11/06/2018 Share this review   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Campervan review: Hillside Hopton campervan

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Key Features

  • Model Year : 2018
  • Class : High top
  • Base Vehicle : Volkswagen Crafter
  • Maximum Weight (Kg) : 3500
  • Berths : 2
  • Layout : Rear Lounge

AT A GLANCE

Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Base vehicle: Volswagen Crafter Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 650kg

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

Model Year
2018
Manufacturer
Hillside Leisure
Class
High top
Range
No Range
Base Vehicle
Volkswagen Crafter
Engine Size
Payload (kg)
Belted Seats
2
Maximum weight (kg)
3500
Price from (£)
52995
Length (m)
5.99
Width (m)
2.04
Height (m)
2.69
Berths
2
Main Layout
Rear Lounge
Price from (€)
Campervan Test Date

DETAILED REVIEW

In nature the colour red is usually a warning of danger. Perhaps, that’s true here, too, for not only does it make this particular Hopton stand out from the predominantly white or silver crowd of rivals, but it could signal a new threat from a company not previously associated with this size of ’van.

Hillside Leisure has become quite a force to be reckoned with in the VW T6 campervan market, expanding in the last 10 years to become one of the leading Volkswagen converters in the UK. Now, with the arrival of VW’s new big panel van, the latest Crafter, Hillside has launched first the Heatherton and then the Hopton. Show models in orange and red, respectively, has meant that you simply couldn’t miss them, but other (more subtle) colours are available.

Whatever paint you select, it’s the base vehicle underneath that’s worthy of your attention. Hillside was the first mainstream manufacturer in Britain to build on the new Crafter (German firms, Knaus and Westfalia, have also launched conversions) and it seems to have caught the rest napping. Perhaps that’s because the previous Crafter was a bit of a poor relation to the Mercedes Sprinter and, before that, the LT was never a serious contender in the motorhome market. Now, though, the Crafter has gone straight to the top of the class. 

It’s no surprise that the Volkswagen feels like a better quality vehicle, with a superior paint finish and a greater feeling of solidity to the way the doors shut, as well as a more upmarket impression from the interior plastics, but its superiority on the road is what really won us over. Smooth, refined, with a slick gearchange and a much more absorbent, less crashy ride, the Crafter is a class act.

The driving environment is not just well-finished, but practical, with plenty of storage, cupholders, etc. Crucially, there’s plenty of height adjustment on both cab seats, and the steering wheel has reach and rake adjustment, so any driver should be able to get comfy.

Crafter comes with a whole host of modern technology, too, from a DAB+ radio with 8in touchscreen to ESP including Crosswind Assist, from City Emergency Braking to adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors, even a heated windscreen and cornering lights. Optional features include Trailer Assistance for manoeuvring when towing, Park Assist and Lane Keeping Assist.

Hillside builds its campers on the Highline spec van with air-conditioning as standard, so the highly competitive £52,995 starting price for a Hopton is more good news. That’s for a 102PS engine, but we’d fork out another £1,350 for the 140PS motor.

Of course, the Hopton feels even more roomy when you relax in the rear lounge with the back doors flung open for that indoors/outdoors mix that’s so appealing. But it does cosy, too, when the weather comes over all British and you slot in the extra cushions to create a wrap-around U-shaped lounge. Reading lights, ceiling lights and rear speakers (plus a well-sited optional telly) complete a seating area that wants for nothing. Even the under-seat storage is pretty generous.

With its dual-fuel hob mounted flush with the upmarket galley worktop, the kitchen starts off on a positive note – that induction ring is so vastly superior to the usual 230V hotplate in use, too – and there’s a little preparation space even before you deploy the neat – and surprisingly large – slide-out worktop under the fridge.

The cooler is a good size, too – 90 litres – and mounted at eye-level, while storage throughout the galley uses drawers rather than cupboards, so finding what you’ve packed should be a doddle. There’s a Smev gas oven/grill, as well, and the promised radiused corners to the kitchen unit and fold-up flap at the forward end of the galley will be the finishing touches to a far better kitchen than you’d probably expect in this class of motorhome.

Opposite, the silver walls of the washroom make a pleasant change from the usual white, while the tambour door for access is very convenient. Talking of conveniences, the Dometic loo is a superior item to the more widely seen Thetford and there’s plenty of room to use it. A washbasin will join the inventory here.

Finally, at night you have the choice of sleeping singly or together, in longitudinal beds. The super-sized double is 1.90m by 1.75m and having to tuck your feet under the overhanging hob (nearside) or fridge (offside) seems like a small price to pay for such instant, comfy beds on top-notch slatted bases. Pleated blinds are a further upmarket fitting.

So, first time out Hillside Leisure has created a winner. The Hopton would be a very good ’van if it was based on a Fiat or Peugeot but add in the talents of the VW Crafter and, we reckon, it’s something rather special.

If you enjoyed this review, you can read loads more like it in What Motorhome magazine. You can get a digital version of this latest issue of What Motorhome magazine here.

 

    

Hillside Leisure

Chequers House
Chequers Lane
Derby
Derbyshire
DE21 6AW
http://www.hillsideleisure.co.uk
[email protected]
Conversions. Used motorhomes. Accessories, awnings, finance and insurance.