 313 that won our approval.

 

Overcab coachbuilts make a lot of sense for family motorhoming. They might not be fashionable, aerodynamic or aesthetically appealing but, unlike a drop-down bed in a low-profile, the luton area is available all the time, day or night, whenever it’s required.

It’s a space that kids love as a play area or den, and it can provide useful extra stowage for lightweight items such as coats and soft toys. There are good reasons why this type proved so popular for decades and a few manufacturers have started to reintroduce them to their portfolios, especially at the entry-level. One such maker is Spanish brand, Benimar, with its Primero range.

Crucially, as this is family holidays we’re talking about, the Primero range is keenly priced, starting at £48,995. And that’s not a ‘price from’ with this pack and that pack to add to give you a realistic specification.

It’s an all-inclusive figure that even encompasses your first year’s insurance (subject to the usual Ts and Cs). You might want to add the automatic gearbox (pricey, at three grand, but appealing now that it’s a slick nine-speed number) or a towbar, at £1,350, but the extras list goes no further.

You’ll have to negotiate with your dealer for an awning and bike rack but the mounting rails for the latter are factory-fitted. And, if you think you’ll need to max out your payload and you have a C1 category driving licence, then an upgrade to a 3,650kg gross weight is free of charge. It’ll up your carrying capacity to an impressive 740kg.

Even in standard form, the Primero 313 has a respectable 590kg payload and one of the reasons for that is that this isn’t a lengthy leviathan of a motorhome. At just 5.99m overall, it’ll squeeze into a few parking bays without overhanging so much that it’ll bear comparison with the Hulk’s garments. As a motorhome that seems destined to appeal to first-time buyers, its size will also be a lot less daunting if you’re more used to driving a Fiesta.

It’s good to see, too, that although the Primero is compact, it doesn’t come with Fiat’s lowliest motor – the 140bhp unit is standard spec here.

Also included at no extra cost are driver and passenger airbags, cruise control, ESP, cab seats with twin armrests, heated mirrors and a touchscreen DAB radio with Bluetooth. More surprisingly, the 2020-season update has added alloy wheels to the kit list, while the wide rear track Camper chassis is an important advantage in terms of on-road handling and stability, especially as this is a tall vehicle at just over 3m. The short rear overhang provides further evidence that this motorhome will not faze its driver when the road conditions are more challenging.

There don’t appear to have been any corners cut in the body construction, either. It’s a 99% wood-free build with XPS insulation. Not only that, but the conversion has NCC approval and it satisfies the Grade III standard for heating/insulation.

The habitation windows are the more secure and better-looking framed type, which is a surprise at this price level, while the habitation door on the UK side reflects the importance of the British market to this Trigano Group marque – and the buying power of sister company and importer, Marquis.

Inside, the Primero looks much like the more expensive Mileo, with duo-tone upper locker doors that Benimar calls Marel Ash and white. But the layout here is not one you’ll find in the Mileo range. This new 313 model is the most family-friendly of all Primeros, featuring rear bunk beds and a pullman-style lounge up front.

The dinette has seatbelts on both the forward and rear-facing pews, so there are six belts to match the sextet of beds (overcab double, second double made from the dinette and two bunk beds aft).

However, with room for just four around the wall-mounted table and the cab area not really being employed on site (there are no swivels on the front seats), it may be best to see the Primero as a great four-berth with potential for the kids to occasionally invite a friend or two along for the ride (just add a tent outside).

What you won’t have to do is trade up to a larger motorhome as your kids grow. The rear bunks are big enough to serve the lankiest of teenagers at a generous 2.00m by 0.80m, while each bunk comes with its own opening window for ventilation and a separate curtain for privacy.

Mum and dad, meanwhile, can enjoy the luton overcab’s 2.05m by 1.55m bed (manufacturer’s figures) and the fact that this space has a rooflight, opening window and twin, individually-switched, reading lights. The top of the wardrobe is conveniently adjacent for bedtime reading matter, glass of water, etc.

The galley, running along the nearside, aft of the habitation door, reminds you that this isn’t a big motorhome. It’s a little lacking in worktop space but that deficit is made up for by a swing-out extension on the dining table, which will be useful when you’re serving up.

You’ll also be pleased to find that the culinary spec includes not only a dual-fuel gas/mains hob but a combined oven and grill, too. There’s an 80-litre three-way fridge and a useful amount of storage, including a large soft-closing cutlery drawer. Fortunately, Benimar hasn’t sacrificed essential cupboard space to try to squeeze a microwave in.

The washroom isn’t large enough to provide a separate shower but it is a practical space of adequate dimensions, as well as having a swivel cassette toilet, fixed basin, roof vent and opening window. A large mirror, towel rail and hooks, toothbrush mug and cupboard space are provided, too.

Another important aspect of a family motorhome is storage and, here, the Primero has two winning cards – the fact that bedding can be left in situ in the overcab and on the bunks (so does not take up important locker space) and also the possibility of folding up the lower bunk bed to create a small garage. Even with the bed down, there’s a usefully large locker below, as well as external loading doors on either side.

Truma 6kW gas/electric heating and a generous 120-litre fresh water tank are more unexpected bonuses in a motorhome that is far from revolutionary but manages to pack a lot of family-orientated features into a compact body, and at a price that families can afford.

 

Read our review of the Benimar Primero 313 here.

Buy the July issue of What Motorhome magazine here

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