Mike Le CaplainSee other News articles filed in ‘Motorhome’ written by Mike Le Caplain
You can’t help feeling that, if you were a German motorhome producer, you would view the Hymer brand with exasperation and envy. It’s the biggest, with a show hall at Düsseldorf all to itself every year.
Sales revenue has rocketed from €274m in 2012/13 to €343m in 2014/15 – up 25% in just three years – and Hymer is responding with an additional 10% investment programme, new production facilities and increased staffing levels. The firm is aiming for an annual turnover of more than €400m by 2017/18.
Just two new models have been announced for the coming season. That said, one of the newcomers is the Hymer Van, the disappearance of which, a while back, remains a mystery to its legions of fans spread across Europe.
The other new model is an addition to the HymerCar range. Like the Hymer Van, the new Ayers Rock is, the company claims, proof that camping comfort and small size are not mutually exclusive. Unlike the Hymer Van, it’s a van conversion, not a coachbuilt.
The latest iteration of the Hymer Van – dubbed ‘314SL’ in Hymer-speak – is intended for two people. And the switch to the latest X290 Fiat base vehicle does lend some credence to Hymer’s claim that you could use one as an everyday car. To wit, it’s just 5.45m long and weighs 2500kg. And with 130bhp under your right foot, you can be sure that the Hymer Van doesn’t hang about.
Hymer’s patented PUAL build promises increased stability on the road and improved thermal insulation properties. Access to the rear garage is afforded by a large offside door and an unusual car-like lift-up door in the rear panel. Inside, the cab seats swivel to face a half dinette and while the nearside kitchen is small, it does have a two-burner hob and a small fridge, together with a Dometic extractor fan.
The fully lined washroom makes the most of the available space with a swivel toilet, folding washbasin and mixer tap that doubles as a shower riser. Additional light and ventilation is provided by a pop-up roof vent.
Out back, the high-level transverse double bed narrows to clear the washroom wall, but looks big enough to be comfortable. It also folds away to give access to the wardrobe beneath.
In other news
We only managed a fleeting look at the Ayers Rock before Hymer staff took the two demo models away, but it appears to take the Hymer Van’s ‘second car’ ideology and move it on a level.
Based on the Fiat Ducato panel van, the Ayers Rock is just 5.41m long, and while its half-dinette lounge/folding transverse rear bed layout may not be new, the fact that you can get bikes into the rear with the bed folded away should extend its appeal beyond the usual customer base.
Again, the bed is hardly oblong, but for the occasional use for which this ’van is intended, it’s serviceable. And a second bed can be fitted into the elevating roof. Its unlined, no-frills washroom also points to a vehicle intended for use as a car that you can live in at weekends, and we like that the fridge has been placed in such a way as to make getting drinks out of it easy when you’re relaxing outside. In fact, squeezing all this into a camper you can feasibly fit into a standard car parking space is impressive.
Practical Motorhome's star 'van – Hymer Van 314SL
The new Hymer Van feels rather like a premium Hymer motorhome that’s shrunk in the wash. There’s little evidence of cost-cutting anywhere, and while there are space compromises in the kitchen and washroom, the lounge and bedroom are excellent, and the garage large.
If Hymer gets the price right, this could prove to be a problematic thorn in the side of its contemporary rivals.