Andy Jenkinson

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Updating a classic is never easy, but with its smart new Vivante riding on Volkswagen's T6, you'll want to read our review of this Leisuredrive camper van

Overview

The owner and founder of Leisuredrive, Derek Andrews, has almost five decades of industry experience.

„The company has been in business for 48 years, and prides itself on being one of the UK’s longest-established converters. The factory has recently been doubled in size, as the firm has flexed up to service a growing order book.

Primarily converting on Volkswagen units, the Leisuredrive team can build to a customer’s specifications using pre-owned as well as brand new panel vans. Leisuredrive also manufactures its own furniture and GRP high-tops.

Leisuredrive’s new Vivante model, as tested here, certainly looks set to impress. In production since 1994, the Vivante has proven to be a quality camper van, and has sold well since.

For 2017 it’s been given a new Platinum trim, and it’s on the latest VW T6 van which comes with a DSG automatic gearbox.

Driving the T6 is a relaxing affair, thanks to the base vehicle’s car-like drive. We experienced a comfortable driving position and smooth gear changes on our hilly test route.

Our LWB Vivante test ’van (Leisuredrive also uses the short wheelbase for a more compact conversion) was finished in black metallic deep-gloss paintwork.

Alloy wheels are fitted, while other features include a Teleco TV aerial and an exterior barbecue point. One particularly practical bit of kit is the external shower point.

When entering the Vivante by the nearside sliding door, the step electrically slides out as you open it and retracts when the door is shut.

A Fiamma F45 pull-out side canopy is fitted, and there’s an LED awning light above the side entrance. The mains inlet and water fill point are on the offside, with an external socket for a dish.

Open the entrance door and it’s clear that the LWB variant of the VW T6 gives converters some valuable extra inches to play with.

„The lounge area benefits the most. Excellent seating for two is provided, along with good legroom. And for meal times a one-leg swivel table can be employed – it slots into the floor.

The Vivante's lounge is also large enough to seat four, and the front cab chairs can be swivelled, too.

„The side windows in the lounge allow in plenty of natural light. Night-time illumination is well taken care of by LED striplights and adjustable LED front-corner spotlights.

„The Platinum package adds selected upgrades, including a ceiling-mounted TV, which looks like a laptop fixed to the cab ceiling.

It’s rather clever, and has a fold-down screen. You can watch TV in comfort using the Teleco aerial or by connecting a dish to the external satellite connection point.

There are twin mains sockets plus combined USB points in the lounge area, by the side entrance door.

Leisuredrive has used all its design experience to give the Vivante a sizeable kitchen area that also offers good storage. It’s not badly equipped, either.

You get a stainless-steel combined twin-burner hob and a large sink. Below the hob there’s a separate small oven with a combined grill.

Opposite here, and located in the wardrobe base, is a Dometic fridge. It comes with a 60-litre capacity and operates via a gas, 12V or mains power supply. This three-way unit will be fine for two on a weekend break, but you won’t be able to squeeze a week’s worth of food into it.

“The lounge is a great place in which to spend time. It has comfortable seating with the Leisuredrive logo set into the headrest.

Making up the beds is relatively easy, too. The first option is to use the two front seats to create twin-single beds.

The front seats also fold flat, allowing you to make up a double bed. This is done by sliding the offside seat base out to bridge the gap. We think most users are likely to choose two single beds, which frees up some floor space.

“The Vivante doesn’t come with a conventional washroom as such: it only has a loo. It’s located in the rear corner, opposite the kitchen, and consists of a Thetford cassette toilet with manual flush placed on a plinth.

It’s hidden from view, and has a slide-over cover which means that it’s out of sight when not in use. Realistically, though, you’ll need to stay on sites with shower facilities.

Storage in the Leisuredrive Vivante is impressive for a panel van conversion: the manufacturer really has included as much storage as possible.

The kitchen, for example, has great facilities thanks to its cupboard and drawers. And the wardrobe, although not large, has been designed to allow you to use every available inch.

In the cab, storage is provided beneath the front seats and, up above, via a large storage locker. Overhead lockers in the kitchen add further to the storage capabilities of this new-for-2017 Vivante camper van.

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats2
MTPLM3000kg
Payload700kg
Length5.4m17′9″
Width2m6′7″
Height2.5m8′2″
Engine (power)140
Fresh water23L
Leisure battery95 Ah
Gas tank size6kg
Number of gas tank compartments1
External Options
Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 2-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill

Verdict

The Leisuredrive Vivante has become a classic camper van conversion since its launch in 1994. The design and the quality are indicative of the firm’s years of experience.

This high-spec model offers plenty of space and is well-made. The gloss-finish furniture may not be to everyone’s taste, but it does add a touch of class.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The VW T6 base vehicle means it's lovely to drive
  • Storage space impresses
  • You've a choice of sleeping accommodation
  • It is well specced

Cons

  • There's no washroom
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