Of course, compact coachbuilt motorhomes are by no means the sole preserve of first-timers.

Plenty of people, mainly couples, are more than happy with the layout and living arrangements, as well as how easy these ’vans are to drive.

But for those looking to make their first venture into motorcaravanning, compact coachbuilts make a lot of sense. ‘Buy no bigger than you feel comfortable with’ is the relevant adage.

So what is a compact coachbuilt? There’s no official definition, but these days an overall length of 6m or less is generally accepted as ‘compact’.

Here we are looking at three two-berth ’vans, we found at West Country Motorhomes in Swindon, all with a layout that is very popular in the UK.

There’s a lounge towards the front, where both cab seats can be swivelled to face the settees, which in turn can be pulled together easily enough to make a transverse double bed. Each vehicle also has its washroom in the rear offside corner, with the kitchen across the back wall and a habitation door just beyond the rear axle.

There are, of course, specification differences, but they are certainly in keeping with the British penchant for living in our motorhomes (those in sunnier climes tend to do more living outside the confines of their vehicles).

They’re all British-built, too, so replacement parts should be easy to source, and servicing is likewise similarly straightforward.

There’s every chance they’ll hold their value even better than most motorhomes, too.

And if these ’vans get you thinking, why not check out other used motorhomes for sale that sleep two?

As good as new – 2009 (09-plate) Elddis Sunseeker 115

Fancy something special?

Sunseeker is West Country’s own special edition brand (a name it’s used since 2004), based on Elddis’s Autoquests.

Elddis’s more belt-and-braces approach to making motorhomes is evident, even in comparison to the two other, older, models here.

But the extra equipment in a special edition like this does take the edge off things a little. Plus, you only have to look at the ‘new and now’ prices to see how well this has kept its value.

The 100bhp engine and five-speed gearbox may be a bit of a turn-off for some, but it copes better than you might expect in a vehicle like this.

Otherwise, the Sunseeker specification – ranging from a superior cooker and gas/mains heating and hot water to reversing monitor and more – are most welcome.

Other pluses include the fact that the first owner has taken the initial depreciation hit and sorted any possible new ’van glitches. The extras – such as the awning and bike rack – are welcome, too.

The cab keeps things basic, with a radio/CD player, steering wheel controls and walnut trim to the centre console.

Both front seats are on swivels, to enhance the lounge space when you face the twin settees, with a free-standing table nearby, stowed in the wardrobe.

  • Price now: £25,995
  • Price new: £30,000
  • Base: Peugeot Boxer
  • Engine: 2.2-litre, 100bhp
  • First registered: April 2009
  • Mileage: 19,241
  • Berths/travel seats: 2/2
  • Length/width/height: 5.7/2.2 (excluding mirrors)/2.77m
  • Extras: Bike rack, awning
  • MTPLM: 3300kg
  • Payload: 700kg
  • Plus points: Special edition upgrades, pristine order
  • Minus points: No passenger airbag

Value for money – 2003 (53-plate) Autocruise Starquest

From the original Autocruise company

When new, the Starquest was by some way the priciest of this trio – and some of that is reflected in a more opulent interior that’s also a bit wider than its rivals.

Like the Sunseeker, this is a three-owner vehicle. Starquests of this era were built by Autocruise when it was an independent manufacturer (the marque is now owned by Swift), where it gained an excellent reputation in a relatively short space of time for the quality of its build as well as its after-sales service.

Slightly strangely, although the Starquest was on a 3300kg chassis, here it’s been replated to 3500kg – that means an extra 200kg payload, before any extras.

The downside, for some, will be the older-generation Peugeot base. Even so, performance from that two-litre turbodiesel engine is actually quite perky.

The living quarters follow the same format as the other two, but somehow Autocruise has managed to make it all seem roomier, despite offering generally plusher materials.

For example, the washroom is relatively large, with a proper shower cubicle in the far corner as well as a fixed corner basin and a Thetford swivel-bowl toilet.

  • Price now: £21,995
  • Price new: £38,000
  • Base: Peugeot Boxer
  • Engine: 2.0-litre, 86bhp
  • First registered: October 2003
  • Mileage: 32,084
  • Berths/travel seats: 2/2
  • Length/width/height: 6.09/2.23 (excluding mirrors)/2.8m
  • Extras: Reversing camera, Pioneer stereo with MP3
  • MTPLM: 3500kg
  • Payload: 835kg
  • Plus points: Luxury fittings
  • Minus points: Heating and hot water are gas only

Super saver – 2003 (03-plate) Auto-Sleeper Nuevo

One of the UK’s most popular small coachbuilts … and it’s an Auto-Sleeper

This is one of four pre-owned Auto-Sleeper Nuevos on the books at West Country Motorhomes at the time of writing, with two versions at this attractively low sub-£20k price point.

A highly popular little motorhome with the all-important Auto-Sleeper badge, vehicles such as this rarely disappoint.

It’s had one former keeper, but this is a high mileage for a motorhome – although, of course, there will be a full base vehicle service before it goes to its next owner.

Bear in mind, though, the argument that motorhomes are based on commercial vehicles that relish doing the miles.

There are a few bits of DIY. Notably, the drinks locker has been part-adapted to carry plates, LED lights added throughout (with a remote dimmer control), extra hooks in the washroom and a grabhandle added just inside the habitation door. It’s minor stuff, really, and doesn’t detract from the original.

Overall specification is pretty high, although even Auto-Sleepers cuts the occasional corner. The Truma heater is gas and mains, but the hot water is gas only. And that swivel-bowl toilet has only a manual flush.

Overall, this is a proven popular two-berth that’s well constructed and still has a lot to give its next owners.

  • Price now: £19,995
  • Price new: £32,000
  • Base: Peugeot Boxer
  • Engine: 2.0-litre, 86bhp
  • First registered: March 2003
  • Mileage: 79,000
  • Berths/travel seats: 2/2
  • Length/width/height 5.42/2.18 (excluding mirrors)/2.78m
  • Extras: Nearside exterior-access locker
  • MTPLM: 3300kg
  • Payload: 723kg
  • Plus points: Auto-Sleeper pedigree, a popular model, generally well made
  • Minus points: High miles

The small print

  • Vehicles are viewed and reported on as seen. Bear in mind that this is usually before any base-vehicle and habitation servicing, including any rectification work, before they go on to their next owners.
  • Dimension and payload figures refer to official measurements before the addition of any extras, unless stated otherwise.
  • Call ahead before making any visit to see a featured vehicle. Stock shifts fast!

Many thanks to West Country Motorhomes for supplying the ’vans for this article