We carried an extensive show preview of 2012-season models both in the November issue of the magazine and here online in the run up to the Motorhome and Caravan Show, but as always there was still plenty of exciting new developments that we only discovered by walking the halls at the NEC.
Here’s our top ten of suprises, in no particular order:
[tl:gallery index=1 size=230×173]1. New-look Romahome R20
The R20, based on the Citroen Dispatch, gets a new-look monocoque bodyshell and a revised floorplan, thanks to the option of an L-shape lounge featured in the show ’van. Entry to the living quarters is still via a door on the rear panel, with a two-burner hob and Dometic fridge on the driver’s side at the rear, but the portable toilet is sited in a dedicated sliding drawer in the portion of L-lounge immediately between the cab seats. The layout offers either two single 6’ sleeping berths or a 6’ x 4’9” double bed. Plus, we’ve always been impressed by Romahome’s GRP-moulded furniture. Prices start at £29,995 OTR; the L-lounge layout will set you back a further £375.
2. Vantage Neo now available on Sprinter
Vantage Motorhomes is now able to offer its excellent Neo – featuring a comfy, wraparound rear lounge that works as two large rear single beds or a massive double – on the Mercedes Sprinter base, priced at £57,950 OTR.
[tl:gallery index=2 size=230×173]3. RS Motorhomes’ five-strong Equinox line-up
The Equinox van conversion launched at the October NEC show last year, but was eclipsed by the excellent A-class Elysian, with twin slide-out sections. This year, though, Equinox is the star, growing to a five-model line-up. Based on the Mercedes Sprinter, it’s built to RS’s superb engineering standards, with high-gloss laminates, leather upholstery throughout, and beefed-up capability for camping off hook up, including a 200A/h leisure battery and 700W inverter. The Equinox-C featured at the show, with wraparound rear lounge, and half-dinette up front. Prices are from £59,500.
[tl:gallery index=3 size=230×173]4. Hillside Leisure’s new VW camper
The all-new Doveridge is based on the SWB VW T5, with a front-hinged elevating roof. Four travel seats convert to two single beds or one double, with the option of a further double bed in the roof. The intriguing bit of design work is to the rear, though, where a rolling storage shelf unit slides out to provide some privacy in the toilet area. It’s a unique solution. Priced from £36,995 OTR.
[tl:gallery index=4 size=230×173]5. Southdowns gets Laika and Knaus franchises
Laika is back in the UK with the launch of the stunning new A-class Kreos. We particularly like the stunning new 7009 (priced at £86,130 at the show), with twin single beds, although the Portsmouth-based dealer will also offer the new 5009 and 5010 models, along with models from the low-profile X-range. For our full preview of Laika’s models, click here.
Also, along with Lowdhams, Southdowns will represent Knaus here in the UK. It will retail the Sun TI and Sky TI ranges.
[tl:gallery index=5 size=230×173]6. The truly unique Dethleffs ALPA
Designed in collaboration with two Dethleffs customers, the ALPA is one of those motorhomes you’ll either love or hate: the bulbous overcab houses twin single beds, which are uniquely arranged lengthways. It also has a rear U-lounge with three panoramic windows, plus optional belted seats that disappear beneath the sofa bases when not in use. It’s a very useable floorplan, although its external looks will divide opinion. Prices start from £64,190.
[tl:gallery index=6 size=230×173]7. Globecar grows to 11 models
Built at the Dethleffs factory in Isny, Globecar is one of Europe’s foremost van conversion brands. For the 2012 season, they’ve expanded their range of UK offerings to 11 models, but will only offer RHD models with the sliding entry door on the driver’s side. We were most impressed with the Family Scout from the D-Line range, a panel van conversion that offers six belted travel seats (thanks to a twin dinette in the living quarters) and up to five sleeping berths, with a transverse rear bed, occasional single in the front dinette and an elevating roof option (costing £4400) that offers an extra double. Prices from £38,990 on Fiat Ducato. Current UK and Ireland dealers are SMC, Alan Kerr, TC Motorhomes, Black Country and Donaghey Motorhomes
[tl:gallery index=7 size=230×173]8. Extra special dealer specials
We were very impressed by the dealer specials from Marquis and Lowdhams. The Marquis Majestic range is not new, but is now based on the much-modernised 2012-season Elddis Autoquest range, so it’s better than ever.
Lowdhams’ HI-Style is all-new, and is based on the Swift Sundance, but benefits from an exclusive pack worth more than £3500. This includes attractive silver cab paintwork, Italian Ash furniture, cab air con, cruise control, an awning, twin view reversing camera, Fiat Blue & Me (inc. Bluetooth and a USB/iPod input), plus a winter pack including heated waste water tank. The 620FB model was priced at a very reasonable £45,024 at the show.
[tl:gallery index=8 size=230×173]9 Hobby builds for British market with Siesta 65UC
One of the new layouts from Hobby that didn’t feature at the brand’s press preview this summer was the Siesta 65UC. It’s a shade over 7m long, is based on the Ford Transit, and features a UK friendly rear U-lounge, thanks to consultation with UK dealers. One of the ’van’s unique features is a sliding wall in the washroom, which creates a separate shower cubicle, and Hobby’s own fridge, called the Slim Tower.
Beautifully styled and robustly constructed, the show model also featured a Hobby Starter Pack (including awning, upholstered cab seats, removable carpets and more) plus a UK Ford Luxus Pack (including oven with grill, plus Truma Combi 6 gas and electric heating), bringing it to £49,734 OTR.
[tl:gallery index=9 size=230×173]10. Bentley’s Cerise takes its indoor show bow
Bentley Motorhomes launched its new Artisan Cerise at the UK Motorhome and Caravan Summer Fair back in July, and since then it’s appeared at a handful of other outdoor shows, but the NEC show was undoubtedly many people’s first chance to see it.
It’s a narrow-bodied low-profile coachbuilt based on the Renault Trafic, and brings the Artisan range up to four models. Entry to the habitation quarters is via the door on the rear panel – just like the old Autocruise Vista. It has a clever end washroom, twin sofas up front, and retails at £43,995 OTR. It’s a very impressive addition to the range, and our favourite of the four.