Some buyers are put off by make-up beds, but by having two lounge areas, the Mileo 283 gives you the best of both worlds – it’s easy to leave the bed up during the day, and use the front dinette for relaxing in the evening.
What’s more, you’ve still got the choice of accommodating a third guest, too, which provides even greater flexibility.
But it’s the high specification and quality of fixtures and fittings that really impressed us most about this Benimar. It’s not as cheap as some of its UK rivals, but the level of standard kit that you get for your money is just astonishing. And when you take that into account, this smart, compact motorhome instantly becomes even more appealing.
Here are comments from two of our test team:
Claudia: “Driving this motorhome is a doddle – it’s so compact and has a good turning circle. Adding the rear-corner steadies is also a good idea, helping to make the rear lounge feel less bouncy when you’re pitched up.”
Sarah: “I spent a lot of time in this motorhome when travelling to Belgium in it last year, and I loved it. The layout is ideal for a couple – you can choose to leave the rear lounge made up as a bed during the day, so there’s no setting-up to do after a busy day exploring.”
Back door – the rear hatch is such a clever idea as it allows you to load kit without needing to walk through the ‘van
Kitchen design – very well specified, with its UK-friendly oven/grill, yet retains plenty of storage space
Rear-bed comfort – some of our testers found the rear bed a little firm
In the past few years, compact motorhomes have really grown in popularity, and for good reason: they’re easier to drive and park, command less of a premium on ferry crossings, and generally have an MTPLM equal to or less than the magic 3500kg figure – therefore can be driven with a category B licence.
No wonder, then, that Marquis Leisure – sole UK importer for popular Spanish brand Benimar – has chosen to retail the compact, new-for-2019 Mileo 283 via its extensive dealer network.
This sub-6m motorhome is also hugely UK-friendly – the accommodation door being on the ‘correct’ side is just one example – and it has a rear lounge.
It’s a layout found in a couple of other ‘vans built by British firms – not least Swift, which produces the Escape Compact C402 (winner of the Best Compact Motorhome gong in our last awards).
But how would the Mileo compare with British-built rivals? We took it away for a long weekend to find out.
A 150bhp engine in a 'van of these dimensions is a real treat - it means quick getaways at junctions, even with lots of kit on board. Given the 650kg payload, you should be able to take plenty of kit with you - and there are plenty of places to store it
You’ve a choice of two places to relax in this ‘van: you can swivel the cab seats and sit at the front, or occupy the facing sofas at the rear.
If you choose the front option, you can make use of the small round table that sits on a single leg mounted into the floor. It’s not huge, though, so is probably best suited for snacks and drinks. It’s a comfortable place to lounge, with the cab seats being the best choice: the belted seats are (necessarily) rather upright.
Either way, you get the benefit of a couple of reading lights on stalks in the cab, and that large skylight above, which simply floods the front of the interior with brightness during the day.
For more complex meals, you’re likely to want to eat in the rear lounge. Again, it’s a comfortable place to spend time; despite this being a compact ‘van, there’s space here for a couple to stretch out and relax.
The dining table slots onto a rail on the rear wall, so it can’t be moved fore and aft, but it’s a good size and feels sturdy when in place.
There’s plenty of lighting in the back here to help you see what you’re eating, and space to mount a flatscreen television on the rear of the wardrobe wall if you wish.
The fabrics used on the upholstery feel good quality and look smart. The dark-brown shades of the rear lounge should prove practical in case of any accidental spills, too. The curtains, in a matching fabric, also look smart, and we appreciated the inclusion of net curtains on the windows – they allow an element of privacy even when the blinds are up.
Natural illumination in this area is good, with three large windows – one on each wall.
The boiler for the Truma 6kW space – and water – heating system lives under the offside sofa at the rear; blown-air ducts at the base of the seating keep all occupants warm in cold weather.
As with the rest of this ‘van, the spec level in the kitchen is high. There’s a three-ring gas hob with a glass lid (the latter is useful for providing additional work surface), and an oven/grill low down by the Thetford 80-litre fridge, meaning you won’t need to lift out hot dishes from above your head. The same goes for the microwave, which is again located below the work surface.
It’s also good to find an extractor fan above the hob, which will help whisk away any cooking smells from the accommodation area.
The large stainless steel sink also has a glass lid, which helps to increase the amount of work surface available. The same is true of the lift-up extension at the end of the kitchen unit, which feels sturdy and secure when raised.
Two mains sockets are located in the kitchen.
Compact the Mileo 283 may be, but the washroom, on the offside centre of the ‘van, is of decent dimensions.
There’s a reasonable step up to enter the area; once you’re in, a swivel-bowl cassette toilet with electric flush sits to the right. There’s a smart black basin to the left, and the chrome tap pulls out to become the shower head – it can be slotted onto a riser.
What’s particularly cleverly designed here is the shower cubicle: a solid plastic unit can be swivelled around from behind to protect the toilet and rear walls from getting wet while you’re showering.
A long towel rail sits below the basin; it’s close to one of the two heater air vents in here, so your towels should dry quickly and stay warm.
Other neat touches you’ll find in here include a cup/toothbrush holder, and a liquid-soap dispenser.
The artificial illumination is excellent, supplemented by a mini-Heki roof light above the shower and a window above the toilet.
There’s not much storage here, so you won’t want too many toiletries – it’s limited to a slim cupboard above the window, and a small cubbyhole. Two smart hooks on the wall – in the shape of the Benimar ‘B’ – are a handy addition, however.
The main sleeping area in this motorhome is at the rear, and is made up from the twin facing sofas – it’s a really straightforward process, simply requiring the base units to be pulled across to join in the middle, and the sofa cushions to be rearranged to create the flat sleeping surface.
Some of our testers found the bed a little hard, so users might prefer to place a mattress topper over the cushions to provide a bit more comfort.
The resulting double bed isn’t hugely wide, but it is long – six-footers shouldn’t be uncomfortable here.
The front dinette can also be made up into a single bed, using the belted-seat bench and the driver’s seat. A single mattress topper is provided to create a flat sleeping surface here, and the resulting single bed is perfectly comfortable. We reckon that most buyers will use this as an occasional bed for guests or children, however.
The beauty of this layout is that, if you’re a couple planning to be out for most of the day, you can leave the double bed made up during the whole of your tour and use the front dinette for eating breakfast and snacks.
A ‘van of these compact dimensions is never going to provide the ultimate in storage space, but there is a fair amount of capacity in the Mileo 283.
The prime storage area is in the base box of the nearside rear sofa (the one on the offside is taken up by the boiler and electric systems); this can also be accessed from outside.
There’s also a really good-sized wardrobe in the ‘van, located on the nearside between the kitchen and the rear sofa.
It’s half-height and has a hanging rail; there’s loads of room in here to store the clothes of a couple, as well as shoes and boots.
There’s also plenty of room for clothes and other lighter items in the seven lockers you’ll find up above the rear lounge – they’re smartly finished in cream and usefully, also have easy-to-grab handles.
There are further lockers above the front dinette, and a couple of cubbyholes and a shelf up above the cab.
Storage in the kitchen is excellent, with numerous lockers and a sliding drawer that’s ideal for packaged goods and tins.
A small cubbyhole within the floor by the front dinette is ideal for hiding valuables when you’re pitched up.