The German manufacturer is adding a surprisingly spacious new model to its range of upmarket van conversions celebrating the great explorers.

The main development for German manufacturer Westfalia for the 2020 season is a new van conversion based on the Mercedes Sprinter.

Part of the Rapido Group, Westfalia is of course the name behind many OEM campervans, such as the Marco Polo from Mercedes and the Ford Nugget (although the latter is yet to be launched in the UK).

But the firm also produces a range of upmarket van conversions under its own name.

WELCOME JAMES COOK

Westfalia already has a range of vans named after famous explorers, such as the Amundsen and Sven Hedin.

The new model, based on a 190bhp Mercedes Sprinter VS30 with rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, is named in honour of Pacific explorer James Cook.

Some 5.93m in length, its rear bed measures 2.0 x 1.7m - thanks to a slide-out at the back - which is large for any motorhome, let alone a van conversion. This still allows room for a boot underneath.

Then you get a choice of three roofs: there's a standard high-top, or a pop-up that will provide you with a second double bed, also 2.0m long.

The third option is a hard GRP roof made by Westfalia. The bed in here is only 1.8m long, but obviously the structure is more substantial, and also provides space for a satellite dish.

There's another innovation in the heating: rather than standard (often noisy) diesel, Westfalia has gone for Plugtronic all-electric heating.

Hooked up to the mains, this has a power output of 1850W, which Westfalia claims is good enough for all but the coldest winter days. You still get an Eberspächer Hydronic heater for the water.

Up front, the sleek kitchen includes a 90-litre compressor fridge/freezer, and the two travel seats in the dinette have Isofix fixings for child seats.

OTHER FAMOUS NAMES

Even with the new 'van, there has been time for a quick refresh on some of the other models. The Fiat Ducato-based Amundsen, for example, now comes with grey upholstery and lighter wood, contrasting with matte white on the locker doors. There's a new stone-coloured floor, too.

The Sven Hedin, meanwhile, has had a change of base vehicle, from VW's Crafter to a MAN TGE with a 140bhp engine as standard. The pop-out on the rear nearside that makes the transverse bed a little bit longer - such a distinctive feature on the Sven Hedin when it was launched - now comes as a standard fitting.

OUR PICK - JAMES COOK

A campervan that can potentially offer you two double beds that are each 2m long is not to be sniffed at. The hard GRP roof option may not be the most attractive, but it does at least ensure that you can use the vehicle all year round. And the electric heater should be quieter in the night time, too.