The second of the 2016 season’s two major NEC shows is upon us already. And along with all the models that were available to view at the October show last year – and the full 2016 ranges from most makers – there are a few ’vans that will be making their NEC debuts this month, though visitors to the Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow shows might already have had a sneak peek. But one thing's for sure, if you’re looking for a new ’van, it’s well worth a visit! With so many motorhomes for sale under one roof, it's a great place to compare, contrast and make sure you buy the right ’van for you.
We've already previewed some of the new motorhomes stepping into the limelight for the first time at the NEC Birmingham's Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show between 23 and 28 February. Just last week, British brand Lunar released details of its quartet of show stars, marking the brand's return to the coachbuilt market. And as this includes the introduction of an entry-level Venus ’van – a motorhome version of its popular budget caravan range – we're excited about taking a closer look at these models. However, after the show we learnt that the new Venus 590HL has been withdrawn, but we hope to see Lunar reintroduce a revised model in the near future.
There are also the new Benimars which dealer network Marquis Leisure is exclusively bringing to the show. Launching at the NEC are three Benimar Mileo overcab coachbuilts, the Mileo 313 which sleeps five, plus two six-berth motorhomes, the 323 and the 346. All sit on the Fiat Ducato, have their habitation doors on the UK nearside and have double beds in the overcab section.
Roller Team moves into A-class market
The Trigano Group’s Italian Roller Team brand is set to surprise industry watchers by bringing its first-ever A-class motorhome to the NEC Birmingham, having given the model its official debut at the SECC in Glasgow. Called the Pegaso 740, the new model promises a luxurious specification for a reasonable price-point for an A-class motorhome, with the range-topper weighing in at £57,990. The news is particularly surprising because Trigano Group stablemate Chausson already sells an affordable A-class range on the Continent, but for now has no plans to bring it to the UK.
Built near Poggibonsi in Tuscany, the Pegaso is a four-berth ’van with a layout based on that of the popular T-Line 740. It features a height-adjustable rear island bed, a spacious central washroom and, unlike many of its Continental rivals, a well-equipped kitchen. There are four belted travel seats, two of which are to be found in the L-shaped lounge area, above which there is an electric drop-down double bed. Throw in Roller Team’s good reputation for build quality, and it makes for a tempting package.
Meanwhile, Roller Team importer Auto-Trail has added to its entry-level Tribute range with the Tribute 680 panel van conversion, featuring a rear master bedroom with twin single beds, each measuring an impressive 6ft 4in (1.93m). Based on the 6.36m (20ft 8in) Fiat Ducato van chassis, the 680 boasts a kitchen and washroom mounted amidships, two additional travel seats in the half dinette and a bargain price-tag, starting from just £38,500 on the road.
New base for luxury coachbuilt
In addition to two of the three new Benimar overcab models, the packed display of newcomers from Marquis and Auto-Sleepers will have the new A-S Corinium.
A more affordable interpretation of the impressive Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based Burford coachbuilts, the Corinium is on a Peugeot Boxer base with an Al-Ko chassis beneath the habitation area. There are three layouts: a nearside fixed double or rear fixed twin singles, both with a full-width end washroom, plus a rear island-bed model with a central washroom, which is due to follow in June.
Adria is another brand to check out at next week's show. In addition to a selection of coachbuilts, including the stylish new Coral XL Plus A 670 DK overcab, Adria will be revealing a new-to-the-UK version of its Compact SL panel van conversion. We first saw the Compact SLS at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon late last year, but now this innovative sub-6m motorhome is to be made available to British buyers.
Cleverly, the SLS truncates the rear of the 6.6m Compact SL but adds a rear 1m-long slide-out to the bedroom. The slide-out is half-height to retain a garage below, with an awning that slides out to prevent water ingress.
Shape-shifting Swift Bolero 684
Among a full range of ’vans from British behemoth Swift will be the fixed rear bed Bolero 684, displayed in ‘Lounge’ configuration, i.e. the standard half-dinette is replaced by parallel sofas. There are just two berths and two belted travel seats, but removing the need for a make-up double up front makes for a more comfortable space for a touring couple.
It's not all about the motorhomes!
Of course, there's plenty more to do at this month's Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, with fun for all the family. Celebrities making star appearances include TV presenter Chris Packham (on Tuesday 23 February), chef Aldo Zilli (on Sunday 28 February) and Britain’s Got Talent winners Ashleigh and her dog Pudsey (over the weekend). And for more canine capers, enjoy watching the dog agility.
There are also several themed days to enjoy. On the Tuesday it's the turn of The Caravan Club, the following day Visit Wales is taking over the Discovery Theatre, while 'Friendly Friday' is The Camping and Caravanning Club’s day – plus C&CC members can get discounted show tickets.
In addition, The Caravan Club is running free, 20-minute motorhome manoeuvring classes. Visit stand 2000 to book and remember to bring your driving licence.
If you want to take your ’van and pitch at the temporary show campsite, don't delay – places are filling up! Located in two of the NEC's North car parks, it's within easy walking distance of the show and will set you back just £35 per night, including a 6A electric hook-up. To book, call 01342 336 666.
Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show tickets cost £8 for adults (advance, £10 on the day), £7 for seniors (£9), with free entry for accompanied children aged 15 years and under, plus free parking. To find out more, please ring 0844 873 7333 or visit the show's website.
Our top ’vans to see at the NEC
- Adria Compact SLS
- Auto-Sleeper Corinium
- Benimar Mileo 313
- Benimar Mileo 346
- Nirvana Freedom
- Roller Team Pegaso 740
- Swift Bolero 684 Lounge
- Tribute 680
- Wellhouse Evie
- Wellhouse Terrier LUX-XL