Andrew McPheeSee other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee
Learn more about the Hobby Toskana Exclusiv D690 GELC in the Practical Motorhome review
Hobby brings a pleasant idiosyncrasy to German coachbuilt offerings; so many of the main players use similar strategies, but Hobby’s design sets it apart.
There are curving GRP sidewalls, unusually shaped, sized and positioned habitation windows, and their striking decal and paint designs are renowned.
The luxury, mid-sized low-profile is an important segment of any Continental manufacturer’s line-up, and Hobby’s Toskana Exclusive ’vans are aimed squarely at Bürstner’s Solano range, Dethleffs’ Advantage range and Hymer’s T-Class ’vans. With that competition, the Toskana Exclusives need to excel to justify their existence, particularly right now, when dealers of Continental-built motorhomes face an unfavourable exchange rate.
The D690 GELC has a classic twin rear single bed layout, with a front circular lounge, an L-shaped kitchen and compact washroom amidships. The rear beds are roomy and comfortable, thanks to Hobby’s slatted bed base, designed to mould to match your body, augmenting the support provided by the mattress. Access to the beds is achieved via a set of steps and, despite the fact that there’s storage beneath them, they’re not difficult to get into.
A pull-out base and fill-in cushion transform the two singles into one large longitudinal double, but once it’s made up you will have to set up the special aluminium ladder, which lives in a dedicated slot under the bed. This seriously reduces the practicality of the Hobby’s bed area, since most people who look for twin single beds are seeking convenience, and don’t want to deal with ladders - but it can’t hurt to have the option of a double.
The GELC also has a lounge bed, although this is of limited use since the lounge itself is short on space compared to other Toskana Exclusive ’vans, due to the amount of room swallowed up by the longitudinal rear beds. The lounge bed is made up using the large and cumbersome lounge table and an extensive cast of fill-in cushions. You have to separate the tabletop from its single leg, remove the leg from its circular slot in the floor and replace it with a second, shorter leg, reposition the tabletop and then arrange the cushions above it. The ensuing sleeping space isn’t entirely even and sags in spots, so it’s handy if you’re taking the grandkids on tour, but no adult will want to use it for too many nights in a row. This isn’t such a big deal, though, since ’vans with a twin rear single bed layout are usually sought-after by couples, who’d only need the lounge bed occasionally.
The GELC’s circular lounge is remarkably comfortable, being made up of an L-shaped seat, a side-facing seat and the swivelled cab seats. It houses five in comfort. The lounge table impedes movement – you can remove it, but it’s too bulky to handle easily.
We love the ease with which you can convert the L-shaped seat into forward-facing belted travel seats. Hobby provides just one extra belted seat, unless you upgrade to a heavier chassis, when it’s two. It makes sense, since the payload on the 3500kg chassis is only 276kg – a bit low, even for just three occupants.
The L-shaped kitchen has some neat design touches – the sink is canted and pushed right to the edge of the worktop, for example, to maximise workspace. There’s a decent surface between the sink and the three-burner hob. The huge 150-litre fridge has a separate freezer compartment, but we don’t like the fact that the oven is located above it.
The Hobby’s washroom is short on space, but the designers have worked hard on it; they’ve used plastic tambour doors for the shower cubicle, negating the need for fiddly curtains. There’s lots of storage, a small sink that should meet most needs and ample legroom around the swivelling toilet – although it doubles as the floor of the shower, so you may get wet feet. Our only other complaint about the washroom is that the circular shower stall is small, due to its shape – a square one would have been more space-efficient.
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Thetford C-250 toilet
The Hobby has characterful design, a great lounge, decent kit and attractive GRP mouldings; the price is high and the payload miserly, but it acquits itself well.
- Versatility of rear beds; looks; flexible lounge arrangment
- Poor payload; price; lounge bed; small shower