This is more than just a promising start. Apart from a few production tweaks to come, Hillside has nailed it with the Castleton. Ford fans will queue for it; those remaining to be convinced by the latest Transit are advised to look closer.
We’ve awarded the 2016 Hillside Leisure Castleton a four-star rating.
Cheaper than a VW campervan
Front passenger seat swivels
Compact to drive
Ford Transit base vehicle
Narrow double beds
Check you can climb into the roof bed
Rear seat passengers’ legs may not reach the floor
it takes strength to pull the roof back down
Visit Hillside Leisure’s considerable manufacturing and retailing set-up in Derby and the chances are that the place will be jam-packed. That’s not just with new and used vehicles for sale, but also with a host of base vehicles awaiting conversion.
These include Renault’s latest Trafic, the Nissan NV200, Volkswagen’s T6 and, now, Ford Transits. Not only that, but Hillside boasts a pretty full order book, which bodes well for a company that is very much on the up in the world of campervan manufacturing.
The Castleton costs £37,995 – and that price compares favourably with anything VW-based
Stored behind the driver’s seat is a pedestal table, in a dedicated holder. If you’re a tall driver, you might find that the table prevents you from pushing your driving seat back as far as you’d like.
The table itself is a practical one, though, with its single leg fitting neatly into a port in front of the rear bench seats. The front passenger seat swivels, too. It might be a bit tight for all four people to dine around the table at once. On sunny days you’ll be able to enjoy cooking and eating with the sliding side door open.
The conversion pretty much follows a standard camper formula, although there’s a bit of a twist. That L-shaped main unit allows for a clever sink/ hob combination, set at right angles to the rest of the cabinet work. It also leaves a long run of worktop to the chef’s right. Although the Transit’s tumblehome makes overhead lockers infeasible, there is open shelving here.
A standard-fit SMEV grill sits over the compressor fridge (a larger than average 65-litre model). Its location makes it easier to reach in from outside and grab that chilled beer you so deserve.
In common with most rival campervans, there is no washroom in the Hillside Leisure Castleton. However, you do get an under-seat locker space, designed specifically to hold the portable toilet that is part of the Castleton’s standard specification.
One design feature that may draw criticism is that the seat doesn’t make a particularly large bed. At least there are a few vital inches to the sides of the mattress, as well as lots of foot-overhang space, especially for whoever sleeps along the nearside. the lower double bed is 1.82m x 1.19mm (6′ x 3’11”).
A longer, but narrower, double bed is in the elevated roof and measures 1.97m x 1.1m (6’5″ x 3’7″). It’s a thin, one-piece mattress but it’s on plastic supports that really do add comfort. Plus, there’s a bit more height at the foot end than rivals can provide.
The front mesh helps with ventilation, and it gets a zipped blackout cover – as do the acrylic side windows. Unfortunately, there’s no reading light up here.
The table sits plumb centre on its single pedestal leg but an offset, allowing it to pivot so you can pass, would be more practical. The top and leg are stowed behind the driver’s seat.
There’s a wardrobe at the end of the furniture run. The cleverest of a number of neat storage ideas is the section over the rear seat which, when the roof is up on site, acts as divided open shelving. Roof down and it’s all sealed off safely.
There’s room for luggage inside the tailgate. Keep the rearmost section of the bed horizontal if you wish to store things under it and out of sight. Alternatively, it is hinged to be kept upright.
|Shipping Length||4.97 m|
|Engine Size||2200 cc|