A stylish, highly equipped and expertly constructed van conversion.
Innovative kitchen space; excellent washroom for a van conversion
Basic sleeping area; rather tight headroom in the rear lounge
Vantage Motorhomes is the brainchild of Scot Naylor, a Leeds-based furniture designer and retailer with a passion for motorhomes.
Having owned several ’vans down the years, including a Mazda Bongo and coachbuilts from Autocruise and Auto-Sleepers, he and his wife Jane decided to take the plunge and branch out into van conversions using the latest generation X2/50 panel van from the Sevel Group’s joint Fiat/Peugeot/Citroën venture in 2006.
This conversion is known as the Max, and was available (in Sept 2008) as a rear lounge (RL) or fixed-bed (FB) on the long-wheelbase Peugeot Boxer. We chose the rear lounge (RL) option for our test.
With the cab seats swivelled, and the U-shaped lounge at the rear, the Max RL has two separate lounging and dining areas. The front lounge gets a small table with a free-standing leg that fits into a floor recess. It also comes with a second, shorter leg and a tripod-style Fiamma fitment so it can double as an outdoor picnic table when required.
The cab seats are upholstered with leather and oatmeal to match the rear lounge sofas, which feel extremely durable and look very smart indeed.
A step down from the cab to the rear living quarters means there’s no leg-dangling for shorter occupants, and this split-level floor houses an electric fan heater which we were told would have remote-control operation for the 2009 model year.
There’s also gas-only Truma blown-air heating, with ducted outlets in the front and rear lounges, and in the washroom. Those with a penchant for wild camping will be pleased to know that there are two 105Ah leisure batteries to live off, too.
It’s a step up again to the rear lounge (the split floor can house accessories). Yes, it impinges on headroom but the midi-Heki rooflight means six-footers can stand without banging their head. The backrests are rather low on the sofas, and those over 6ft might find headroom restricted while seated by the overhead lockers.
The rear table is free-standing and will seat four diners comfortably. With the table stashed in its dedicated locker, the leather squab that sits on a plywood board to make up the ‘U’ part of the lounge between the twin sofas can slide to any position between the sofas. This means that it is a nice option for some feet-up lounging or as an alternative table. Armrests and scatter cushions complete the set.
Standard kit includes an LCD TV and DVD player neatly integrated into the underside of the over-kitchen locker. The television is on a fold-down hinge and swivels easily through 180 degrees for viewing from the front or rear seating areas.
The rear lounge is well lit thanks to panoramic windows (although this is at the expense of a headboard for bedtime reading). Four individually switched ceiling lights, and two over the cab, do the job of an evening, with downlights for reading on the over-sofa lockers.
The kitchen is perhaps the best we’ve seen in a van conversion. A dry-foods storage area with wire racking sits immediately behind the driver’s seat and serves as a pantry. In the nearside kitchenette, the mini-oven is well sited in the corner, allowing plenty of space when crouching to check on the Sunday lunch.
The workspace is massive for a camper, with some great styling touches such as domestic-style splashboard tiling and a three-plug socket adaptor which pulls out of the kitchen worksurface. When not in use, the socket is protected by a rubberised seal. A three gas-burner hob with spark ignition and a domestic-style sink with drainer complete the worktop setup.
Underneath, a 20-litre waste bin slides out on runners and is positioned so that all food-prep leftovers can be swept in. Five soft-shut drawers store cutlery, crockery and saucepans: the cutlery drawer is partitioned, the crockery and glasses are held securely by recesses cut into a foam mat, and there’s a saucepan set with removable handles. It’s attention to detail, pure and simple – the only thing missing is an extractor fan.
Another strong area is the washroom, again with domestic-style tiling panels. A flip-down washbasin above the bench toilet helps to save on space and the shower head has a handy trigger to control water flow. A thick shower curtain protects the door.
A strip light and a discreet LED ceiling light saves you having to turn on all the camper’s lights if you’re caught short in the night, and the washroom door usefully hinges through 180 degrees for easier passage through the ’van.
Three plywood boards, which hide under the sink along with the table legs, sit between the two rear sofas to form the bed base – it makes up into a 180cm x 140cm rear double. All the interior windows get pleated blinds and insect screens, with silverscreens for the cab, and there’s a shut-off switch for the ceiling lights from the bed.
That said, the seat backs are not great as a head rest and there’s a lack of flat surfaces for your morning cuppa.
It’s here that Scot’s years in furniture production really pays dividends: all the furniture board gets a foil-wrap treatment that makes it extremely durable against chipping and peeling.
The overhead locker doors open on gas struts and the locker catches are all metal. As the brochure says: “There’s none of the beading and plastic edging that you get in most ’vans.” It sings ‘quality’.
The wardrobe door is mirrored on its inside face and has a foldable dresser ledge as well as a plug socket for a hair drier or curling tongs.
The rear sofa box on the driver’s side houses the gas cylinders which are accessed via a flap at the rear when the Vantage’s rear doors are open. In the nearside sofa box there’s a mini-safe bolted to the van’s floor, and plenty of usable storage space. The raised, rear lounge floor also creates space for stashing awning poles and other bits of camping kit.
|Shipping Length||5.99 m|