Niall HamptonSee other motorhome reviews written by Niall Hampton
The rise of the van conversion continues for 2016 and now Practical Motorhome's Editor Niall Hampton reviews the compact Hobby Vantana K55 from Germany
Highly regarded German manufacturer Hobby surprised many when it entered the van conversion market for 2015, with the three-strong Vantana range. This gives Hobby an offering outside the coachbuilt segment, where its Siesta range is well established, and to which Optima was recently added.
Producing van conversions is not for the faint-hearted, though, as there’s a seemingly bewildering array of models to consider, from both volume manufacturers and small converters across Europe. Competition is fierce, as you’d expect with so many big names vying for a slice of the cake and designing new motorhomes for 2016. And this segment certainly continues to grow, as seen at the 2015 Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, where an extra van conversions hall was laid on to sate visitor demand for vehicles that are smaller, lighter and more economical to run than larger coachbuilt motorhomes. You can read more in our blog, Düsseldorf show: the rise of the campervan.
Hobby’s relative newness to this market requires it to offer something distinctive to stand out from the crowd. German brands can always fall back on build quality and appealing design quirks, but ease of use and interior ambience also figure on buyers’ wish lists. To see how well the Vantana formula works in the metal, we thought it’d make sense to scrutinise the model that presents the most challenges to its designers, the Hobby Vantana K55, which at 5.41m (17ft 9in) long is the baby of the range.
In standard form, the K55 comes in white, although silver, slate grey or black finishes are also available. A prominent compass logo is sited on a black panel above the rear wheels, with red and black stripes also used to create a distinctive look.
Entering through the sliding door on the UK offside, our test ’van sported ‘Ashai ash/magnolia’ cabinetwork and ‘Capri’ soft furnishings, which together with the brown work surfaces, made for a pleasant vibe.
On the road
Driver and safety aids include cruise control and ASR; the optional Chassis package adds extras including passenger airbag, ESP including ASR, hill hold and Traction+, LED daytime running lights, leather steering wheel and gearstick and air conditioning.
With a pair of belts fitted in the front dinette, four travel seats are available.
Lounging & dining
The table follows standard convention by having a sliding section to reach out to the occupant of the driver’s chair; space is at a premium in this area but there’s still room to get comfortable during snack and meal times. Headroom in the dinette area, and rear bedroom, is 1.894m (6'2.5").
Apart from the two gas burners and sink, equipment comprises a 50-litre compressor fridge, tucked away to the right of two drawers which have soft-closing mechanisms. There’s no room for an oven.
A second, optional, berth, measuring 1.4m x 0.9m (4'7" x 2'9"), can be made up in the front dinette, by setting the table on the lowest of its two supports and rearranging the dinette seat cushions. With this and the rear bed in use, the washroom’s tambour doors can be pulled out for privacy.
Inside, the compact washroom is a model of space efficiency. A sink and vanity unit is located to the left, next to a cassette toilet on the right-hand-side. The shower head extends from the sink’s mixer tap, and a curtain pulls across on a U-shaped rail to prevent spray from contacting the woodwork. There is space to get dressed in the washroom, but the dimensions definitely favour people who are built for speed rather than comfort.
The bedroom has a storage unit on each side; the nearside one houses the gas bottle locker and Truma Combi 6 space and water heater, while the one on the offside can be loaded from the top. With the bed frame and mattress retracted and lashed to the sidewall, the rear of the Vantana K55 is large enough to take bulky items like cycles and surfboards. A wooden divider can be inserted to close the space off; it has a hole through which long items like fishing rods and skis can be inserted.
Insulation is well addressed in the K55, with XPS foam insulation used in the living area, which also benefits from a heated double floor in the dinette to house the plumbing. The fresh water tank also has frost protection. Fitted around the K55 are five 230V sockets and one 12V socket.
Hobby is bundling the Fiat Chassis Pack (passenger airbag, daytime running lights, leather trim steering wheel and gear knob, radio preparation and cruise control), Starter Pack (Remis cab door blinds, pleated concertina blind and side sliding door flyscreen), Deluxe Pack and Multimedia Pack (includes two additional speakers in habitation area, Blaupunkt navigation system and reversing camera and sliding holder for flatscreen TV) as the ‘Vantana Deluxe All Inclusive’ package, which means that over £7500 of options are included in the K55’s £43,995 OTR list price.
Individual options are also available, including engine upgrades to 150bhp (£799), ComfortMatic transmission and 150bhp engine upgrade (£2999), alloy wheels (£495), bike rack (£255), additional 95Ah leisure battery (£255) and two individual travels seats in lieu of a bench seat (£799).
|Layout||Van conversion, transverse bed|
|Fresh/waste water||95L / 90L|
|Leisure battery||95 Ah|
|Gas bottle size||11kg|
|Number of gas bottles||2|
Waeco Compressor Fridge, 2-burner gas hob, Separate grill
Thetford C-200 toilet, Shower curtain
There’s a lot to choose from in this segment of the market, but the nippy and manoeuvrable Hobby Vantana K55 scores well with a value-for-money price including several options packs, good build quality and some thoughtful practicality touches. The removable bed also offers flexibility for active-minded motorcaravanners, or those who use their ’vans for occasional business applications. The space-saving washroom may be a squeeze for some buyers, but it does offer a full feature set. And to see other Hobby motorhomes for sale, click here.
- High quality build
- Rear fixed bed is removable
- Good insulation
- Plenty of storage
- Small washroom
- No oven