Alastair Clements
Group editor

See other motorhome reviews written by Alastair Clements

Practical Motorhome's expert tests the stylish HymerCar Sierra Nevada – it's not a cheap camper, but can it tempt you from more affordable van conversions?

Overview

The challenge of persuading newcomers into the pastime has been made easier for motorhome manufacturers with the advent of the panel van conversion. You get the practicality and versatility of a campervan, allied to the internal capacity of a proper coachbuilt motorhome. And ’vans such as Hymer's new-for-2015 HymerCar Sierra Nevada add a dash of sporty style, tempting those used to a ‘premium’ car with smart colour schemes and natty alloy wheels.

Design

The Sierra Nevada is available as either a fixed-roof two-berth, as here, or with a pair of additional berths in a pop-top roof. Even as a two-berth it packs a lot of clever design touches into its 4.03m wheelbase, and there’s a useful standing height of 1.9m (6ft 3in) thanks to the high-top roof.

On the road

In standard form, the MTPLM sticks with the 3500kg limit for B licence holders, but there are optional upgrades of up to 4000kg, giving a 1010kg payload. It’s well-equipped, too, with Truma Combi
4 heating plus four 230V and two 12V sockets.

Our test ’van was specced to a decent level, making the Sierra Nevada more expensive than the likes of the Autocruise Alto (this offers a similar layout but will appeal to a different kind of buyer). One of many options fitted to our test ’van was the 150bhp engine upgrade, though the 130bhp standard unit should be powerful enough. Although the Sierra Nevada uses the XL LWB Fiat Ducato, it is compact and wieldy enough to use as a second vehicle – aided by its four belted seats, though the rear pair may be snug for adults.

The new Ducato cab feels very automotive, and Hymer has added car-like touches such as inlays and sports seats that wouldn’t look out of place in a new BMW.

Lounging & dining

Swing around those chairs and you have a compact but neatly designed lounge that seats three adults in comfort, four at a push. Typical of the neat details throughout this ’van are the small underfloor storage cubby and the table, which folds away completely against the wall, yet pops up to give room for four to dine, without being too much of a stretch from the forward captain’s chairs.

Kitchen

That longer wheelbase allows room for a decent kitchen without intruding into the big door opening, complete with full flyscreen and electric step beneath. And although it’s in the main corridor of the ’van, the galley feels pretty spacious, not to mention stylish, with its funky splashback, good-sized sink and chromed tap. Just don’t expect to do any Michelin-starred cooking, because there’s no oven or grill and only a two-burner hob – although a 108-litre fridge will keep your drinks cool.

Sleeping

In the rear you’ll find a huge (1.92 x 1.4m; 6ft 4in x 4ft 7in), high-set fixed double bed in the nearside corner. With a thick mattress, padded headboard and sprung boards beneath it’s pretty comfortable, though there is the usual cutaway at the foot to ease access.

We’d like to have seen individual reading lights rather than a single strip-light, but it’s otherwise luxurious, even featuring a neat ‘dressing table’ with vanity mirror.

Washroom

The Sierra Nevada’s wetroom is a surprise; squeezed in between the bed and the forward hanging wardrobe, it’s unexpectedly roomy despite its compact dimensions. That’s largely down to its space-saving design: there’s a drop-down sink above the electric-flush toilet, a tap that doubles up as a showerhead, a mirror and even a small cabinet. The 100-litre water tank should give enough water for a proper shower, too.

Storage

There are no complaints about the storage options in this ’van. There’s not one but two wardrobes – one up front and another in the offside-rear corner.

The kitchen features large drawers, and everywhere there are space-saving ideas such as the built-in stowage for a camping table and chairs in the back, or the elasticated pocket for your books in the rear wall.

But one of the highlights of this layout, and the reason the French bed sits so high, is the huge storage area beneath. Fold up half of the slatted base for access to lockers of various sizes along the nearside wall, and a usefully large – and long – area with tie-down points for bikes or canoes.

Equipment

Electric step at the habitation door, two-ring gas hob, 108-litre compressor refrigerator, pleated black-out blind and insect screen, fabric covered side walls and ceiling, exclusively energy-saving LED lighting.

Technical specs

LayoutRear corner bed
Sleeps2
Travel seats4
MTPLM3500kg
Payload510kg
Length6.36m20′10″
Width2.08m6′10″
Height2.55m8′4″
Engine (capacity)2300
Engine (power)150
Fresh/waste water100L / 100L
Leisure battery95 Ah
Gas bottle size11kg
Number of gas bottles2
External Options
Aluminium sidewalls, Integral awning, Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
2-burner gas hob
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Shower curtain
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

The 2015 HymerCar Sierra Nevada’s interior will suit buyers with an active lifestyle. If you love the styling and have a passion for the great outdoors, this versatile and well-built two-berth high-top panel van conversion motorhome is worth saving up for.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Stylish two-berth van conversion
  • Good washroom
  • Fixed double bed
  • Plenty of storage
  • Cab with sports seats, DAB radio, Bluetooth
  • Rear door access
  • Room for table and folding chairs by rear doors

Cons

  • Only two gas rings for cooking
  • No oven or grill
  • Space-saving sink over the toilet
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