Which base vehicle makes the best campervan?
What’s the best vehicle to convert into your campervan?
What’s the best make?
What’s the best model?
What’s really going to suit me and my needs for me and my family?
Now there’s a perennial set of questions.
Well of course, when people say “campervan”, quite often they say “Volkswagen campervan” and of course that’s where it all started. Back in the early days of Volkswagen they were producing the Beetle in their factory in Germany, when a bright spark made a sort of van - a wagon on wheels - on the Beetle chassis to move parts around. And somebody said, “Hmm there’s a product in that.” So they prototyped the initial Volkswagen van, the Type 2, and of course people started to convert them into campervans - and the rest is history.
Classic style in a modern Volkswagen T6
Volkswagen still makes the Transporter - we’re up to the Type 6 Transporter now, and a great van it is. People love the fact that this van has the iconic heritage of being made by Volkswagen. They do drive well, they’re reliable, they’re comfortable, they look really nice on the road, and they have the classic Volkswagen roundel on the grille as well. So a Volkswagen van is a fine choice as the base for a pop-top campervan conversion.
Medium Van of the Year 2020
But it’s not the only choice any more. Other manufacturers have come on in leaps and bounds in producing really high quality vans. The most popular van in Europe, last time I checked, eclipsing all other medium-sized van sales combined, is made by Renault - it’s the Renault Trafic. In fact, the New Renault Trafic has just been named Medium Van of the Year 2020 at the annual Fleet World awards ceremony. The latest Trafic delivers lower emissions, improved fuel consumption and a reduction in service and maintenance costs.
And last time I looked at the details, from the date of first registration you get a five-year (or 100,000-mile, whichever comes first) Renault warranty. So Renault is giving an extra year of warranty and an extra 40,000 miles compared to Volkswagen. The Trafic drives pretty well, too. We convert lots of them here at Sussex Campervans. I’ve actually got one myself and I really like driving it. It has long springs, giving it a very Gallic suspension, as I call it, as opposed to the stiffer, Germanic suspension. Perhaps the Renault is designed for going across bumpier roads than the super-smooth German Autobahn. So, the Renault Trafic Conversion is definitely a contender as a good campervan base vehicle.
Perhaps you want a smaller campervan? We’ve had a lot of success converting the little Nissan NV200. There’s a diesel version in Europe, but we also import a petrol version ourselves, with either a manual or automatic gearbox, and that’s a really nice van. It’s small enough to replace a car and drive every day. It’s more the size of a classic Volkswagen campervan.
taller and wider
But it doesn’t stop there, the Ford Transit has been a great van. We don’t convert them ourselves because they are a bit higher and a bit wider and I feel it’s less of a campervan visually. But certainly they are very popular and people do convert them and they enjoy them.
Peugeot Expert / Citroen Dispatch
Then there’s the Peugeot and the Citroen - the Expert or the Dispatch - they’re both the same thing really. It’s another popular van, which is a little bit smaller and a bit more curvy, but certainly a good drive, as well.
I guess what I’m saying is... it’s hard to buy a bad van these days. Everything comes with a long warranty, reliability is the best it’s ever been I think, drivability, fuel economy, they’re really nice, they’re really clean, and they’re really comfortable.
Why don’t you come and see us and drive one for yourself. We’re insured for you. Come and sit in some of ours, and when you take it for a spin yourself, nothing beats personal experience, does it? Give us a shout and come on over.
Just ring Jon or Paul on 01403 336 369 for a chat - or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dimensions of popular vans
Many people’s choice of campervan depends on the space they have available for parking at home. So it’s helpful to compare the dimensions of some of the most popular vans that are available as new van conversions - campervans.
Volkswagen T6: 4904mm long x 2299mm wide.
Renault Trafic SWB (also Vauxhall Vivaro SWB, Nissan NV300 SWB): 4999mm long x 2280mm wide.
Renault Trafic LWB (also Vauxhall Vivaro LWB, Nissan NV300 LWB): 5399mm long x 2280mm wide.
Nissan NV200: 4400mm long x 2011mm wide.
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