Which van should I choose?
When you've decided to buy a campervan, a common question which folk ask is 'which is the best van to buy?'. There is a lot of choice in the commercial vehicle market nowadays, and gone are the days when vans are slow, noisy and uncomfortable. Modern vans are easy to drive too, whatever your age, size – or gender.
Of course, the van which many people associate with camping and campervans is the Volkswagen. Starting with the iconic VW splitscreen bus, or 'splitty', then its replacement, the so-called 'bay' or 'bay-window', followed by the T25 which retained a rear-engined configuration, then the VW Transporter T4 which saw the engine relocated to the front, right up to the present-day VW Transporter T5 and T6 – the Volkswagen van has had a unique place in campervan history. To many people the VW is the iconic camper, right down to the chrome VW badge on the front! Without doubt, the VW Transporter van, the T6, makes a fine campervan, and indeed Volkswagen even build their own – the VW California.
If you asked the question 20 – or even 10 – years ago, the VW product was streets ahead [arguably] of the competition. If you wanted a campervan, buy a VW, they would say. However, in recent times commercial vehicles have developed hugely, and now each manufacturer has superb vans available. Car-like handling and driver experience, comfort and quietness have become the norm rather than the exception.
One such vehicle, which makes a superb campervan, is the Vauxhall Vivaro. This was designed as a joint venture between Vauxhall, Renault and Nissan, and so can also be bought badged as a Renault Trafic or a Nissan Primastar too. Current models feature the Renault-engineered 2.0DCI engine, coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, or to a TechShift automatic transmission. When you first drive a Vivaro, you will be amazed by the low engine noise, smooth suspension, and overall drive of the van. The short-wheelbase version is of the same size externally as the VW T6 at 'waist' level, but has more vertical sides, increasing internal volume without requiring a bigger footprint on the road.
Vauxhall Vivaros are converted into superb pop-top or elevating roof campervans as well as high-top or high roof versions. There is the SWB – short-wheelbase, and the LWB – long-wheelbase version too, offering a little more length to the accommodation inside. Sussex Campervans Ltd build a conversion called the Manhattan which takes advantage of the Vivaro's excellent qualities.
Another van which is well-known on the road and has been dubbed the 'backbone of British vans' is the Ford Transit. Now onto its fifth generation, it was a ground-breaking innovation when it first came out, and continues its history of success. The latest Transit is engaging to drive and responsive, with gearstick mounted on the dashboard, and plenty of driver aids. Ford Transit campervans are renowned for being easy to maintain and reliable. The Ford diesel TDCi engines were developed with PSA Peugeot Citroen, and offer superb economy and power. They are one of the best-kept secrets of the campervan scene. The 'Paradise' 2-berth or 4-berth campervan with either the popular high-top or alternatively a pop-top was reviewed by Which Motorhome in their July 2012 edition, and was built by Sussex Campervans Ltd in their workshop south of London and north of Brighton, though has now been superceded by superior models.
For someone seeking a more compact campervan, until now the most popular choice has been a car-derived van, such as the Citroen C15 or Citroen Berlingo with a Romahome-type conversion constructed on it. Another option was the Bambi-type conversion on the Suzuki Carry microvan. However, in recent times, a new compact van has come on the scene, which seems to score on every front – spacious, driveable, economical – and it's called the Nissan NV200.
It has the appearance of a quality campervan which has been expertly 'shrunk' down to a more manageable size! It is supplied with the Renault 1.5DCi engine, which gives nearly-unbelieveable economy, and it is little bigger than a small car. You really can park this one anywhere. It can be converted with the standard roof retained, or with a custom-designed elevating roof fitted, to make a small pop-top campervan. It's amazing just how useable a vehicle this small vehicle can be! It can be used as an everyday car with ease, on account of its compact dimensions, as well as being ideal for days out, weekends away, or longer trips too. This compact campervan conversion was pioneered by Sussex Campervans in their south-east England workshops.
Whatever size or type of campervan for sale you buy, there is no doubt that the panel van conversion sector is growing in popularity with people looking for a true MPV multipurpose vehicle, and it offers an unrivalled touring experience.
“We fell in love with “Bumble” our camping bus at first sight on the Sussex Campervans forecourt - it was one of those ‘instinct’ buys which fortunately we have never regretted! We’re having so much fun with her and our boys are loving being able to go camping at the drop of hat, rain or shine, without the hassle of all that loading and unloading the car and putting up tents. Now we arrive at the campsite and we’re on holiday!The Mackenzie Family
It's the friendship - we feel valued and treated like individuals. That's why we chose Sussex CampervansJim and Lesley
We have had our first night sleeping in the campervan and very comfortable it was too, we're looking forward to breakfast overlooking the river...we are very happy with our little home on wheels.Ashley and Paul