Benjamin Davies

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Get the definitive verdict on the Hymer B694 SL, only in the Practical Motorhome review

Design

The Hymer comes on the Fiat Ducato platform, with an Al-Ko chassis to allow for a double-floor design, which means onboard fresh- and waste-water tanks and superb winterisation.

In terms of attractiveness, Hymer’s A-classes are difficult to beat, and the B694 SL continues the trend with its sleek shape, classy detailing and beautiful, silver paintwork.

It has been redesigned with its cab door on the UK driver’s (right) side, while its habitation door is a revelation, with hefty metal fixtures and a three-striker design for greater security – and, it closes with the solidity of an air-lock door. The gas locker is around 50cm off the ground and has an inconvenient 8cm lip.

The Hymer has an understated and functional interior. Our ’van had a gorgeous dark blue-grey upholstery (optional), and wood-and-granite effect surfaces that would not seem out of place in a five-star hotel.

Build and material quality are of a high standard; there's a single-level habitation area from front to back.

However, getting the Hymer’s specification up to a level that matches, say, Burstner’s Elegance i821 G, will bring it pretty close in price. The Hymer’s options list is extensive, but the items are pretty costly.

On the road

Its chassis has a 4000kg MTPLM rating, while it can take a payload of 840kg. The 2.3-litre engine produces a relatively weedy 120bhp and 236 lb/ft of torque. It is front-wheel drive and gets a six-speed gearbox, ABS brakes, cab air-con, traction control, cruise control, electric adjustable and heated mirrors, and front fog lights as standard.

Lounging & dining

The Hymer has an L-shaped dinette with facing seats, and with the cab seats swivelled it will accommodate five people. The lounge table moves on two axes for greater flexibility, although it’s a little bit on the small side at 84.5 x 69cm. The lounge windows are nothing to shout about, and the far-side one in particular is quite small, but this is more than made up for by the huge roof light.

Sadly, the Hymer has no power points at all in its lounge. In an age when we’re likely to travel with a suitcase full of chargers, we really should be getting more on this front.

There are two, belted, rear travel seats; one of its removable cushions has a hard base which requires a bit of muscle to haul up and out. Hymer has included a clever cup-holder/storage space unit which reveals itself once this cushion is lifted, giving the rear passengers somewhere to rest their drink cans while on the move.

Kitchen

The L-shaped kitchen provides a lot of moving and passing space, which is crucial since it sits between the lounge and washroom. There's a TEC Tower facing the hob, and a good kitchen storage arrangement, with a handy set of bins located in a drawer, and two long drawers under the sink which can also be accessed from the side, through a cabinet door, making it easy to reach into them without blocking access through the vehicle.

However, the hob has only three burners, and even though the sink is large (38cm in diameter) there is a clear shortage of available workspace – a problem alleviated only slightly by the sturdy sink cover-cum-chopping board.

Sleeping

The washroom is split into two cubicles and positioned just in front of the bed, so the rear section can be cordoned off to create a little en-suite bedroom area.

The Hymer's bed is big (138cm at its widest point and 113cm at its narrowest, and is 203cm long) but it has no door to cordon off the bedroom area. Instead, it makes do with a concertina partition secured by press studs, with fasteners located on the kitchen side 
– a bit of a chore to operate from within the bedroom.

The pull-down bed up front is 140cm x 195cm, and is comfortable and easy to set up.

Washroom

The washroom is the real party piece, and performs very well. The shower cubicle is, by necessity, a plastic capsule; although roomy, it is a tad too close to the bed – therefore, in the course of day-to-day use it is likely that the bed will get wet.

The benefit of having a separate shower is that the toilet area can be made far more attractive since it does not need to be so protected from damp.
The toilet provides a top-end finish and lots of space; it is a classy area that is slightly let down by the position of the swivel toilet, which is so close to the wall that the tall and long-legged are going to find it uncomfortable to use.

Storage

Under the raised rear beds you will find a sizeable garage with doors on both sides as standard. It's impressive at 114cm x 94cm and positioned only 54cm off the ground – it should be very easy to load up with bulky or awkwardly shaped items. It's lit, too, (a standard feature) and has a waste-water drain valve handles. It can't be accessed from within the vehicle, though.

Being a double-floor model, the B694 benefits from between-floor lockers, handy for storing sundry items such as chocks and wellies. There's a sizeable locker on the nearside, right beneath the fresh-water inlet and hook-up point, making it ideal for cables and hoses.

The wardrobe is just forward from one of the washroom cubicles, and within the partitioned bedroom areas.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM4000kg
Payload840kg
Length7.3m23′11″
Width2.35m7′9″
Height2.95m9′8″
Waste water100L
External Options
Aluminium sidewalls, Awning light
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Extractor fan
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
Heating
Truma Gas heater, Truma Gas water heater

Verdict

Another beautiful A-class ’van from Hymer. It is hugely desirable, but is let down by a costly options list and its low, standard specification.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Excellent design and build; good storage levels

Cons

  • Pricey, once you start adding on the options
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