I have long been an advocate of ‘why buy new when you can buy nearly new’. After all, why not let someone else take the initial depreciation hit and sort out any possible little manufacturing glitches?

But I was well and truly put to the test for this Used ’Van Challenge, which features three such vehicles, all of them extra-long van conversions.

‘Extra-long’ is the somewhat clumsy nomenclature given to the longest, 6.36m, versions of the Fiat Ducato/Peugeot Boxer.

They have flourished over the past couple of years as leading van conversion exponents such as Autocruise and Auto-Sleepers have either stretched existing models or come up with whole new designs.

For the latter, especially, the larger van has made permanent double beds more feasible, because there’s still space for the lounges and kitchens that UK motorcaravanners tend to prefer.

Do note, though, that the wheelbase – that’s the measurement taken between the centres of the front and reat wheels – is exactly the same as that of the shorter, 6m-long Ducato/Boxer.

You’ll only notice the overall length difference when parking and taking sharp corners. True, such a base does result in a vehicle that’s bigger than many a coachbuilt. But some folk prefer the structural integrity – and the shape – of a metal van.

It’s all just one more consideration in terms of the sheer amount of choice out there in the world of used motorhomes for sale. Let’s take a look at these three!

As good as new – 2016 (16-plate) Auto-Sleeper Warwick XL

Get a bit more Warwick for your money

There’s just the one slight difference between this and the other two vehicles here: the Warwick XL can point to one previous owner.

Not that you’d know it, judging by the immaculate order that it’s in, despite the relatively high 12,000 miles on the clock.

Announced as a follow-on from the 6m Warwick Duo, it soon eclipsed its sister as the single best-selling Auto-Sleeper van conversion.

It’s a significantly different floorplan, too, retaining the rear lounge but switching the washroom to the offside and the kitchen to the nearside.

As well as that twin-settee rear lounge – which converts easily enough to single beds (1.92 x 0.70m) and, with a bit more effort, a generous double (1.92 x 1.87m) – the Warwick XL boasts enough space in its washroom to provide a separate shower cubicle.

There’s a generous stretch of permanent worktop in the kitchen, too, which – as is the way with all recent Auto-Sleeper van conversions – is singularly well equipped in terms of its cooker, 96-litre fridge, microwave, extractor unit and more.

Indeed, superior specification was always going to help make the Warwick XL a hit, along with a layout that seems to have hit the mark perfectly.

  • Price now: £48,995
  • Price new: £53,995
  • Base: Peugeot Boxer
  • Engine: 2.2-litre turbodiesel, 150bhp
  • First registered: March 2016
  • Mileage: 12,190
  • Berths/travel seats: 2/2
  • Length/width/height: 6.36/2.05/2.64m
  • Extras: Premium Pack
  • MTPLM: 3500kg
  • Payload: 469kg
  • Plus points: End-lounge favourite, full specification
  • Minus point: small water tanks

Value for money – 2016 (16-plate) Auto-Sleeper Kemerton XL

Washroom, big lounge – this one has the lot

This is definitely a value-for-money option if you look at it in terms of a new Auto-Sleeper Kemerton XL which, with the ubiquitous Premium and Winter Packs, soars to something like £56,000. The example here represents a £5k saving on what it would have cost new a year ago.

The Kemerton XL filled a gap in Auto-Sleepers’ portfolio for an extra-long van conversion with a washroom across the back.

It had a large lounge comprising a generous fixed settee behind the driver, and a single, forward-facing rear travel seat just inside the sliding door.

That seat can, in turn, be converted to a second settee – all en route to providing two single beds, at 1.98m and 2.01m long. Extra cushions take up valuable storage space, but they do mean you can create a 1.98 x 1.8m double bed.

As ever, there’s the highest of specifications throughout – certainly too much to list here, but think in terms of a permanent gas tank, Al-Ko Air-Top suspension aid, a microwave oven and more.

Remember, also, that Auto-Sleepers offers a choice of metallic paints as well as soft furnishings – so if you don’t like what you see here do shop around. But this one’s only done 13 miles!

  • Price now: £48,995
  • Price new: £53,995
  • Base: Peugeot Boxer
  • Engine: 2.2-litre turbodiesel, 150bhp
  • First registered: May 2016
  • Mileage: 13
  • Berths/travel seats: 2/3
  • Length/width/height: 6.36/2.05/2.64m
  • Extras: Premium Pack, Winter Pack
  • MTPLM: 3500kg
  • Payload: 355kg
  • Plus points: Large lounge, full washroom
  • Minus point: An abundance of cushions!

Super saver – 2015 (15-plate) Autocruise Alto

Yet to be used, and already reduced by £11,000

It is bargain time as Marquis clears its Autocruise stock: brand new this Alto would have cost about £51,350, but now it’s £39,995 – and it’s still all but brand new.

In fact, it’s yet to get its first real owner. The Alto – despite promising so much – never gained much ground in terms of sales, which could be among the reasons that parent company Swift Group unveiled a new approach with its Autocruise line-up, now called Select, for the 2017 model year.

You might like the look of this, though, and it certainly doesn’t suffer when it comes to spec.

The cab has automatic air-con, twin swivel seats, steering wheel controls, a stereo upgrade with sat-nav, blinds to all windows and so on.

The key feature in the Alto is the permanent bed at the back. As well as its facility to open up for plenty of storage space, there are lots of lockers along the nearside wall opposite.

The overall specification is rounded off by such goodies as blown-air heating, rear speakers, concertina blinds with flyscreens, holders for the flatscreen TV in the lounge and, at the foot of the bed, a waste bin.

Condition throughout is absolutely perfect. All this ’van needs is a good home!

  • Price now: £39,995
  • Price new: £51,350
  • Base: Peugeot Boxer
  • Engine: 2.2-litre turbodiesel, 150bhp
  • First registered: May 2015
  • Mileage: 3395
  • Berths/travel seats: 3/4
  • Length/width/height: 6.36/2.05/2.64m
  • Extras: Enhancement Pack
  • MTPLM: 3500kg
  • Payload: 430kg
  • Plus points: Lots of specification upgrades, permanent double bed
  • Minus point: Check the rear seating

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 Marquis South Yorkshire for supplying the ’vans for this article