The A-Z Guide to A-class motorhomes
An A-class is often seen as the type of motorhome you aspire to, something you’ll perhaps purchase as your third or fourth model as you move upmarket, having gained experience with conventional coachbuilts.
But that’s not always the case. There’s no reason why you can’t jump in with an A-class as your first motorhome if you know it’s what you want. After all, an A-class need not be any bigger than a low-profile and it doesn’t need to cost the national debt of a small country; as new they start at under £60k, while you might find an older used model for half, or even a quarter, of that.
If you’re buying new, reckon on a £10-12k premium for an A-class over an equivalent low-profile from the same maker.
First, though, we should explain what an A-class is. These motorhomes start with a chassis-cowl (basically just a bare frame with engine exposed and seat bases and dashboard out in the open air).
This is normally supplied by Fiat (Ducato) or Mercedes-Benz (Sprinter), or Iveco (Daily) for the largest models, but it has no external bodywork from the base vehicle. All the exterior bodywork is manufactured by the motorhome company.
That, of course, means that an A-class looks more like it was designed to have a leisure role, rather than being an adaptation of a light commercial vehicle. The body will be the same width all along the sides, not wider behind the cab as with a low-profile or overcab coachbuilt.
Inside, therefore, the cab area is wider and will feel more of an integral part of the living space, while front seats will usually swivel more easily. Above, there’s typically a drop-down bed that lowers over the cab seats (without interrupting the rest of the lounge, which can be a big plus over low-profiles that have a drop-down bed).
Some models offer extra cupboards instead of the front bed but having the drop-down is seen as desirable for resale.
Some find the idea of driving an A-class daunting but, once you’ve got used to one, the fact that the width is the same all the way along the flanks can actually make life easier. And, if you’re travelling through stunning scenery, the huge windscreen will make for epic views out.
But not all A-classes are born equal. Always check what visibility is like from the driver’s seat, considering factors such as blindspots, mirrors (are they bus-style? With single or twin lenses?), and especially how easy it is to judge the front extremities of the motorhome.
The shorter the dashboard area in front of you and the more it slopes down to the road the better – Carthago models are often leaders in this area.
Look at windscreen wipers, too – how much of that huge screen will they leave unswept, and are they correctly set up for right-hand drive?
Some models use three wipers to cover the vast acreage of glass and, while we’re on the subject, it’s worth asking the cost of a replacement screen and checking whether your insurance is up to covering the amount.
On obsolete secondhand A-classes, or models no longer imported, check how easy a replacement windscreen would be to source.
Manufacturers of A-class motorhomes
Most A-class motorhomes are built by the major European brands and experience matters more in this sector than any other. After all, now the maker is building the vehicle itself (mechanics aside), not just the interior.
Hymer was the first continental brand to sell A-classes in the UK back in the 1980s, with Pilote not far behind. The Hymermobil was the original European A-class, with the first examples hitting the market in 1972. By 2014, the company had built 150,000 motorhomes…
Today, of course, Hymer has plenty of rivals – including other brands within the Erwin Hymer Group – and there are some fabulous alternatives, even if none is quite as well known. Look out for an ‘I’ in the model name, signifying integriert in German or intégraux in French, as our continental cousins call these ‘fully integrated’ motorhomes.
It’s not just the manufacturers that have varying levels of experience in A-classes, but dealers, too. Some retailers specialise in selling top-end brands where A-class models become more prevalent and it’s worth tapping into that expertise, as well as viewing a variety of models in one place.
Sizes of A-class motorhomes
There are A-classes that are six metres long, right up to double that – and with a garage that will accommodate not a couple of mountain bikes but a small car, such as a Fiat 500. Concorde, Le Voyageur and Morelo are brands that compete in this rarefied ‘liner’ category where it’s quite possible to spend £500,000!
Those liners will require an HGV licence (over 7,500kg), but there are other A-classes that can be driven on a standard car licence. However, not many provide a generous payload on a 3,500kg chassis and it’s worth considering a heavier base vehicle, especially if you want to load up the garage or carry more than just you and your spouse.
Many A-classes (especially German ones) also come with a long list of options and option packs. These can not only add £10k, or even £20k, to the base price but seriously erode your payload.
A vehicle that might barely have enough carrying capacity in standard form will soon be dangerously and illegally overweight if you tick too many boxes without also uprating the chassis.
Most current-model A-classes have a rear bedroom featuring a pair of single beds or an island double, but this wasn’t always the case. Models where the drop-down bed is the main sleeping space once dominated and these layouts (which offer an amazingly spacious feel relative to their size) can still be found from a few makers – they can make a great used buy.
Rear lounges have made something of a comeback in A-classes, with Carthago introducing a C-shaped seating area (with a sofa that curves around to face four ways), and Dethleffs and Frankia also adopting this design. You’ll find L-shaped and U-shaped rear lounges, too.
While drop-down beds usually pull down manually with relatively little effort, there are electric versions, too, and some that extend so that you can sleep lengthways (making a much bigger bed with much easier access).
Another factor to consider is whether you want a double floor, which will certainly feature on the bigger and pricier models. This will give you better winterisation and, usually, useful basement storage as well. After all, if you’re buying an A-class, you’ll probably be planning some long trips and expect to tour in all seasons.
Now, you need to come up with a shortlist, so here follows an A-Z of A-class makers, as well as reviews of some of the latest models...
Adria A-class motorhomes
The Sonic range is a well-established part of the A-class landscape and was expanded last year to include a more compact, more affordable model. The 6.99m Sonic Axess 600 SL with rear single bed layout is still where the line-up kicks off, starting at £71,000. It’s the only 3,500kg A-class from the Slovenian brand before you jump to the Supreme models.
There are five Supreme-spec motorhomes in the UK range, priced from £89,000 to a nice round one-hundred grand. All come with striking all-silver bodywork as well as Alde radiator-based heating and an electric cab bed.
The 710 SL is the twin bed layout, while DC and SC versions offer an island bed with a side settee lounge or more traditional L-sofa dinette. These are 7.52m long, while the 810 SC and SL are 8.80m and sit on a 5-tonne tag-axle chassis.
All Sonics benefit from Adria’s Comprex construction, Isofix child seat mounts, contemporary interior décor and the optional Adria Mach app to operate on-board facilities from your phone.
Auto-Trail A-class motorhomes
After well over a decade out of the sector, Auto-Trail returns to the A-class market in 2021, although (at time of writing) we’ve yet to see the new Grande Frontier and the first batch of 20 has yet to leave the factory because of Covid-related supplier issues.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, though, the first British-built A-classes to come from a major manufacturer in a long time will be about to land at the retailers.
When they do, you’ll be able to choose from three models. In many ways the smallest (GF-70) is the most exciting as this 6.96m, 3,500kg or 3,650kg motorhome has a very British layout with a large, side settee front lounge and an XXL end bathroom.
The longer GF-80 (8.07m, 4,500kg) and tag-axle GF-88 (8.80m, 5,000kg) come with island bed or single bed layouts and a choice of side settees or a dinette if you require rear travel seats. These floorplans come straight from the proven Comanche and Delaware coachbuilts.
Features of the Grande Frontier include ambient lighting in the cab when driving, an 8in touchscreen with sat-nav and rear view camera, Alde heating, full LED headlights, a 21.5in smart TV and Motorhome WiFi as standard. Prices start at £76,345 and rise to £99,513 for the largest variants.
Bürstner A-class motorhomes
In the past, Bürstner has offered a varied line-up of A-class motorhomes here under model names such as Viseo, Aviano and Ixeo, as well as the memorable Grand Panorama with the largest windscreen ever seen on a motorhome!
Today, the company has just one A-class range, and it’s an all-new one for 2021, although it adopts the long-established Elegance name. This is the first time, however, that a Bürstner A-class has been based on a Mercedes chassis.
The new Elegance comes in two versions – I 910 G with single beds and I 920 G with an island bed. Both are 8.91m long and have a tag-axle chassis and 5,500kg gross weight, as well as a double floor and electric drop-down bed in the cab. A payload of 1,230kg is claimed and prices start at £118,995.
Each model also exclusively benefits from the brand-new Thetford Indus toilet system in which grey water (with additives) is used to flush the toilet. An odour converter is also featured and up to a week’s independence of facilities for two people is claimed, making this a great system for those using the vehicle on aires, wild camping or at festivals, race tracks, etc.
Carado A-class motorhomes
The budget brand from Hymer added A-class motorhomes to its line-up from the 2018 model year and now has three models – I338 (6.98m, single beds), I447 (7.41m, single beds) and I449 (7.41m, island bed).
They are built alongside vehicles from Sunlight at the Capron factory in eastern Germany which has developed a reputation for the excellent quality and durability of the vehicles made there.
For the UK, the Basic Pack and Chassis Pack (extra cost options on the Continent) become standard equipment, along with Combi 6 EH gas/electric heating. Those seeking an even higher spec can now opt for Clever or Clever+ variants of all three layouts, which are new this season.
Carthago A-class motorhomes
Few manufacturers offer as much A-class choice as Carthago – no less than 40 different models, some of which are offered on a choice of Fiat Ducato or Mercedes Sprinter chassis. Indeed, it’s often overlooked that the company also builds low-profile motorhomes.
The range commences with what Carthago calls its super-lightweight models, the C-compactline (from £79,080). The key feature of these 3.5-tonne models on Fiat Al-Ko chassis is that they are 15cm narrower, as well as boasting payloads of up to 675kg (before options).
All have a generous double floor, like their bigger brethren, while lengths range from 6.41m to 6.99m. Single bed layouts dominate (three versions) but a transverse bed and island bed are also offered. The C-compactline has also been revised for 2021 with a new exterior look at the rear and a number of enhancements inside.
Next up is the C-tourer (from £83,170), which offers a Mercedes Al-Ko chassis for the first time this year as an alternative to the existing Fiat on four of the eight floorplans.
Fiat versions come in 3,500kg or 4,500kg weights, while only the I 143 LE is available on a Mercedes for those without a C1 licence (the larger models are plated at 4,200kg or 4,500kg). C-tourers – which Carthago calls ‘the all-rounder’ – range from 6.67m to 7.65m, with five single bed layouts, two island beds and one transverse bed.
The Chic C-line is, perhaps, the classic Carthago. Again, there’s a choice of Fiat (from £89,690) or Mercedes (from £102,930).
Only the smallest (Fiat only) model – I 4.2 DB with transverse rear double bed – is offered on a 3,500kg chassis, with the rest being 4.2 to 4.5 tonnes.
A deeper double floor than the C-tourer features across the range, along with larger (170-litre) fresh water tanks, twin leisure batteries and a bus-style GRP rear. Lengths range from 6.85m to 8.65m for the tag-axle ‘XL’ models on Fiat.
Some models are also offered in Superior form (from £101,140) with additional exterior graphics, 16in alloy wheels, Siena duo-tone interior décor, solid and seamless Corian kitchen worktops and a ceramic bowl toilet.
The Chic E-line (on Fiat from £116,870, or Mercedes from £123,240) and Chic S-plus (on rear-wheel drive Iveco, from £135,520) are Carthago’s flagship models, with gross weights from 4.5 to 5.5 tonnes and lengths from 7.88m to 8.99m (plus twin rear axles on the longer derivatives).
Described as ‘the jewel in the crown’, the E-line and S-plus come with 2.11m interior headroom, a scooter garage with up to 450kg capacity, a 235-litre fresh water tank and Alde warm water central heating. The Iveco-based S-plus can also tow up to 3,500kg.
However, if the island/single bed layouts of the E-line/S-plus don’t appeal, then perhaps the closely related Liner-for-two (from £126,400) will be more your bag.
With its C-shaped rear lounge and electrically lowered single beds in the cab, this rather special motorhome is a past What Motorhome award winner. It is offered in 7.83m or 8.53m lengths and a choice of Fiat or Iveco chassis (the latter up to 6,700kg).
Concorde A-class motorhomes
This German brand of liner-class motorhomes has been imported by Southdowns Motorhome Centre for the past 17 years. Its range starts with the Credo (7.99m or 8.49m on 5.2-tonne Iveco Daily) and stretches right up to the largest Centurion on Mercedes Actros truck chassis at 12m in length and up to 26 tonnes.
At this level – described by its maker modestly as a ‘dream castle on wheels’ – you can expect a garage for a Fiat 500 or Smart, up to a 12.8-litre 530PS diesel engine with 12-speed automatic gearbox, a 120-litre gas tank, 470-litre fresh water tank and on-board luxury like a mega-yacht. If you need to know the price…
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Dethleffs A-class motorhomes
The biggest news from Dethleffs this season is the arrival of an all-new Esprit range. You can read our review of the Dethleffs Esprit I 7150-2 EB here.
There are both bigger and smaller A-classes from this German brand, too. At the top of the tree is the Globetrotter XLi Edition 90, an 8.65m Fiat Al-Ko-based motorhome that comes with single or island bed layouts.
In celebration of the company’s 90th birthday, the latest XLi models (priced at £122,990) get a whole host of extra gear as standard – alloy wheels, SKA air-suspension captain’s chairs, electric cab blind, roof air-conditioning, DAB+ radio with sat-nav and reversing camera, 160bhp engine and automatic gearbox, 5,400kg gross weight, 190-litre fridge, ceramic toilet and a package of enhanced electrical equipment.
At the opposite end of the company’s brochure is the Trend A-class (from £66,490), offering 10 layouts on the 3.5-tonne Fiat Ducato low-frame chassis, with lengths from 6.60m to 7.39m. Most are predictable single bed or island bed layouts but the I 7017 EB adopts the rarer low twin beds and end washroom floorplan.
The Globebus (see our review of the I 6 here) is Dethleffs’ slimline (2.20m-wide) range, offering three A-class models from £62,590. Then, there’s the Pulse (from £71,190), which has the sort of modern design for which Dethleffs has become famous, including its Light Moments ambient lighting, Maxi-Flex overhead lockers and one-level IsoProtect Comfort floor.
Pulse A-classes (on 3.5-tonne Fiat) are either 6.99m or 7.40m long with the usual twin/island bed floorplans but a dose more panache than many of their rivals.
Finally, the Alpa range includes a single A-class – an 8.54m Fiat Al-Ko with C-shaped rear lounge and drop-down single beds in the cab.
Etrusco A-class motorhomes
This Italian brand has a range of four A-classes, offering island bed or twin bed layouts in 6.98m or 7.41m overall lengths.
The designs are closely related to those of Carado and Sunlight but the Etrusco vehicles are built in Tuscany at the Laika factory and their interior décor has a Latin flavour with pale fabrics and furniture in contrasting light and darker tones.
All models are 3,500kg as standard, or optionally 3,650kg. Prices start at just £54,990.
Fleurette/Florium A-class motorhomes
These sister brands from the Rapido Group are built in a separate factory from the parent company’s vehicles, in the Vendée. They differ in décor, with Florium being more avantgarde, Fleurette more conservative.
For 2021, this French maker announced a new generation of A-classes, with the Cristal Limited Edition Series being the highlight of the 2021 Florium range.
It claims to be the only manufacturer in Europe to build its vehicles with 100% polyester bodywork.
The outer skin is a high-tech gel coat with a smooth glossy surface, under which is a glass-fibre lining for resistance to hailstones and ease of repair, then finally there’s a damp and heat-resistant and corrosion-proof resin matrix.
Inside, the vehicles continue the joinery expertise of the company founder with all the furniture made in house – in cedar for Fleurette, walnut for Florium.
A choice of six layouts (four of them with island beds, all on Fiat Al-Ko chassis) is mirrored across the Fleurette Wincester and Florium Discover ranges.
Lengths range from 6.99m to 7.86m, with the largest island bed layout (the new 78 LMF) built only on a Heavy chassis.
More interesting, though, especially for UK buyers, is the 75 Loft model (7.49m, available in both brands) which has a large parallel sofa front lounge and a second generous seating area with L-settee in the stern.
Cristal models are based on the Discover 71 LMF and 75 LMF (each with rear island bed) and benefit from various premium fittings and a ‘nautical style’ interior. Prices range from £73,590 to £89,990, while UK dealers are Wandahome (near Hull) and Harbour Creek on the south coast.
Frankia A-class motorhomes
Imported exclusively by SMC Motorhomes of Newark, Frankia is renowned for its luxury A-classes (all with deep double floors) in the over 3,500kg class, with particular highlights of the range being the availability of the rear-wheel drive Mercedes Sprinter and the inclusion of a number of rear lounge layouts (identified by the suffix ‘Plus’).
The F-Line (Fiat Al-Ko-based) models start at £95,172 with the 4,500kg six-and-a-half-metre 640 SD and seven-metre 680 SG, each majoring on a large front lounge, with the drop-down bed (optionally extending for lengthways sleeping) being the main bedroom.
The line-up goes up to near-nine-metre tag-axle models on 5,500kg tag-axle chassis, with rear lounges being available in body lengths of 7.1m, 7.5m (both U-shaped seating) and 8.4m (with a C-shaped lounge).
Also Fiat-based is the Titan range (from £143,891), which comes with a satellite TV system, awning, automatic gearbox, alloy wheels, two 110W solar panels, a lithium battery, 1,700W sine wave inverter, etc. Titan models range from 7.9m to 8.9m and include island bed, twin bed and rear lounge layouts.
Even more equipment is fitted to the 1960 Anniversary model, available exclusively with a 7.9m single bed layout and 5.5-tonne chassis, and priced at £143,000.
Moving onto the Merc base, the M-Line range (from £125,351) includes A-classes of five or 5.5 tonnes with lengths of 7.7m, 8m and 8.6m. A rear U-shaped lounge features in the 7400 Plus.
The ultimate Frankia is the Mercedes Platin (from £160,062), with six layouts at 8m or 8.6m overall length (including two rear lounges).
As with the Titan, the Platin boasts a higher equipment level with a focus on off-grid independence. All Platins come with the 190bhp engine and automatic gearbox, as well as underfloor heating and an exclusive package from Büttner Elektronik including four solar panels and two lithium batteries.
Hymer A-class motorhomes
Few manufacturers come close to having the A-class expertise of this famous German brand and, in 2021, no one else has such a varied range of Mercedes-based models. Just don’t expect much variety of layouts in a range dominated by single beds.
The line-up, however, starts on Fiat with the Exsis-i – a compact A-class (2.22m wide) with two models on an Al-Ko chassis and one (580) on the standard Fiat chassis. Not only does the Exsis-i 580 (from £67,250) introduce slightly different underpinnings, it brings with it a fresh new interior style.
Hymer’s only other current Fiat-based A-class is the B-Class SupremeLine (B-SL), which features Hymer’s own lightweight SLC chassis, a garage with up to 1.23m headroom and a 36cm-deep double floor.
The two 7.79m, 4,500kg models (island bed or twin bed) are both priced from £93,750, although Hymer’s extensive options list means this is just a starting point.
Most customers will probably head straight for the B-Class ModernComfort (B-MC) which marries two famous prestige German brands – Mercedes and Hymer.
The B-MC adopts the front-wheel drive Sprinter in combination with the award-winning SLC chassis and offers five layouts, from 6.99m to 7.39m, with prices starting at £75,830.
Unusually, for a Mercedes-based motorhome, all models are offered with a licence-friendly 3,500kg gross weight, although you’ll need to be careful not to tick too many options if you don’t want to upgrade to 4,500kg, especially on the larger versions.
Layouts include one each with a rear transverse double and an island bed, while the other three floorplans have twin beds above a garage. If you want something even more special, look out for the limited edition WhiteLine versions of the B-MC 550 and 600.
Hymer’s ultimate offering is also its newest, the B-Class MasterLine (B-ML), which comes in 7.89m single rear axle and 8.99m tag-axle forms, with 4,500kg and 5,500kg weights respectively. Again based on a front-wheel drive Sprinter with SLC chassis, these motorhomes build on 60 years of experience.
Itineo A-class motorhomes
Built alongside the motorhomes from parent company, Rapido, this is a unique brand specialising in A-class models at affordable prices – starting at under £60,000.
As well as a trio of family-friendly bunk bed layouts, its line-up includes the remarkably spacious FC650 with huge side sofa lounge, XXL end washroom and a garage, and the RC740 with its novel transverse island bed layout that also includes a large rear garage in a floorplan that wouldn’t normally major on such generous storage provision.
All 10 models in the range are based on 3,500kg Fiat chassis and new this year are Spirit Edition versions (two layouts – bunk beds or island bed) with additional spec, including alloy wheels, special leather-look upholstery, leather steering wheel, backlit kitchen panel, etc.
Knaus A-class motorhomes
One of the largest and most successful brands in its home market, Knaus offers its Live I and Sun I A-classes on our shores.
The Live I claims to offer an unmatched ratio of spec to price and that’s understandable when you see that the new range-topper (the 5-tonne tag-axle 900 LEG) is £83,219.
All models have full LED headlights, a GRP roof, practical Service Box to access all the electric/water functions outside, ambient lighting and a 142-litre fridge. And you don’t have to go this big – the 900 LEG is just the latest addition to a range that also includes the 650 MEG (6.99m, £67,919) and the 700 MEG (7.53m, £70,159). All three models have single beds at the rear over a garage.
Tag-axle spaciousness is also available in the premium Sun I at a price level (from £127,599) that is more usually commensurate with vehicles of these dimensions.
With a heated double floor, leather upholstery, a retractable 32in LED TV, outdoor entertainment package, Alde heating and, according to its maker, “the most beautiful and luxurious ambient lights ever used in a mobile home”, these 8.82m, 5,000kg models offer a choice of rear single beds or an island bed.
The standard spec is also upped for British buyers to include everything from a head-up display and sat-nav for the driver to an electric blind for the windscreen, a gas oven, floor heating and Knaus’ exclusive 17in alloy wheels. Here, then, is one luxury model where you shouldn’t need to worry about the cost of extras.
Laika A-class motorhomes
We’d expect most interest to be centred on this Italian premium brand’s all-new Ecovip range (from £87,922), especially as these have been launched with a special Da Vinci Edition Pack for the UK (including 4,250kg chassis, electric heating, TV, oven, solar panel, Multimedia Pack, etc).
With lengths from 6.59m to 7.40m, the latest Ecovip is packed with Italian style and you can opt for a twin bed, island bed or transverse bed layout. Also choose from two different furniture colours and a wide selection of upholsteries, while all models have a double floor and wide entrance door.
The Laika range also includes A-classes in the company’s entry-level Kosmo line-up (from £59,505) and its flagship Kreos (from £111,680) – these are true top-of-the-range luxury motorhomes with a choice of Fiat or rear-wheel drive Iveco chassis and gross weights from 4,250kg to 7,200kg.
Laika has recently expanded its UK dealer network to four outlets, including one in Wales and one in Scotland.
Le Voyageur A-class motorhomes
This French marque is part of Groupe Pilote and only builds A-class motorhomes, which it has been doing for 40 years – hence the arrival of special edition anniversary models within its LV range this year.
These are available from £125,750, in 7.85m or 8.55m lengths and feature Fiat’s 178bhp engine and automatic gearbox, Al-Ko pneumatic suspension, a lithium battery, solar panel, inverter, electric drop-down bed, sat-nav, 22in TV and satellite dish, an electric awning and more. The LV line-up also includes our Ultimate A-class of the Year 2020, the rear lounge LV 7.8 LU.
Above the LV range is the Signature (8.05m or 8.59m, on Iveco Daily, from £139,450), which has the unique feature of replacing exterior mirrors with a camera system. Then, there’s the Liner (from 8.30m to 10.86m, with the largest versions based on Mercedes Atego and featuring a car garage).
With a different ambience to their Teutonic rivals, Le Voyageur occupies its own niche in the luxury sector and has two English dealers and another in Northern Ireland.
Malibu A-class motorhomes
Malibu’s ‘integrated’ motorhomes look a lot like Carthagos, which is no great surprise as they come out of the same factory in Slovenia.
They benefit from some of the same features, too, such as class-leading visibility for the driver, a generous heated double floor, a large drop-down bed (1.95m by 1.60m) in the cab, high-quality furniture with double connections (screwed and mortised) to reduce rattles and a curved join from roof to side panels.
Garages are claimed to be the biggest in their class and the construction is backed up by a 10-year body warranty.
Eight models – every one of them on Fiat Ducato – make up the latest Generation M range, with lengths from 6.67m to 7.50m, all on either 3.5 or 4-tonne chassis. Prices start at £82,260 in Touring spec.
Mobilvetta A-class motorhomes
Imported exclusively by Marquis, this Italian maker offers three K-Yacht A-classes in the UK, all with their doors on the UK side (a rare find on any A-class). As well as the inevitable twin bed and island bed layouts, there’s the K-Yacht 80 with a rear L-shaped lounge with second drop-down bed above (in addition to a conventional front dinette and A-class cab bed).
All these Fiat-based models come with sat-nav, alloy wheels, etc, and are priced from £79,995.
Morelo A-class motorhomes
From small beginnings at the 2010 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, Morelo had built 2,000 motorhomes by April 2019.
The size of that achievement can only be understood when you see the size of a Morelo motorhome and the size of the price tags. The smallest Home model is 7.45m (from around £200k fully spec’d), while the biggest Grand Empire on a Mercedes truck chassis could cost £600,000.
Uniquely, in this class, some Morelos are available with a UK-handed layout as well as right-hand drive, while Morelo is one of the few European makers to build slide-outs.
Niesmann + Bischoff A-class motorhomes
This is the top brand in the Erwin Hymer Group stable, sold in the UK exclusively through Travelworld of Stafford. Its Arto range is built on the Fiat Al-Ko chassis (single or twin rear axles, 4.5 to 5.5 tonnes) and offers models from 7.68m to 8.76m, while the Flair is on an a seven-and-a-half-tonne Iveco base and is wider (2.39m v 2.32m) and taller (3.34m plays 2.95m) and with lengths up to 9.27m. A typical, fully loaded Flair will be over £200k.
For 2021, though, N+B is moving into the 3.5-tonne category with the iSmove, which will cost about half that. This newcomer looks like a slightly smaller Arto on the outside, with the same distinctive automotive styling that has been a huge success for the brand, but inside it sets new standards of innovation.
The iSmove’s kitchen cleverly expands for use, with not just a worktop extension by the door but a glass cooker cover that slides out across the aisle to create an L-shape and a shelving unit that rises electrically. It also includes the biggest drawer-style fridge we’ve ever seen.
The washroom converts from a toilet area to a generous shower cubicle with a simple (but brilliant) sliding wall. Then, even neater is the way one of the side sofas rotates to become a two-passenger rear travel seat. If this motorhome doesn’t win every award going, we’ll be surprised…
Pilote A-class motorhomes
This French brand has adopted a UK-style one-spec, one-price approach for its new Évidence range.
This includes one A-class, the £70,540 Galaxy G740FC – a 7.49m Fiat-based motorhome with island bed and face-to-face lounge.
It comes as standard with the Media Pack (including DAB radio and reversing camera), Energy Pack (with solar panel), Luxury Pack (leather steering wheel, etc), Comfort Pack (flyscreen door, electric step, carpets, etc), plus a 140bhp engine and automatic gearbox, oven, gas/electric 6kW heating, skirt storage drawer, 16in alloy wheels and more, making this look like a very well-priced package.
If that isn’t your favourite A-class layout, then the standard Galaxy range is still offered to UK buyers.
It includes eight layouts on Fiat’s own chassis and a further four on Fiat Al-Ko. New this season is the G690D with a huge front lounge, plus an end washroom and garage, in an overall length of 7.04m. It can be ordered with the Duo-Bed, which turns the drop-down double into a vast lengthways bed.
Otherwise, you’ll find a good variety of single and island bed designs from 6.99m up to 7.89m, plus a choice of Essentiel (from £65,450) or Sensation specification (starting at £69,450).
Rapido A-class motorhomes
Within a 2021-season range of 31 models, Rapido offers 19 different A-classes, so clearly that’s where this popular French brand is focusing its efforts.
The line-up starts with the 8F Series (from £69,890) on Fiat’s own Camper chassis and lengths from 6.79m to 7.49m. The 856F is the smallest and has an unusual offset island bed – a good compromise between French bed and conventional island bed designs.
The 883F has a transverse rear double in a slightly longer (6.99m) body, while two island bed models and a twin bed layout complete the 8F range, all of them featuring parallel lounge seating.
Next up is the 80dF with similar styling but the benefits of an Al-Ko chassis and double floor.
Once again, there are five layouts to choose from and, unsurprisingly, there are single/island bed floorplans, although also including an end washroom/low twin bed format this time in the 8065dF.
Most interesting, however, is the 8094dF (£80,150), which has been a UK-bound star of the Rapido range for several seasons. As well as a side sofa front lounge, it has luxurious L-shaped rear seating for sybaritic sprawling or watching a film on the optional giant projector screen.
The top Fiat-based Rapidos sit in the Distinction range, where side panels curve into the roof and Alde heating features on most models. These flagship models start at 7.25m and £87,020 and rise to a pair of 8.79m tag-axle models at £117,620.
However, in 2020, Rapido began offering the Mercedes chassis once again and, just a season later, the M Series has had a major facelift to make it look more premium and more separate from lesser Rapidos. Two 7.54m motorhomes offer the usual bedroom choice from £93,190.
Roller Team A-class motorhomes
You might not expect Roller Team, best known for its budget-priced motorhomes, to figure in this guide but the Italian company’s UK range includes three Pegaso models.
The six-metre 590 is a past What Motorhome award winner and makes great use of its compact size, as well as competing with low-profiles on price at a very reasonable £61,245.
The Pegaso 740 is an entirely conventional island bed model, but the 745 (£65,350) combines modern interior design and a typical front L-shaped dinette with a very roomy U-shaped lounge at the back.
Sunlight A-class motorhomes
Sunlight is Dethleffs’ budget brand and, if you think you’ve seen A-classes that look like this before, you have – from Carado (also built in the Capron factory) and Etrusco. However, each brand has its own individual décor and design details.
Sunlight’s A-class range includes twin beds and island beds, the former also with a choice of lengths (with a sub-7m model for those seeking a more compact vehicle).
For 2021, there are also Adventure Edition versions of the I 68 (twin beds) and I 69 L (island bed) with extra equipment including a Multimedia Pack. Prices start at £56,969.
Weinsberg A-class motorhomes
This entry-level brand from Knaus is better known for its van conversions but joined the A-class sector in 2020 with its new CaraCore range benefiting from its parent company’s long history of A-class manufacture.
A bold frontal design with full-LED headlamps marks out these new 3.5-tonne A-classes, while drivers will appreciate the head-up display. Prices – starting at under £65k – are much keener than you’d expect for a top-quality German A-class and the layouts offer a surprise, too, with a 6.99m French bed model (650 MF) included in the two-model range alongside the usual twin bed design.