Niall Hampton
Editor

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Practical Motorhome's Niall Hampton reviews the 2016 Hymer Van 314 to see if this iconic brand's comfy compact coachbuilt could convert panel van fans

Overview

Far be it from us to query the German manufacturer’s choice of nomenclature, but the 2016 Hymer Van 314 is in fact a coachbuilt. It shares its name with a similar product that quietly disappeared from European dealers a few years ago: a Ford Transit-based compact, low-profile range that launched in 2006.

We've reported on the new Hymer motorhomes launched for 2016 here, and in this review we're going to focus on the fact that Hymer is taking another trip with the Van, which is now riding on a Fiat Ducato base and badged 314. 

At 5.45m, the 314 is close in length to a short-wheelbase Sevel panel van (5.4m), and 16cm shorter than a long-wheelbase VW T5 (5.29m). Because it can negotiate parking spaces less forgiving of larger units, the 314 will tempt buyers who prefer coachbuilt comfort levels in as small a package as possible. For the past few years, these customers have been nudged towards panel-van conversions featuring fixed beds and fully equipped washrooms, as well as a raft of compact low-profiles breaking the tape at just under six metres. 

At half-a-metre shorter than many of its near rivals, though, the 314 offers something genuinely different. And unlike most of the competition, it’s not a budget ’van – the base price at launch is £42,250. Hymer is marketing the Van 314 as a replacement vehicle for the second family car and, at first sight, this may not be too fanciful a notion. 

Thanks to pairing the Ducato base with a lightweight Al-Ko chassis, the Van 314 has an all-up weight of 3500kg with a huge payload – just shy of 1000kg. The rear garage even has a maximum loading capacity of 350kg. 

Design

With its purposeful, slightly nose-down stance, the 314 looks sharp. Despite the short body length, its designers have done a good job of making it look as little like a white box as possible.

The side view is almost symmetrical, with only slightly more vehicle behind the rear wheels than ahead of the front ones, and the ultra-low-profile overcab moulding pleasantly integrates the cab and living quarters.

On the road

Supplied with a 130bhp engine as standard, and with a MiRO of 2515kg, the 314 has a good power-to-weight ratio, which makes for a lively driving experience. The Fiat/Al-Ko combination delivers good handling and there was little road noise from the living quarters.

Lounging & dining

Entering through the offside habitation door, you find yourself in a space that is compact but not cramped. A bench seat forms a half dinette around the lounge table, which features a sliding section to include those in the rotated cab seats.

Daylight floods through a large rooflight above the lounge, and side window and cab windows. Artificial light is provided by LED lights on the B-pillars, and a spotlamp above the bench seats.

Kitchen

Opposite the lounge is a small kitchen with an integrated cooker and sink under a glass lid. There’s no oven or grill, so cooks are restricted to two gas rings, but a compressor fridge beneath will keep perishables fresh. Extra work surface is provided by a hinged flap, but with the lounge table in such proximity, this may not always be necessary.

Sleeping

At the rear is a transverse fixed bed, which you access using a wooden ladder that hooks onto the bed frame. The cold foam mattress offers good support. A reading light is at the nearside end, while natural light enters windows at each end of the bed, and a centrally mounted rooflight.

The double bed is a good size: 2m x 1.45m (6’7” x 4’9”).

Washroom

Of all the areas in the ’van, the compact nearside washroom posed the greatest design challenge. Behind a space-efficient tambour door resides a basin, vanity unit, shower and toilet. It’s no mean feat, although the basin is actually more of a tip-up shelf and the shower tray doubles as the washroom floor. Dressing in this area may challenge some users, but a full-feature washroom here is impressive.

Storage

There’s more storage available in the 314 than you’d first imagine. In addition to the rear garage there are four overhead lockers, cubbies in the roof of the cab and a clever slide-out storage rack in the kitchen, which also houses a small waste bin. A wardrobe is under the bed, with a door at the rear to access the garage.

Equipment

Our test ’van was fitted with a range of options, with the following items included as part of the Comfort pack (£4140): cruise control, cab air-conditioning and skylight, habitation door window, a larger capacity (85-litre) fridge, second leisure battery, and belted travel seats for the bench seat.

Further options include drop-in carpets (£300), a flatscreen TV bracket (£170), a Truma Combi 4 with immersion heater (£420) and a nearside bedroom window (£220).

Technical specs

LayoutGarage bed
Sleeps2
Travel seats2
MTPLM3500kg
Payload985kg
Length5.45m17′11″
Width2.22m7′3″
Height2.77m9′1″
Engine (capacity)2300
Engine (power)130
Fresh/waste water130L / 90L
Leisure battery95 Ah
Gas bottle size11kg
Number of gas bottles2
External Options
GRP sidewalls
Kitchen Equipment
Waeco Compressor Fridge, 2-burner gas hob
Washroom
Thetford C-200 toilet, Shower curtain

Verdict

The 2016 Hymer Van 314 uses its space wisely. It’s easy to drive and park, and is best suited to couples. The high price is balanced by excellent build quality and strong residuals. And to see other Hymer motorhomes for sale, click here.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Fantastic double bed
  • Memory-foam mattress
  • Garage for storage
  • Easy-access services
  • Quality fittings
  • Huge payload

Cons

  • Washroom is extremely compact
  • Small hob, no oven
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