WE'VE BEEN DASHING back and forth across the channel over the last few weeks to see the new, 2015-season motorhomes from the Continental manufacturers behind the UK’s top imported brands. We've digested and reported what’s new, and what’s worth a look, if you’re planning to buy a new motorhome this autumn.
Bürstner's UK range for 2015 is smaller than before
So let's start with Bürstner. The firm's successful formula in the UK has been to offer German build quality with a touch of flair and plenty of choice. The manufacturer has trimmed its UK range for 2015 but offers a wide variety of shapes and sizes at a much-improved level of specification. And just because it's cutting back, doesn't mean there's no choice.
Sovereign is the name to look out for in Bürstner’s portfolio of some 40 vehicles for the 2015 season – as we said, this is still a comprehensive range of motorhomes.
The line-up planned for the UK will have nine models: three each of the Ixeo Time and Nexxo/Nexxo Time coachbuilts and three narrow-body A-class Viseos. Of these, only the Nexxo t 690G is also available with a lower specification as a Time variant (Time denotes budget models).
The Nexxo t 745 is a smart, sharp looking low-profile model
The range names remain the same, but there has been considerable shuffling of the models in the pack, as Bürstner adds to its variety of low-profile coachbuilts, which comprise the most popular style. Prices for the six new Nexxo Time models start at just over £44,000 for the French bed t 569 and top £48,000 for the twin-bed t 690G.
Prices are rising for the large overcab coachbuilt Argos A 747-2G, starting from £83,460 for the three-litre version.
In addition, wider habitation doors and larger sunroofs are among the improvements featured in many of Bürstner’s 2015 motorhomes, and the company is also phasing in a timber-free construction method called XPS, with high-density insulation.
All 2015 Bürstners are based on the latest version of the Fiat Ducato, and all are arriving at Bürstner’s 11-strong UK dealer network.
Ford Transit based 'vans are still available in Chausson's 2015 line-up
Our next stop is France, motorhome manufacturer Chausson offering plenty of choice for 2015, with two base vehicles and levels of trim to choose from, plus four new models.
So, what has changed? In a nutshell, quite a lot – in both the base vehicle and new model departments. Chausson joins other manufacturers in being able to build on the revised Fiat Ducato for 2015, but it also has another ace to play – parent company Trigano Group has acquired the exclusive right to build on the new Ford Transit for one year, before other manufacturers can join the party, so the 11 low-profiles Chausson will be importing into the UK for the new model year will be available on two base vehicles. If you’re looking to buy a coachbuilt ’van with a genuine choice of base vehicle, then best put your nearest Chausson dealer (there are 12 in the UK) on speed dial.
Here is the two-berth Chausson Flash 510 on a Ford Transit
And in new model news, there are four to report: 510, 610, 628 EB and 728 EB, all available in Flash or Welcome trim. For those unfamiliar with Chausson model designations, Flash covers the essential equipment, with limited options, while Welcome offers more choice of options. The highest level trim, Suite, is in a period of redevelopment, so no 2015 Suite models are available.
With the addition of four new floorplans, a total of 12 Chausson models will be available in the UK for 2015. The overcab Flash C626 will only be available on the Ford Transit; the other 11 low-profile models will be offered on both the Ford Transit and the Fiat Ducato.
Rapido's UK market share is increasing steadily
Now let's stay in France and head over to Rapido. Its changes for 2015 are much more significant than for the previous model year.
Rapido joins other manufacturers in building exclusively on the revised Fiat Ducato, having dropped the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
The ranges have been reorganised, too: Series 7 and Series 70 are combined in a new Series 70, with four models rather than a total of five, and Series 8 has seven models, down from nine. Series 9 loses its two Mercedes models; Series 9dF now has two models, from three; and Series 90 goes from nine to seven.
For 2015, Rapido has unveiled a new innovative bed system
There are, however, three big bits of news: the introduction of the A-Class Distinction; Mobily, a new three-in-one bed system; and the swinging wardrobe in the V55 van conversion.
Mobily is a very slick and ingenious operation that gives three bed options – island double, corner double or twin singles (as the lockers must move with the beds). Rapido claims it takes five minutes to change from one configuration to another.
Niesmann + Bischoff's Flair range gets its first big update since 2008
Finally, it's back to Germany to check out what's new for 2015 from Niesmann + Bischoff. The manufacturer has focused its attention on updating its premium Flair range for 2015, with only small tweaks for its luxury Arto A-classes.
The premium Flair range gets a makeover for 2015. The Iveco-based liner receives a host of updates including a new front grille and rear panel, as well as refinements to the interior space. The Arto range has been pruned, now comprising only classic layouts. Another change for the Arto is that buyers can choose between four colours to add to the exterior, for a customised look.