Nick Harding

See other motorhome reviews written by Nick Harding

A dealer special edition of a highly regarded Volkswagen camper conversion? Nick Harding views the latest addition to Richard Baldwin Masters collection.

Overview

Now the Masters Collection is almost complete, and this newest model might prove to be the best of the lot.

West Yorkshire's Richard Baldwin Motorhomes names its special-edition vehicles after famous artists these days - and the latest, Caravaggio, is its first foray into the campervan sector.

Unlike other coachbuilts and van conversions in the line-up, which come from Elddis, the Caravaggio is built to RBM's specification by specialist manufacturer Hillside Leisure.

Based, fairly loosely, on Hillside's Birchover, it takes the Masters portfolio to 10 models. There are plenty of significant differences in this camper. It's available in high-top and elevating-roof variants, and it's the latter we review here.

Design

You get a standard VW-based camper, side-furniture layout. Hillside's pedigree is such that the main fittings are top-notch - for example, the SCA elevating roof and RIB rear seat/bed.

RBM also retains fittings such as Hillside's hot water system and Eberspacher heating working from the VW's fuel supply. There's a general sturdiness to the build quality that bodes well.

Thereafter, the Caravaggio moves away from the norm. The upholstery, for example, is an Aquaclean fabric, and there are significant tweaks to the furniture, too.

Kitchen

The side unit has been shortened (by comparison to the Hillside Birchover), to allow the best possible range for adjusting the driver's seat. The kitchen worktop is set lower, too.

Items such as the extra door with interior shelving over the fridge and the cutlery tray locker inset into the worktop have been forgone. It's easy to argue these are changes for the better, but it does mean you lose the dedicated cutlery storage.

Kitchen appliances are from Dometic - a typical two-ring hob and sink combination under twin glass lids. There's also a grill, although this does steal storage space. You get one upper-level locker by the switched control panel with battery-condition gauge.

Equipment

Also here are two mains sockets and a 12V outlet, plus - in the reading lamp adjacent - a USB port.

Over and above all this, though, are fittings such as DPS 360, the CCTV monitoring system with rear-view and side cameras, linked to a Thatcham CAT 1 alarm.

There are plenty of other goodies to look out for, including heated cab seats, solar panel, external gas barbecue point, Winter Pack, auto-latching sliding door, rear speakers, portable toilet and external shower fitting - all as standard, straight from the factory. Feel free to talk to RBM about add-ons like a bike rack or awning.

Technical specs

LayoutCamper without washroom
Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM2800kg
Payload565kg
Length4.89m16′1″
Width1.91m6′3″
Height2.01m6′7″
Engine (capacity)2000
Fresh/waste water60L / 40L
Leisure battery100 Ah
Kitchen Equipment
Waeco Compressor Fridge, 2-burner gas hob, Separate grill
Washroom
Dometic toilet
Heating
Eberspacher space heater
Security
Immobiliser, Alarm

Verdict

Points of criticism? That RIB doesn't make the longest of beds, and the SCA roof needs some muscle to operate it. Some might say the carpet trim to the upper walls is a bit old hat, ditto the lined curtains (including at the kitchen and around the cab). The table is only a pedestal leg and it's narrow (it'll struggle to seat four).

The Caravaggio takes VW's T6 Transporter as its base. It's new, too (RBM resists the temptation to convert pre-owned T6s).

It's the Highline version, which adds sophistication in terms of padded steering wheel with controls, stereo upgrade, reversing sensors, electric heated mirrors, DAB radio stereo system and more. RBM adds to all of this with some mock-wood trim to the dashboard, extending to the handles on cab doors and cupholders on the dash.

However, this is only the 100bhp engine with five-speed manual transmission (which, admittedly, keeps costs down).

Special edition camper? RBM has Master-ed it.

PRACTICAL MOTORHOME SAYS...

The new Caravaggio is a very well-executed special-edition camper van, providing more than a few clever design touches and a really impressive level of spec to take it up that vital extra notch in this competitive market. It's also rather attractively priced.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Impressive 'extras' as standard
  • Sturdy build quality
  • CCTV/monitoring system

Cons

  • Carpet trim and curtains dated
  • Narrow table
  • Short bed

Explore the range