Andrew McPheeSee other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee
Read the Practical Motorhome Westfalia WestVan review for the expert verdict on this Ford Transit based 'van
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3-burner gas hob, Oven
Thetford C-250 toilet, Shower curtain
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.
- Build quality; excellent materials; modern interior; user-friendly washroom
- Small kitchen workspace; power socket for the lounge is in one of the farside overhead lockers