The motorhome and campervan trends of 2021 – compact low-profile motorhomes with island beds
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In Germany, they are called ‘Vans’ but they are not van conversions, nor campervans. Rather, these are low-profile coachbuilt motorhomes that are a good few centimetres slimmer than the norm (of around 2.30m to 2.35m wide).
It’s not difficult to see the appeal, because (unless you’re parking or manoeuvring) it’s often width, not length, that can make some motorhomes feel just that little bit too big on rural roads. Especially the sort of country lanes you might want to explore in Devon, north Wales, the Lake District…
It’s still the German manufacturers that focus on this sector more than other nations, although, at What Motorhome, we can certainly see why British buyers like them, too.
Matt Greening, Sales Controller at Lowdhams, pointed out, “Compact low-profiles had a welcome introduction with the likes of the Hymer Exsis and Dethleffs Globebus a few years ago and other manufacturers have joined in since. The popular layouts have been the short transverse bed and the slightly longer twin beds.”
So, up until now, most models in this category were either around six metres long with a half-dinette lounge, central kitchen and washroom, and a transverse rear double bed, or were a bit longer (around 6.60m) and had lengthways single beds aft, again with a garage underneath.
Perhaps it has been the German market’s preoccupation with twin bed floorplans that has kept the choice relatively restricted in these compact motorhomes, or maybe designers simply struggled to innovate within the reduced living space.
However, over recent seasons, it has also become clear that you don’t have to drive a seven-and-a-half-metre motorhome to have an island bed and (full-width) island bed models have appeared that are only 6.50m long.
So, it’s perhaps no real surprise that, in the 2021 season, there are finally several island bed ‘Vans’ with that all-important slimline bodywork. After all, the island bed format is one of the most popular amongst today’s motorhome buyers and another bonus of going more petite with your vehicle is that payload should be greater, thus making these models all a realistic proposition at 3,500kg on a standard car licence.
The Slovenian maker’s appropriately entitled Compact range is 2.12m wide and was redesigned for last season. The classic transverse double and lengthways single beds feature here, as does a choice of Plus or Supreme spec. We’d go Supreme every time as it looks so classy with its all-silver (cab and habitation) bodywork but, whichever you choose, you get a simply enormous overcab sunroof that bathes the interior with daylight.
New for 2021, though, is the SC (Adria code for island bed) layout in this range. It measures a modest 6.99m overall and has an amazingly spacious bedroom area for such a compact motorhome.
The mattress itself measures 1.91m by 1.40m and its base slides back to create a chaise longue mode – as well as even more space around the foot of the bed, which is better than you’ll see in many rivals even with the bed extended.
The bedside suspended wardrobes make for massive tables at each side for your phone, book, drink, specs, whatever, and there’s a concertina screen to close off the bed area for privacy. The washroom seems well designed, too, with its Duplex system, meaning that the washbasin swings around over the toilet to create a shower cubicle.
Priced from £57,400 in Supreme spec (to which you’ll want to add the Pack 1 for all the essential base vehicle toys, at £1,820, and the Luxury Pack at a further £3,060), there are cheaper options, but the Compact SC is a stylish motorhome that’s packed with appeal.
Hymer’s budget brand offers a Van range that’s 2.14m wide. Now, for 2021, there’s a third model in the line-up, the V339 with an island bed.
The layout here is not unusual, featuring a half-dinette and washroom on the nearside and a habitation door just behind the cab on the offside, followed by the galley.
However, Carado has kept the wardrobe (at the back end of the galley) to a modest height to allow more through view inside the motorhome and, therefore, a greater feeling of space. The island bed itself measures 1.95m by 1.40m, according to the manufacturer, while the garage can carry up to 150kg.
Rest assured, Carado builds its motorhomes tough and practical, as well as keenly priced. The V339 starts at £39,579 on a 120bhp Fiat Ducato.
You’ll certainly want to add the Basic Pack (panorama roof vent, cab seats with armrests and covers, shower panelling, extra sockets in the kitchen and garage) at £859 and, even more importantly, the Chassis Pack (cab air-conditioning, passenger airbag, heated mirrors, cruise control, height adjustment on passenger seat, radio aerial and pre-cabling) for £1,719, but this new Carado still looks fine value.
The Globebus is one of the longest established competitors in this category and a stylish one to boot. At 2.20m, it’s not as narrow as some, but the T 7 comes well equipped, with a much higher standard spec in the UK than in its home market.
It has everything from automatic air-con, cruise control and a leather steering wheel in the Fiat cab, to a panoramic overcab sunroof, extra-wide habitation door with central locking, Combi 6 gas/electric heating and a combined oven/grill.
The Globebus T 7 also benefits from an L-settee lounge, rather than a simple half-dinette, and washroom arrangements are as you’d find in larger models, with a shower cubicle on the nearside and a separate toilet compartment opposite.
Go for the GT Pack and the little Dethleffs becomes a striking looker with alloy wheels, flush-fitting windows, cab running board steps and either a white or black cab.
The OnTour Edition V65 GQ was new for 2020 and its apparent success seems to have stirred rivals into competing with it in 2021. Here, then, is an island bed low-profile with a 6.99m overall length and 2.16m overall width.
More than that, though, the OnTour Edition comes surprisingly well equipped, without the pages and pages of options seen with some German brands. That starts up front, where the Citroën Jumper cab (sister to the Fiat Ducato and Peugeot Boxer) comes with alloy wheels, Remis blinds, an overcab sunroof and swivel cab chairs with armrests. A DAB radio with CD/DVD, Bluetooth, reversing camera and sat-nav (with pitch finder app) is included, too.
The habitation door has a flyscreen and, inside, there are swivel reading lights, a Goodside premium mattress for the island bed, Truma Combi 6kW heating and a 140-litre fridge. The coachbuilt body features a GRP roof and underfloor, plus XPS insulation, a heated and insulated waste water tank and a wide entrance door. More surprising is the addition of an awning in the standard spec and even a satellite dish, as well as a 21in LED TV.
The OnTour Edition continues unchanged for 2021 and looks like a pretty formidable package for those seeking a compact motorhome with all the toys.
In this German-dominated sector, it was a surprise to find that the newest entrant is French – a whole new line-up of compact (2.17m-wide) low-profiles from Rapido, called C Series. There are French bed and twin bed layouts, but it’s the longer (6.99m) C86 – with an island bed – that we’re focusing on here.
The most interesting aspect, though, is that Rapido has eschewed the usual half-dinette lounge of its competitors and installed instead the fashionable side settee layout normally reserved for larger motorhomes.
Here, the side seats are quite short but they can still be converted into either a pair of forward-facing travel seats or a transverse single bed as an occasional third berth. There’s a fixed (but folding) central table, too.
At the back, the bed is a fairly generous 1.96m by 1.40m (manufacturer’s figures) but there’s also a 10cm detachable extension and the possibility of electrically raising the bed by up to 20cm to increase the storage below.
The washroom features separate toilet and shower compartments on either side of the vehicle, while other standard features include an overcab sunroof, diesel-fired Truma Combi heating, a 133-litre slim fridge and external locker doors (1.00m by 0.75m) on either side of the under-bed storage. The Fiat base vehicle comes with the 140bhp power unit.
If you want more spec, the Select Pack adds a Kenwood multimedia system with reversing camera, ESC, cruise control, a habitation door with window and flyscreens, cab blinds, a second leisure battery and more.
With Carado launching a slim-bodied island bed layout for 2021, it was obvious that we’d see the same layout appear in the Sunlight range, but with different design details inside and out. So, here is the Sunlight V69.
Like the Carado, this newcomer is 6.86m long and 2.14m wide. Based on a 3.5-tonne Fiat Ducato, it has an impressive payload of 870kg in standard trim.
The central kitchen comes with a three-burner hob and 89-litre under-counter fridge, while there’s a substantial rear garage, half-dinette lounge, his and hers wardrobes alongside the bed and Truma Combi 4 blown-air heating.
For the UK market, however, the V69 takes on extra significance as Lowdhams has confirmed that this will become the third model in its Sunvan dealer special range.
With extra specification over the standard Sunlight Van, the first examples are expected here in the spring. Lowdhams’ Matt Greening commented that the Sunvan was, “only two layouts last year and proved to be popular. This was mainly due to the size, width and length. Customers also enjoyed the special edition features and the excellent value for money that Sunlight offers.”