11/01/2021
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The motorhome and campervan trends of 2021 – twin lounges and drop-down beds

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The twin lounge layout has long been a staple of the British motorhome market. Up front, you historically got a pullman dinette but, more recently, there have been L-settee and half-dinette configurations here, too. Then, at the back, is the star feature, the ever-popular rear lounge, either as two side settees or a more convivial U-shape – or sometimes as a fashionable L-settee these days.

So, the style of twin lounge layouts has opened up to offer more choice, even including a few more compact designs at under 7m overall length. But perhaps the biggest news in this sector has been the inclusion of drop-down beds.

Beds that come down from the ceiling are not new, of course, but they are giving a fresh lease of life to this type of layout. Without a fixed bed, you can now enjoy two seating areas – one for dining and one for lounging, or one for kids and one for adults, or even one for him and one for her – without having to face the chore of turning sofas into (lumpy) beds at nightfall every day of your tour.

These layouts are popular with couples looking for lots of space to unwind (did someone mention bad British weather?) but also with families, and almost all will have at least four seatbelts, some up to six. But with mob-handed touring comes the need for masses of storage and that’s where these designs have sometimes fallen down.

Increasingly, though, continental models have shown that exterior storage can be combined with a rear lounge – now Bailey has trumped them all, including a proper garage in its Adamo 75-4DL.

Here, we look at the newcomer from Bristol and its latest rivals, including some more established models…

 

Auto-Trail  

We could call this ‘the motorhome formerly known as Tribute’ but its official title is F-Line, the revised branding for Auto-Trail’s entry-level Ford-based low-profiles. The F72 is the model we’re looking at here, with the ‘F’ moniker indicating that it’s based on a Ford Transit – a good start for any motorhome.

Oddly, the F72 has a side settee lounge and no rear travel seats in standard form, but £825 will change the offside settee into an L-shape with two extra seatbelts. And you’ll need to dig deeper (£800 deeper) for the drop-down bed that makes this motorhome into a much more viable four-berth.

This electric bed comes right down to seat level in the front lounge but it narrows considerably at the foot in order to preserve access through the habitation door. At the back, meanwhile, you still have to use caravan-style pull-out slats and rearrange the cushions to convert the seating into a long double bed.

The central washroom includes a separate shower, while a generous 142-litre fridge features in the kitchen. It’s the rear lounge that’s the key selling point, although it’s worth noting that the seating here is much more generous on the offside than the nearside and the free-standing table fits much better up front than at the rear.

With prices starting from £48,285 (albeit with Driver’s and Lux Packs on top of that), the F-Line looks good value.

 

Bailey

The Adamo is probably the biggest British motorhome launch of 2021 and we’ve already seen the 69-4 layout on page 29 of this trends feature.

This 75-4DL, though, is the best motorhome in the range. As with all three Adamo models, the 75-4DL has the immediate driver appeal of being based on a high-spec, 158bhp Ford Transit cab with automatic gearbox. And, again, it has the sort of comprehensive standard spec that most rivals can only achieve with this pack and that optional extra. Despite which, it just sails under the £60k price mark.

It’s the layout we love, here, though. Up front, you get Bailey’s new Flexi-lounge, which features two comfortable side settees for on-site relaxation and these then adapt – Transformer-style – into a pair of fully crash-tested passenger seats with adjustable rake backrests.

Then, at the rear, is a U-shaped lounge with windows on three sides, but also with a wardrobe in the offside corner, a shelved locker (also accessible from outside) on the nearside, and a huge – and hugely useful – shelf between.

The corner cabinets mean you don’t quite get the all-round vistas of a more conventional end lounge, but the area here feels more cosy, more private. Lighting is generous, too, with downlighters set into the bed base above and reading lights featuring built-in USB ports. It’s a great chill zone.

Better still, above both lounges is an electric drop-down bed. Each comes right down to seat height (730mm off the floor) and, while the rear bed has that large shelf under the back window for your night-time knick-knacks, the front bedroom comes with neat corner shelves for specs, etc, as well as twin reading lights.

The really clever bit, though, is the incorporation of a proper garage (running under that shelf in the end lounge). There’s a full-height door on the nearside that opens onto full-width storage measuring 1.03m high and 0.55m wide.

On the offside there’s a second, smaller loading door, while the nearside opening also gives access to shelved space above the garage. Anchorage points, lights, 12V and 230V sockets and even drain holes show that the space has been designed to be really used.

So, here at last, is a twin-lounge layout motorhome in which no bed-making is ever required and where storage for the whole family’s gear is not a problem.

 

Benimar

Like other models in the range, the Tessoro 482 (which was new for 2020) is based on a Ford Transit with 168bhp (170PS) engine and has a high spec designed to suit the UK market. It even has a layout mirrored for right-hand drive, with the habitation entrance on our nearside.

Incorporating the swivelling cab chairs, the 482’s front seating has a half-dinette and a small side sofa, while aft is a U-shaped lounge in the classic British style – although very different squab depths on the side seats affect seating comfort here.

Nevertheless, it’s a spacious lounge – enhanced by good lighting and a lack of top lockers – with the option to add a small island leg table. Above is a drop-down bed (measuring 1.87m by 1.39m) that comes down to just 860mm off the floor.

The second electric bed, over the front dinette, needs a ladder for access as it doesn’t come down as low and, while this one is slightly longer, it narrows at the foot in order to allow you to come and go easily through the door.

Priced at £61,995, the Tessoro’s cost includes alloy wheels, a metallic silver cab, flush-fitting habitation windows, TV aerial, solar panel, a flyscreen door, an oven/grill, a microwave, external barbecue point and even a security tracking system. It can’t match the Bailey for garage space, but it doesn’t do too badly in this regard, offering full-width storage under the rear lounge accessed only from the offside.

The fact that the Tessoro manages to pack all this into an overall length of just 6.98m is a big surprise, but it’s a shame that the payload is rather marginal for family use.

Those seeking more carrying capacity might consider Benimar’s Fiat-based Mileo 282 instead. The price is the same, but the layout places the kitchen and washroom on opposite sides to the Tessoro’s. More importantly, there’s greater overall length (7.39m) and a lot more payload if you upgrade to the Heavy chassis version.

 

Bürstner

It’s always a welcome surprise when leafing through a continental brand’s brochure to find a low-profile layout that doesn’t feature an island bed or twin singles above a garage and Bürstner is a marque that’s a little more adventurous in its floorplans. It’s one of the more innovative European makers and one that isn’t afraid to try something new.

But the Lyseo TD 744 Harmony Line isn’t, in fact, a new model (our photos actually show a 2020-spec vehicle). Here, though, is a 7.49m motorhome with a conventional half-dinette lounge up front and a much more unusual L-shaped lounge area (with sideboard and picture window along the offside wall) at the rear. There’s a TV station here and armrests and scatter cushions enhance comfort.

The Lyseo offers two electric drop-down beds (or at least it does if you tick the box for the optional front bed). The forward bed measures 1.98m by 1.30m (max – it’s widest in the middle) and has a rooflight above, but it obstructs the door when lowered. At the back, the second drop-down bed measures 1.96m by 1.51m and doesn’t taper at either end.

The Harmony Line specification lives up to the £68,995 price tag, with a silver cab and flush-fit habitation windows, plus 16in alloy wheels and a 4.5m awning.

A 100W solar panel is also standard, as is a multimedia system incorporating sat-nav and a reversing camera. Further fittings include upholstery with embroidered logos, central locking on the XL habitation door, a 151-litre fridge with automatic energy selection and an oven above, and cab blinds. Meanwhile, outside there’s a useful external locker running under the rear settee – a good space for your outdoor camping furniture, if not large enough for bikes.

This is a classy-looking motorhome that sits at a different price point to the Bailey but offers a huge payload of nearly a tonne on its standard 4,250kg chassis (for which you’ll need a C1 category driving licence, of course).

 

Elddis

Here’s a much more classically British competitor, one that’s long established and competing at the ‘value’ end of the market. In standard form, badged as either an Elddis Autoquest or Compass Avantgarde (or in dealer special form under all manner of names, depending on the retailer who’s marketing it), it is priced from £49,219 on-the-road.

Based on a Peugeot Boxer with low-line chassis and 140bhp motor, the Elddis gets only detail changes for the coming season, including ambient lighting and new graphics. Its layout remains the same – a front pullman dinette with side sofa adjacent, a central kitchen and simple washroom, then a rear lounge with a pair of facing settees. It’s 7.33m long, but the key fact is that the 196 is a full six-berth, with six belted travel seats.

However, two of the Elddis’ three double beds require you to convert each of the lounges into sleeping quarters. The only drop-down bed here is above the front lounge and it’ll require the ladder for access.

The Autoquest remains a well-priced family ’van but you’ll struggle for storage on board if there are six of you on tour.

 

McLouis

The Fusion 330 is a new addition to the McLouis line-up for 2021. It features twin lounges – a half-dinette/L-shape up front and a U-shape at the rear, each with a fixed table – but it does so in a remarkably compact body. This Italian low-profile is just 6.49m long.

Our photos show the continental version but UK models will have right-hand drive, different upholstery and the habitation door on the British side. We’ll also get extra spec, including an oven in the compact kitchen.

The Fiat Ducato base vehicle will benefit from the 140bhp engine, Traction Plus, alloy wheels, a reversing camera, DAB radio with steering wheel-mounted controls and cab blinds. On the habitation side, again, the spec will be comprehensive, including a flyscreen door, Skydome overcab sunroof, Truma Combi 6 EH gas/electric heating, a solar panel and Winter Pack. The new model is expected to retail for £55,095.

Despite its compact size, the latest Fusion has a drop-down double bed coming down to just below window height in the rear and a drop-down single bed up front. It also offers a modicum of external storage under the rear lounge. Definitely one to look out for if you want a more compact vehicle, especially as these latest McLouis have impressed us on our road tests.

 

Rimor

When Rimor revealed its Evo range a year ago, one layout was the most talked about – the 77 Plus. Its Italian maker described it as a ‘new model dedicated to conviviality’ – we just said it had a rear lounge that was sure to be popular in our less sunny climes.

That end lounge is a cosy space, not as large as some, but U-shaped with a fixed central table that unfolds for dining and with windows on three sides. It’s not the only seating area, either, as there’s a half-dinette up front and a further single inward-facing seat opposite, which converts to rear-facing for travel. This is a five-seatbelt, five-berth motorhome.

Above each lounge is a drop-down double bed – both measure 2.00m by 1.21m and both are electrically operated.

Moving through the motorhome from the rear, the 141-litre fridge/freezer is to one side, with a large wardrobe to the other, helping to make the back of the model feel quite secluded. The kitchen and washroom are positioned opposite one another. The washroom is divided into two slightly separate areas, with a washbasin and shower in a wet space and a toilet in the other.

Based on the popular Ford Transit with 128bhp (130PS) engine, cab air-conditioning, cruise control and stop/start, the Evo 77 Plus is priced from £50,995. A Skyview overcab sunroof adds £1,295 and the automatic gearbox is £2,000 extra. Not only is the price quite keen, as we’ve come to expect from Rimor, but overall length has been kept down to just under 7m.

 

Swift

The Escape range is no longer Swift’s entry-level, with the Edge now coming in below it. That’s understandable when you see this 674 model is both 7.41m long and priced from £56,450.

As well as a half-dinette at the front, it has one of the largest rear lounges in its class, capable of offering single beds (lengthways) or a huge double.

These berths require you to adapt the seats, though, and what we’re really interested in here is drop-down beds – only one is available and it’s over the front seating area; it’s an optional extra, too, priced at £1,695 (including a fifth seatbelt).

With no garage, think of the Escape as a more spacious alternative to the Elddis/Compass duo, rather than a real rival to the Bailey or some of the European imports with their twin drop-down beds.

 

  

 

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