Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 400kg
Slide-outs have featured in American RVs – where space is rarely at a premium to begin with – for almost 30 years, but the European scene has only sporadically dabbled with the idea. Campervans with slide-outs are even rarer and examples like the 2001 Manhattan Tardis and Danbury Boubleback disappeared from the market as quickly as they arrived.
IH Motorhomes, the maker of quality campervans in West Yorkshire, has persevered with the concept, despite the obvious cost and complexity involved. The N-Class 630 SL was the star of the 2013 NEC motorhome show and went on to win a 2014 Motorhome of the Year award.
Now there’s a successor to the SL, the RLS, with the extra space extending not from the side but, less conventionally – but more practically, from the rear. The idea was to create 7m space in a standard 6.36m extra-long Fiat Ducato panel van, says company founder, Ian Hartley. And he’s certainly succeeded in creating an unusually spacious rear lounge conversion. In fact, there are gains in every area of the vehicle: a bigger lounge, a better kitchen, a few extra inches of room and a larger basin for the washroom…
But with the electrically operated slide-out retracted you’d never know this N-Class was boasting such a major enhancement compared to its sister models. There’s the same rear panel with one-piece window and opening boot, while (as this is an N-Class) it also gets the sliding-door-replacing ‘entrance module’ which adds a coachbuilt-style habitation door and frees up a bit of extra space in the galley area.
Those are standard features, but this demo model was equipped with over £4k-worth of Fiat base vehicle options (including alloy wheels, air-con, factory seat swivels and a touchscreen radio with Bluetooth). Then there were nearly £5k-worthy of IH add-ons – half-leather trim, alarm, solar, panel, awning, TV and a second fridge.
The drinks fridge is adjacent to the rear lounge and its 65-litre capacity is accessed drawer-style. The main galley unit, meanwhile, incorporates a more conventional, front-opening Isotherm 115-litre compressor cooler. And there’s more up-to-the-minute thinking in terms of the hob – a two-gas-burner, one-induction-ring unit that is rather stylish. There’s an oven/grill as well, large drawers for storage, a sink with integral drainer and masses of worktop (including an extension flap). It’s a galley that’s hard to fault.
It may be the lounge, though, that differs most from other rear lounge IH models, because this is not the usual U-shape. Here, there’s a cosy forward-facing settee mounted in the slide-out pod, plus two individual side/rear-facing seats and a central table on a pole-in-the-hole leg. It works well for up to four people and feels very sociable, while there’s a variety of shelves on which to rest your glass of choice.
At night you can convert the lounge into twin 6ft 6in singles or a huge double, while the swivel cab seats make a second lounge/diner for when your partner is still dozing. Up front, you’ll also find his and hers wardrobes – another beneficiary of the RLS’ extra interior space.
If you enjoyed this review, you can read the full version and more in the February 2018 issue of What Motorhome magazine.
You can get a digital version of this latest issue of What Motorhome magazine here.