Gentleman Jack

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The 2016 IH Motorhomes N-Class 630 RL looks more like a yacht than a van conversion – read our expert's review to see if it lives up to expectations

Overview

Panel-van converter Ian Hartley has continually evolved the design of his IH motorhomes over the past two decades. He has an innate ability to combine traditional and modern elements to create an interior vibe that is up-to-date while being timeless in a classic way that is reminiscent of high-end yacht cabins.

In the past, IH has altered a variety of base vehicles but, for 2016, the line-up is built solely on the Fiat Ducato, with models on both the LWB and XL versions. These are available with the standard-issue rear doors or with an optional one-piece moulded rear panel that creates a full-width, exterior-access boot.

The IH Motorhomes N-Class 630 RL costs from £62,995 on the road; and we were given a chance to test a higher specification one costing £74,303.

Design

The flagship N-Class range has the rear panel as standard and adds a recently-patented IH-designed side infill panel featuring a glazed, double-latch Hartal entrance door. Once the side door has been removed, the new module isn’t just added but fully integrated, so that it looks as though it has always been there. A double-glazed, opening window has been added to the module, just rearwards of the new door.

On the road

On the road there is little if any difference between the LWB van and this XL version, because both share the same footprint and kerb-to-kerb turning circle. The soon-to-be-retired 3.0-litre, 180bhp Euro 5+ engine specified for the test vehicle is an absolute bell-ringer – smooth, fast and with shedloads of torque. We shall see whether its much smaller capacity Euro 6 replacement will be as joyful to pilot; it may not.

IH always specifies 16in wheels for its conversions – for N-Class, smart alloys are standard – either as solid silver-grey or black-and- silver. It will be when parking that the XL’s extra 14in or so behind the rear wheels will need to be considered, especially if you have limited space on the drive at home.

Lounging & dining

Rear-lounge motorhomes are popular in the UK, and with good reason. These seating areas are comfy, well-lit and socially inclusive. The cabinet for the telly is standard; the set itself is a cost option.

As often happens, it is the details that make a difference – and here for the better. A proper magazine rack (not one of those awful spider’s web things), well-placed lighting and a stable table of sensible proportions all scored highly.

Every bit as important are the insulated gap between the backrests and the wall, the absence of draughty rear doors and the inclusion of a powerful combi boiler. Taken together, they should provide the basis for comfortable, year-round motorcaravanning in temperate climates.

Kitchen

The chef’s galley is well designed, offering accessible storage via two large drawers, plus all the usual white goods. To illustrate the amount of thought that has gone into this area, note that the sink has a proper draining surface - not one of those loose plastic afterthoughts. Also, the fridge door is hinged the correct way – you’d be surprised how many aren’t.

Sleeping

At bedtime, you can choose to make up a pair of single beds or a double. In either case, most people will find the berths generously sized. The twin singles are 1.93m x 0.68m (6'4" x 2'2.5") and the double bed is a superb 1.93m x 1.86m (6'4" x 6'1").

Clever positioning of reading lights offer occupants of the double bed a choice of sleeping transversely or longitudinally. Because there is a cracking additional seating area in the cab, the bed(s) could be left made up if desired.

Washroom

The offside washroom is comprehensively equipped and boasted a warm wood finish that gave it a more luxurious and less clinical feel. Storage abounds with two large cubbyholes and, above the foldaway basin, a medicine cabinet with a mirror door and shelves. I’ve a personal dislike of storing a tabletop in the same room as the toilet, but freely admit that I’m probably being illogical.

Storage

General storage is both ample and varied – in fact, every space that could be used has been. On occasion, less is more and, by reducing the depth of the cupboards behind the driver, sufficient room has been created to allow comfortable swivelling while keeping the storage space large enough to be useful. Behind the waist-level door are the consumer unit, fuse board and the rest of the electrical gear. I know it’s getting repetitive, but it is yet another well thought-out piece of design. So many converters hide this stuff away at the back of wardrobes or in seat boxes, turning a tripped MCB into a major military operation.

Equipment

The equipment tally and upgrade count were positively regal, which explains the considerable windscreen price.

Technical specs

LayoutVan conversion, rear lounge
Sleeps2
Travel seats2
MTPLM3500kg
Payload560kg
Length6.36m20′10″
Width2.05m6′9″
Height2.62m8′7″
Engine (capacity)3000
Engine (power)180
Fresh/waste water67L / 60L
Leisure battery140 Ah
Gas tank size25kg
Number of gas tank compartments1
External Options
Aluminium sidewalls, Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, Oven, Separate grill
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Shower curtain
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

Motorcaravanners appear to have judged the IH Motorhomes N-Class to be one of the best British-built campers, given its sales success. We reckon the 􏰀􏰁􏰂630 RL will become the most popular. High-quality build and intelligent design are both amply in evidence.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Enormous double bed
  • Comfy rear lounge
  • Warm décor, not at all clinical
  • Rear boot locker
  • High specification

Cons

  • High quality comes at a price
  • Only two berths and two travel seats
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