The Birchover S is competitively priced yet still a conversion that, while not a top-spec model, comes with plenty of kit in the cab and throughout the interior. And of course, it carries the prestige of being a VW camper.
Base vehicle: VW Transporter (T6) Price from: £35,995 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 4.89m Width: 1.90m Height: 2.01m Gross weight: 2,600kg Payload: 484kg
Hillside Leisure moved away from converting secondhand base vehicles, you might say it came of age as a manufacturer. But that left it with a higher entry point for ownership of one of its campers. One answer was its Renault-based conversions, but we all know that the VW roundel is the badge buyers want on their campervans (despite the high prices normally associated with new ones), and so the Birchover S was born.
Here, then, is a camper that still has European Whole Vehicle Type Approval, as well as the approval of the NCC (National Caravan Council). And, of course, Hillside is a Volkswagen registered campervan manufacturer.
So, you can be sure that the Birchover S is a safe conversion – and a safe place to invest your money. And, while the ‘S’ is a more affordable version of the typical VW camper, it still has a top-quality German-made rising roof from SCA and the well-proven RIB seat/bed system from France.
Of course, one aspect of keeping down the cost comes with building the Birchover S on a Startline version of the VW Transporter.
This may not be the fanciest Volkswagen van on the road (or campsite), but it still comes with an automatic post-collision braking system, Brake Assist, Driver Alert System, driver and passenger airbags, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP), Hill Hold Assist, a reach and rake-adjustable steering column, remote central locking and an immobiliser.
In the cab, you’ll find a DAB radio with 5in touchscreen display and Bluetooth, trip computer, heated and electrically adjustable mirrors, electric windows, and a driver’s seat with height and lumbar adjustment. The steel wheels and black plastic bumpers give the game away that this isn’t a top-spec model, but you can upgrade from the standard 84PS engine if you see fit.
The 102PS unit (still a 2-litre Euro 6 diesel with five-speed manual gearbox) is the obvious alternative, but the 150PS motor is also offered (and with that comes a choice of six-speed manual or a DSG automatic). And you can choose from a range of interior and exterior colour schemes.
Looking at the conversion, it’s even harder to see where the cash has been saved. It’s still the side kitchen layout, fitted out with all the kit you need. There’s a 50-litre compressor fridge, a combination unit of sink and two-burner hob, and, while drawers are conspicuously absent, there’s plenty of storage.
If you’re familiar with Hillside’s campers, you’ll spot that the swing-out door that hides the fridge (and adds small shelved storage) has been forsaken on the cross of competitive pricing, but do you really care?
Much more importantly, that RIB rear seat has automotive-style shaping and adjustable headrests, as well as three-point seatbelts for two passengers. There’s a pedestal-leg table for dining and, of course, the conversion from seat to bed is as simple as ever.
The SCA roof is a doddle to operate, too, adding full standing room when raised, as well as a second double bed up top. If you want even more storage space, in addition to permanent standing room, Hillside also offers a high-top version of the Birchover S but this is only a two-berth.
On site, the swivel passenger seat means there’s plenty of room for three people to relax, while a rotating driver’s seat is an option if you need four seats when parked up. There are fitted, underslung fresh and waste water tanks, mains hook-up, a leisure battery with split charging system and LED interior lights, too. The only other option you might want to contemplate is diesel heating for those off-season nights away from electric hook-ups (and the ability to use a fan heater).