Peter BaberSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Motorhomes’ written by Peter Baber
Head to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show this week at the NEC Birmingham and you’ll find more than just new motorhomes on display.
In fact, one of the biggest unveilings that has so far taken place is the Caravan Club changing its name to the Caravan and Motorhome Club.
The organisation, now in its 110th year, says that the change is all designed to reflect the growing proportion of its members (now over 40%) who are motorcaravanners. Club chairman, Grenville Chamberlain, said this includes current club treasurer Christopher McGowan, who travels more than 20,000 miles a year in his ’van.
Motorhome-friendly enhancements the club is planning for its sites include installing new motorhome waste disposal points that have drains going right across the drainage area, so you shouldn’t need to spend so long manoeuvring your ’van into position – great news!
We were also told that all Caravan and Motorhome Club sites will have Wi-Fi by the end of the year, although it won’t necessarily be free.
Buy now – or you might pay later?
If you're visiting the NEC show hoping to find your next ’van, now might be the time to buy, as several manufacturers have revealed that price hikes are just around the corner. We mentioned Swift's plans in our show preview, but there's more.
Indeed, this week is the last time you'll see Chausson's range at current prices. From Monday, the French brand's prices are increasing – in some cases by over £2000.
We understand that post-NEC-show price increases are also on the cards from Roller Team. Don't say you weren't warned...
But why these price rises? It is due to sterling's devaluation since the EU referendum, which has made base vehicles, components and habitation equipment priced in euros more expensive.
What's on show?
Those looking for brand new ’vans won’t be disappointed, however.
On the Auto-Trail stand you can see the company’s updated-for-2017 model in its upmarket Frontier range. The £69,624 OTR Scout comes in at just over 8m long. It can sleep six, thanks to a roomy overcab, a front dinette by the central kitchen that converts into a double, and a very spacious U-shaped rear lounge.
For the extra homely touch, the central kitchen includes a permanent drainer too, while the central washroom includes a good-sized separate shower cubicle, and you get a double wardrobe next to it.
Also new for the Scout is the rear panel and rear window, both redesigned to improve aesthetics. It also has a drawer fridge (under the main fridge/freezer) that's ideal for keeping bottles safely chilled on tour.
The Adria motorhome stand, meanwhile, includes the first UK exhibition showing of its new-for-2017 Sonic Supreme 810 SC. This 8.8m long A-class (£86,990 OTR) features an island-bed, central-washroom layout.
While you’re on the Adria stand, have a look at the bike rack specially made for Adria that has been added to its Compact SLS slide-out model this season. This could mean that you can store your bikes in relative shelter and security, even while you are on-site with the slide-out open.
Craving camper vans?
Camper van enthusiasts may be diverted by the new MRV Auto Campers is displaying, on a VW T6 base vehicle with an automatic gearbox. Putting such a vehicle on the VW rather than previous Ford Transit Custom does slightly narrow room at the top, which is why it is only available in a pop-top option.
But the lower VW suspension also means that Auto Campers can build the vehicle so that it (just) fits under the 2m mark, meaning it should be able to go into a multi-storey car park.
Have a look, too, at the new bonded floor Auto Campers can now offer on its Day Van, which comes with more manoeuvrable single seats. The company can also fit a modular kitchen complete with a diesel-fuelled Wallas hob, if you would rather go for a gas-free short camping experience. Bear in mind that a kettle takes considerably longer to boil on such a hob, however…
As we said in our preview, over on the Lunar stand you can see the newly rechristened Roadstar EL. This is a cosy little two-berth that began life as a Telstar, but has changed its name to bring it into line with the four-berth ’vans in the same range. It costs £51,297 OTR.
Dealer specials on view include the Harbour Creek Westfalia Columbus 641E. Along with a slightly different heating system from that in the standard Columbus, this model includes leather interior seats in a snazzy red cross-stitch design.
The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show runs until this Sunday, 26 February 2017, at the NEC Birmingham.