A worthy contender with exemplary materials, but it’s held back by tight storage space and a so-so bed.
Excellent build; good lounge design
Price; bed not flat; rear storage space limited
The Trooper has an excellent Reimo manually operated elevating roof that feels well-built, is easy to raise and is secure when open or shut.
Our only gripe is with the fiddly straps used to secure the roof in the closed position.
Bodywork is excellent, with the facilities – freshwater inlet, wastewater outlet and hook-up socket – on the offside. Fresh and waste water tanks are slung beneath.
The Volkswagen Transporter, which underpins the Auto-Sleeper Trooper, has car-like driving characteristics, and its cabin and ergonomics are also very impressive. It’s not quite as car-like to sit in as rivals based on the Fiat Scudo, but the Transporter is as good to drive and has a proven reliability record (although it is an expensive base to build on).
The Trooper comes with a relatively weedy 1.9-litre diesel engine, with 184 lb/ft of torque at 2000rpm and 102bhp at 3500rpm. The 1.9 unit is strong enough at lower or medium speeds, but in a vehicle of this weight it runs out of puff when overtaking.
Inside, we like the Trooper’s noughts-and-crosses-style upholstery pattern. It manages to add a little bit of flair to the generally grey ‘automotive’ palette that provides the stain-masking qualities required for a daily driver.
The lounge seats four, thanks to the swivelling cab seats. It’s more comfortable with three occupants, however, because the driver’s seat doesn’t offer much legroom when swivelled. Its LED lighting strips are energy-efficient but produce a cold, white light.
The Trooper has a decent kitchen, with a two-burner hob and a grill – although it suffers from a shortage of workspace. It has a proper draining board with a glass cover that can be used as additional workspace, but if you need more preparation room than that you’ll have to make use of the lounge tables. We found the Trooper’s storage to be remarkably good; we particularly liked the slide-out cutlery tray located in a cubby beneath the sink.
Autocruise has managed to design seats that are comfortable for long-haul travelling, yet flat enough to make a decent bed. However, its rear bed isn’t flawless: the ‘van’s designers have placed more emphasis on travelling than on sleeping. The rear bench has good support for its seated passengers when on the move, with ample side bolsters on the base and the back, as well as a sculpted base that almost makes it a bucket seat.
However, all this also means that when it’s made into a bed it is not properly flat. In fact, it’s almost like two singles set side by side, and this is a setback – particularly as a roof bed cannot be specified. Like many competitors’ ’vans, you get a ‘boot’ area at the back into which part of the rear bed intrudes.
The Trooper’s rear bench does not slide and it is located so far back that it impinges on the rear storage area. Yes, you can store things in the habitation area, but this is likely to become frustrating when you’re on-site.
The wardrobe is on the offside. On the Trooper it has two doors – one for rear and one for front access. However, the latter is too small to be really convenient.
|Shipping Length||4.89 m|