A welcome addition to the campervan market, providing versatile living accommodation on an excellent new base vehicle – and at a keen price.
Berths: 2 Travel seats (inc driver): 4 Base vehicle: Ford Transit Custom TrendL1 H2 High-top panel van
The Devon Firefly starts off well, with its silver livery sporting tasteful black and grey decals and trademark orange Devon badges. This ‘van, one of the latest conversions of the Ford Transit Custom, looks neat and modern.
Similar in length to a short-wheelbase VW (at 4.97m), but a bit wider (at 1.99m), its 2.43m height is slightly lower than many high-top campers, but this only enhances its appearance. Devon will also offer a rising-roof Firefly, with the same layout, and a height of just over two metres. On our test the ‘van never felt unduly portly, and its road holding, handling and supple suspension are excellent.
The 2.2-litre engine produces 123bhp, and, although it’s no ball of fire (Ford does offer a 153bhp version), it’s flexible, pulling from low revs in any gear, without protest.
Because Devon has chosen Ford’s top ‘Trend’ trim level, the base vehicle is fully equipped. You get twin airbags, cruise control and cab air-conditioning, plus a trip computer, heated windscreen, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers and cornering lights. As with other Fords, the heater controls are a long stretch for the driver – but they’re ideally placed for the passenger!
Visibility is good, courtesy of thin A-pillars, twin-lens door mirrors and some view through the rear door windows. Best of all, there’s a superb reversing camera. This means it should be well-nigh impossible to clout anything when parking.
The new camper follows the layout of its VW-based sibling, the Sundowner, with swivelling cab seats, twin rear travel seats and a central aisle. Behind these, the kitchen unit runs down the nearside with the fridge and two cupboards opposite. Rearwards of the fridge is the toilet area, with a privacy screen which swings out over the kitchen.
Entering the Firefly is a stretch - there’s no retractable step and it’s quite high. Inside, the décor is traditional Devon warm-hued woodwork. The walls are clad in grey carpet and beige, hessian-effect material. Flooring is wood-plank-effect vinyl with a rather impractical cream carpet in the cab. There are grey blackout curtains instead of blinds (on this prototype, rather skimpy and ill-fitting). Devon provides internal, insulated blinds for the cab. The overall effect is very cosy but perhaps made cosier still by the distinct lack of headroom – 1.76m (5ft 9in) maximum.
To form the lounge, you’ll need to swivel the cab seats – remembering to lower the centrally mounted handbrake first. The cab seats will get reading lights in production models, but the rear seats each have an adjustable light, together with two ceiling clusters.
The wall-mounted table has a single supporting leg and will serve those sitting on the offside, but it’s a stretch from the nearside. Sockets under the table are handy for your computer and the rear seats are comfortable, with some backrest rake and headrests.
The kitchen is well up to usual campervan standards, having a neat, two-burner gas hob and integral rectangular sink. This sink/hob combination is set slantwise in the work surface: you do lose some valuable worktop, but there is space to park a draining tray or stand your kettle, and the 12V and mains socket are conveniently placed underneath the end of the worktop.
An 80-litre Waeco compressor fridge is standard fitting. The 110Ah battery under this should provide sufficient power for a couple of days’ use off-site.
Kitchen storage is good, with a big overhead cupboard and slim shelf below, a cutlery drawer above the oven, and a huge cupboard below. Then there’s another shelved cupboard under the rear of the work surface, above the gas locker, and yet another at the front end, set at an angle, and divided into three shelves. Crockery can be stored in dedicated wall-cubbies behind the hob. (A set is supplied.)
A swivel toilet in the offside rear of the ’van has a privacy screen which unfolds across the aisle, incorporating the kitchen sink opposite, but shutting off the rear area. There’s plenty of room when enthroned, and the sink is convenient for washing. But the small wardrobe set into the wall above is too shallow.
Come night-time, each rear travel seat can be flattened to meet a swivelled cab seat. The resultant single beds are comfortable, being made of thick Reflex foam. For sleeping, they are better than the equivalent RIB seats found in many competitors, although those are superior as travel seats. Bed lengths, at 1.88m nearside and 1.81m offside, will be adequate for anyone comfortable with the Firefly’s headroom.
The Firefly comes well up to class standard for extra storage. Large compartments under each travel seat can be accessed from either in front or above, then there’s a slim overcab store, an overhead cupboard on the lounge’s offside, a shelf over the sliding door, a large shelved cupboard over the fridge, and a high-level cubby above the wardrobe. A rising-roof Firefly will be less well endowed. A good payload also means you’ll have no worries about overloading.
This is an abridged version of the full review appearing in the January 2016 issue of What Motorhome.