Despite its compact length (6.41m), the Tessoro 413 still packs in everything that a 2+2 family will need. The washroom (with large separate shower), kitchen (with microwave and big fridge/freezer) and sleeping accommodation (with adult-sized bunks) are all excellent and the spec is comprehensive. Add in the 170bhp Ford chassis and this Benimar makes a great package at a competitive price.
Base vehicle: Ford Transit Price from: £51,995 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.41m Gross weight: 3,500kg
Naming a newly designed motorhome must be the final, nail-biting decision that manufacturers make before a launch. Made-up word, established moniker, place name or just numbers and letters? Whatever the choice it wants to be memorable.
According to the web, ‘tesoro’ means treasure or darling in Spanish – just don’t ask us why it’s gained an extra ‘s’ when Benimar added that fancy raised font on this motorhome.
It does seem appropriate here, though, as the 413 is a model specifically designed for touring with the little darlings. No longer does a family motorhome have to have an ungainly overcab; this is one of a select few low-profile coachbuilts with a drop-down bed for mum and dad, plus bunks for the children. That it offers such a parent-pleasing floorplan in a length of just 6.41m makes it even more worthy of attention.
Whether it's Ma or Pa at the wheel, they’ll be glad that Benimar chose the Ford Transit to underpin the Tessoro. From the moment you settle behind the reach-and-rake-adjustable steering wheel, it feels more car-like and contemporary than the Fiat/Peugeot-based opposition. You sit lower for a start, behind a fascia that could have been removed from a Fiesta, then photocopied at 125%. Only the heater controls positioned towards the passenger grate (unless, perhaps, you’re the passenger!).
On the outside, there’s metallic silver paint, plus alloy wheels and I’m-faster-than-you ‘170 Horsepower’ logos on each front wing.
On the inside, there are height-adjustable seats with twin armrests and an Xzent DAB radio with touchscreen, Bluetooth, CD and MP3, sat-nav and the display for the reversing camera.
You don’t have to add any options packs to get cab air-con, a passenger airbag, cruise control, ESP and hill assist – they’re all included in the £51,995 price tag. More surprisingly, so are automatic lights and wipers, while cornering lights are another standard feature.
We could criticise the slightly baggy fit of the cab seat backrest covers and the rattles (possibly from the slide-out pantry unit), but we think you’ll be too impressed by the way the Tessoro drives to care very much.
You’ll have to talk to your Marquis branch if you want to add a satellite dish, awning or bike rack (mountings for the last are already in situ), but there’s a roof-mounted solar panel, as well as external shower and barbecue points. A Trackstar Leisure Category 6 tracking system is fitted, too, which is especially important as some insurers have reported Ford Transits being targeted by thieves recently.
The body construction is 99% wood-free, with Grade 3 insulation and a Winter Pack that includes a heated waste water tank and external thermal windscreen cover.
The fresh tank (a generous 120 litres) is inboard for ultimate winter-proofing and the gas/electric Truma Combi boiler is the more potent 6kW version. But the most important feature for some might be the habitation door on the UK nearside (a rare find on an imported model) – although it’s not linked to the Ford’s remote central locking.
Unsurprisingly, the Tessoro’s lounge adopts a half-dinette to incorporate the necessary rear travel seats (here with separate, height-adjustable headrests). In actual fact, this bench can be turned into a small L-shape on site, but that seems rather pointless as the additional cushion is not well supported. It’s not the most comfortable place to sit, although with both cab seats swivelling and a wide inward-facing settee on the nearside that really doesn’t matter. There’s more than enough room to get five people around the fixed table.
When folded in half the table is just right for drinks and unfurls to double in size. It’s sturdier than most and can twist as well as slide in all directions. On the test motorhome, however, the catch to lock it in place for travel had been damaged by one too many experiments of ‘what does this do?’
Enhancing comfort on site, there’s a selection of scatter cushions and, temptingly, the passenger cab seat can rotate right round so that you can put your feet up on the adjacent sofa. This is the spot to bag to watch the telly (not included) on the neat, height-adjustable bracket by the door. At night you could raise the TV to the top of its rail for viewing from the bed.
The overcab sunroof makes the front of the 413 appear very light, perhaps crucially, as this is quite a small lounge area, and there’s plenty of artificial illumination, too.
Another neat trick is the side seat’s armrest, which provides a useful resting place for drinks, as well as hiding a four-bottle rack and shoe cupboard (for two pairs) below.
The galley continues the theme of ‘how did they squeeze all this into less than 6.5m?’ The spec list is impressive – two gas rings, mains hotplate, grill/oven, extractor hood, microwave and a giant fridge/freezer with 149-litre capacity and automatic energy selection.
Storage might not seem so great, at first. The cupboard under the oven is so slim it’s almost pointless and the only top locker is dominated by the extractor’s ducting, but then you discover the full-height slide-out pantry unit next to the fridge and the trio of drawers (the lowest one sufficiently large for pots and pans) under the sink.
This kitchen should serve a family well (there’s even a reasonable amount of worktop) as long as the cook is tall enough to reach that microwave.
Returning to the topic of storage, you’ll spot a large wardrobe (hanging height 1.07m) with two drawers below. There are two eye-level lockers in the lounge, but under-seat space is taken up by the boiler and water tank. Remember, though, that bedding can stay in place on all the beds, so doesn’t need to be stored away.
The payload of 415kg is calculated with a reasonable 50 litres of water and a 75kg driver on board, so should be adequate for three passengers (two of them probably children) and four people’s gear.
The most fundamental part of this motorhome’s layout is its rear bunk beds and these are truly adult-sized. Each has its own privacy curtain, light and opening window (a roof vent as well, up top). The lower bed has a little more headroom, the upper one a slatted bed base for extra comfort – let the kids fight it out!
The parental quarters come gliding down from the lounge ceiling at the press of a button, but don’t lower as far as some may like. One person could still sit in the lounge underneath (and the cab seats could be reached relatively easily), while headroom of 550mm in bed is inadequate for sitting up but still not claustrophobic.
Importantly, the lowered bed does not prevent access through the habitation door, although a sticker suggests you shouldn’t use the hob with the bed down.
As important for family motorhoming as the bunks will be the separate shower. It’s a good size, with twin drains, a duckboard and tinted bi-fold door. Although you step up into the washroom, the shower still has headroom of 1.89m.
There’s plenty of room around the basin and swivel toilet, too, plus pretty generous high and low-level storage. Worktop alongside the washbasin is useful for the products that you’re using and there’s a hook and a rail for towels. With an opening window, rooflight, choice of mirrors and toothbrush mug, it’s hard to fault this little room – even the toilet is at a comfortable height, for once.
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