Nick Harding

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If you're looking for a luxury camper, but are shopping with a tight budget, make sure you read Practical Motorhome's Wellhouse Alphard review

Overview

When people have their hearts set on buying a campervan, the conversion those shoppers have in mind is commonly something based on a Volkswagen van. That means they may not expect to get much for their money. However, they should focus on things beyond VW, such as an appealing offering from Wellhouse Leisure, the West Yorkshire converter.

The Toyota Alphard may not be familiar to you, so it pays to investigate. Wellhouse has partly made its name by importing pre-owned base vehicles – invariably better equipped MPVs – from Japan to give them a new lease of life as campervans. The company also converts new vans, such as the Ford Transit, the base for its Terrier, and the Hyundai i800.

Core customers for the Alphard-based campervans have been those who want to trade up from the Toyota Granvia camper, which is also built by Wellhouse. That also means there’s a stock of campers at an even lower price point at Wellhouse’s new premises near Huddersfield, where it moved to in March to bring together its Shipley and Shelley operations. The site also hosts a service centre, a bodyshop and more as part of the campervan empire it has built over the past decade.

You can see Wellhouse's Alphards as part of a multipronged attack on the camper sector. There’s a choice of perfectly adequate 2.4-litre 168bhp engines, as well as the more sumptuous 3.0-litre version. Four-wheel-drive versions are proving the most popular. They’re all fitted with automatic, super-smooth, five-speed gearboxes. A fuel-efficient green hybrid variant is on the way.

Wellhouse saves money, too, because the age of the base vehicle means it’s exempt from any Type Approval assessments.

Never mind the age or even the fairly typical 77,800 mileage on the example we’re considering, but do take the time to look at the fantastic condition of the base vehicle.

It’s a Toyota, so it has built-in longevity. The vehicle has also been imported from a country where they do not salt their roads, so the underside is in exceptional condition. It’s still worth considering an underseal for driving here.

The example we saw, at £23,500, comes with the 3.0-litre engine and two-wheel drive. There are also slight specification details to each base vehicle, starting with G or V versions of the Alphard. But the alloy wheels, silver door-mirror guards and even the location of the radio aerial (on the front bumper) are among the variations on this example. You can also have models with automatic sliding doors and more, so do be prepared to ask. What you get are such luxuries as electric windows (not just in the cab doors but in both side doors as well), twin airbags, air conditioning and plenty more. Plus Wellhouse supplies an upmarket double DIN stereo unit, which also displays the rear view for reversing; Alphards vary in terms of cameras, sensors and related kit they provide.

The interior follows the popular campervan layout, in which the furniture is arrayed along the offside from behind the driver’s seat. A double travel seat at the rear converts to a flat double bed, which is not particularly wide (it measures 1.83m x 1.16m/6'0" x 3'9"). The gloss finish in this example is called Zebrano, but a variety of furniture and upholstery finishes is offered to complement whatever you want in the cab. The curved front cupboard isn’t just for good looks: it provides a permanent ledge that is handy for when you don’t fancy setting up the main table for a cuppa.

Despite its clever features, there are compromises in the Alphard, such as the rising roof. Unlike base vehicles that you can order with a variety of off-the-shelf elevating roofs, Wellhouse had to specify its own. On the plus side it goes up and comes down easily. The disadvantage is that money had to be saved somewhere to keep the price down, so the canvas, and especially the zips, are not premium quality.

As an affordable option for new motorcaravanners, though, the Alphard has plenty going for it. Aside from the pleasant habitation area, it boasts a rather sophisticated base vehicle. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by its performance and road manners.

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats4
MTPLM2300kg
Payload500kg
Length4.8m15′9″
Width1.8m5′11″
Height2.1m6′11″
Engine (power)217
Fresh/waste water22L / 22L
Leisure battery120 Ah
Gas tank size2.75kg
Number of gas tank compartments1
Kitchen Equipment
2-burner gas hob
Washroom
Porta potti
Heating
Webasto space heater

Verdict

This may be the best-value camper on the market – and the most luxurious. With the Alphard, Wellhouse reinforces its reputation for turning pre-owned vans from Japan into desirable leisure vehicles.

Despite the roof extension and narrow bed, the company underlines its faith in the model with an all-encompassing three-year warranty. And to see other Wellhouse motorhomes for sale, click here.

Conclusion

Pros

  • You get a three-year warranty
  • It's a good value-for-money proposition

Cons

  • The materials used in the elevating roof are a little basic
  • The double bed won't be large enough for everyone
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