Andrew McPhee

See other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee

Read the Practical Motorhome Westfalia WestVan review for the expert verdict on this Ford Transit based 'van

Overview

When people think of the stereotypical ‘flower power’ VW ’van from the 1960s, the chances are they’re thinking 
of a Westfalia.

The German company essentially invented the van conversion genre and over the years has perfected it into a fine art. Very few converters can actually provide automotive levels of design and build quality – although many claim to – but Westfalia is the genuine article. We’ve always loved the ingenuity of its design solutions and the reliability of its build. So when we heard that Westfalia would be moving into the coachbuilt sector of the market we were very excited to see what it would come up with.

The result of its endeavours – or, more accurately, the endeavours of Hymer’s advanced design team, which did the design work for Westfalia – is the WestVan, 
a Ford Transit-based low-profile with a transverse rear double bed and a garage.


We first saw it at August 2008’s Düsseldorf show, and were wowed by its blend of innovation and quality. We were even more excited to hear 
that Roy Wood Transits would be working with Westfalia to swap the steering wheel over to the proper side and bring the WestVan to the UK. So when we were offered a 
chance to get it out on the 
road we didn’t hesitate.

Design

The first thing that strikes you about the WestVan’s exterior is its near-total absence of graphics. Apart from discreet Westfalia and WestVan badges, the habitation body is almost totally bare – accents are provided by dark grey GRP panels that wrap around the rear of the habitation body and swoop along the front, giving the West Van a very modern, well-integrated look.

Otherwise, the exterior is excellently built, but largely conventional. The habitation door is on the UK farside, and all the facilities are on the UK nearside. The freshwater tank is housed onboard, while the waste water tank is underslung, mounted just behind the rear axle. The dump valve is very easy to reach and connects to a large-bore pipe, which is angled to one side so that you don’t end up splashed when dumping grey waste. The hook-up point is also underslung, located on a swing-out arm with a useful extending cover that should protect it from the elements.

On the road

We’ve said it before, and we’re not afraid to say it again: 
the Ford Transit is the best-handling motorhome base on sale today. The WestVan uses the MWB rather than the more common LWB version, which means the drive is even sharper. It comes as standard with RWD and the 113bhp 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine, but the one we drove had the optional 138bhp unit. 
It provides more than enough power for safe passing and avoidance.

There’s an even more powerful engine option available, too – Ford’s brand-new five-cylinder 3.2-litre turbodiesel, which develops 197bhp and a whopping 347 lb/ft of torque.

The WestVan is also the first coachbuilt that we’ve come across in the UK market that offers Ford’s new all-wheel drive system 
– which we tested in our Jan 2009 issue – as a cost option.

Lounging & dining

The WestVan has a classic continental layout: a rear transverse double bed with 
a garage beneath it, a kitchen and washroom located opposite each other in the middle and a half-dinette up front. The lounge also has a side-facing single seat which, together with the swivelled cab seats and an extending lounge table, will accommodate five.

We really liked the use of contrasting colours and textures throughout. The 
black flooring, granite-effect surfaces and white locker doors work very well with the bright wood and the cream and yellow upholstery.

The build quality is very high. The lounge table, for example, has such a solid extending action that no springs or clips are necessary to keep it secure in either position. The huge rooflight over the front of the lounge floods the area with sunlight, and there is another smaller one cleverly located directly over the half-dinette seat.

At night, the colour-matched LED mood lighting creates 
a wonderful ambience. Our one reservation is that the only power socket in the lounge is located in one of the farside overhead lockers.

Kitchen

The WestVan has a very compact kitchen unit with little workspace – the oven and sink take up most of the worktop 
– but thanks to its innovative rear bed design (more on this later), the bed area can be used to prepare ingredients and keep them at the ready while you’re cooking.

The benefit of the large three-burner hob and deep, circular sink are obvious – there is a lot of space for pots and pans and the like. There is no extractor fan – another disappointment at this price level – but the window by the kitchen is big enough to provide decent ventilation. There is ample storage, too, thanks to the two overhead lockers, cutlery drawer and two drawers.

Sleeping

We were hugely impressed by the WestVan’s converting rear double bed when we first saw it at the Düsseldorf show. It’s 
a bed of two halves, with both mattress bases mounted on runners. Two tracks in the ’van’s sidewalls steer both mattress bases into place. So converting from a single bed right at the rear of the ’van to 
a capacious double is a doddle.

This means you get the benefit of an enormous rear double (1.98 x 1.56m) without compromising space elsewhere. Also, when the bed is converted into a single, it opens up a U-shaped area at the rear of the ’van which gives you access to the garage and several under-bed lockers, as well as providing you with multi-purpose worktop space.

As for accessing the bed, Westfalia has come up with an intriguing solution – it provides a two-step stepladder that stores on the other side of the interior garage door. At first this ladder might seem like a bit of a stopgap, but it's actually a very durable stepladder with very large, rubberised steps which make getting in and out of bed far easier on the feet than the narrow, cold rungs of the aluminium ladders found in most motorhomes.

The WestVan also has an occasional double in the lounge, made up easily using the lounge table, with the help of two fill-in cushions and a bed base extender (which live in the garage when not in use). When you want to make up the lounge bed, you unclip the table, remove the longer leg and plug in the shorter one.

Washroom

The WestVan’s washroom has an attractive door design, in keeping with the modern look of the motorhome. It has 
a frosted plastic insert which is colour-coded to match the rest of the interior.

The washbasin swings out of the way, to sit neatly over the swivelling toilet seat. A high-quality concertina shower curtain can then be used to cordon off the roomy shower area and keep the wooden fixtures and the toilet seat dry.

The washroom also has 
a large mirror and lots of storage space, thanks to the big locker over the toilet. Also, we really appreciated the fact 
that instead of utilising an inflexible and annoying pull-out sink tap which doubles as a shower head, Westfalia has taken the reverse approach, using a proper shower head that clips above the sink to do double duty as a tap.

Ducted heat, domestic-look tiling and the new Thetford C250 make this feel like a bathroom fit for your home.

Storage

Thanks to its rear bed design, the West Van boasts ample storage. Beneath the bed area you’ll find two shallow lockers and one deep wardrobe with an ingenious pull-out rail.

Low wardrobes often force you to crouch down to get at your clothes, but with the West Van you simply slide out the hanging rail. You can then easily pick and choose from your whole collection.

The garage is also spacious and helpfully low to the ground. It is tall rather than wide, and has clearly been designed with bicycles in mind.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM3500kg
Payload500kg
Length6.02m19′9″
Width2.18m7′2″
Height2.88m9′5″
Waste water90L
External Options
GRP sidewalls, Integral awning
Kitchen Equipment
3-burner gas hob, Oven
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Shower curtain
Heating
Truma Gas Blown air heater

Verdict

A truly exceptional motorhome. The WestVan is expensive, but it's easy to see where the money has gone. The build and material quality is high, and we love the interior and clever use of colour, too. Few luxury compact motorhomes that do the job better, particularly for couples. We urge you to look at the WestVan – it will reward you handsomely for your investment.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Build quality; excellent materials; modern interior; user-friendly washroom

Cons

  • Small kitchen workspace; power socket for the lounge is in one of the farside overhead lockers
Share with friends

Follow us on

Explore the range

Recently added motorhomes for sale