Nigel DonnellySee other motorhome reviews written by Nigel Donnelly
Read the Practical Motorhome LMC Liberty Start TI 708G review, a model from the brand's entry-level range
LMC is a new brand to the UK in 2006. It represents typically German values: solid build, practical features and a no-fuss design.
Although this low-profile model is from LMC’s entry-level range, it boasts superb construction and a high level of specification. There’s an unparalleled choice of winterisation options – some exclusive to LMC, such as underfloor heating – that are not often available in this mid-market price range. Our first impressions were of a crisply styled design, inside and out. The key, in a layout with fixed single beds, is whether giving all that space over to the bedroom affects the overall performance of this two-berth, long-term tourer.
The living-area door is on the UK offside and, at the price, a manual step seems basic. However, that step gives adequate access and the door mat (with proper bristles) on the internal step is just big enough to store two pairs of shoes. The rear skirts lift up for service access to the wheels and the waste dump switch (on the UK offside). For this, a detachable handle is provided – you might lose it, but at least you won’t get your hands dirty. Just over a metre of waste pipe detaches below the garage door, so it’s much easier to off-load waste water when you can’t drive directly over a drain. Slung beneath the ’van’s rear is the waste tank, which is not insulated (but available as an option).
Light wood and simple fabrics provide a functional interior that’s unlikely to offend anyone. While the Liberty cannot quite match the homely feel of many UK ’vans, it’s far from cold. Removable carpets are included as standard for the UK. Build quality is high, both in terms of furniture construction and the routing of (and access to) pipes and cables, all of which are neatly placed. Details such as the solid feel of the flyscreen door all serve to confirm this.
On the road
If you’re set on the more powerful 137bhp TDCi engine, it’s an option well worth considerating. The six-speed box is well staged for effortless acceleration and there was enough power and torque to overtake lorries comfortably and to cruise at motorway speeds. We were travelling relatively lightly, though, with one passenger, a full water tank and about 200kg of luggage.
This larger power plant comfortably beats Fiat ‘s 2.8-litre JTD and will compete with the Renault 2.5 dCi, although Mercedes’ established 156bhp 2.7-litre CDI and Renault’s new 3.0-litre V6 are more powerful.
We found the floor-mounted gearshift could be awkward, especially when trying to locate third gear. Transit die-hards may wonder what the fuss is about, but the gear stick also complicates cab-to-living-area access, with the cab seats coming in to play as part of the lounge.
British models will have a superb level of standard specification, including cab air-conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, and a wood-effect dashboard kit. The ABS, ASR (traction control) and twin airbags are more significant – the latter is almost unheard of on motorhome chassis – and improve the vehicle’s safety.
Cab comfort in the Transit is good, with height adjustment on the driver’s seat only and comfort-enhancing seat covers. However, with no door pockets there is a lack of storage space.
Firm cushions offer excellent lumbar support for rear passengers, but the aisle seat has only a limited view available, due to the raised rear floor and lack of a window on the offside.
An aerodynamic profile and twin rear-drive wheels provide excellent stability – the LMC barely wobbled when passing lorries on the motorways. Despite the large rear overhang, the solid feel of those double wheels gave us confidence when we were manoeuvring the ’van, too.
The rear-view mirrors give excellent vision for overtaking on the motorway, with good sight of the vehicle’s blind spots, the driver has no through-view whatsoever, so a reversing camera may be a necessary optional extra.
Lounging & dining
The half-dinette is joined by the two swivelling cab seats, whose extra base cushions sit on top to bring occupants level with the dining table. This seems a bit of an afterthought, but it is relatively practical. With the large table extension, four can dine in comfort. However, the person in the (UK) passenger seat is effectively trapped. We also felt that the extension needed some kind of locking mechanism to hold it in place. It also lacked any dedicated storage area, which caused some problems, as it’s a well-built, hefty piece of furniture.
The lack of an offside window means that, despite excellent light from a wind-up Heki rooflight, lounge views are limited, particularly if the main door is shut. It feels like there’s a window missing. Two halogen spotlamps and a large downlighter with frosted glass provide powerful but soft iIlumination after dark.
There’s a TV space with a 12V plug, pre-wired satellite and TV aerial sockets above the fridge, and a 230V plug by the washroom door.
There are two speakers above the cab although our radio didn’t work with the ignition off.
UK models come with the option of an oven that would sit under the hob. Most Continental manufacturers are super-sizing their fridges and LMC is no exception, with a huge 150-litre unit. The 230V and 12V plugs are sensibly placed at the corner wall, just by a small shelf, and there are two adjustable spotlights.
There’s a large cutlery drawer and a big cupboard beneath the sink, with two shelves and a tambour door – a sensible provision given the narrow aisle onto which it opens.
We found the two wire trays under the cutlery drawer were useful for plates and crockery but given that these are likely to be removed to make room for an oven, the next best solution will be the two overhead lockers, though you’ll need to fit your own crockery rack.
Our only significant criticism was sink drainage, which was slow due to a combination of a narrow-bore water pipe and the 90-degree bend that connected this to the plug hole.
There was a division of opinion about the practicalities of the lounge space. We took issue with the overhead lockers being directly above the head end of the mattresses, which restricted our reading in bed. You could, of course, face the other way, but the spotlights are at the far end. We also felt that radio speakers and controls should have been provided.
We all agreed that the foam mattresses were soft, which could be an issue given this ’van’s potential for long trips. There will be UK-specification, flame-retardant upholstery on imported models, which may differ in consistency.
The space is well heated, with blown-air ducting by each bed, and ventilation-holes, and a large anti-condensation gap between the wall and the bed.
Overall, there’s plenty of ducting in the Liberty, with two vents under the dinette, one by the door, another below the bedroom steps and yet another in the washroom.
However, the flimsy cab curtain will be of little use in winter, unless you specify a cab insulation hood – one of LMC’s many winter options. One unusual but potentially useful option is a small, folding, overcab bed though it’s only likely to be suitable for pre-schoolers.
There is 6ft headroom in the shower. The tap doubles as a showerhead and sits in a height-adjustable mounting. There is a small sill against which the shower door rests, but toilet users will need to put their feet in the shower tray, so this will need to be dried after use. The shower tray feels very sturdy, with no flexibility or movement, which suggests it has a solid foundation and will survive everyday use. A single drain hole means drainage is slow, though.
The garage is well equipped for winter, with a blown-air heating vent and gas locker and hook-up point contained within. The electricity cable drops down through a trap door (with a cover) in the floor. There’s a light above the door and a spare wheel is also included, stored on a shelf at the front end of the garage. The tough, plastic flooring should stand up to wear from a moped or similar vehicle.
Inside, there’s plenty of space for clothes: a wardrobe and nine small bedroom lockers provide a variety of options. In addition, there is a large locker under either bed, which could hold a small suitcase or any number of folded jumpers, skirts, and bulkier items. Both lockers have a false floor: on the offside, this lifts to reveal the boiler; the other has a considerable space beneath, which could be used to house valuables or anything you don’t need to get to regularly.
There’s also a space under the second step, which provides wiring and heat ducting access, and could hold a dustpan and brush or a small vacuum cleaner.
Up front there are two overhead lockers and a small cupboard by the door – all lockers have sturdy, push-button catches on the handle. This cupboard is ideal for keys, maps and so forth but the space above it – where we would like to have seen a window – could just as easily have housed a drinks cabinet or an extra locker.
The overcab space has open shelving, which we used for maps and travel documents.
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
We were impressed by the combination of crisp styling, high-quality build and intelligent design. The washroom, kitchen and lounge maximise the small space into which they’ve been squeezed, to make way for the rear bedroom and the garage, so compromise is limited. Even on a long tour, you’ll neither want for space nor comfort. Some things let it down, though – mainly the sink drainage, mattress comfort and headroom over the beds.
- Outstanding base vehicle; single beds and option to convert into double; good use of space in washroom; terrific garage
- Headroom over the rear beds; kitchen sink drainage; mattress comfort