Practical Motorhome reviews the 2014 Auto-Sleeper Kingham and reveals it to be a very fine motorcaravan
It’s unclear whether the Auto-Sleepers marketing team had this in mind, or if they found Kingham while flipping through their gazetteer of Cotswold villages that lend their names to so many Auto-Sleeper motorhomes.
Whatever the reason, Kingham is a name with regal overtones and is worthy of a fine motorcaravan. And judging by the interest in it since its launch at last October’s NEC show, Auto-Sleepers has hit this mark. The first A-S van conversion to feature a fixed bed, the Kingham is a stylish two-berth that retails from just under £50,000. The sleeping arrangements will be welcomed by those who don’t want to set up and break down a bed every day. A corner washroom, side-facing sofa, fully equipped kitchen and a raft of well-considered creature comforts complete the specification.
Designed to tempt couples hankering for the comfort of a coachbuilt without the larger dimensions, the Kingham is 6.36m long and sub-3500kg in weight. Given the rise in people downsizing their motorhomes to save on running costs, it’s bang on trend. And with its van-like form, it’s as happy threading through country lanes as it is cruising down motorways.
But downsizers are increasingly well catered for, especially those who won’t forego luxury – the rise of smaller A-class ’vans and low-lines with A-class kit lists are testament to that. Has Auto-Sleepers done enough to tempt downsizers into buying a van conversion, though?
The welded steel high-top roof will reduce heat loss, but it does mean a step is required between the living area and the cab, which may be less practical for some potential buyers.
The Kingham’s interior features a beige and brown colour palette.
The cabinetwork has a predominantly ash finish with two-tone overhead lockers, while the upholstery sports a brown, white and grey pattern (a choice of fabrics schemes is available). Curtain fabrics are cream-coloured, with dark-brown tie-backs to mimic the leading edges of the upholstery and the overhead lockers. It’s a neat fusion of old and new: retro swirling patterns married with striped cushions and the reassurance of traditional braided edging.
On the road
Standard specification includes driver and passenger airbags, twin-leaf suspension, Truma dual-fuel heating, an underslung fixed LPG tank and a well-equipped kitchen.
Our test ’van came with the £2500 Premium Pack, which adds alloy wheels,
cab air-con, daytime running lights, reversing camera, wind-out canopy awning and Al-Ko Air Top suspension. The Winter Pack (£245) adds to the Kingham’s four-season touring capabilities.
With a total length of 6.4m, you’re often going to need some help manoevring. The Kingham’s reversing camera is very handy in this respect.
The Kingham is a pleasure to drive, with a commanding driving position and good visibility, though one of our testers thought it had poor three-quarter vision (the areas to the right and left of the A-pillars), which stems from the base vehicle design.
The Peugeot Boxer is known for its car-like drive, which is why the Kingham is a satisfying ’van to steer. It doesn’t wallow around corners and the engine has plenty of poke for the stop/start of urban driving. The cruise control fitted to our test vehicle made motorway driving very pleasant under traffic-free conditions. Noise from the living quarters is minimal, and while you’re certainly aware of where the engine is when accelerating uphill, you can still converse with your passenger.
Lounging & dining
Resisting the temptation to make this ’van a three-berth means the lounge sofa doesn’t have to double as an extra bed, so it’s not compromised; it has plenty of support and a firm backrest. It offers a good view from the sliding side door – perfect if pitched up near water or overlooking a sunset – and if the door needs to be closed, then a pair of lights at either end of the sofa are well placed for reading. Windows on both sides of the motorhome, and a rooflight that follows the track of the lounge, provide plenty of natural light.
The rotating front seats offer the added bonus of being able to recline. TV points on the wardrobe wall suggest these seats are the intended viewing position.
Push the double bed back during the daytimes to save space and thanks to its pop-up headboard, you can get comfortable for some quality reading time.
For elevenses or afternoon tea, a small cocktail table can be added between the rotated front seats; this stows behind the sofa in its own pocket. For mealtimes, a larger folding leaf table can be deployed in the gangway, although this restricts movement to the rear of the ’van and the washroom.
Energy-efficient LED lighting is provided in the lounge, following the established configuration of spotlights, ceiling globe and over-locker ambient lighting. It all makes for a very pleasing atmosphere.
In fine weather, you'll want to eat outside. The optional wind-out Thule Omnistor canopy awning is easy to deploy and will be a real boon in sunny weather or warmer climes. The standard-fit external gas point will be great for hooking up the barbecue when you’re entertaining outdoors.
Cooks get three gas burners, a combination oven/grill and a microwave oven. A vertical power point at the end of the kitchen worktop allows use of kettles, toasters and so on simultaneously, and the extractor fan will soon rid the ’van of steam and cooking odours.
The rectangular sink will easily cope with a couple’s washing up and has a plastic drainer supplied to bridge the gap between sink and cooker. Storage provision in the kitchen is good, too, with two overhead lockers including racking for crockery, assorted drawers and a corner cupboard at the rear of the kitchen unit.
Converting the bed is straightforward. Push it firmly towards the rear doors to raise it; pull it towards you sharply and it will lie flat. There are no levers or catches, and you don’t need to be particularly strong; it’s all in the technique.
The bed comes with a memory foam mattress and measures 1.9m x 1.2m (6’3” x 4’). Our testers agreed the bed was comfortable but weren’t sure it would suit every buyer. One couple felt it was too narrow, but said the length was fine. Using it solo, taller testers had to sleep slightly diagonally.
Storage space is available under the offside lounge sofa, although the MCU takes a nibble from it. Next to the sofa is a handy dedicated slot for the occasional table.
When not in use, the folding leaf lounge table stows in a shelf above the driver’s cab. It’s also a good place to keep items you need quickly.
The Kingham’s fixed bed is built on an aluminium frame and its memory foam mattress lifts easily on gas struts to reveal a very handy large storage area. The unit under the headboard is the Truma heater but it’s not that noisy. There's a handy cupboard located opposite the foot of the bed. Underneath there’s a magazine pouch, and to its right, a USB connection.
An underslung gas tank is a great space saving solution. A level meter near the steering wheel lets you know when you’re running low.
3-burner gas with electric hot plate, Combined Oven/Grill, Microwave
The Auto-Sleeper Kingham will appeal to discerning downsizers looking for a smaller motorhome with lower running costs. The comfortable living quarters are well executed, as we’d expect from Auto-Sleepers; they have a pleasing ambience and the fit and finish is excellent. Squeezing a fixed bed into a van conversion without severely undermining the rest of the living space is no mean feat, but the Kingham pulls it off. The bed divided opinion among our testers, who come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so try before you buy. At £49,200, the Kingham isn’t cheap, but you’re getting coachbuilt luxury in a high-top.
We had the Kingham as part of our test fleet for 76 days and toured Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Spain and Portugal. We clocked up 3188 miles. During the test period the fuel economy was 28.2mpg. The only fault or incident we had was that the windscreen suffered a stone-chip and we replaced it.
- A great looking and comfortable 'van
- Kitchen work space is good
- There's a high level of spec
- Build quality is high
- Entering the cab from the rear, we banged our heads on the overcab shelf
- The double bed is clever but its dimensions might not suit all buyers