Gentleman JackSee other Advice articles filed in ‘Used motorhomes for sale – buyer's guides’ written by Gentleman Jack
The innovative Hymer Exsis makes a very savvy pre-owned buy.
But first, we need to consider what type of motorhome it actually is.
Take a look at the images shown here. Is it a panel van conversion? A low-profile coachbuilt? Or perhaps an A-class?
The answer is ‘yes’ to all three.
Designed to be different
The 2003-2006 Hymer Exsis has features found in all of them, but it doesn’t completely fit into any single category.
The mistake most folk make is to say, “It has a Fiat cab, so it must be a coachbuilt.” Wrong!
Look again, and it can be seen that, although it’s been made to resemble a Fiat cab, it’s actually completely bespoke above the bonnet.
That’s evidenced by the wrap-around windscreen and the canted top panel above the cab doors.
In fact, Exsis was built on the Ducato platform-cab, whereas coachbuilts are usually built on the chassis-cab, while A-class motorhomes use the chassis-cowl.
Motorhomes for a new generation
The reason for Hymer ‘reinventing’ the cab was that it was targeting a new market: young professionals who’d use the Exsis as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.
It was envisaged that this would be a getaway and hospitality vehicle for winter sports, extended European travel and so on.
The design brief was to cram all of the facilities found in its S-Class ‘rolling palaces’, including a full-size transverse drop-down double-bed, into something no longer than a top executive car, such as the BMW 7 Series or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Both of the Exsis variants featured the same full-width changing and showering area at the rear, including the toilet, a natty swing-out sink and a wardrobe.
A forward lounge was ahead of the centrally located kitchen.
The Exsis SK had twin inward-facing sofas, each of which could be specified as being able to be converted into a dedicated forward-facing travel seat with a three-point inertia-reel safety belt.
The Hymer Exsis SG had a shorter kitchen, a two-seat half-dinette on the UK nearside, and an inward-facing seat on the offside. The half-dinette provided two rear travel seats.
Both variants featured a drop-down over-lounge bed. An additional single (SK) or double bed (SG) could be made by lowering the permanently secured table and shuffling the cushions around.
This generation of Exsis was built on the 3500kg chassis, with the heavier 3850kg version available as an extra-cost option.
- Hymer Exsis SK and SG on Fiat Ducato platform-cab
- Built 2003-2006 in Bad Waldsee, Germany
- Overall length: 5.45m (17’ 10”)
What to look for
If you have seen one of these ’vans in the used motorhomes for sale pages and it’s caught your eye, what should you look out for when viewing a prospective purchase?
All were being built on the much-improved last incarnation of the X/44 Fiat Ducato.
The standard motor was the 2.0-litre JTD – smooth and economical, but rather lacking in oomph.
The 2.8 JTD unit is indecently quick, with a thirst to match, so the best compromise is the 2.3-litre JTD: it gives fast motorway cruising, powerful hill-climbing and above-average economy.
On early right-hand-drive examples, Hymer didn’t ‘hand’ the wipers, resulting in a large unswept area in front of the driver. By mid-2004, it corrected this.
A Lilliputian entrance door and a tall journalist built for comfort, not speed, isn’t a match made in heaven – I’ve still got the scars to prove it.
There’s no hob or grill, but there is plenty of useful and varied storage, and room for a freestanding or built-in microwave above the fridge.
Make sure all equipment is working, especially cassette blinds and flyscreens.
In addition – and as you would for any motorhome of this age – check for water ingress.
The youngest of these models will be 12 years old, so budget for new smoke and CO alarms, and a new fire extinguisher.
- Design concept
- Short overall length
- Contemporary furniture
- Through-’van storage via the rear boot lid
- Tiny entrance door
- Automatic transmission only available on LHD
What to pay
You are looking at £22,000 to £26,000 trade.
There were none at UK dealers at the time of writing. Belgian retailer Campirama has one ‘under offer’ at €31k.
Our pick of the range? That would be a 2006 LHD Red or Silver SK run-out model with loads of goodies and the 2.8 JTD unit – we did say the 2.3 JTD was the best compromise, not that it would be our first choice!