Blending VW camper van cachet with the stylish, quality finish Auto Campers is known for, the flexible MRV is an impressive package – does it work for you?

Overview

Designed to be as flexible as possible, this camper can compliment a whole variety of lifestyles, and offers everything you need from your motorhome.

Despite this, it’s small enough to squeeze under most height barriers.

Basing it on the Volkswagen T6 – it’s also available on the Ford Transit Custom – has pushed the price up a fraction, but fans of the brand will like what Auto Campers has done with it.

Our test ’van came with one rear travel seat (an £800 option), but another two can be added.

Without them, though, you’ll get an impressive amount of space beneath the bed set-up in which to store your kit.

The flexibility to configure your perfect camper is increased by Auto Campers’ innovative four-rail floor system (£1200) which allows you to secure the travel seats.

It can also be used to anchor items so that they don’t slide around as you drive, via D-rings and straps.

Auto Campers is a small enough company for you to be sure that every detail will have been checked and the conversion is of the highest quality.

It’s put together at the company’s workshop in Winnersh, Berkshire.

Design

The sleek grey exterior reflects the modern feel inside the Auto Campers MRV, which has been carefully designed for a simple, stylish look.

Inside, the cabinets are gloss-white as standard, or you can choose from three colours (£300): driftwood, orange or green.

If you want a bolder look, you can jazz up the ’van further by adding graphics to the exterior.

VW does a great range of colours for the T6, too, including Bamboo Garden Green metallic, and Blackberry metallic. The ’van we tested was in Indium Grey metallic.

The rest of the design has been kept simple. The privacy glass in the rear windows is a nice touch, and will help keep the ’van cool during hot weather.

There are no garish flourishes here, just nicely subtle branding.

On the road

The size of this ’van really is a positive: it’s approximately the width and length of a large car, but allows for an elevated view of the road which lets you navigate around obstacles with ease.

The rear sensors are a big help, too. What’s more, the roof is low enough to pass under some height barriers. That makes finding parking much easier.

The optional seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox (£1920) really impressed us: we tackled quite a few hill starts and steep climbs without it breaking into a sweat.

The 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine purred along nicely on the motorway, and it was a welcome relief not to hear too much rattling and noise from inside the ’van as we drove along.

When customising your order, you’ll get the chance to add a tow bar (£486) and a reversing camera (£300), if these options appeal.

The VW camper van cab is also really well organised, with usefully located door pockets, alcoves and shelves, including two cupholders – you can reach your coffee cup from the driving seat with ease.

The steering wheel features handy controls, and there is a pair of 12V sockets in addition to a USB port, so you can easily have your sat-nav unit, phone and tablet all charging at once.

Above the driver’s seat there is a case for keeping your sunglasses to hand, and an alcove for anything else that you might need to grab quickly.

Lounging & dining

The number of chairs that you opt to have fitted very much affects the use of the lounge area: we found that with the single travel seat fitted, and the cab seats swivelled, the lounge area was comfortable for three people.

However, to swivel the driver’s seat you do need to put the ’van in gear, release the handbrake and drop the steering wheel.

Another small niggle is that the lever for adjusting the position of the seat doesn’t turn along with the chair, so it can be awkward to move the seat back and forth when you are swivelling it round.

The dining table is stored in the sliding door, with the legs secured behind the driver’s seat. They slot into the support bracket that is fitted to the kitchen unit.

There are two different leg lengths that can be used here: one provides a dining height, and the other supports the bed when it is in the lower position.

During our stay, the heating was really put to the test by damp and miserable weather. We’re happy to report that the 2kW Webasto Airtop 2000 blown diesel heating system (£1000) rose to the challenge.

While it is a little loud, it’s a constant sound that you soon get used to. The warmth generated makes the whole ’van very snug – even the cab (provided that you’ve fitted the thermal screens, which come as standard).

One of the many benefits of diesel heating is that it is safe to use while you’re on the road.

The lighting here is better than in a lot of camper vans that we’ve seen, including the stylish and practical spotlights above the swivel chairs.

There are also LEDs in the base of the roof bed, and units above the kitchen and in the rear of the ’van.

You won’t be throwing any parties in the lounging space of the Auto Campers MRV, but it is perfectly suited to a couple.

Plus, when you remove the travel seats and bed system, the ’van can be used for shuttling larger items from place to place.

This layout really encourages you to spend time outdoors – if you fancy a little more comfort, the plethora of doors mean you can add awnings for extra space.

A 2.6-metre cassette unit can be added onto your order (£600), as well as a Khyam Sleeper driveaway example (£600); although you do have to add the multi-rail on the passenger side (£240).

When the sunny weather arrives, the MRV really comes into its own.

Break out your camping chairs and barbecue, and reach into the fridge – which you can do from outside the ’van – for your cold beverage.

Kitchen

This small VW camper van is surprisingly well-equipped when it comes to the kitchen unit.

There is a two-burner gas hob with ignition, a deep sink, a cutlery drawer and a 50-litre slide-out fridge in the MRV.

There’s also a pop-up worksurface flap on the end of the kitchen unit, so you’ll be able to keep everything to hand while you’re working there.

The table can be set up while you’re cooking and put to use as further space if required. The flexibility to swivel it around is another advantage.

Above the work surface are two LED lights that provide plenty of illumination for you to see by when cooking at night, and a handy shelf for keys, condiments or books.

While you might miss having an oven or grill, the hob is a good size.

The sliding doors also ensure that you can enjoy eating al fresco, and provide a comfortable cross-breeze on warm summer days.

Sleeping

Despite its small dimensions, the Auto Campers MRV can sleep up to four people.

The pop-top allows for a bed in the roof (a £600 option) with a recommended weight restriction of up to 200kg.

Back downstairs, the main bed uses stainless-steel fittings and is suspended on webbing straps to ensure that you get a large, flexible storage area beneath.

The rear end rests on alloy slats across two crossbeams. There are two height options, depending on what you need to store in the space underneath.

The slats are a considerable weight when you dismantle the bed, but they also provide a strong, stable parcel shelf when the bed is not in use, and are easy to fit.

The bi-fold mattress is thick and comfortable, and can be left in place during the day if you’re not staying in the ’van.

Additionally, the base of the bed can be propped up to create a bench seat.

All of the windows have privacy curtains, which help to insulate the ’van.

Sliding windows in each of the sides allow you to get a breeze running through, too.

Washroom

As in most campers with these dimensions and layout, there is no washroom in the Auto Campers MRV.

However, a Dometic 976 portable toilet (£100) is stored beneath the kitchen unit.

There is also no water heater, so the kitchen tap only supplies cold. It’s stored in the 21-litre tank that can be filled via the inlet at the rear of the cupboard unit. There is also a 27-litre grey-water tank.

There is an option to have an external shower fitted (£150), which could theoretically be used in conjunction with a tailgate awning, but we think that it is more likely to be used to clean muddy boots or dogs.

Storage

Once you’ve taken into consideration the sheer amount of kit in this VW camper van, there isn’t a lot of space left for storage.

But you’ll find that what there is has been cleverly used to make the most of every inch.

There’s a small cupboard beneath the sink, and a cupboard unit at the back of the ’van that can be used either as three shelves or as two shelves and a hanging space.

There is plenty of flexible storage beneath the bed, which can be easily organised using bags or boxes.

There is also a little storage space in the gas locker at the rear, which is accessed by opening the tailgate.

This area is also where the external shower and inlet for the fresh-water tank are located.

When pitched up site, small camper vans can become untidy quite quickly. However, the roof bed, when not in use, could be the answer. Stowing kit in that space dramatically increases the amount of storage space available.

The vehicle that we tested had a payload of 500kg.

Equipment

The standard Auto Campers MRV comes with a 100W solar panel to support the leisure battery that’s installed.

The control panel is simple to use, and both the leisure battery and the solar panel controls are neatly tucked away: the former beneath the cupboard, the latter inside it.

We found it handy to have the heating and control panels together – there are 12V and plug sockets underneath, too.

Unfortunately, this is the only mains socket in the ’van, so if you bring a lot of devices on tour with you, you’ll need to take turns charging them.

The main selling point – and attraction – of the Auto Campers MRV is flexibility, and the opportunity to build the perfect vehicle for your requirements.

As such, you’ll find that there are a lot of options for adding on equipment, starting with the rear travel seats and encompassing pop-top insulation screens, a retractable step, bike racks and a cab carpet, to name just a few. You can also add wheelchair restraints.

It’s not just major bits of kit, either: also among the options is the opportunity to decide whether any removable passenger seats have arm rests.

You really can customise just about everything in this ’van.

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats3
MTPLM3000kg
Payload500kg
Length4.9m16′1″
Width1.9m6′3″
Height2m6′7″
Engine (power)148
Engine (torque)251
Fresh/waste water21L / 27L
Leisure battery115 Ah

Verdict

This small but stylish ’van has been designed with acute attention to detail.

No matter how you want your Auto Campers VW camper van to work for you, the MRV’s extensive options list will allow you to get what you need.

You’ll have to watch the price tag as you do so – adding the kit on our test ’van takes the cost from £47,500 to £53,836.

However, with its generous bed specification, innovative and flexible layout, and perky on-road handling, this is a lot of camper van for your money.

What’s more, the Volkswagen badge will be reassuring for buyers, and the quality of the conversion is impressive.

With so many options available, the MRV could well become your perfect ’van – as long as you’re happy with a few compromises, such as the lack of a water heater.

Conclusion

Pros

  • It works well as everyday transport, as well as your weekend getaway
  • Attention to detail is great
  • It's refreshing to see a ’van that doesn't have an all-white interior
  • With Auto Campers, you get a highly customisable product

Cons

  • While the ability to remove the furniture is great, the weight of the seats and the alloy slats makes them very heavy to lift and move
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