Gentleman Jack

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Practical Motorhome reviews the Murvi Pimento, a shortened version of the Morello – can a manufacturer take its perfect ’van and make it smaller?

Overview

The Murvi Pimento is not a new design, though its combination with Ford Transit underpinnings is. Basically it’s a shortened Morello, aimed at those who require a fully equipped all-season ’van that is 5.5m long.

Most manufacturers can build a good big motorhome, but only the very best can produce a good one of more modest dimensions.

Murvi’s open-plan main salon is a major contributor to the Pimento’s generous supply of mod-cons while retaining a light and airy feel.

If leaded-light cocktail cabinets, high-gloss woodwork and flowery Cath Kidston fabrics (sometimes called the ‘country cottage’ style of interior) is your chosen vibe, then the Pimento isn’t for you. However, if understated elegance complemented by muted toning finishes float your boat, then you’d better beat a path to Devon.

There are many myths about Murvi – some repeated so often that they have become accepted wisdom but remain totally untrue. One is that Murvi is a small manufacturer. Sure, it’s not a high-volume producer like Swift, but neither is it a tiny backstreet ‘here-today, gone-tomorrow’ operation.

Hands-on proprietor Rex Kneebone has been building multi-award-winning motorcaravans since Bedford’s CF was the base vehicle of choice among the cognoscenti. Twenty highly skilled operatives convert four different base vehicles into six models and have a job keeping up with an ever-increasing demand.

The second myth states that models, such as the Morello, haven’t changed in three decades. This is the one heard most often and is absolute twaddle. Sure the basic layout hasn’t changed, but then why should it?

This is Murvi’s best-selling product. However, changes have been made in base vehicles, furniture finishes, equipment, fittings and mechanisms, such as that used to convert seats to beds.

Despite having enjoyed owning several Transit-based motorcaravans, Ford’s latest generation Transit didn’t make a good first impression with me. First, the manufacturer trailed the product years before anyone could actually see or drive it and, second, I thought the prominent front grille made it look like a startled goldfish. (Not the first time I’d opened mouth before engaging brain.)

Familiarity has shown that it was well worth the frustrating wait to get my hands on what I feel is the market-leading base vehicle. The front elevation has grown on me.

On the road

The USP of this Pimento is the new Ford Transit base vehicle. This 125bhp version did everything well – my lasting memory is of how civilised the ride was.

The suspension was perfectly poised and compliant, without body roll. Silent and smooth progress – perfect. In contrast, the journey home in my Sevel-based coachbuilt made me feel I was trapped in the percussion section of the Royal Philharmonic.

Lounging & dining

One steps immediately into the main salon which offers comfortable lounge seating for four or feet-up relaxing for two. The extra-cost idiot’s lantern was well placed for comfortable viewing from the swivelled cab seats. These are recovered Ford items and very good they are too, though we would shell-out the extra £250 for outer armrests on both front seats.

Most will leave the settee against the offside wall most of the time, though cleverly the lion’s share of it (squab and backrests) can rotate 90 degrees to pal-up with the cab seats to form a double dinette. Just the job when playing board games or entertaining.

There is an option of providing lap belts for these seats in face-forward mode. If you are going to use the rear travelling seats more than a once-in-a-blue-moon, you should seriously consider the Fiat-based Piccolo instead.

Kitchen

Murvi was the first UK mainstream converter to offer a gasless conversion that can be used long-term off grid. Cooking is courtesy of a diesel-fired ceramic two-burner hob and cooling is provided by a leccy dual-voltage compressor fridge.

Sleeping

The double bed in the Murvi Pimento sets up in a jiffy, and it can be made slightly narrower (1.22m/4ft) for a wider side access. Despite the joins, it is very comfortable.

Washroom

The comfort station is well-equipped and has more than sufficient elbow room.

Storage

The half-height wardrobe is big enough to hold sufficient vestments for all except the sartorially-advantaged. It is also home to the smaller tabletop, both table legs, a set of spare bulbs, the first-aid kit and fire blanket.

Equipment

A fire extinguisher is part of the standard spec and is just behind the driver’s seat – Murvi believes in safety above all else.

Other reassuring standard equipment includes a CO detector, smoke detector and a secure ‘safe’ compartment, though I’m not telling you where that is!

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats2
MTPLM3500kg
Payload600kg
Length5.53m18′2″
Width2.06m6′9″
Height2.58m8′6″
Engine (power)125
Fresh/waste water73L / 45L
Leisure battery115 Ah
Secondary leisure battery115 Ah

Verdict

The Pimento is easier to manoeuvre than the Murvi Morello, but has one fewer seat and slightly less storage. The new Ford Transit is lip-smackingly good and a smart buy for long-term ownership.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The Ford Transit base vehicle is excellent
  • It's well equipped and easy to live in
  • Both tables can be used inside and outside the 'van
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