Nick HardingSee other motorhome reviews written by Nick Harding
With the Birchover, Hillside Leisure's long-wheelbase T6-based VW campervan gives extra living space and high levels of kit, without the bells and whistles
The advent of the T6 VW campervan has brought with it a new range of colours, including the fetching Bamboo Garden Green metallic (a £594 option) on this Birchover from Derby-based converter Hillside Leisure.
More importantly, however, if you're looking at VW campervans for sale, this is another independently produced camper that shows the flexibility domestic manufacturers exercise over the standard Volkswagen California.
Like the Celex from Bilbo’s, Hillside’s Birchover comes as standard on the short-wheelbase T6 – but it features here on the long-wheelbase. The longer shell costs an additional £2000. In terms of pounds per inch, it may not seem like great value, but it really does open up the interior space.
This is a very early T6, too, from a time when they had the last of the T5 engines. Here, for example, it’s the Euro 5 140PS motor, with a six-speed manual gearbox. It’s a Highline model, though, with all the extra goodies that entails: colour-coded bumpers and mirrors, climatic cab air conditioning, a padded steering wheel with controls, reversing sensors, a stereo upgrade and more. These all contribute to the feel of a leisure vehicle.
Going back to colours, though, and the interior of this Hillside Birchover is in complete contrast to the exterior, with brown cloth upholstery and lined green curtains which, along with the wood-effect furniture, should appeal to more conservative (and, perhaps, more mature) buyers. Another indicator about Hillside’s target customers is its preference for domestic-style, lined curtains.
The Birchover also has several signature Hillside Leisure features, starting with an L-shaped kitchen; at the short leg, the 65-litre fridge and Smev oven/grill are concealed behind a door that has three built-in shelves. The arrangement, though, makes the swivel base for the driver’s seat unnecessary. The heavy-duty hinges and castor in the base of the door hints at the sturdy nature of a typical Hillside conversion.
The kitchen has a two-ring gas hob and a deep sink, leaving lots of workspace to its left. Some of the space here is taken by a lid that opens to reveal a cutlery tray. Such is its nature, though, that you can’t help wondering whether this will end up catching crumbs and spills.
Hillside certainly ups the ante with hot water, diesel-fuelled heating, a shower socket just inside the tailgate, kitchen shelves just below the roofline, rear speakers and more.
The Birchover also features a RIB rear seat and an SCA elevating roof. Hillside has long been an adherent of – and, indeed, the leading UK distributor for – the German-made component.
2-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Here’s a company that has established itself as one of the UK’s leading campervan manufacturers. There’s a quiet air of authority to Hillside Leisure’s work, thanks to its determination to fit superior-quality components in its vehicles.
This is a manufacturer that goes beyond the VW Transporter. Founded in 2004 by brothers Adrian, Mark and David Cross, Hillside Leisure has extended its portfolio with ’vans based on the Ford Transit, Renault Trafic and even Nissan’s micro NV200.
- It is well-engineered throughout
- You get a long-wheelbase option
- It lacks some design flair