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Based on a 100bhp Ford Transit, read the Practical Motorhome review to discover more about the Hymer Van

Design

The Hymer Van is a more successful design than the Hymer Exsis and certainly looks modern and distinctive. The low profile is beautifully integrated to the Ford Transit cab, with clever use of grey graphics to break up the bulk. These graphics are also used with restraint on the flanks and the rear panel. It’s all very nicely done and you even have the choice of paint finishes to set them off: Colorado red/crystal silver, Polar Silver/crystal silver, as tested here, Anthracite metallic/steel blue. The subtle side skirts that run along the flanks and rear of the body are also a hit.
It’s a matter of taste whether you like the blue paintwork on our test model. We did, because it’s distinctive and so beautifully executed. What’s more, the Van has a great stance on the road, a quality helped by the 330cm wheelbase of the Ford flat floor chassis. Buy the optional sports pack and you get stylish alloy wheels as well.
The overall look is helped by the fact that the side windows are quite small so the tourer doesn’t look like a greenhouse on wheels. There’s no window at all on the back panel. This leaves rather an expanse of GRP, but the neat rear light cluster, graphics and high-level brake light help disguise it.
The body itself is noteworthy as it uses the proven GRP/foam bonding construction which has an insulation value equivalent to a 44cm brick wall. This makes the Van a potentially great all-year round motorhome.
On the inside, too, the designers have been more restrained than they were with the Exsis, opting for a central seating area which uses the passenger cab seat. Opposite the kitchen is a central washroom with a fold-across screen and the transverse fixed bed. The furniture is a light cherry wood colour, which helps to lift the mood, as does the white granite-effect table and worktop.

On the road

The Van is based on the Ford Transit, with the 2.0i TDE 100bhp engine as standard. This does a remarkable job of hauling the Hymer along, and with its flat chassis and sensible rear overhang, the Van has one of the best dynamics we’ve come across in a motorhome. The Ford feels like it’s been on a New Year exercise programme compared with the equivalent Fiat/Peugeot offering. It’s nimble and precise on the road, and the excellent ride easily coped with Lincolnshire’s potted roads, never becoming bouncy. While you’re listening to your radio/CD you’ll appreciate the built-in speakers just above your head. These are incorporated into a shelf that runs above the windscreen right round the cab. Jacqui found this useful for maps, books and CDs, even though there are no divisions to prevent things sliding about.
The common-rail diesel unit easily coped with the Van’s 2700kg. Mated to a five-speed gearbox with a precise action, the 2.0-litre engine is free-revving and turns over at 2500rpm at 65mph, which makes for relaxed cruising. In our test we averaged 32mpg on a combined run, including some motorway driving. The Van is also remarkably rattle-free on the road, which bodes well for its longevity.
The driving position is very comfortable and there’s plenty of headroom in the cab. The four-way adjustment of the driver’s seat is easy to get at the right height. It certainly doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of bulk behind you, and the adjustable wing mirrors give a very good view.
The dash layout is very car-like and, fake wood inserts excepted, looks classy. The seats have been recovered in the same blue-beige stripped fabric as the rest of the interior, and it all looks attractive and durable.
Visibility is good, and there are plenty of cubbyholes as well as two cup holders and massive door bins. Less successful on our test were the standard window blinds, which we reckoned were too flimsy and complex. They’re beautifully engineered but don’t look like they will stand the test of time.

Lounge & dining

For such a compact package, the Hymer has a very useable living area including a full-sized table that can easily accommodate four for dinner. There’s even a pull-out extension which rotates out from beneath the table giving a sizeable extra area for plates and dishes or food preparation. This has a particularly pleasant operation and is indicative of the quality of Hymer’s furniture – solid and well crafted.
There are two full belts on the facing seats, taking the total to four. This makes the Van a useable everyday motorhome for trips out with friends. Less sociable is the fact that the sofa doesn’t convert to a bed, making this strictly a two-berth – unless children are prepared to use sleeping bags on the floor.
The table is made of a practical white granite-effect material which matches that on the kitchen worktop. Both cab seats rotate, but only the passenger one is likely to be used as it’s nearer to the table than the driver’s.
We would criticise the lounge for not being light enough at night. Apart from a bendable halogen spotlight by the table (which supplements the window strip light) the only other main illumination comes from the kitchen light. This shortcoming is even more surprising given the thought that has gone into other details, such as the wire magazine rack and umbrella holder.
Facing the seating area is a wardrobe which comes up to eye-level but which will carry enough clothes for two adults for a week, including full-length dresses. There’s no shelf space so socks and jumpers will have to live in the eye level cupboards – no hardship. The wardrobe has thoughtful touches, such as two securing catches, a pullout rail and a light. The wardrobe also includes the fuse box, plus a useful area above it designed for a television. It also has the aerial socket and power point.

Kitchen

Despite the lack of an oven or grille, the Van managed to convince our testers that they could live without either. What you do get is a three-burner hob and ample worktop space with the sink cover in place. It’s a surprisingly practical arrangement that suits the character of the Van as it doesn’t set out to do more than it can manage.
Again, much thought has gone into the detail, with a long-neck tap and a separate, if small, drainer area on the stainless-steel sink. However, we think we’d miss at least a grille if not an oven on longer trips. A microwave would go some way to making up the gap, although there’s no obvious place for it.
There’s ample storage that includes two eye-level cupboards and a large under-sink unit and cutlery drawer. The gas isolator taps are also easy to access in the cupboard below the sink. The control panel is situated just above the habitation area door together with the heater and hot water controls.
In a similar vein, the fresh water tank is just below the bench seat and very easy to check, if needed.

Sleeping

Strictly a two-berth, the Van doesn’t set out to compromise its layout, as some of its competitors do, by cramming in more berths than the space can realistically accommodate. It’s all the better for this honest approach, although it’ll lose it some sales from couples looking for occasional berths for grandchildren or guests. This honest approach means that Hymer doesn’t have to compromise the lounge area arrangement, and it’s all the better for it.
The rear bed has a small detachable ladder for easy access. This is raised to allow for the substantial garage below it. That area doesn’t come at the expense of headroom, though, which is still more than adequate. We loved the space and sheer comfort of the double bed, which removes the need to tidy up the bedding in the morning. You could lie in bed and listen to music or read. Four halogen lights – two at each end of the bed – and the skylight make this easily possible. Storage is taken care of by a shelf at either end of the bed and three level cupboards.

Washroom

If singing in the bath is what you enjoy, then this is the washroom for you. It may not be the biggest space you’ll see, but once you’ve been inside – via the sliding door – you’ll find it one of the most intelligently designed. This is principally because there’s a fold-across screen that allows you to separate the shower area from the rest of the washroom. This means your towels and toiletries stay dry.
The level of build quality is very high, and the floor tray is well sealed all round, which means water ingress won’t be a problem. There’s a six-year warranty just in case, though.
The large cupboard is ample for toiletries, and that the fresh water tank feeds the combi boiler with enough water for two decent showers. There are no windows, but there is a skylight with an extractor fan. The showerhead doubles as the mixer tap and simply slots into place by the basin. When in use, it pulls out and is fixed to a mount on a pole. The folding door is a simple but effective solution that even allows for a plastic storage tray in the wet area for soap and shampoo. Although we’ve seen this folding door solution before, this is the best-built example we have seen, and fits and works brilliantly.
Good attention to detail also means there are two powerful lights just where you need them in the shower area. There is also a swivel-seat Thetford toilet with electric flush.

Storage

The star performer here is the massive garage, which not only has room for a scooter or two bikes but has sliding lashing hooks on rails to secure them. There are two cupboards in the garage for two gas bottles and batteries, as well as a large fluorescent light to ensure that you use the space at night if arriving late on a site.
As we’ve mentioned before, interior storage got top marks from our testers, who loved the excellent provision of eye-level cupboards, a good-sized wardrobe and plenty of kitchen space. Bearing in mind that this is strictly a two-berth, the storage is excellent and allows you to take enough gear to last months; especially useful as the high level of insulation means that you can use this motorhome all year round.
Access to the garage is via a large side door with no lip so loading bikes is a reasonably straightforward affair.

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats4
Payload930kg
MTPLM2570kg
Length5.97m19′7″
Width2.07m6′9″
Height2.75m9′
Waste water100L

Verdict

The Hymer Van sets out to deliver a luxury camping experience in a stylish body. We’d choose the Ford chassis and diesel engine on our playlist as provides a great driving experience that gives Fiat-based low profiles a run for their money. It’s beautifully built and stylish, too. However, it won’t appeal to buyers looking for occasional extra berths for grandkids or friends, or those for whom a cooker is an essential. If you can live with these omissions, it’s a great-priced package.

Conclusion

Pros

  • 80-litre fresh water tank under the sofa, ensuring it’s frost-free
  • Well-placed control panel
  • Coat hooks on the wardrobe
  • Magazine rack
  • Umbrella holder

Cons

  • Not enough lounge lights
  • No oven or grill
  • No slot for an optional microwave
  • There's a high step up into the ’van

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