Practical Motorhome reviews this rather well equipped Auto-Sleeper Nuevo ES
Fans of the ’van will notice the substantial price hike imposed at the introduction of the latest generation Boxer chassis (prices start at £39,656 for the 100bhp model). Auto-Sleepers told us the new chassis meant they had no choice but to redesign the whole vehicle, which gave them the opportunity to design the swing-wall shower cubicle and use the low-line chassis together with the integration of the built-in awning, heavy-duty battery charging system, central-locking exterior door and larger water tanks.
For such a short ’van, it is rather high-sided. From the outside this suggests a substantial internal overcab space, but that is not the case: the headroom inside the overcab is a measly 45cm, barely enough for one adult to roll over in the night without getting wedged between the mattress and the ceiling. It’s all to do with cosmetics: the GRP roof mould runs the full length of the ’van to accommodate a well-integrated, recessed awning on the nearside. This also does a good job of hiding the cost-option roof-mounted Waeco air-con unit from view, but at the expense of overall handling on the road: that is, at motorway speeds you can feel crosswinds in the Nuevo ES that you don’t notice on low-profile ’vans.
Based on Peugeot’s X2/50 SWB low-line Boxer chassis, with white colour-matched bumpers and a central, grey grille insert, Auto-Sleepers’ neat, understated graphics do an excellent job of marrying up the cab and habitation lines. The sandwich construction sidewalls are skinned with GRP and grey GRP sills, and the attractive moulded rear panel has attractive circular light clusters and a high-level brake light. Mounted on the rear of our test ’van was the Fiamma Pro-C Carry bike rack for four bikes, which got plenty of use during its time with us.
A single key locks the cab and habitation doors. The fob itself can be programmed to switch on both the exterior awning light and the interior lights over the lockers as you approach the vehicle. The services are well placed, with the Thetford locker door on the driver’s side behind the rear axle – the fresh water and hook-up points are positioned here, too. The huge gas locker is nice and low, and the hinged door opens through 180°, supporting itself for easy access while you are grappling with the two 15kg gas cylinders, which it swallows with ease.
We liked the fact that the fresh- and waste-water drain valves are on the same side of the ’van, and that they are recessed into the skirt. Both tanks are underslung but a bit small at 73 and 38 litres respectively.
In the Nuevo brochure, Auto-Sleepers allows for 149kg of essential habitation equipment, so that leaves 399kg for the rest of your kit – more than enough payload for two, but a bit tight for four.
One of the unique features of this end-kitchen ’van is the backlit touch-screen control panel above the habitation door. It is clever but not very intuitive, though really quite user-friendly once you know how. And it’s accurate, too, for levelling the ’van front to back and side to side. It shows the exact charge voltage of the batteries, and it also displays interior and exterior temperatures. It is a step up from almost all other control panels we have used.
On the road
In travel mode, the Nuevo is a genuine four-berth, with two forward-facing passenger seats with three-point belts. It’s a dream to drive, too, with excellent through-vision thanks to the kitchen window and the 120bhp engine which comes with a six-speed gearbox and plenty of power and torque throughout the range of each sensibly spaced gear ratio. Despite a short wheelbase and the end-kitchen layout there was none of the pitching motion we had anticipated.
The Boxer cab gives you a neat storage shelf overhead for maps and the like, and having the radio/stereo controls on the steering column is a serious advantage over the Ducato’s standard motorhome setup. Our advice, though, is to avoid pranging the new-generation Boxer’s wing mirrors (as we did). Certainly it’s a less expensive fix than a scrape along the length of your motorhome’s sidewall, but prices start at £85 and rise to around £214 – depending on the size of the base vehicle and whether it’s heated/electrically adjustable – plus about 20-45 minutes’ labour charge.
Of course, the real beauty of the Nuevo is that, at 5.63m long, it fits into standard parking bays and can be shoehorned into tight kerbside parking spots that you wouldn’t go near in most coachbuilts. We did manage to scrape the Boxer’s exhaust pipe a couple of times, though – it sits very low and the clearance is minimal.
Lounging & dining
There are two table legs and two small table tops stashed in the wardrobe, and four recessed holes in the floor in which to mount them. Four can easily dine, in a variety of layouts, whether it’s facing sofas or the rear passenger seats facing the cab seats. The hardwood-edged tables stand 78cm high, with surface areas of 45 x 55cm. If you’re not carrying passengers, we’d advise you to travel with the sofas in position as their seat bases are hinged and will raise to allow you to stash bulky items there.
Four directional downlighters on the underside of the lounge overhead lockers and three fluorescent strips, plus integral strip lights over the lockers, provide more than enough lighting for the living area. Our ’van had Waeco living-area air-con installed: great on site but not much use for those in the cab while on the road.
In terms of storage space, there’s a dedicated cutlery drawer and a spice rack. Also provided are four wine glasses and a set of crockery in a dedicated, moulded base. Our only problem was that the catch and magnet on the hinged, double locker door beneath the sink would not keep it closed while in transit.
The overcab bed base, rather than raising on struts, folds and clips into place in transit. The problem with this is that it means making up the double bed here with three cushions rather than one, which makes for a less comfortable surface. Also, as mentioned earlier, the headroom is only 45cm.
3-burner gas with electric hot plate, Combined Oven/Grill
Separate shower cubicle
A sumptuously equipped ’van, perfect for a couple on tour and able to cope with four if the extra people are kids … and it carries the prestige of the Auto-Sleepers brand.