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Practical Motorhome reviews this rather well equipped Auto-Sleeper Nuevo ES

Design

This is a high-end, well equipped and admirably compact coachbuilt ’van from a prestigious British manufacturer, taking the successful Nuevo low-profile formula and offering an overcab bed and two dedicated passenger seats – making this a real four-berth ’van in a pint pot space.

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

Powered by the 2.2-litre HDi 120bhp engine (100bhp is standard) our test Nuevo came with none of the other vehicle options available. After 1000 miles, the engine freed up and revved beautifully.

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

The lounge area is rather small, but versatile. The seating plan allows plenty of options: the two forward-facing passenger seats convert quickly and easily into parallel sofas by the releasing the central catch in the seat box; they glide smoothly into position. The sofa’s back-rest cushions have two, hinged wedge-shaped flaps which fold out to rake the cushions at a comfortable angle. Swivel the cab seats, which are by far the most comfortable to lounge in, and you can either stretch out your legs on the sofas or accommodate up to six people at a squeeze.

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.

Kitchen

End-kitchen layouts are always a big seller for keen ’van cooks, and the Nuevo’s is a fine example. There is plenty of preparation space, including a 47 x 51cm slide-out extension above the 86-litre Dometic three-way fridge. The two three-pin plug sockets and a TV aerial socket are well-placed here. There’s a full-sized Caprice cooker with three gas burners, an electric hotplate, and full-sized oven with grill. The only thing missing is an extractor fan, although one is available as a cost option.

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.

Sleeping

The main bed should be great – runners either side of the sofa slide across and lock into the recesses in the opposite facing seat box, then the detachable side cushions fill in on top of the runners to make a very comfortable, flat double. However, somehow one of the runners began to jump free of its recess, and towards the end of the Nuevo’s time with us the centre cushions would regularly slip off the rails – extremely frustrating.

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.

Washroom

Arguably the finest feature in this ’van is the swing-wall shower. This simple, sturdy-feeling space-saving innovation maximises room on the throne, at the basin and in the shower – brilliant. Sensibly, there are fluorescent lights above both toilet and shower for when the space is separated into two cubicles. A door allows access to the wardrobe, which has ample space for two: it’s 180cm high, 42cm wide and 70cm deep, with a single drawer beneath.

Storage

Storage space is the Nuevo’s only real shortfall – it is tight for two, let alone four. The only externally accessible storage locker sits on the nearside and has a small (70 x 25cm) entry space. The interior space is 100 x 35 x 35cm (LxHxD), making it adequate for wet walking boots, a levelling ramp or two, maybe a hook-up cable and a couple of other smaller bits and pieces, but not much else.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
Payload548kg
MTPLM3400kg
Length5.63m18′6″
Width2.24m7′4″
Height2.99m9′10″
Waste water38L

Verdict

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.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Ample kitchen worksurface; clever, versatile and user-friendly lounge; superb washroom.

Cons

  • Overcab bed not comfortable for anyone but the smallest children; interior floorspace fills up very quickly; some weak fixings.

Andrew McPhee

See other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee
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