Mike Le Caplain

See other Blog articles filed in ‘Motorhomes’ written by Mike Le Caplain
   
Dealer special motorhomes haven’t always enjoyed the greatest press, but our Test Editor thinks they’ve turned a corner – read his blog to find out more

There was a time when special editions – of anything – tended to arouse nothing more than mild suspicion in my mind. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back for me came in the mid-1990s when Nissan – with a completely straight face – launched a special edition of its popular little car the Micra, and called it the ‘Wave’. I mean, seriously – ‘Micra Wave’? What next, the specially air-conditioned Fridge Freezer?

It was much the same story in the motorhome world. On the face of it, some dealer specials, way, way back in the day, seemed to me to offer little more than different (and often less pleasant) velour trim to the factory standard, some shouty body graphics and maybe a couple of extra scatter cushions.

But if a recent experience is anything to go by, things have changed – and for the better. If you're in the market for new and used motorhomes for sale, I think maybe now is the time to really take note of dealer specials.

I recently had cause to spend quite a bit of time with a Bessacarr Hi-Style, which is exclusive to Midlands dealer giant, Lowdhams. It gets off to a cracking start straightaway, since the latest Bessacarrs have lost the bulbous over-cab Luton beds in favour of a much sleeker ‘low line’ look. Better yet, the ‘unique’ graphics are a masterclass in tasteful understatement. In short, it’s a bit of a looker.

But the real kicker with the Hi-Style is what it offers. And, rather conversely, what it doesn’t. Additional kit is considerable (that old favourite, ‘upgraded upholstery’ is mentioned, but it’s rather tasteful) and includes such desirable goodies as a touchscreen DAB radio/CD player/sat-nav, cab air-con and cruise control.

Lowdhams says the Hi-Style’s extra equipment adds up to over £3000. And since a standard 496 costs £50,895, you’d expect the Hi-Style to come in at £53,895. In fact, it costs £51,890, which in turn suggests that it does what a special edition is supposed to do – offer the customer more, for less.

And the Hi-Style is far from alone. The Southdowns Motorhome Centre has ‘Sovereign’ special editions based on the latest Bürstner Nexxo, Ixeo Time and Viseo, while Marquis has its impressive Majestics (whose bewildering specifications extend to a more powerful engine than the model upon which it’s based) and Brownhills its popular Evolution. In fact, there’s a whole raft of them out there.

Obviously, some offer better value than others, so it’s always worth doing a bit of background research to see whether the asking price is actually anything to write home about – and whether the additional spec is of any real practical value. But it would appear that the days of special edition motorhomes that, in reality, are anything but, seem to be far behind us.

And in an increasingly budget-conscious and customer-savvy marketplace, that’s got to be a good thing.

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