The Hampshire looks good, drives well and has the best single beds we’ve tried, in terms of comfort. It seems a solid, well-made ’van throughout. With its comfortable Transit cab and powerful turbo-diesel engine it will be a joy to drive.
Fabulous single beds; Transit base and beefy engine; fine build quality
Limited kitchen worksurface; tight elbow room in the shower
The Hampshire is part of the successful County range of ’vans made by Auto-Sleepers and marketed by Marquis Motorhomes, the UK’s largest dealer network.
It has been designed exclusively for touring couples and focuses on comfort, from its Ford Transit cab to its luxurious, electronically adjustable bench seat/bed system.
Lounging is a joy in the Hampshire. The area feels very caravan-like with its three panoramic windows and facing bench seats with central, three-drawer dresser unit between. At a pinch, six could be seated in this area, but it’s better for four. The dresser has a flip-top to act as an occasional table.
At the end of the offside bench seat, there is an illuminated drinks cupboard, with holders for wine glasses and bottles. There is also a drop-down flat-screen TV, which can be easily viewed from either bench seat. Our favourite position was to lean back on the cushions, with the ‘head’ end of the bench seat raked forward slightly and our feet raised. This is possible thanks to the Frolexus bed system: stretch out on the bench, pick up the remote control and electrically adjust head, foot and centre portions of the mattress to achieve your favoured position. The huge, panoramic, rooflight above the lounge area helps let the light flood into the lounge.
With the free-standing dining table in position between the bench seats, four can dine in comfort although diners at the end of the table will have a bit of a struggle to slide across as there is very little clearance between the tabletop and the top of your thighs. Still, once positioned it is no longer a problem.
The kitchen is well equipped with a 77-litre three-way fridge (with freezer compartment), full-size cooker and stainless steel sink and drainer. A bonus is the built-in 800W microwave oven, although this is positioned separately, on the opposite side, below the TV locker at the foot end of the bench seats.
Worktop space is limited unless the cooker and sink covers are in place, but extra food preparation surfaces are available in the form of the pull-out worktop (30 x 450mm) to the left of the sink, and the top surface of the floor cupboard (435 x 570mm) below the microwave: the former is slightly awkward when in use because it obstructs access through the caravan door; the latter will be useful when serving food to the dining table.
There is a powerful, three-speed extractor vent in the roof above the kitchen area which will minimise kitchen smells.
Between the cooker and fridge is a narrow cupboard with a small waste bin, cutlery drawer and single shelf. Above are two lockers: one for crockery storage, the other with a middle shelf, but the latter would only take items no higher, say, than a tea caddy or food tins. More flexible storage, for larger items such as a cornflake box, is available in the foot locker at the end of the bench seat (beneath the TV/microwave unit).
The compact washroom is positioned immediately behind the driver’s seat, opposite the cooker. Inside, no room is wasted. Marquis has managed to fit a corner sink with a double cupboard below, a mirror, soap dish, toothbrush holder and handy wall-mounted liquid soap dispenser.
The separate shower head is fixed to the wall at 6ft and overall headroom will be fine for all but the tallest people. The one niggle we have, though, is that elbow room while showering is not that generous and some may be aggravated by the skin-clinging potential of the plastic shower curtain. A ribbed rubber-mesh duckboard covers the entire washroom floor.
Simply remove the side cushions from the bench seats and the two wide, single, beds are ready to jump into.
Now, here comes the best bit – the Frolexus electronic bed system. The Reflex foam single-piece mattress rests on individual spring elements (whose tension can be adjusted). These provide point-by-point support and can be adapted to an individual’s body contour and weight. Once tucked up in bed, you just reach down for the remote control and adjust the lift at head, middle and foot sections of the mattress to achieve the perfect sleeping position.
For two people, storage space is plentiful. In our test model, the overcab area with its locker door is flanked by two open-fronted corner lockers. The wardrobe, with one shelf and a hanging rail, is complemented by the central chest with its three deep drawers – an ideal place for folded clothes. Elsewhere, towards the rear of the ’van, are six overhead lockers and two capacious corner lockers.
The under-bed storage areas are both accessible through a locker door in the side of the bench seats. The offside locker is also accessible from outside.