Read the review of the Benimar Anthus 5000U from the expert team at Practical Motorhome

Design

The Anthus’ exterior style has changed little since we tested the slightly larger, end-lounge 6000ST back in September 2004. Glossy GRP side panels and simple graphics combine with silver-grey, lacquered aluminium side skirts, though there’s a new silver-grey strip across the overcab. Despite the large Luton, the overall shape of the ’van is as smooth as they come. Crucially, the layout has been modified so that the caravan door is on the nearside for right-hand drive British models, as is the large locker giving access to the rear and nearside seat bases.

One early indication of attention to build quality was the thick rubber seal, which ensures that the locker door shuts tightly. However, although the rear corner steadies come as standard – which is sensible, since the main living area sits behind the rear axle – the winder provided is fouled by the bumper. This isn’t enough to prevent anyone winding the steadies out, but it’s sufficient to slow the whole operation down.

The waste water comes out of a short, wide pipe, just in front of the rear offside axle, with a short handle attached (which is also likely to pick up some road dirt). The gas and cassette lockers are between the axles, both at a sensible height. The waste tank is under the chassis, just behind the rear axle, while the fresh tank is in the offside seat base. That’s a potential weight of some 200kg towards the rear of the ’van, although it’s extremely unlikely you will ever travel with both waste and fresh tank full – maybe one, but not the other, for obvious reasons.

However, if you stuff the seat bases with heavy items, which is plausible as it’s the only storage space accessible from outside the ’van, then you will need to keep an eye on the rear axle weight. We travelled with a full fresh tank, plus folding chairs and pitching kit in the seat lockers, and weren’t aware of any adverse affect on the handling.

There’s also an option to have the waste tank insulated and heated for winter use.

On the road

For a motorhome that has a fair overhang and also a prominent overcab, the Anthus seemed relatively spritely. As we’ve said, we hadn’t loaded the rear lockers to anywhere near their capacity, but common sense should dictate that if you had, say, a couple of golf bags, you would load them as close to the axle as possible.

Our test vehicle was specified with the 2.3JTD engine, but the British dealers we spoke to have ordered their Anthus ’vans with the 2.8-litre power plant. Though the smaller unit is your best bet for economy and is quite comfortable for leisurely touring, we occasionally found it underpowered over the course of a long haul from Albarracín to Cuenca (Spain) and back in a day (January 2006 issue). We also ran into the perennial problem of noisy Ducato cab doors at motorway speeds – one that we had been assured would be addressed when we visited the Sevel factory back in 2004.

One advantage of the rear lounge layout is that there’s a large window, which affords the driver maximum visibility in the rear-view mirror. It’s the closest to a rear windscreen that you’ll ever find on a coachbuilt. However, if you’re taking a sharp right or left turn, there are no windows at the front of the living area to provide a side view.

The cab seats are finished in the same upholstery as the rest of the motorhome, with full adjustment (additional front and rear seat height and lumbar controls) for the driver only. There are door pockets on both sides and a radio/CD player that works with the ignition off. This provides sound to the rear lounge speakers as well as to the cab, with a fader control to adjust it between the two. Movement from the cab to the living area is restricted, though, by the fixed floor of the overcab.

Air-conditioning and an electric pack are provided as standard, which is unusual at this price range. However, the woeful lack of any safety provision (not even ABS is fitted) is rather more typical of most current motorhome manufacturers.

Lounging & dining

We had our reservations about the colour scheme and the old-fashioned velour feel, but we expect dealers to opt for something more conservative from Benimar’s range of fabrics.

The corner cushions improve the lounging potential – couples can stretch out on the sofas without having to rearrange the furniture.

The sheer size of the Anthus lounge counts greatly in its favour. Three windows and a large roof light mean there’s no lack of natural light, and there are four spotlights for the evening and a small overhead fluorescent lamp. However, there’s no obvious place for the television to go. There is a dedicated spot with aerial and plug sockets on top of the fridge – ideal for any overcab occupants, but not much use for the lounge. Even if you fitted an extendable turntable, the screen will still be down at the other end of the ’van.

The large table is solid and built with mealtimes in mind, and is sturdy enough to set up outdoors, on a flat surface. However, we did find its bulk got in the way, and it’s easy to tip up. The table’s folding leg mechanism is offset from the centre to facilitate its position in between the sofas, as part of the bed, but this affects its stability as the table’s feet aren’t that long.

Kitchen

The Anthus kitchen is very well-equipped. A full-size Smev cooker with four burners and a deep sink mean that there will be few problems cooking and washing up. The huge fridge/freezer also allows self-sufficiency for long periods. The one thing lacking is workspace. The options are to use the sturdy glass sink cover or the lounge table. Smev does produce an integral chopping board (which was standard on previous Anthus models), which allows cooks to prepare vegetables, but none was present on the test ’van.

Storage is plentiful, though there are no dedicated spaces for cutlery and crockery. The logical place for them is in the large drawer by the sink and the overhead lockers respectively, but it’s up to buyers to fit their own plate racks and cutlery trays. We liked the extractor fan, the very large fridge with separate freezer and the tempered glass sink cover. However, there’s not a lot of space between the washroom and the fridge.

Sleeping

There are two large double beds available in the Anthus, and the overcab is well appointed for sleeping in. An aluminium ladder provides access and locks into place on the inside of the washroom door. There’s a safety net, too, which clips into place in the roof above the bed. There’s a window on the offside, a wind-up roof-vent in the middle and a fluorescent light on the nearside. A thick, one-piece foam mattress is supported by broad slats, providing some ventilation – we found it supplied a sufficient level of comfort for regular use.

However, there are drawbacks – those sleeping at the front of the cab have far less headroom, and they have to climb over their partner to get out of bed while the other is asleep.

As overcabs go, the Anthus is pretty roomy – a perfectly respectable guest bedroom – though the rake-off is sharp towards the front end. However, some may prefer it over the lounge. The one real failing is the lack of any heating vents, which makes it less practical for year-round use.

The lounge bed is huge and has the option of being left as two singles, although the table would still need to be folded down between the seat bases, to keep it out of the way. We found the cushions comfortable over several nights, but could never get them to fit perfectly snugly. We couldn’t work out whether the final two short back cushions fitted best horizontally or vertically. The corner cushions can be left in place, while still leaving a large bed, or alternatively they can easily be stored in the overcab or the cab.

The Benimar is heated by a Truma heater, with blown-air and a separate boiler, with a mains electric element as well as gas. There are four heating vents in total: one in the toilet, one by the door and two beneath the lounge.

Washroom

Two of Benimar’s key aims in designing this floorplan were to provide room for the 140-litre fridge and for the combined washroom, which has a separate shower space. It’s a worthwhile aim, as many end-lounge buyers will regularly use both the kitchen and the washroom since they tend to use their motorhomes all year round on campsites with no facilities.

Any centre washroom faces the challenge of having a usable shower, in a small space, which doesn’t get in the way of the toilet. The Anthus is most certainly up to the task. Although it’s a fairly simple design, with a shower curtain as opposed to a solid shower door, it all works very well as a whole. There’s a tall sill between the shower and the toilet and two drain plugs within the shower, so there’s little chance of the toilet floor getting wet, even if you have a shower shortly before driving off for the day. There’s a height-adjustable shower head, which extends to just over six feet tall, with three small wall pockets for shampoo storage.

We found the washroom’s wide sink just as useful for freshening up in warm weather. The amount of storage space provided proved ample for two, with a couple of tambour-door cupboards above the toilet. These included small bins to stop bottles falling out when you open the door and a handy cupboard beneath the sink.

One thing we’d add, though, would be some kind of anti-slip mat in the shower, which was provided with the previous Anthus we tested. Apart from that, it really is hard to fault this washroom.

Storage

The large, under-seat storage space is one of the key features of the Anthus, as it caters for just those kind of motorcaravanners who favour an end-lounge.

Long-term tourers need lots of space to take all the bits and pieces that make life in a motorhome liveable. The long exterior locker door provides plentiful access. However, inside you’ll need to take the necessary cushions off and lift up the unhinged slats. For clothes, the wardrobe and the nine overhead lockers provide all you could need. In the kitchen, there are two large cupboards, each with a shelf, two overhead lockers, a large drawer and a pan cupboard. If you use the overcab, or specify the optional roof-rack and ladder, there’s as much room as you could possibly want.

The payload (which is 100kg greater with the 2.8-litre engine/Ducato 18 chassis) limits loading, as does the rearward position of the main locker. It’s always worth taking a trip to a weighbridge with a fully laden motorhome to check that the front and rear axle weights, and the overall weight, are within legal limits.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats2
MTPLM3400kg
Payload480kg
Length6.53m21′5″
Width2.24m7′4″
Height3.02m9′11″
Waste water98L
External Options
GRP sidewalls, Awning light, Omnidirectional TV aerial
Kitchen Equipment
Thetford Fridge, Extractor fan
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
Heating
Truma Gas Blown air heater

Verdict

In short, the Benimar Anthus 5000U is a very capable motorhome. The key advantages of the floorplan are the large lounge, well-equipped kitchen and workable washroom. The build quality matches anything on the market at this price. Where it falls short is the lack of kitchen workspace, poor provision for a TV and the quality of the upholstery.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Huge dressing mirror
  • Quality
  • Comprehensive control panel
  • Electric water heater
  • Sturdy lounge table

Cons

  • Access to rear steadies
  • Exit and entry from cab
  • It has a wobbly table
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