Andrew McPhee

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It's the company's first long-wheelbase high-top – discover how the Bilbo's Design Lezan fares in the Practical Motorhome review

Overview

Bilbo’s Design is known for its conversions of VWs but this is the firm’s first attempt at a long-wheelbase high-top, turned into a tourer that’s suitable for everyday use.

Design

Wherever we went the ‘van’s metallic green paint and unbroken lines attracted admiring looks. Bilbo’s has achieved the conversion without the need to alter the exterior much. The result is beautiful bodywork. It’s faultless, with the only interruption to the smooth lines of the panels coming from the small cover over the hook-up point. Bilbo’s has added only two windows, in the high-top section. The other windows fit flush to the bodywork and maintain the Lezan’s handsome appearance.
The rear doors, cut in around the lights, open wide to aid access and loading.

On the road

The 2.5-litre turbo-diesel engine provided more than enough power, and made achieving and maintaining motorway speeds a cinch. It was a comfortable ride, too. Even with an impressive 130bhp roaring from the engine, there were no rattles from inside the ‘van.
The captain’s chairs provided sturdy back support, although inflatable lumbar support would be a welcome addition. Two belted passenger seats are positioned sociably within talking distance of the cab.

Lounging & dining

If you were to use the Lezan as a two-berth, there would be enough room to lounge and dine in comfort. Otherwise, feeding and accommodating guests or grandchildren could be a little tricky.
When lounging you have two options: spin the cab seats 180º and you have four comfortable, facing seats; or you can make a sofa from the offside rear seat by lifting its base, dropping its back and positioning the extra cushions as back support. Either set-up provides room for four to rest, with a decent amount of leg room, although the cushions are a bit hard.
There’s no TV in the Lezan, and no space to put one. The two spotlights could be used for reading but their position immediately behind the cab seats makes them better placed for the cab than the lounge.
Diners have a choice of two tables at which to enjoy meals. The smaller is stowed by the nearside sliding door, but is too small to take more than two people’s crockery. The larger table, with its drop-down leg, is stored out of the way, attached to the offside rear door. When set up and clipped to the wall, it is quite sturdy. The only drawback is that legroom is limited, so diners are forced to slide out when leaving the table.

Kitchen

The kitchen area is rather small but Bilbo’s has made the most of the available space. There’s a two-burner hob and a grill but no oven. The 65-litre Waeco CoolMatic fridge was big enough for groceries for the two of us but is placed low to the floor and is a little noisy.
The worktop area, opposite the cooking unit, is limited but there is sufficient space for food preparation.
Storage is adequate rather than exceptional. Two deep, wide drawers sit below the grill and two below the fridge, and these easily swallow pans and crockery. There’s a tall, thin cupboard beside the grill and small, shallow cupboards placed at head height. A slide-out cupboard with shelves saves space but we missed having a cutlery drawer.
Limited storage space overall meant that we had to fill kitchen drawers with items that belonged elsewhere, such as our hook-up cable.

Sleeping

The single beds are easy to assemble. By releasing the catches you can lift the base 180º and then flip the back of the seat down into that space. Then, with the cab seats swivelled, the bed is complete. (A double-bed version of the Lezan will be available soon.) Although the design is intelligent and utilises the available space very well, we found the beds a little narrow (at 0.6m) and the cushions too firm to make comfortable mattresses. Also, with your feet on the cab seat and your pillows at the other end, your head is unavoidably close to the fridge and its intermittent purring can be annoying.
For a few nights away, the beds are fine, but any longer than that and you might get bit restless.

Washroom

If you think that this ‘van would be too compact for a washroom, think again. There is a small but usable sink with a showerhead on the tap, a mirrored cupboard and a flushing Thetford toilet. With the rear doors open, the showerhead can also be used outside the ’van, too.

Storage

There are many storage spaces in the Lezan but because they’re all quite small, the ‘van only just held gear for the two of us.
The cab has pockets in the doors, a handy little space under the radio unit and a sunglasses holder above the driver’s head.
The front portion of the high-top is sectioned off behind sliding doors, and provides a useful space in which to store bedding and some clothing.
Another useful space, under the rear seat bases, easily takes laptop PCs, and other gear.
We found the kitchen cupboards and drawers a little on the small side, but there are enough of them to cope with food and kitchenware.
At the back of the ‘van there is a cupboard which houses the battery charger and fuse box. In here there’s enough room for more clothes storage, although you have to be careful not to block the charger’s ventilation. The unit next to this cupboard has a few cubby holes built into it and an elasticated net proved useful in the washroom, but sadly there was nowhere to hang towels.
In general, you get only small storage spaces, which is understandable considering the ‘van’s size. Two people can stow their stuff but the lack of exterior lockers means it’s a bit of a squeeze.

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats4
MTPLM3000kg
Payload680kg
Length5.29m17′4″
Width2.04m6′8″
Height2.46m8′1″
Waste water36L
Kitchen Equipment
Waeco Compressor Fridge, 2-burner gas hob
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Shower curtain

Verdict

On the outside, the Lezan is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and a quick jaunt along the open road only increases your admiration for it. Bilbo’s quality build, combined with VW's faultless engineering make the Lezan a pleasure on tour. The only drawback is that despite its clever layout, the Lezan can’t escape the limitations of its camper base. The layout is intelligent, but those intending to tour long-term might look around for more space for their money.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Looks; quality of finish; little road noise; easy-to-assemble beds; neat washroom

Cons

  • Bit small for extended touring; slightly cramped dining for four; no TV space; limited storage; narrow beds
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