Nick Harding

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Moving up a class? Camper specialist Hillside Leisure is branching out with a high-top conversion of Volkswagen's Crafter. Nick Harding steps inside.

Overview

Bigger? Better? These are questions that demand answers when it comes to this new model from specialist campervan producer Hillside Leisure, whose products up to now have peaked at 'vans based on VW's Transporter.

The Hopton is one of two models on the Transporter's bigger sister, the Crafter. It offers a full van conversion with washroom, using an original factory high-top.

Design

The choice of base vehicle for the Hopton is the place to start this review, and comparisons with Fiat's Ducato are inevitable.

I couldn't dispute that the Crafter feels a more sophisticated vehicle. Better equipped, too; although Hillside adds to the Trendline spec, so your Hopton will come with cab air-con, front and rear parking sensors and individual cab seats, in addition to staples such as the Composition Media DAB+ with 8in touchscreen, and heated windscreen.

On the road

This example also has the most powerful 177bhp engine, allied to eight-speed automatic transmission, plus adaptive cruise control (£945), front fog lights (£245) and 17in alloy wheels (£1195). This takes it up to a pretty substantial £62,745.

Lounging & dining

Hillside keeps things strictly two-berth with a floorplan that reflects UK buyers' desire for a rear lounge with inward-facing sofas, although in this case there are also fittings to make a U-shaped sofa.

The lounge benefits from strip and reading lights, the latter more substantial than you'll get in most similar set-ups. There's storage in the base of both sofas, as well as overhead lockers.

Talk to Hillside about your table preference. This model has a single pedestal leg fitting, but a freestanding unit could be more practical - it's likely to be sturdier as well as easier to move past.

Kitchen

Forward of the lounge, it's no surprise to find the kitchen along the nearside, extending across the sliding door. There are two gas rings and an induction hob for cooking here (the latter relies on you parking on the level), plus a deep, circular stainless steel sink set into the granite-effect worktop. Hot water and heating are courtesy of Webasto.

Also in the main kitchen unit is a Dometic oven/grill combination, surrounded by three drawers, the largest of which is at floor level. Across the corridor, this Hopton has a Thetford 90-litre fridge (with freezer box). A clever feature under the fridge is a section of pull-out worktop. There's also some storage - the slimmest of wardrobes plus a trio of soft-close drawers between fridge and washroom.

Sleeping

There's a choice at night, as you can sleep on twin single beds or a double. The latter isn't as convincing as the former - the pull-out bases are a bit tricky.

Washroom

The washroom is something of a mixed bag. Pull back the space-saving sliding door and there's a Dometic toilet with ceramic swivel bowl, while above it is a rather retro fold-down plastic sink. The whole space comes into action for showering. The floor tray is embossed with the Hillside logo, but otherwise it could really do with another plughole.

There's an obvious lack of ventilation here (no window or rooflight), while a mirror would be helpful, as would some storage.

Equipment

Other options feature here include TV aerial and sockets (£245) and partial leather upholstery (£995).

Technical specs

LayoutVan conversion, rear lounge
Sleeps2
Travel seats2
MTPLM3500kg
Payload650kg
Length5.99m19′8″
Width2.04m6′8″
Height2.69m8′10″
Engine (capacity)2000
Fresh/waste water85L / 48L
Leisure battery95 Ah
Gas tank size20kg
Kitchen Equipment
Thetford Fridge, 2-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Washroom
Dometic toilet
Heating
Webasto water/space heater

Verdict

There are a few refinements to come, but the Hopton is a very promising newcomer.

A test drive should be sufficient to convince you not just of the Crafter's capabilities, but also of the quality of the conversion work. Note, also, that Hillside is a Volkswagen-recognised converter.

PRACTICAL MOTORHOME SAYS:

The Hopton is a promising marriage of Hillside Leisure's campervan production credentials and the sophistication and quality of Volkswagen's Crafter. The model is fairly pricey, but it has been smartly converted and everything inside feels very classy.

Conclusion

Pros

  • High quality conversion
  • Classy, sophisticated interior
  • Pull-out worktop beneath fridge
  • VW Crafter base vehicle

Cons

  • Shower tray could do with additional plughole
  • Lack of ventilation in washroom