Gentleman JackSee other motorhome reviews written by Gentleman Jack
The new Shire Phoenix XLR Twin is an extra-long Ducato-based high-top campervan from an award-winning Yorkshire converter – here's why our expert loves it!
Despite being a relative newcomer, West Yorkshire-based Shire Conversions is already a prolific award-winner. In its 2016 brochure and on-line, Shire proprietor Darryl Healey has provided valuable insights into the company ethos. It’s all within a framework it calls ‘iDesign’, which encompasses design, manufacturing and customer choice.
For me, though, and with a nod to 1980s pop poppets Bananarama, ‘It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it... and that’s what gets results’.
The XL body allows the washroom to be placed further back so it doesn’t block very much of the side door’s aperture. While we were evaluating the high-top conversion, it became crystal clear just how inspired this design decision was.
On the road
There is a reason why the Ducato (and its Boxer and Relay siblings) have achieved such a high level of market penetration in the panel-van conversion market. It isn’t just because they’re cheap – as is frequently argued, because they aren’t particularly. The real reason is that these vans are so suitable.
Although the view through the rear windows was adequate, I wished that a rear-vision camera and monitor had been ticked on the options list. My view is that such devices are worth every penny they add to the price tag.
Lounging & dining
Two other examples of clever design were corner shelves for putting down a drink when the dining table isn’t deployed, and storage for the table in the side door.
The forward lounge is not only a pleasant place to relax but, because of the sliding worktop extension, it will be great for laptop tapping, tableting or gaming, both electronic and board.
Among the storage options are plenty of deep drawers; you can’t have too many, because they allow you to retrieve items easily and stocktake at a glance. The microwave is sensibly and safely positioned just above the half-height fridge. Taken overall, this is one of the best linear galleys I’ve seen in a ’van this size.
If you choose to make up two longitudinal single beds, they will measure 1.88m x 0.66m (6'2" x 2'2"). If you prefer to sleep on a longitudinal/transverse double bed it's 1.88m x 1.85m (6'2" x 6'1"). Alternatively you can make up a transverse double bed measuring 1.85m x 1.22m (6'1" x 4').
It is worth reiterating that the choice of finishes to the locker and cupboard doors is yours. Some opt for a unified décor, others to have a different finish in the kitchen.
Equipment includes: a Truma 4e Combi water and space heater, swivel cab seats, two x 110 Amp leisure batteries, full LED lighting, 25-litre Autogas tank, 100-litre insulated fresh water tank, 60-litre insulated waste tank, 12v socket, seven 240V power sockets, an 88-litre Dometic Fridge (3-way), a three-burner hob, a 36-litre oven/grill, microwave oven, refreshments cooler, a waste bin, fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, removable carpets, and acoustic-thermal insulation.
|Layout||Van conversion, rear lounge|
|Fresh/waste water||100L / 60L|
|Leisure battery||110 Ah|
|Secondary leisure battery||110 Ah|
|Gas tank size||25kg|
|Number of gas tank compartments||1|
Thetford Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill, Microwave
This layout was rethought and reworked with insight and skill. It lets you choose what you want, rather than having to put up with what a focus group thinks you want. And that is a real bonus.
We've given the 2016 Shire Phoenix XLR Twin a four-star rating.
- Washroom door opens away from the kitchen
- Flexible choice of bed shapes and sizes
- Flexible parallel sofas or U-lounge
- Plenty of storage
- Reversing camera is a cost-option
- All the desirable extra goodies add up
- Only two beds