Base vehicle: VW Crafter Price from: £63,495 Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Length: 5.99m Width: 2.04m Height: 2.73m Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload N/A
You couldn’t miss this new ’van when it made its debut at the NEC show last October – it had been well and truly Tango’d!
The real story here is not the Bright Orange (you’re not kidding, VW) paintwork, nor the Shelly Leather upholstery in Firestone and Rocking (that’s grey and orange to you and me), because you can have other colours, inside and out. The paint and décor scheme might emphasise IH’s willingness to be brave with its ’vans, but the big decision here is, in fact, the one to offer a second model on the Volkswagen Crafter.
Although IH has, in the past, dabbled with Mercedes (and even Renault), all its recent output has been Fiat-based van conversions. Then came the 680RD (see June 2018 issue), its first motorhome on the big VW. But at 6.84m that ’van might just be too big for a lot of campervan buyers.
This new 600CRD offers a similar rear lounge layout (the staple of IH’s production) but in a more manoeuvrable six-metre length that puts it right at the heart of this sector. Incidentally, C = Crafter, R = rear lounge, D = doors; there’s also a CRL with IH’s trademark moulded rear panel with single window and opening boot below.
Of course, there’s a wide variety of other rear lounge van conversions of this size on the market, many of them undercutting the IH on price. However, almost all are based on the Fiat/Peugeot van, which now seems very long in the tooth.
In comparison, the Crafter feels far more sophisticated, much more upmarket – and every bit as appealing as the new Mercedes Sprinter. Add in all the safety and driver assistance features available from Volkswagen and it’s clear that the Crafter is in a different league.
The vehicle shown here was specified with LED headlights (£1,080) and the Discover Media sat-nav system (£864), while a City Emergency Braking System and Crosswind Assist are standard. There are plenty more options to consider, too – from a superb eight-speed automatic gearbox to four-wheel drive, from adaptive cruise control to Trailer Assist.
To all this high-tech stuff, IH mates a classic layout built to a high standard with plenty of opportunity for bespoke touches. The quilted, two-tone leather here is one such feature, but for many the most important aspect will be the comfortable space for two to relax – and the fact that the rear doors can be opened without losing the wrap-around seating as there’s a fixed backrest panel here.
So, you can’t enter or leave the ’van via the stern, but you can load up the boot space (measuring 1.15m by 0.64m by 0.38m high, with the Truma Combi 4E boiler tucked in one corner and the awning’s winding handle neatly clipped in place).
The rear lounge also has an island leg table, pleated blinds, a push-up Heki sunroof (surely it should be a wind-up type at this price?), and good storage space under the seats. There’s even a sliding window on the nearside, so you can open it without clashing with the sliding door.
In the doorway there’s a second table, which simply folds down from the back of the kitchen unit, while the cook has plenty of room to work, thanks to a super-sized flip-up panel on the end of the galley. Just as impressive are the gas/induction hob and the three large soft-close drawers, and there’s a separate oven/grill, too. The 90-litre compressor fridge is opposite, conveniently sited over the small wardrobe (0.80m drop from its hanging rail). All cooking bases successfully covered, then.
That just leaves the bathroom, complete with bench cassette loo, good-sized vanity locker and opening window. The old-style tip-up basin lives on here, as does a shower curtain, but that’s true of a number of rivals, many of which are less bespoke – and can’t be ordered on the great-driving VW.