Poplar Motors Kestrel campervan

Key Features

Model Year 2023
Class Rising Roof
Base Vehicle Toyota Hiace
Price From (£) 29,995
Length (m) 4.70
Berths 4
Belted Seats 4
Main Layout Campervan
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At a glance

Can’t find a campervan you can afford? Perhaps, start here with a vehicle manufactured in 2006, registered in the UK in 2023…

Full review

Words & photos: Peter Vaughan


The Poplar Motors Kestrel

It’s no longer surprising to see a VW camper with a price tag north of £80k, while switching to Ford’s Transit Custom doesn’t offer the sort of saving it once did. So, it’s good to find alternatives for those on more restricted budgets.

Poplar Motors specialises in offering new conversions on used base vehicles, with prices starting at under £30k. There are three models in its range; the rear lounge Kiwi, the rear kitchen Osprey and the Kestrel, shown here, with a classic side kitchen layout.

All three are based on the fifth-generation Toyota Hiace. The Kestrel is based on a 2.0-litre petrol motor, which complies with ULEZ restrictions. Poplar Motors also provides different models with four-wheel drive and a 3.4-litre V6, while a few are diesel-powered. These vans, which were never sold here by Toyota GB, are grey imports from Japan with low miles – ‘our’ example had 68k on the clock but 30k to 40k miles is more typical. All come with automatic transmission.


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The cab

The cab has a typically Japanese vibe. Unlike modern European designs, this is a fully forward control van, with the engine below the front seats and a flat front, but the driving position is comfy.

However, the cab can play no part in the living accommodation as there’s no walkthrough, although it makes a useful zone for storing gear once you’ve parked up. Access to the living area is via the nearside sliding door – unless it’s raining and you’re feeling athletic.


The interior

There’s also a sliding door on the driver’s side, which provides access to the back of the kitchen cupboards, the 10-litre fresh water container, a sealed gas locker and the leisure battery. The Kestrel comes with a rear-hinged pop-top or a high-top, offering a little more storage.

Inside, the layout has a side kitchen and rear bench seat but, unusually, there’s another bench, facing rearwards behind the cab. This allows a comfortable dinette for four to be created, without involving the cab. Two tables are provided, each attaching to a rail on the galley.

The extra seat also adds useful storage, including room for a chemical loo, which can simply slide out for use (even at night). And, as this front bench doesn’t form part of the bed, it can still be used with the bed made up – ideal if you and your partner rise at different times.


The beds

The more typical forward-facing seat has three-point belts, but the lack of headrests compromises safety for adult passengers. Poplar is, however, changing its seat supplier, so this issue is being addressed.

Even with the existing seat design, bed makeup is really simple and the flat mattress is 1.88m by 1.11m. A roof bed can be fitted here, to make a four-berth campervan.



In the rear boot, storage is quite limited because of the design of the bed base, but there is access to the under-seat cupboard and room for bedding on top of the mattress.


The kitchen

The side kitchen widens towards the cab where it accommodates the 47-litre Dometic compressor fridge, as well as a combined sink and two-burner hob. There’s also a little storage here, as well as two mains sockets and a simple switch control for the battery levels, lights and water pump.

After this point the unit narrows to allow for a wider bed, although there’s more storage here and a little prep space for the chef. However, it’s likely you’ll deploy one of the tables when cooking.


And there’s more

At the very back, the furniture is full height to maximise wardrobe storage. Curtains provide privacy and close off the cab area, while a petrol Mikuni heater should keep you toasty and a solar panel is also standard.

The only optional extra fitted to this model was a front bumper bar with extra lights, at £650.


Where to buy

The company sells direct to the public and is located in Brampton, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

Poplar Motors offers different years and mileages. See the website for options.

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