Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Base vehicle: Ford Transit Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 260kg
This variation on the island bed theme originated in the Liner class of motorhome – giant, flagship A-classes.
It started to filter down into more mainstream models around 2014 onwards, although it’s fair to say that it is still a relatively niche design.
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So, what’s different? Well, the typical island bed is open to bedroom at the foot of the mattress and has separate compartments for toilet and shower forward of the sleeping quarters. Here, there’s a wall at the end of the bed (the perfect place for a bedroom telly) and the ablutions are a little more open to the rest of the bedroom.
The shower (on the nearside) comes with tinted doors and a wooden duckboard, while the toilet area (opposite) has a clear bowl-on-a-plinth basin and the very latest design of swivel cassette toilet, claimed to offer improved space utilisation. A Japanese-style white panelled sliding door closes off the whole en suite bedroom area from the front half of the motorhome.
At the other end of this Benimar you’ll find that motive power comes not from Fiat, but Ford.
The latest Transit has a bold, almost transatlantic, visage but its driver appeal is in no doubt. The height-adjustable seats seem to offer a less truck-like driving position than in the opposition.
Better still, the latest 2-litre, Euro VI, 170bhp engine –as standard – is a cracker. Smooth, refined and very potent, it will impress you from the off. And don’t worry about the requirement for AdBlue top-ups – they’ll only be needed around once a year and the filler is right next to the one for diesel.
The cab includes metallic silver paint, Bluetooth, two airbags, ESC and Hill Start Assist, alloy wheels, heated mirrors, front foglights, rear view camera, air-conditioning, two USB ports and a leather steering wheel.
But then value for money has been at the heart of Benimar’s well-publicised rise and rise – to become one of the top-selling imported brands – since its return to the UK in 2014.
The Ford-based Tessoro range may undercut the Spanish firm’s Mileo models – by £3k if it’s an island bed that you’re after – but the equipment provided as standard is far from entry-level. Even more appealing is the lack of any confusing – but essential – packs to bump up the price.
Included here in the £50,995 price tag are a Skyview opening overcab sunroof, generous 120-litre fresh water tank, Remis cab blinds, deluxe flush-fitting framed windows, a TV bracket, 4kW diesel heating, a 140-litre fridge with automatic energy selection, an oven/grill and a drop-down bed over the lounge. The only thing that’s not generous is the payload, but the 3,500kg gross weight will allow anyone to drive.