At close to £100k for a 7m low-profile, this B-MC is clearly an expensive motorhome, but it is also one that feels like a premium product throughout, from the Mercedes and SLC chassis combo to the fit and finish of the body and the living area, especially as the stylish WhiteLine package adds extra kit and extra value.
Base vehicle: Mercedes Sprinter Price from: £91,800 Berths: 5 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.99m Width: 2.29m Height: 2.96m Gross weight: 4,430kg Payload: 1,342kg
Words and photos: Peter Vaughan
Hymer’s decision, several years ago, to gradually move most of its motorhomes onto Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, appears more inspired now than ever. Not only have an increasing number of makers since decided to reduce their reliance on Fiat as a sole base vehicle supplier, but the two premium German brands seem like ideal bedfellows.
You can now have your Mercedes Hymer motorhome in front, rear or four-wheel drive (depending on model), low-profile or A-class bodywork, and in lengths from 6.74m to 8.99m. Only the Exsis remains on a Fiat chassis.
In the middle of this extensive portfolio, the B-Class ModernComfort range (B-MC for short) is sandwiched by the T-Class S (using Mercedes’ own chassis frame) and the flagship MasterLine (B-ML). Like the range-topper, the smaller B-MC models benefit from the lightweight SLC chassis developed especially for Hymer in collaboration with Al-Ko.
Confusingly, the ModernComfort is the first B-Class model that isn’t automatically an A-class (or integrated) motorhome. It can also be purchased in low-profile form, saving the buyer around £10,000. And, if you want to save a bit more, you can also opt for the special edition WhiteLine versions, which are claimed to be nearly £7k less than a standard model equipped with the same optional extras. Not that you should start to think of these as bargain Hymers, not with a price tag closing in on the £100k mark…
Appropriately, the WhiteLine is mostly coloured like fresh snow, but graphite graphics, a chrome grille and black alloy wheels provide some contrast. There’s a stepped roofline that sweeps down over the cab and seems to complement the styling of the Merc cab, while a 4m awning and satellite dish are just two of the additional features of a WhiteLine. But, despite the SLC chassis and front-wheel drive, this T 550 is almost 3m tall.
As you’d expect, the habitation windows sit flush with the body and everything gives off an impression of top-notch quality, from the gas struts that raise the gas locker door to the way the habitation door ‘thunks’ closed and the design of the automotive-style hybrid LED rear lights.
Hymer also proudly describes its 100% wood-free PUAL 2.0 construction as having the insulation properties of an 80cm-thick brick wall, thanks to inner and outer skins of polyurethane foam and aluminium.
Pity, then, that a couple of details let the side down ever so slightly – the entrance isn’t linked to the remote central locking and the nearside hatch (providing access to the double floor) is held up with a cheap plastic catch.
The storage it reveals is welcome, though, and measures 1.50m by 0.47m with a height of 0.35m. More serious stowage space is in the rear garage, where full-sized doors on either side open onto a locker that’s over a metre wide and has very bike-friendly headroom of 1.32m.
There are useful shelves (complete with non-slip mats) along the forward wall, too, and there are movable tie-down hooks, two 230V power points and a light at each end. The external shower is fitted here, too, but that’s an optional extra. Although the garage is rated at 350kg, and total payload is more than 1,250kg, there’s no spare wheel; just a can of sealant and a 12V compressor instead.
Let’s hope that never mars your enjoyment of the WhiteLine because you’ll certainly find a lot to like from behind the wheel. Even though Fiat has facelifted its Ducato, the Sprinter cab is in a different league for comfort, refinement, modernity and sophistication.
That starts as soon as you switch on the 2.1-litre 170bhp engine with a button, not a key, flick off the electronic parking brake and engage drive on the nine-speed automatic gearbox – all standard features. It might seem odd at first to control the transmission from a stalk that looks more likely to work the wipers but you’ll soon get used to that.
I could certainly become regularly acquainted with these seats, which not only adjust for height and tilt but also have extending squab sections to give better under-knee support for those with longer legs.
The novelty of the 10.25in MBUX display might have worn off, but it’s still class-leading, especially as here it includes the sat-nav and pin-sharp reversing camera as standard. Also included on the WhiteLine are the Distronic adaptive cruise control, Crosswind Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Active Brake Assist and Tempmatik climate control. And you don’t have to leave your seat if you forget to retract the step, as that’s taken care of by a switch on the dash.
Our test vehicle had the 2.1-litre Euro VI-D motor, while a mid-season change will see the arrival of cleaner, Euro VI-E engines of slightly smaller capacity but no less power. So, you’ll still be able to enjoy the superbly stable feeling of the SLC chassis, which claims 16% less weight than a conventional alternative and a lower centre of gravity. It’s good to see that both fresh and waste water tanks are low down in the floor, too – as well as featuring well-above-average capacities of 180 and 150 litres.
On board the Hymer, you’ll see five trapdoors in the double floor, hiding the RCD, fuses, leisure battery (with room for another), the service caps for the water tanks and the storage area, which can be reached from outside.
Inside, the WhiteLine might be a little lacking in white finishes, but it is also refreshingly different from other Hymers, with perhaps a less Germanic feel. In place of the darker Noce Cognac cabinets seen in other B-MC models, the WhiteLine gets the Grand Oak finish, along with upholstery that is described as having “lotus effect” stain protection.
It’s certainly a lighter ambience, although there’s no getting away from the fact that the optional drop-down bed in the lounge reduces headroom (to 1.84m) up front. It also precludes the fitment of a rooflight over the table, although there is a large, opening skylight above the cab – a long way above, rather than close to the windscreen, so you notice it much more when parked than driving.
You can also have a WhiteLine A-class, or a slightly longer 600 model with rear single beds, but the 550 features something of a classic floorplan that seems now to be favoured more by German brands than other nationalities – one with a transverse double bed above the garage. With less length devoted to the bedroom, this B-MC stays just under 7m on the road. It’s also just a tad slimmer than most rivals, at 2.29m.
Inside, the lounge isn’t the biggest, but it is unusually comfortable. The softness of the backrests and plump scatter cushions add to a premium feel that’s backed up by soft fabrics on the cab-to-habitation join and behind the offside single seat. There’s a generous array of lighting, too, including reading lights on flexible arms over each of those superbly supportive cab chairs. The table isn’t huge, but it should cope with family dining, if required, and it slides in all directions (if not perhaps quite far enough towards the offside to be comfortably reached from the side seat).
The feature that is extra-large is the 32in TV – so big that it has to rotate onto its side to store on the wall adjacent to the entrance. It’s part of the WhiteLine spec, along with the 80cm digital satellite dish on the roof.
There are coat hooks conveniently located in the entrance, too, as well as a bottle rack (with a strap to prevent rattles) and there’s a waste bin on the door (in addition to the bin in a kitchen drawer). Above the easy-to-understand Hymer control panel is the Truma DuoC, which prevents the gas pressure regulator freezing in severe winter weather.
Backing onto the lounge is the typical L-shaped galley, but with added curves and a UK-style cooker (with separate grill and oven) to please our fussier cooks. There’s no extractor hood, but three wall-mounted three-pin sockets (and two USBs) are another bonus.
Then, there’s the sheer quality of the Servo-Soft kitchen drawers, which click shut with Teutonic precision. The loose cover for the sink adds extra worktop when it’s in situ, while removing the rear seat head restraints on site creates a more open feel between the galley and lounge. And the fridge is pretty generous, too, with a 142-litre capacity (and automatic energy selection).
Hymer obviously wants you to look your very best when you’re out and about in your WhiteLine because there’s a large mirror next to the washroom, a full-length one on the inside of its door and a big mirror behind the basin.
This ‘little room’ places everything in one zone but isn’t short of space. The bench cassette toilet has ample leg and shoulder room, while there’s useful countertop alongside the basin, as well as his and hers toothbrush mugs. My favourite feature, though, is the simple addition of elasticated straps to stop toiletries tumbling out of the locker behind the loo.
Then, when it comes to showering, just lift out the two wooden sections of duckboard and unfold the frosted doors to create a shower cubicle that’s a very irregular shape but a good size and equipped with twin drains.
Continuing the theme of looking your best, opposite the washroom is a split-level wardrobe with hanging rails top and bottom. Then, between the ablutions and your finery, are twin steps that take you easily up to bed.
Of course, the downside of any bedroom arrangement like this is that one of you will have to clamber over the other one to get out in the night, but the plus is an unusually long mattress – well over 2m here.
With USBs, a 12V and 230V socket, extra cupboards, reading lights and a magazine pocket, plus a window at the foot of the bed and a roof vent above, all looks great… Until you discover the pointless shelf that simply stops you sitting up comfortably in bed and note that one reading light is well placed and the other is positioned not for your partner but your feet!
As standard, the WhiteLine also comes with a bed in the lounge, made by lowering the table and adding two infill cushions, one of them with its own legs. While those infills have to be stored (probably in the garage), the oddly shaped bed created is flat and a generous, comfortable single.
Then, above is an optional electric drop-down double. If you’re not using the lounge bed, there’s no need to move any of the seat cushions before turning the key and pressing the ‘bed down’ button – just watch that nothing will get squashed in the corner of the kitchen counter. Note that while the bed comes down too low to sit beneath it, the shape of the mattress leaves just enough to room to squeeze in or out of the habitation door (as long as you didn’t eat all the pies).
As with the rear bed, the mattress seems to offer top-notch comfort and here the shelves on either side of the bed are much better thought out. You can leave bedding in place when stowing the bed, too.
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