Lizzie Pope
Digital Editor

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We're excited to reveal the fantastic ’vans shortlisted for our Motorhome of the Year Awards – find out what's new in 2018's hotly contested competition

It’s that time of the year again – welcome to our annual awards!

This is when we celebrate the best of the best in the world of motorhomes across 10 categories, spanning the breadth and depth of the industry.

We’ve made a major change this year: for the first time, we’re focusing on the best new models for the forthcoming season.

All motorhomes and camper vans that are new or substantially revised since our last awards, and which are available during the 2018 season, are eligible for inclusion in our judging.

So, every single one here should be on forecourts and at shows for you to look at over the next 12 months – so, let’s find out which ’vans have been shortlisted!

Best for innovation

Clever features abound in the trio of brilliant models shortlisted for our 2018 ‘best for innovation’ prize. In the running are the Sun Living S 70SP, the Chausson 716 Flash and the Westfalia Sven Hedin.

The Sun Living’s washroom sectioned off by a tambour door caught the eye of our awards judges. The introduction of it in low-profiles shows just how much space it can create in the centre of the ’van – this transverse-bed model feels like a hotel room.

Over in the Chausson, the kids’ lounge in this family motorhome is what really impressed – it converts into one very padded or two standard bunks. Clever!

As for the Westfalia, well, how do you fit a 2m-long transverse bed into a ’van that’s only 1.83m-wide?

Simple: install a slide-out section that allows the bed to extend when needed, and comes back in again when you’re driving. Plus, this ’van is based on the all-new Volkswagen Crafter.

Best rising-roof camper

The three contenders in this class really lift the lid on comfort and practicality.

First, it’s the VW-based Auto Campers MRV. This is a new venture with a Volkswagen base vehicle from a company that has been a Ford Transit diehard.

You get all the same advantages as the existing MRV – including a modern and hugely flexible interior – but with the VW base, plus a roof that should be low enough to go under many car park height barriers.

Next, there’s another nod for Westfalia with the Columbus 540 D. This impressive new van conversion manages to fit a transverse bed, sizeable kitchen and front dinette onto the short-wheelbase Fiat Ducato.

The washroom is high-spec and the ’van is packed with space-saving features, such as a fridge that faces towards the cab, rather than into the ’van.

Last but not least in this category, it is the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo, meaning three camper vans with three different base vehicles are going head-to-head with each other in this class.

Finally, a van conversion backed by a car manufacturer has arrived that can rival Volkswagen’s popular California.

When the Marco Polo was launched earlier this year, the one thing that took the industry by surprise was the price – it’s only £3000 dearer than the VW camper van, yet just as packed to the rafters with kit.

Best high-top panel van

You’ll get a real sense of space in any one of these fabulous van conversions, shortlisted in this category for our Motorhome of the Year Awards 2018.

First, it’s the Hillside Hartington, a great example of a traditional VW converter branching out onto a new base vehicle – here, the Renault Trafic.

The Hartington, launched during the 2017 season, makes full use of the potential offered by the high-top: it features a roomy end kitchen and washroom.

Or how about the Adria Twin 640 SPX? This is one of a trio of Twin models for the 2018 season, all featuring substantially improved washrooms.

This one has a transverse bed at the back, and Adria has tweaked the layout to include a separate shower and washroom that you can separate off in one of three ways. Pretty unusual in a van conversion!

The third contender in this class is the new Swift Select 184. Formerly known as Autocruise, for 2018 they’ve been given a new name and an upgraded specification.

The options packs have been simplified, too, making this spacious rear-lounge model a truly compelling proposition.

Best budget motorhome

Here, three well-priced ’vans that don’t skimp on quality go head-to-head.

The price of van conversions has been slowly creeping up over recent years, so it’s good that Sunlight can launch a brand-new range (with a quaint English name) that can still provide you with this double-bunk model for less than £40,000 – that is why the Cliff 601 caught our eye.

Truma Combi 4 heating and a two-burner hob are included, too.

Tribute by Auto-Trail is targeting the budget market this year, so it has wisely stripped down its standard offerings to the point where this new-look family ’van comes in at only a smidgeon over £45,000.

The Tribute T-726 is a real bargain for those who can live without extras – the £1499 options packs represent good value, too.

Finally, it’s the Itineo SLB 700, a 6.99m-long A-class motorhome that provides ideal comfort for a family on tour.

There is a children’s area at the back that’s furnished with Itineo’s Kiddy-Neo pack: it includes a child-friendly rug, a blackboard and board games – all at a price that’s many thousands cheaper than the next comparable A-class.

Best compact motorhome

For three diminutive ’vans that pack a punch, look no further!

Swift revamped its hugely popular Escape range last year – and the 604 is nominated in this awards category.

This layout, which is brand new for 2018, brings together all that modern styling and clever furniture design into a shorter vehicle.

It’s just six metres in length, but still manages to fit in an end washroom – there’s a dropdown bed over the lounge, too.

The next ’van to get a nod is the 2018 Elddis Accordo 105. It gets a new look for 2018, including handsome blue sidewalls, and has an end-washroom two-berth layout.

It sits in a range designed to be more compact, to fit into smaller drives or to take you around tighter corners – plus there have been some new-season updates.

After two Brits, the third contender in this class is from Germany – step forward the Hymer Exsis-i 504.

Full specification details of this new model were slightly sketchy as we went to press, but former editor Niall took a very close look inside it at the German company’s 2018-season launch, and was hugely impressed by the 6.2m transverse-bed A-class.

Best coachbuilt motorhome

The first shortlisted ’van in this class is the Knaus L!VE Ti 700 MEG, featuring bang-on-trend fixed twin-single beds – it’s one of a trio of models in the new-for-2018 L!VE Ti low-profile range.

All are based on the Fiat Ducato, but with the added advantage of an extra-wide rear track to improve stability; they’re all hugely impressive.

Next, it is the Bailey Autograph 79-4, launched at the end of 2016 – too late for our awards last year, therefore eligible for inclusion this year.

And we’re pleased that it is: this is a cracking island-bed ’van that really shows off the spaciousness of the Autograph’s interior. It looks and feels beautifully constructed, too.

The twin-fixed-single-bed Pilote Pacific P706GJ is also in the running for our ‘best coachbuilt motorhome’ gong.

This ’van is one of two in Pilote’s 2018 low-profile range that includes a drop-down bed over the front dinette.

Pilote low-profiles have also been re-engineered this year, so that all wiring and plumbing is contained within the floor, leaving the undercarriage clear – clever.

Best motorhome for couples

First in this class for touring twosomes after a luxury ’van, it’s the brand-new Swift Bessacarr 599.

It has a comfy island bed, a spacious central washroom and kitchen, a roomy front dinette that can quickly be made into a bed for visitors, and internal access to a rear garage.

Next it’s a model that is technically a four-berth, but much more amenable for two – all you need do at night is lower the drop-down bed over the lounge.

The Citroën Relay-based Adria Matrix Axess 590 ST will also help you impress your loved one with your culinary skills, thanks to the hugely spacious end kitchen.

The latest model in Auto-SleepersCorinium range of Peugeot Boxer coachbuilts – on a low-level Al-Ko chassis with a 2.32m width – is the RB, launched since our awards last year.

It’s perfect for a couple, featuring a spacious and comfortable island bed at the back, and two facing sofas up front.

Best motorhome for families

In this category, the Auto-Trail Imala 732 brings a layout previously only available in the pricier Tracker range to this line-up.

Featuring an island bed at the rear for the parents, a large front lounge that converts into another bed, and with the Hi-Line option allowing for yet one more bed – in the overcab – this is ideal for families.

Or how about our next shortlisted ’van, the Bürstner Ixeo I 744? The family-friendly L-shaped rear-lounge layout introduced last season on the cheaper Lyseo range has turned up this year on the more stylish A-class Ixeo.

With a central washroom and front dinette, plus an optional second drop-down bed, you really can have three rooms in less than 7.5 metres.

And then there’s the Elddis Autoquest 196. The inclusion of this drop-down-bed model in the Autoquest line-up – given lots of design changes for 2018 – takes one of Britain’s most popular ranges right into the large-family sector.

There’s plenty of room for all of you in the large rear lounge, and a separate dinette up front where kids can eat.

Best for luxury (3500kg and under)

Our penultimate category sees another Bailey Autograph receive a nomination. The 68-2 is the baby of this upmarket range and looks much more expensive than it is.

This one comes with a comfy rear lounge and an optional media pack that includes a TV connected to corner speakers. With a spacious kitchen, too, you’ll really feel at home.

The Rapido 8094dF is also quite a special ’van. The dF suffix here stands for ‘double floor’, but such winterisation is not the only bit of luxury you will find in this new-for-2018 A-class.

There are two spacious lounges – 10 people can be seated in total – luxury fabrics and materials everywhere, and the option of an impressive home cinema system.

Finally, Hymer’s Exsis-i range gets another nod with the 588. In keeping with Hymer’s focus on lightweight models that are still luxurious, this 6.99m-long A-class Exsis model – all of which received major updates for the 2018 season – has a MiRO of just 2990kg.

As with all Hymer motorhomes, it looks great and feels beautifully built, too.

Best for luxury (over 3500kg)

For the ultimate in touring comfort, look no further than this talented trio.

The first shortlisted motorhome in our final category is the Dethleffs Globetrotter XXL A 9050-2.

This monster of a motorhome – a new-for-2018, 8.86m-long model – includes a front dinette that you can extend by shutting off the cab to create a U-shaped, family-friendly lounge.

The large kitchen and central washroom are both beautifully fitted out – the latter can be partitioned off on both sides.

Or perhaps the Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 77 E should win this class? The über-luxury brand’s Arto 76 E was one of its best-selling models in previous years.

But this, its replacement for the 2018 season, is 10cm longer and as a result has longer beds in the rear, for that extra bit of comfort.

There’s a new sliding door between the bedroom and washroom, too.

And last but by no means least, our final shorlisted ’van is the Auto-Trail Tracker LB.

Two of Auto-Trail’s new models this year bring a layout previously only seen in a more upmarket range into something that promises to be that little bit more affordable.

The luxurious Tracker LB is a version of the Frontier Delaware, so has a rear-island bed and central washroom, but comes in at 44cm shorter.

Find out which ’vans are this year’s winners in our November 2017 magazine, on sale 21 September.

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