It’s exciting to see two established names in the field of camper conversions – Bilbo’s Design and German legend Westfalia – collaborate on a high-end ’van for the UK.

The two companies have come together to produce the De Zine, based on Mercedes’ excellent Marco Polo campervan (itself designed by Westfalia), with UK-friendly features. We reported on an earlier version in our June 2007 issue: since then Bilbo’s has refined the production process.

Exterior design is tasteful and looks sleek, and its almost unnoticeable elevating roof means that it could pass for 
a regular MPV at first glance.

Thanks to the Mercedes-Benz Viano MPV base vehicle, the De Zine has fine road manners and excellent levels of comfort. The 3.0-litre diesel engine on our test ’van was buttery-smooth and capable of lively acceleration. The seating arrangement is indistinguishable from that of any other MPV except that the De Zine will only seat four. Buyers are offered the option of an additional rear single (£525) or double seat (p.o.a) which can both be removed.

The lounge can comfortably seat four, thanks to the cab swivel seats and ample rear bench. The lounge table is among the best we’ve come across: its single leg fits into metal seating rails in the floor, and the edge of the table-top rests on the kitchen units. It’s stable and can be slid back and forth with ease. Once you’re done with it, clip it to the offside sliding door, out of the way.

The roof has to be manually operated – a disappointment at this price level – but its build quality is faultless.

The De Zine has a serviceable kitchen with a decent-sized two-burner hob and sink, all under hefty, secure covers. Bilbo’s has even managed to include an oven/grill unit. The removable 40-litre top-loading Electrolux fridge unit is a great feature: you can remove it to allow access through the nearside sliding door. An extension cable is provided so you can keep the fridge running outside.

The De Zine has one double bed in its elevating roof, and another that makes up using its rear bench seat. The former is lightweight but very stable, and has one of the most comfortable bed bases we’ve come across in 
a ’van. It lacks a ladder, though. The lower bed is also comfy and easy to set up: the powered rear bench lowers electrically and the deflating lumbar support system turns the seats into a perfectly flat bed.

Space is at a premium in any van conversion, and the De Zine makes the best of what it has. The rear bench can be slid forward to create a sizeable ‘boot’ in the back, and there are ample lockers and drawers. However, there is no dedicated space for larger items of clothing such as jackets.