Benjamin Davies

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Read the Practical Motorhome review of the Marquis County Suffolk, built for the dealers by Auto-Sleepers

Overview

Marquis launched its four-strong County range at February 2008’s NEC show. They are built exclusively for the dealer group by Auto-Sleepers.

After testing the dedicated two-berth low-profile Devon, we were keen to lay our hands on this overcab version, the Suffolk, with its British-as-a-Sunday-roast rear lounge.

Design

True to Auto-Sleepers fashion, the Suffolk is very high-sided 
– largely a styling matter rather than an effort to create extra headroom in the overcab section. The GRP roof mould runs the length of the ’van to accommodate the neatly integrated, recessed awning.

The sidewalls and rear panel are GRP too, with flush-fit white-framed windows. Fresh- and waste-water taps are neatly recessed into the sills, and the entry step retracts on engine start-up.

On the road

Couple the high sides with a rather soft ride, and what you get is some body roll on bends and some reaction to crosswinds on the open road.

The Sprinter’s automatic gearbox, though, is a dream to use. We found it fine for town and country driving, with the transmission rarely hunting for the right gear, and we hardly felt the need to switch to manual override mode.

The handbrake is to your left and within easy reach, but does not significantly obstruct access to the living quarters.

Among the high level of standard-fit goodies are driver and passenger airbags, twin armrests on both cab seats, and lumbar adjustment. Our test ’van was also kitted out with the optional extras of automatic transmission, cruise control, cab air-con and alloy wheels.

Lounging & dining

Full marks for the U-shaped lounge: the Heki rooflight, plus three panoramic windows, make for excellent lighting and on-site views, and the flat-screen TV is mounted on an arm in just the right place on the washroom bulkhead. A free-standing dining table stows neatly in the wardrobe space.

Top marks again for the control panel: we first came across this in the Auto-Sleeper Nuevo we ran as a long-term test ’van in 2007. Now, it has evolved to become more intuitive, with the most often-used buttons (battery check, water and lights) at the top level of the programme cycle. Its best trick is the ability to turn on the attractive, integral lights above the lockers with a press of the key fob from 20 paces!

Oddly, there are rocker switches for the oven, heater and water beneath the base of the wardrobe. This is detailed in Auto-Sleepers’ excellent user manual but it’s not intuitive to use.

The Truma 3002 space heater can be operated from mains electricity, but the water heater is gas-fired only.

Kitchen

Everything you’d expect from an Auto-Sleepers-built ’van, and a few extras, too. A worksurface extension makes up for the lack of food preparation space, although it blocks access to the ’van while the cook is at work. The combined sink and drainer, and the three-burner gas hob, plus hotplate, both have glass lids which add to the worksurface area when not in use. The Dometic fridge/freezer and oven/grill are sited underneath, as is a cutlery drawer and waste bin, concealed in a vertical locker.

There’s a moulded crockery rack in an overhead locker and a kitchen light over the hob, but no extractor fan, although 
a Mini Heki rooflight sensibly placed above the kitchen should do the job adequately. A microwave oven comes as standard, too.

Sleeping

Pleated blinds at the cab and habitation windows provide privacy at bed time. The overcab bed base, rather than raising on struts, folds and clips into place during transit. This means making up the double bed here requires three cushions instead of one, which makes for a less flat surface. Also, headroom is only 45cm and the hinged ladder that enables access to the bed has narrow, metal rungs which are harsh on bare feet.

The premium bed is the rear lounge double. The slatted seat bases, with supporting legs, slide out to meet each other, and the jigsaw of cushions is pretty quick and easy to arrange, with just slight squab knee-rolls preventing it from being a completely flat surface.

Washroom

As used elsewhere in a number of Auto-Sleepers’ units, the swing-wall shower design is an excellent space-saving and practical solution: there’s 
a generously proportioned washbasin mounted on this wall which swings through 90 degrees to meet a second partition door and create a compact shower cubicle. Two plug holes in the shower floor and a roof vent overhead are good, practical touches.

Elsewhere, 
a swivel head Thetford cassette toilet, towel holder, toilet roll holder and two towel hooks complete this well thought-out, practical washroom.

Storage

Storage in the rear seat boxes is adequate and can be accessed through an exterior locker door on the driver’s side, or from the inside by raising the seat squabs. The wardrobe is fine for two, but a real squeeze for four; with only two travel seats, this is really a ’van for those with only the occasional visitor in mind.

There’s the usual complement of overhead and tambour-doored corner lockers, but any larger items of camping equipment will have to go on the floor in the rear lounge or clutter the washroom.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats2
MTPLM3500kg
Payload483kg
Length6.45m21′2″
Width2.26m7′5″
Height3.13m10′3″
Waste water53L
External Options
GRP sidewalls, Integral awning
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas with electric hot plate, Combined Oven/Grill, Microwave
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet
Heating
Truma Gas/Electric heater, Truma Gas water heater

Verdict

As a luxury four-berth tourer, the Suffolk is brilliant. The journey between campsites is made hassle-free by the excellent engine, automatic gearbox and cruise control and once you’re there, the 
end-lounge layout is perfect for relaxing. Throw in a compact, clever washroom and this is a top-quality, all-round package.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Well-designed lounge area; intuitive control panel; good washroom

Cons

  • Some body roll on the road; beds not completely flat
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