Benjamin Davies

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Practical Motorhome reviews the Bilbo’s Elegans which has two single beds

Design

The Elegans’ side-elevating roof is easy to raise and lower on site, thanks to gas struts and a central handle. The roof is held in place en route by metal clamps and ratchet ties, and it’s fitted to a reinforced steel frame that is riveted to the roof.

There’s alternative access, too, through the tailgate. The ’van looks good with alloy wheels (a cost option), beefed-up VW logo and chrome grille at the front, darkened privacy glass and metallic paintwork.

In addition, there's a toilet locker and gas on board. High-tops can mostly be used all year round, and with all the models here having onboard fresh-water tanks, it’s a possibility. However, we’d expect the Elegans’ vinyl elevating roof walls not to keep the heat in quite as well as insulated steel walls.

Inside, the Elegans comes from the functional, hard-wearing Westfalia school of design. 
The rear RIB passenger seats are fixed in place, but the rake of the backrest can be adjusted. Behind them, a kitchenette sits opposite a worksurface that conceals a compressor fridge. There’s also a concealed Thetford cassette swivel toilet to the rear of the kitchen, and wardrobe space opposite.

On the road

Our test-model Elegans was fitted with the 2.5-litre 130bhp turbo-diesel engine (a £1500 cost option), a significant step up in power from the standard 1.9 TDi version. Its maximum weight of 3200kg is good news for younger motorcaravanners 
in terms of driving licence restrictions at home and abroad, and the ’van comes with a decent payload for four people. It also has a decent power-to-weight ratio and is fun to drive. Both cab seats swivel, while air-con is a cost option.

On the road, the Elegans offers a through-view. At under 6m long, it has a short footprint and will pose no parking problems in terms of length, and it'll be able to duck under most height barriers.

There are belted, forward-facing rear passenger seats, which are comfortable and fully crash-tested.

Lounging & dining

The lounge seats four with the cab seats swivelled – a process which took some to-ing and fro-ing, although both rear passenger seats can be turned into a sofa. On the driver’s side, a backrest cushion fastens to a wall-mounted rail, and there’s a separate armrest cushion. In dining mode, the Elegans’ table clips to this rail, and when it’s not being used it has its own storage space behind the wardrobe at the rear of the ’van.

Lighting is the usual mix of downlighters and directional reading lamps.

Kitchen

Kitchens and washrooms are often compromised when you’re struggling for space in 
a small van conversion, and there is evidence of this here. However, there’s a fold-out 30cm x 35cm worktop extension that stretches across the galley to form a U-shaped kitchen. It has three gas burners and an integral sink, a mini-grill for your toast, and a compressor fridge.

The compressor fridge runs from 12V power only, and there's a beefy leisure battery for just this purpose. Additionally, there are wire spice racks and a moulded cutlery tray.

Sleeping

The Elegans comes with twin single beds – that is, the sofa plus the swivelled cab seats – but our test model had the double-bed option. After rolling the seat squab forward, you can slide the driverside sofa to meet the nearside one. Then, pull out steel extensions from the driver’s side and infil with the sofa backrest cushion – easy.

The roof bed is a cost option, and comprises as many 60cm-long, cushioned, hardboard sections as you like, to sit across the roof gunwhales. A ladder is a further cost option, but it’s simple enough to clamber up there, anyway.

Washroom

The Elegans is somewhat handicapped in the washroom stakes by its shorter overall length and by not having a fixed high-top roof. But it has a plumbed-in, fixed, swivel-head Thetford toilet rather than the Porta Potti you find in most raising-roof campers – and it is concealed from general view by a shelf and a vinyl cover.

Storage

The Elegans, by virtue of its corridor-style layout, has a good load bay, accessed through the rear doors.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM3200kg
Payload680kg
Length5.29m17′4″
Width2.04m6′8″
Height2m6′7″
Waste water35L
Kitchen Equipment
3-burner gas hob, Oven
Washroom
Thetford C-200 toilet
Heating
Webasto space heater
Security
Immobiliser

Verdict

Great as a day or weekend ’van, but for longer-term touring you might want more comfort.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Great to drive; very good build quality

Cons

  • Lacks the homely feel of coachbuilts
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