Benjamin Davies

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Read the Practical Motorhome review of the Danbury Surf, based on the VW Transporter and with an electrically operated elevating roof

Overview

The Surf has an electrically operated elevating roof as standard. Danbury says it has made improvements to the roof design, which allow the mechanism to sit more snugly against the top of the ’van.

The changes are already incorporated on new models, but have yet to filter through to Danbury’s demo fleet, so we couldn’t examine them for ourselves.

The facilities – freshwater inlet, wastewater outlet and hook-up socket – are on the offside, while the fresh and waste water tanks are mounted underneath the ’van.

The Volkswagen Transporter underpins the Surf and is good to drive – very car-like, in fact, and its cabin and ergonomics are also very impressive. It also has a proven reliability record, but it is an expensive base to build on.

The Surf comes with a 1.9-litre unit with 184 lb/ft at 2000rpm and 102bhp at 3500rpm. Technical writer Phil Curry wasn't too impressed with this engine when he took the Surf on a First Drive in our September 2008 issue.

Our test ‘van benefited from a plush cream leather interior. It's a costly option at £1850, but the quality of Danbury’s leather is very impressive.

There are two three-point seatbelts fitted to the rear bench, and the lounge seats four thanks to the swivelling cab seats. It’s more comfortable with three occupants, however, because the driver’s seat doesn’t offer much legroom when swivelled.

The Surf has just one table, but it’s practical enough – a nautical-style unit which slots into a circular hole in the floor. The L-shaped kitchen unit can be used as a table for the swivelled cab seat, which helps make up for the lack of a second table. The fridge cannot be accessed when the driver’s seat is swivelled, however.

The rooflight incorporated into the Surf’s elevating roof is pleasant and gives it plenty of natural light.

The kitchen design is relatively unusual: a smart L-shaped kitchen unit with a cabinet door that opens to reveal the fridge and a number of storage spaces, including a clever drop-down cutlery storage unit. With this ‘cabinet’ open, the kitchen is very useable, with adequate workspace, a two-burner hob and a well-positioned grill beneath.

It also has a large sink with a glass cover. This opens sideways so as to not obscure the window, and allows for proper ventilation – a must in the absence of an extractor fan.

The Surf is available with the option of a roof bed, which is particularly useful for those travelling with children. The main bed is comfortable and it converts with a solid action that inspires confidence in its durability. However, it doesn't sit flat, which may annoy.

The main storage area is a ‘boot’ area at the back into which the read bed partly intrudes. Nonetheless, it is a roomy boot. It’s split into two levels, but without the benefit of a lifting bed base or a sliding rear bench. For around £400 Danbury will fit a large drawer in the lower portion of the storage area. This is useful for increasing the versatility of the storage area, but it seriously impedes access to the already isolated gas locker.

You’ll find the wardrobe on the offside of the ’van. There’s only one door for its wardrobe, which opens outwards, towards the rear of the vehicle. It cannot swing open all the way, however, because the curtain rail that runs along the top of the rear doorsill blocks it. Therefore, you can only really get at the wardrobe from inside the ’van.

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats4
MTPLM2900kg
Payload554kg
Length4.89m16′1″
Width2.25m7′5″
Height2.02m6′8″
Waste water29L
External Options
Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
2-burner gas hob, Separate grill
Washroom
Porta potti
Heating
Webasto space heater

Verdict

A worthy contender with exemplary materials, but held back by tight storage space.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Excellent build; good lounge design

Cons

  • Price; bed doesn't fold flat; rear storage space limited
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