The motorhome and campervan trends of 2021 – overcab coachbuilts
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Once, almost all coachbuilt motorhomes had a big bulge above the cab, called a luton, where a double bed was placed. It was a British idea originally, conceived by Ci of Poole, and it spread across Europe and the United States, where the type is called a C-class.
This was eventually replaced by low-profile motorhomes with a sleeker overcab shape for better aerodynamics. When drop-down beds started to become commonplace in low-profiles, the need for a luton to provide extra berths was gone and it seemed the overcab was set to be more or less phased out.
Leading brands like Bailey and Elddis dropped them from their motorhome ranges and it looked likely that only hire fleets were keeping this type of motorhome alive.
Not so fast, though. In 2021, not only is motorhome rental booming as those looking for safe staycation holidays flock to try out motorhoming, but there is also a new, younger breed of buyer who may have a couple of kids to accommodate in their van.
Anyone who has tried using a low-profile with youngsters in tow will know how frustrating it is to pull down the kids’ bed and discover that your lounge has now disappeared and you have to retire for the night, too.
That doesn’t happen in overcab models and little people love that upstairs space that they can call a den of their own (though parents may be less impressed if they have to sleep up there as some examples have very limited headroom, especially towards the front of the luton).
Steven Pritchard at Rimor importer, M and C Ltd, has pointed out, too, that some low-profile models have a bed that blocks the door when down and sometimes users bump their heads on the drop-down bed, while other owners simply prefer the more spacious feel, or the extra storage, provided by an overcab model.
He reports that this has been a particularly successful sector for Rimor and his company has ordered more bunk bed layout overcabs this year to cope with demand.
It’s not just families that are buying models like the Rimor Evo Sound, the brand’s best seller, but sometimes older customers who want to take grandchildren away, while layouts with a large double bed over a huge rear garage often sell to people with property abroad, as they like the storage space on offer.
This Spanish maker offers three overcab Primero models. Introduced in 2019, these sit below the Mileo and all are under six metres long, which is unusually compact for an overcab type. Their small size also enables them to be offered on a 3,500kg chassis, although an upgrade to 3,650kg is available.
The four-berth Primero 301 has the classic continental layout with a half-dinette lounge and a rear transverse double bed over a garage. An even more family-orientated floorplan arrives in the Primero 313, which has a pullman dinette and rear transverse bunk beds – an ideal combination for those with kids and who don’t want to drive a large motorhome.
The final member of the trio is the most unusual, as the Primero 331 has a French bed layout, something you’d more typically see in a low-profile. All three come with a good standard specification and no need to pay more than the £48,995 price for packs or options.
Alan Buckwell, Marquis Group Sales Director, confirmed the success of these models. “Overcabs are popular once again as we see more families coming into the market – hire companies are also buying them,” he said.
For 2021, Carado’s ‘A’ range (that’s for Alkoven, the German for overcab) grows to four models, with the newcomer, the A132, being its smallest ever motorhome of this type. This 5.95m model has a rear transverse bed, a central kitchen and washroom and a half-dinette lounge.
A new foldaway design for the luton bed saves weight and a slide-out step (appearing from beneath the wardrobe) aids access to the rear over-garage bed. Price for the A132 is from £43,779.
If you’re after something larger, then the three existing Carado overcabs continue for 2021: A361 (6.60m, bunk beds), A461 (7.20m, bunk beds) and A464 (7.25m, rear transverse double).
This Italian arm of the Erwin Hymer Group is an entry-level brand that aims to offer a dash of Latin style in its vehicles and the two overcab models get a new look for 2021 with redesigned furniture and new upholsteries.
There are two overcab models, the A 6600 BB (6.70m, pullman dinette, rear transverse bunks) and the A 7300 DB (similar in layout but longer to accommodate a rear double bed over a garage with 1.20m internal headroom). Both are built on the Fiat low-frame chassis-cab.
Here’s a manufacturer that clearly believes in the future of the overcab motorhome, having just launched its Optima OnTour range in this body style, following the success of this entry-level concept in low-profiles, which exceeded the German company’s expectations.
Like the OnTour low-profiles, the new overcab range is based on the Citroën Jumper (sister van to the Peugeot Boxer and Fiat Ducato) and features the HobbyComplete All-Inclusive Package, the idea being that you don’t need to pay more for optional extras.
As such, standard spec includes cab blinds, coats hooks in the entrance area, slide-out gas trays for easier changing of cylinders, a DAB radio with sat-nav and reversing camera, a heated and insulated waste water tank, GRP roof and floor, ambient lighting and HobbyConnect, so you can monitor your vehicle’s controls via an app.
The Optima OnTour overcab range offers three layouts – A60 GF (6.24m, half-dinette lounge, rear transverse double bed), A65 KM (6.99m, large front lounge with pullman dinette and side settee, rear transverse bunk beds) and A70 GFM (7.19m long with the extra length over the A65 KM used to provide a double bed instead of the twin bunks).
All three are built on a 3,500kg chassis, although a 3,650kg upgrade is available for those with the relevant driving licence.
Here’s another marque that’s better known for low-profile motorhomes (and A-classes, too) that’s returning to the overcab sector. It has added the pair of 6.99m Fiat-based overcabs to its UK line-up in the most affordable, Essentiel, trim level only.
Choose from the C690G with a transverse double bed or the C690S with bunk beds and twin, side-by-side, pullman dinettes offering dining space for six. This six-berth model boasts rear beds for the kids that measure 2.24m by 0.85m, a washroom with separate shower, a kitchen with 153-litre fridge and a payload of 570kg on a 3.5-tonne chassis.
This Italian brand (now part of the Trigano Group) has been building motorhomes since 1978 and, reflecting the popularity of family layouts in its home market, it is probably the number one maker of overcab coachbuilts.
Realising that so many of its competitors have focused purely on the type of two-berth layouts generally favoured by older buyers, Rimor has always kept a wide choice of family-friendly overcab designs in its brochure and thus it has become something of a specialist in this niche.
The brand’s UK importer, M and C Ltd in Hull, has seen that, for some buyers, and especially those with kids, it’s a case of ‘the bigger, the better’ with overcab models offering plenty of room for the whole family. “With families moving away from package holidays, it’s going to be a growing sector,” said M and C’s Steven Pritchard.
Not only does Rimor offer overcabs in its entry-level Seal (on Fiat) and Evo (on Ford) ranges, but also in its flagship Super Brig line-up where prices start at £59,495. Rimor’s top model includes a classic British layout featuring a front dinette and rear U-shaped lounge in the 7.17m Super Brig Suite, as well as two more typically continental designs with a garage capable of swallowing a scooter. The 687 TC has a rear double bed, while the longer (7.37m) 695 TC has twin beds at the rear.
However, the company’s most popular model is the £48,995 Evo Sound, based on the Ford Transit and offering up to seven berths and seven travel seats in a length of just under 7m. Of course, with a 3,500kg gross weight, you’ll need to be careful not to overload if you have a large family, but this model will suit those with several young children, especially as Isofix is offered as an option.
The Evo Sound has a lounge with twin pullman dinettes, while bunk beds are situated along the rear nearside wall, opposite the habitation door and adjacent to the washroom. The alternative overcab model in this range is the Evo 5 with a rear transverse double bed, again in a 6.97m overall length.
However, it’s the ever-popular Seal range (from £48,995) where Rimor offers the most overcab motorhomes – a choice of six different layouts.
In numerical order, these are:
- The Seal 3 (6.48m, pullman dinette, French bed)
- The longer Seal 5 (7.15m, pullman dinette, rear transverse double over large garage)
- Seal 8 (another rear double bed/garage layout but with an L-shaped lounge and shorter, 6.84m, body)
- Seal 9 (bunk beds across the back, twin dinettes up front, 7.30m long)
- Seal 50 (7.34m with a unique floorplan featuring four bunk beds at the rear, two each side with the washroom between, and an unusual front lounge with two L-settees facing each other)
- Seal 695 (7.35m long with rear single beds over a garage big enough for a motorbike)
The 5 and 8 layouts can be specified with an electric height-adjustable rear bed, while Isofix is available across the Seal range.
It’s no surprise to see overcab coachbuilts in an Italian manufacturer’s range and Roller Team’s Auto-Roller 746 is a spacious family motorhome with a front dinette, central galley and washroom, and a large U-shaped lounge at the back.
At 7.47m long, this large Fiat-based motorhome has six berths and up to six seatbelts (when on a 3,650kg chassis). The 2021-spec version also gets new grey GRP side walls, rear speakers and, in the cab, a Zenec Xzent DAB radio with Bluetooth and reversing camera.
For those on a lower budget, Roller Team also offers three overcab models based on the Ford Transit in its Zefiro line-up. These include a bunk bed model as well as the unique Zefiro Sport, which has the largest garage in its class (1.37m high inside with huge loading doors).
This is a vehicle that’s as likely to be in the paddock at a race track as on a campsite.
Like its sister brand, Carado, Sunlight has added a new compact overcab model to its range for 2021. While Carado is the budget marque from Hymer, Sunlight is linked to Dethleffs, but the vehicles differ only in terms of décor, both internally and externally, and are said to feature a younger, sportier vibe.
The new Sunlight A 60 is the smallest of four overcabs in the current range, with an overall length of 5.95m. Despite that, it has two long (2.10m) and instantly available double beds – one in the luton, the other over the rear garage. It is based on a 3.5-tonne Fiat Ducato chassis and comes with a generous payload of 664kg in standard form (even more if you upgrade to the optional 3,650kg gross weight).
Its half-dinette is joined by swivel cab seats to make a four-seater lounge, while spec includes Truma Combi 6 heating.
Adria has dropped its upmarket Coral XL range, so the only overcab to come to the UK from this Slovenian manufacturer now is a sole A Series model from budget brand, Sun Living.
The A 70 DK is a 6.99m, 3.5-tonne Fiat Ducato with the popular twin dinette and rear bunk beds layout that works so well for families. It has six seatbelts and seven berths as standard, but a seventh belt can be added in combination with a chassis upgrade to 3,650kg.
Price for this motorhome is £49,000 but you’ll want to budget an extra £1,820 for Pack 1 (including cab air-conditioning) and £1,359 for the Comfort Pack.
Like all 2021 model year Sun Livings, the A 70 DK gets new, more homely décor this season, featuring brighter colours and new cupboard handles, new spotlights and soft furnishings, as well as bolder exterior graphics and improved interior lighting.
The UK’s largest caravan/motorhome manufacturer caught us a little by surprise when its new Edge range debuted a year ago with a selection of overcab derivatives as well as low-profiles.
Uniquely, though, the Edge has its luton positioned further back over the cab, so, when lowered for use, the upper bed sits partway above the lounge. Still, the luton berths do not stop you sitting beneath and the have the feel of an overcab.
Now, for 2021, the Edge gets new carbon-coloured graphics on the outside and Aralie Sen woodgrain on the inside, both aimed at providing a more upmarket appearance.
Spec has been uplifted, too, to include cruise control, a DAB radio and reversing sensors on the base vehicle, plus a microwave, flyscreen on the door and removable carpets for the living area.
Swift calls the overcab models High-Line and there are three existing layouts, with a fourth family model being added this year. The new six-berth Edge 466 with rear transverse bunk beds will be available from February, priced from £51,665.
The existing Edge High-Line models are all 7.32m long and available on a 3,500kg Fiat chassis. They are the 476 with twin single beds over a garage, the 486 with front and rear lounge areas and the 494 featuring a transverse island bed.
This entry-level marque from the Knaus stable has steadfastly continued to offer its CaraHome overcab models while others have dropped out of the sector.
Now based on Fiat Ducato for 2021 (instead of Peugeot Boxer), the latest versions also benefit from a new wood finish. Three models are available in lengths from 5.97m to 7.41m, with the classic floorplans of rear bunk beds or a fixed double bed above a garage.