Motorhome review — Leisuredrive VW Crusader v Wellhouse Leisure Toyota…

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Toyota Granvia

Detailed Review

Motorhome of the Leisuredrive VW Crusader versus the Leisure Toyota Granvia. review was first published in the 2012 issue of MMM.

of both worlds used vehicles with new rising conversions spell motorhoming for money.

Not everybody has £50k to on a new motorhome. However, you can still to the road in what looks a new camper for less than of that, and without waving a wand. Simply find a converter who’ll build a new for you inside a cherry-picked used van.

However, isn’t it a bit grafting new onto old? To get it you face two crucial choices: select a converter who has an established for good quality work; make sure that the uses low mileage vehicles, are renowned for both longevity and

This month’s head-to-head at two diverse products from specialist market. Wellhouse uses seemingly indestructible Granvias as a base vehicle. uses the bulletproof VW T5. In both the converters’ bodyshops go over and the base vehicle with a glass to fix any blemish and then The finished article, complete its new conversion, looks for all the world a brand-new camper, but costing £20k, rather than the you would need to shell out for the thing.

Our two converters target buyers, but have other who are either downsizing or are active cyclists, windsurfers: outdoor who want to use their camper as a bedroom and changing room.

the test ‘vans offer the camper layout: a swivelling cab seat turns to face a seat in the rear, and an offside kitchen unit. The height for comfortably erect is provided by a roof (rising lengthways in the Granvia, sideways in the VW Crusader).

of their relatively small the facilities in both are pretty compared to a larger motorhome. But small panel van conversions strong links to camping where you are deliberately setting out to it a bit, rather than your home ‘on a and taking it with you. In context, either ‘van a durable conversion, which give many years of holidays to its owners.

Also, are designed to be used as your car for commuting a major buying in this financially challenging


Here, a fascinating comparison. The Toyota is powered by a 2.7-litre petrol which is converted to run on LPG, and 140bhp of enthusiastic grunt an easy-to-use automatic transmission. doing only 23-24mpg on the LPG (to which the engine automatically about 20 seconds after the much lower cost of LPG the fuel cost equivalent of 40mpg.

In contrast, the VW Crusader has a 1.9-litre diesel engine, which 85bhp and achieves around Here, there’s a five-speed gearbox with dashmounted If your initial reaction is to shy from petrol engines, again especially if you live in Low Emission Zone. LEZ controls are owners of old diesels into rid of their motorhomes and switching to Wellhouse Leisure finds doing a brisk trade the LEZ-compliant Granvia, which through the emissions hoop and cheaper running on its LPG.

The difference lies in the ages of the two vehicles: the Granvia was 16- years-old, and the just six years. Don’t to the ‘no-brainer’ conclusion, because probably wrong. Both are engineered to drive 250,000 to miles with sensible so these two superb engines give another 20 years of Think of the wilderness areas on our Toyota commercials are generally the choice for these, simply a breakdown could leave you to freeze or starve. Reliability is a

The Granvia comes with a three-year guarantee and a RAC inspection Should you later trade it in, a few years use, for another then the original ‘van after a thorough service usually be sold-on with three-year guarantee. Meanwhile, needs to bang drums the reliability of VW commercial vans, sing along with, only knows where be without you’ the music in the T5 TV advert. Both base should be a sound investment, and be finished to look every bit as new as the inside.

The proof of the pudding is in the and the 55,000-mile Granvia drove as and responsively as any car in its prime of life, excellent acceleration and lighttouch And you don’t use a gearchange, the automatic sure you’ll never be in the gear again, or roll on any hill start for that

The 30,000-mile VW Crusader handled equal ease and with a lot familiarity for those of us who like to use our foot when driving. The engine was lion-hearted and nippy in traffic and on hilly roads, and happily along the dual section of the test. This is vehicle that should on tirelessly and take you almost with its simple, unfussy quick response, and easy and braking. Both ‘vans a joy to handle.

The greatest surprise lies in the kit defines these modern The VW was simple and functional, containing that really mattered as ABS, ASR, twin radio/CD player and reversing The Granvia had ABS, air-conditioning, airbags, radio/CD player MP3 plug-in, electric folding rear parking sensors and all in its spec! It seems that 16 ago Toyota was building these up to the cutting edge of development in cars. And it drove like one


You must in mind that all small are designed for basic camping. lounging space is limited for big and dining involves juggling small tables. You’re meant to live outside, on proper chairs and eat al fresco possible.

The Granvia underscores principal with its awning. Get the comfortable folding chairs you can squeeze into the rear area, and sprawl out in the open but with some shelter Fiamma’s finest.

Come and you’ll find that the are soft and supportive, in durable-feeling A small table swings the passenger seat to hold cups or a single place while a larger, folding table lives behind the seat, and clips onto a running along the kitchen two for eating.

With the sliding closed, there’s a snug for three, or four at a pinch. the roof raised, headroom is not an when it’s down, hands-and-knees stuff, but this is for campers of this type. ambience is light, functional and and well lit, both in and at night, by two LED lamps and an LED strip the kitchen overhead lockers.

The VW is only a little bit bigger its rival, but somehow feels more spacious inside. again, it’s designed to be with its side door as a base for sitting and eating With said door it works as a snug lounge for The leather-trimmed seats are comfortable and for sitting and reading, while the bench is set at a height where the challenged can sit without legs

Here, a fair-sized (810mm x folding table stows the rear seat and the kitchen This can be positioned to act as a dining for rear passengers, or for the cab seat The wide central space of layout means it’s to serve both front and seats: diners would very long arms A solution is to sit on the doorstep with the on your lap, facing Some of my best dinners shared with seagulls I’d cooked, then the generally flew somewhere

Lighting in the Crusader is excellent: fluorescents, plus two LED spotlights let you every line on the page, and tilting your book. the roof up, there is ample and the edges of the original roof are padded than they are in the ouch!


‘vans offer neat but kitchens, with stainless rectangular sinks, sturdy mixer taps and two-burner The Granvia has two shallow lockers the sink/cooker area, and there’s a pull-out extension (from the sink) that can be used as a much-needed work surface or an table. A 50-litre Waeco fridge is below, with a of three tambour-doored cupboards for storing foodstuffs or pots and A cutlery drawer sits the sink and the fridge.

The Crusader has two variations. Firstly, the over-kitchen are missing, but can be provided if requested. The is that they sit at a lethal and can give a nasty head-crack to a cook, or dish-washer as they forward. In the Crusader, you can wash or with impunity. Secondly, the has below its hob a wonderful Smev which can save the barbecue who might otherwise be eaten by midges or frozen to death. But it as a trade-off: if you allocate a space for an it isn’t available for other such as drawers or cupboards. As for the it’s the lovely old-style job, complete with which glow at night to you tripping up in the dark. The floor-level for pots and pans (or Porta loo), is retained and a shallow is set into the front side of the for herbs, spices and other goodies.


No in these two you use either the campsite’s or find yourself a nice stream. Of course, there is the sink, but in the Granvia this at a risk if you are average-to-tall. You have to and spit toothpaste at arm’s or crack your head on the as you dip down. In the Crusader, with the lockers missing, washing and teeth are a genuinely good

For a loo, both ‘vans a Dometic Porta Potti-style toilet normal in this of ‘van. It functions simply and but is intimidating to use unless you are on your and with all the curtains drawn. leave this potentially beastie at home and use its cupboard for clothes or equipment. Most of us use anyway and hardened wild will be well-used to the early trek into the woods a spade across their

Toyota Granvia

The Granvia was designed to sleep two and two children, while the Crusader is as a two-person ‘van with a bed option. In both, the main bed is of the type. In the Granvia, there’s a lever

under the cushion of the bench seat: nudge and the assembly slides out with the back falling neatly place creating a (6ft x 3ft 8in) double bed: but very comfortable. A separate folding mattress is provided to all cushion joins, and there’s headroom (5ft 1in at the bed’s mid Neat pleated blinds the side and rear windows, and is a choice between an internal windscreen cover or pull-across to block off the cab windows. Two nice LED lights complete a snug

The upper bed consists of covered bed which slot across the roof of the van, and which a thin folding mattress helps make up the (5ft x 3ft 0in) sleeping space. usable, but. First, difficult to climb into seatbacks), let alone descend for a tinkle. Second, it’s for headroom (2ft 4in max). it reduces both sitting and headroom below (to 2ft 9in at mid bed). If camping,

why not banish the little into a tent? They’ll it!

The Crusader offers only a bed. To make this you remove the headrests from the seat, then the backrest and cushions. Pull upwards on the provided and gently lift the base over the edge of its point; the whole unit out and clicks into place. the cushions, roll out the bedding

and To close, simply reverse the remembering to gently anchor the edge of the platform over its rail. Dimensions translate a slightly larger (6ft 0in x 3ft double decent by any standards and comfortable. There are thick blue curtains to draw all windows, making as comfortable a as any camper owner could ask

In smaller camper vans, space always tests First, for the converter to identify nook and cranny, then this into usable And secondly, for the owner, to discover the places where the essentials can be Yes, essentials: in camper forget three changes of per day roughing it makes the holiday! In the the main storage areas are the rear seats, in a side above the rear seatback and the area inside the tailgate. holds the spare wheel, but leaves room for other while a ceiling-to-floor offside offers lockers for both gas and It’s a neat bit of design by the inclusion of an inboard fresh tank, which can be disconnected the pump and lifted out for winter

The Crusader is equally ingenious. The wall cupboard has been to provide a genuine wardrobe, the underseat area stretches locker door to tailgate, contents be accessed from or out. As with the Granvia, the gas sits in its locker on the offside corner and similarly, the water is designed to be detachable capable of lifted out, to fill at the taps, or store over the Top marks for both converters.


Both ‘vans inboard freshwater. In the Granvia, the tank is underslung, and there is a additional drain (just of the offside rear wheel), lets you dump any water in taps and pipes taking the biggest single risk of damage. The leisure battery under the bonnet, out of the living (a safe is installed instead), blown-air heating is provided by a Webasto system. The control sits between a rear and two 230V sockets, located at the end of the unit.

The Crusader has no waste fitted: grey water directly provide your own There’s no leisure battery (this is part of a twin option), so if you’re not on mains power for the living area is from the vehicle battery, for there’s a status gauge. is okay short-term, but could problems for longer periods when a flat battery cause a nonstart situation. The battery/charging system option like a very good There’s good wall which, with the mains-powered heater provided, should this ‘van snug in any weather. The easy-to-read-and-handle control is set on the offside above the rear

Both ‘vans are designed for use, but remember, rising and single-glazed windows let heat out the heaters will work but it’ll be warmer than any

Motorcaravanning offers so much and fun that it would be sad if newcomers excluded by the high price of new Here, the fun can be accessed at half the cost. Faced with a between what £20k buy in a used motorhome, and what the money can get you in a used vehicle a new conversion, I’d choose the In both test ‘vans, you get a which looks and drives as matching the wellconstructed and thoughtful which is spanking new. In you’re getting a lot of motorcaravan for money.

Choice between the ‘vans is difficult. If you can climb the wall, where the thought of a vehicle is scary, then find an excellent Toyota camper waiting on the other and with all sorts of must-have as standard. If you prefer the sturdy, but basic VW-based Crusader, here is a little cracker of a which offers a few more in width and length, and which the feel of substantially more inside. Either conversion provide years of happy use and You pay your money and take choice, but with these two you can buy own ticket to camping freedom breaking the bank.

To read the motorhome review in PDF format as it appeared in the January 2012 of MMM, please click

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