Base vehicle: Mercedes Sprinter Price from: £69,675 ex-works Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Length: 6.97m Width: 2.02m Height: 2.75m Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 330kg
There’s no shortage of van conversions with fixed single beds. Most of these come from major European brands that are perhaps better known for their coachbuilts and almost all are based on the extra-long (6.36m) Fiat Ducato. Here, though, is a camper built on the latest rear-wheel drive Mercedes Sprinter, which is longer, at nearly 7m.
The Merc cab offers all the latest tech, starting with the MBUX touchscreen display with DAB radio, rear view camera, sat-nav, trip computer and Bluetooth. You can even talk to it, saying “Hey Mercedes” before, for example, giving the address you want the sat-nav to take you to.
Safety kit sets new standards, too, with adaptive ESP, Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, plus blindspot monitoring. And alloy wheels and metallic paint are also included in the price, while another plus is the electronic handbrake, so there’s no lever to obstruct the rotating front seats.
The design brief for the Elara included full winterisation and suitability for wild camping. The former is answered with Grade III insulation and Truma Combi 4 gas/electric heating. Just as importantly, the fresh water tank is inboard, while the underslung waste tank is insulated. The fresh tank is a generous 120 litres, while sharing space with it under the beds are two 100Ah leisure batteries. Gas comes from a 40-litre underfloor tank, which will be a boon for long continental tours.
The new feature here, though, is the bedroom. We’ve previously voted the original double bed Elara ‘Best Van Conversion With Fixed Bed’ for 2019. Now there’s this twin bed version, too. Its beds are mounted quite high, but not so lofty that you can’t sit up for your brekkie in bed.
The mattresses are a good size, too –2.02m long on the nearside, 1.85m on the offside. Two wardrobes and four large drawers are built-in under the beds, so there’s no shortage of storage for clothing. All in all, this is a better bedroom than you’ll find in many coachbuilts.
And you’ll discover the reason for the beds being high up when you open the rear barn doors. Here, there’s a garage measuring 1.66m wide by 0.65m deep and 0.88m high. That’s a lot of luggage room for a van conversion.
The rest of the single bed Elara is exactly as we’ve seen with the double bed model, which is no bad thing, of course. Designed as a pure two-berth, the Elara has no rear travel seats but its offside settee is a nice place to relax. There’s a choice of two tables, too, the smaller round one being perfect for coffee breaks.
Turning to the galley, it’s hard to fault the spec. WildAx has fitted the latest Thetford induction hob with two gas rings alongside. When you’re hooked up, the induction cooker is so much faster than the old-style mains hotplates, plus you’ll then have the option of using the high-level 800W microwave. And, if you haven’t got access to 230V, then the Duplex combined oven/grill is ready for action.
You shouldn’t want for storage, either, as the galley has three large drawers and two high-level kitchen cupboards (now with push-to-open catches). The fridge is very generously sized, at 141 litres.
In the washroom WildAx has invested in developing a glass-fibre shower tray and washbasin especially for the Elara. The bathroom is a good size for a panel van-based motorhome and the shower’s jet is powerful, while there’s no curtain here to get stuck to. There’s a small mirrored cabinet, a long rail and a ring for towels, and hooks that are ideal for wet coats.