Andrew McPheeSee other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee
Practical Motorhome reviews the Marquis Hampshire, a two-berth made by Auto-Sleepers and sold by Marquis Motorhomes
The Hampshire is part of the successful County range of ’vans made by Auto-Sleepers and marketed by Marquis Motorhomes, the UK’s largest dealer network.
It has been designed exclusively for touring couples and focuses on comfort, from its Ford Transit cab to its luxurious, electronically adjustable bench seat/bed system.
The grey of the front bumpers is echoed in the minimal but flowing graphic that curves, wave-like, along both sides of the ’van.
The Hampshire presents a neat rear: quite plain with white bumpers, a good-looking road light cluster and stainless steel roof ladder. Elsewhere, the locker doors and wind-out awning integrate well with the lines of the bodywork.
On the road
Throughout the cab, useful storage bins, cubby holes, and bottle and glass holders are provided, including lidded map trays in the dashboard and a mobile phone slot. Our favourite is an ingenious flap that folds back and away from the centre of the dashboard top to form a tray with two cup holders.
Ford’s powerful 2.4 litre TDCi engine is well matched to this size of ’van, and the combination of the six-speed gearbox and cruise control makes for effortless motorway driving. Our only niggle was the rattle from the cooker, common to most ’vans, but unfortunately the Hampshire’s is positioned directly behind the passenger seat. On country roads the Hampshire handled so responsively, considering its size, that a frequent check had to be kept on the speedometer.
This model has rear-wheel drive, which may put off some who believe that this increases the level of noise when driving.
Lounging & dining
At the end of the offside bench seat, there is an illuminated drinks cupboard, with holders for wine glasses and bottles. There is also a drop-down flat-screen TV, which can be easily viewed from either bench seat. Our favourite position was to lean back on the cushions, with the ‘head’ end of the bench seat raked forward slightly and our feet raised. This is possible thanks to the Frolexus bed system: stretch out on the bench, pick up the remote control and electrically adjust head, foot and centre portions of the mattress to achieve your favoured position. The huge, panoramic, rooflight above the lounge area helps let the light flood into the lounge.
With the free-standing dining table in position between the bench seats, four can dine in comfort although diners at the end of the table will have a bit of a struggle to slide across as there is very little clearance between the tabletop and the top of your thighs. Still, once positioned it is no longer a problem.
Worktop space is limited unless the cooker and sink covers are in place, but extra food preparation surfaces are available in the form of the pull-out worktop (30 x 450mm) to the left of the sink, and the top surface of the floor cupboard (435 x 570mm) below the microwave: the former is slightly awkward when in use because it obstructs access through the caravan door; the latter will be useful when serving food to the dining table.
There is a powerful, three-speed extractor vent in the roof above the kitchen area which will minimise kitchen smells.
Between the cooker and fridge is a narrow cupboard with a small waste bin, cutlery drawer and single shelf. Above are two lockers: one for crockery storage, the other with a middle shelf, but the latter would only take items no higher, say, than a tea caddy or food tins. More flexible storage, for larger items such as a cornflake box, is available in the foot locker at the end of the bench seat (beneath the TV/microwave unit).
Now, here comes the best bit – the Frolexus electronic bed system. The Reflex foam single-piece mattress rests on individual spring elements (whose tension can be adjusted). These provide point-by-point support and can be adapted to an individual’s body contour and weight. Once tucked up in bed, you just reach down for the remote control and adjust the lift at head, middle and foot sections of the mattress to achieve the perfect sleeping position.
The separate shower head is fixed to the wall at 6ft and overall headroom will be fine for all but the tallest people. The one niggle we have, though, is that elbow room while showering is not that generous and some may be aggravated by the skin-clinging potential of the plastic shower curtain. A ribbed rubber-mesh duckboard covers the entire washroom floor.
The under-bed storage areas are both accessible through a locker door in the side of the bench seats. The offside locker is also accessible from outside.
Dometic Fridge, 4-burner gas hob, Oven, Separate grill, Microwave, Extractor fan
Thetford C-250 toilet
The Hampshire looks good, drives well and has the best single beds we’ve tried, in terms of comfort. It seems a solid, well-made ’van throughout. With its comfortable Transit cab and powerful turbo-diesel engine it will be a joy to drive.
- Fabulous single beds; Transit base and beefy engine; fine build quality
- Limited kitchen worksurface; tight elbow room in the shower