Lizzie PopeSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Motorhomes’ written by Lizzie Pope
Wandering around the 11 halls that make up the Motorhome and Caravan Show 2015 can be somewhat overwhelming. There's so much to see and so much to take in – where do you start?
You'll be pleased to know that Practical Motorhome is here to help. We've been pounding the halls and checking out the exhibits, and have compiled our list of 10 must-see things to look out for if you're coming to this year's show at the NEC Birmingham, which runs from 13 to 18 October.
But before we get started, be sure you take heed of our top tip: wear comfortable, flat shoes! And make sure you visit Practical Motorhome in hall 18, for great subscription deals, and to have your say in our Owner Satisfaction Survey and our Top 100 Sites Guide 2016 voting.
1 – VW T6 campervan conversions
The new Westfalia T6 Club Joker City made its UK debut in Birmingham and, as we've come to expect from Westfalia, it was a high quality job. We particularly, liked some of the design touches in the rear kitchen, such as the funky, stacked, soft close, LED-lit drawers and cupboards, the silver circular sink and the tap that can also be a hand-held showerhead.
Over on the Bilbo's stand were two more T6-based conversions, the Nexa and the Celex, both with optional four-wheel drive, available in short- or long-wheelbase and low-lie elevating or high-top roof form, and in a fresh range of colours. Engine outputs range from 83bhp to 201bhp. The Nexa has a rear kitchen, the Celex a side kitchen.
Hillside Leisure's stand was awash with Birchover campervans, now riding on the VW T6. The variety of options on show was impressive, from the entry-level version with non metallic paint, steel wheels and a £36,595 price tag, to campervans with large alloy wheels, lowered suspension and curtain fabrics that are sure to split opinion – check out our gallery above.
Of course, think VW campervans and, sooner or later, you'll think of Danbury. So if you're at the NEC, be sure to head there to check out the new and very smart Danbury Surf T6. And, of course, being Danbury, there was also an example of the firm's brand-new T2 conversions on display – in baby pink with a colour-matched interior.
Want more? Head to the Volksleisure stand and see the stylish T6-based White Star Special Edition, painted, perhaps unsurprisingly, in Candy White. Or how about the CMC Free Van, with its smart, wood veneer finish? In short, if you're interested in a brand new VW campervan, don't miss this week's NEC show.
And, as an interesting aside, the Wingamm Micros also caught our eye. Tucked away, but well worth seeking out, this very-well finished VW T5-based campervan should not be discounted if you're in the market. But as only 24 build slots are available for 2016, if you want one you'll need to move quickly.
2 – New Elddis models debut
As predicted by Practical Motorhome, Elddis displayed four new and previously unseen 'vans at the NEC. Introduced with no fanfare and just sat quietly on the stand, it might take the eagle-eyed to spot the new Autoquest 185 and 195, and the Encore 254 and 285.
Stepping inside the Autoquest 195, it felt very comfortable and caravan-like, and its front and rear lounges brought a spacious, luxurious feel to the interior. The Encore 285 also had a caravan-like feel inside, but we're sure its layout of fixed twin singles at the rear and an end washroom will prove popular.
3 – Auto-Sleeper Fairford
Another new-for-2016 ’van you might like to make the time to see if you're in Birmingham is the Auto-Sleeper Fairford. This 6.3m-long, Peugeot Boxer based van conversion can sleep four, using a front double and a rear double, and has a 3500kg MTPLM.
4 – Pilote C700 Essentiel
The 'van that stood out for us was the new C700 Essentiel. Given what you get, it might be surprising that it has an MTPLM of 3500kg, and that in its 6.99m length this Fiat Ducato-based 'van squeezes in six beds and six travel seats. How? There's an overcab double bed, fixed bunk beds at the rear and the dinette converts into a second double. Pilote isn't the only manufacturer to launch a new overcab coachbuilt for 2016 - Adria has one, too: the Coral XL 670 DK.
5 – Florium and Fleurette return
You may remember us announcing that Fleurette and Florium are back in the UK for the first time in six years. Webbs Motor Caravans has agreed an exclusive deal to bring these hand-crafted 'vans back to Britain and if you head to the dealer's stand, you'll be able to take a look yourself.
It's the first time they've been shown in the UK and speaking to the Webbs team, these Rapido group 'vans were well-received, visitors to the show clearly impressed by the quality and price of these motorhomes. Why not see them for yourself? With just 500 built a year, they're certainly distinctive 'vans.
6 – Wellhouse wows
If you're ambling around the halls of the NEC suffering from T6 VW campervan overload, Wellhouse might have the perfect antidote. The Ford Terrier M-Sport was developed in conjunction with Vansport and M-Sport, the works Ford World Rally Championship team. It certainly stands out with its bodykit, black 18" OZ alloy wheels and quad exhaust system. The M-Sport 'van is £55,000, but the display 'van adds another £3050 to that, which gets you Alcantara roof lining with LED lights (which, we think, looks stunning!), a roof bed and an awning with yet more LEDs.
7 – Bailey needs you
Ever wanted to design a motorhome? Then make tracks to Bailey's stand, as the Bristol-based brand wants you to help shape its future 'vans. This new initiative, launched at the NEC, includes the establishment of Bailey Customer Focus Groups, which will meet to determine the company's next-generation products. Head to Bailey's stand or visit the website.
8 - Knaus BoxLife
Over on the Lowdhams stand, we were interested to check out the new BoxLife range from Knaus. The range comprises the 540, the 600 and the 630. We took a look around the BoxLife 630, priced from £40,995. Standing 6.36m long, it has an MTPLM of 3500kg, four beds (including a drop-down double) and four travel seats.
9 – Roller Team Auto-Roller 746
Walking round the Roller Team stand our heads were turned by the Auto-Roller 746. It has an overcab double and a second double can be made from the rear lounge. But it was that lounge which impressed. The finish of the U-shaped lounge and the chic cabinetwork above made for a very pleasing space.
10 – Giving Wiggins wheels
Finally, it's time for something a little different. Cycling fans will be pleased to see the Swift Escape that's supported British star cyclist Bradley Wiggins – it's covered 12,052 miles with Team Wiggins in 2015.