Wee Scottish campervan company fills go-anywhere niche
A small but effective Scottish specialist in the campervan sector has launched an all-new and compact 4×4 model, states Iain Robertson, that addresses a shortage of go-anywhere leisure vehicles sold in the UK and it is priced right into the bargain.
Regardless of what happens politically in coming months and years, the aura of austerity has curtailed much of the UK’s expensive vacationing of previous years. While not suggesting that people will not continue to take holidays with a wide range of budgets in mind, it is a known fact that a larger percentage of them are looking to either remain in the UK, or to have one major family ‘splash’ abroad, with several smaller breaks at home.
While the camping sector is as vibrant as ever (although you will not catch me pitching-up a tent and living outdoors, I do assure you!), the caravan and campervan market is also enjoying bumper sales. Personally, I can see the benefits of the latter; unlike the towed caravan, which is a guarantee of slower progress, parking difficulties and a need to locate organised campsites, with a further need to prepare for communal showers, nosier neighbours and a complete lack of privacy.
However, transporting your home on your back does not equate to snail’s pace mobility and some of the more compact models are ingenious in the extreme, when it comes to packaging an enormous range of facilities within its camper-back. I have already become a fan of the beautifully-built Volkswagen factory-assembled campervans and Mercedes-Benz has followed suit recently, with its alternatives. Yet, an important niche has been ignored by both manufacturers, although I understand that VW syncro and even Merc’s 4WD systems are available at a hefty premium.
A smattering of smart converters did satisfy outback trekkers with neat conversions on the Land Rover Defender but, since JLR decided to shelve its truest off-roader, a niche has existed in the new 4×4 camper sector. The benefits of turfing-up virtually anywhere has huge appeal to ‘wild campers’, despite incurring possible trespass transgressions (not in Scotland, where, under Scot’s Law, trespass does not exist!).
Campers Scotland was established in 2006 with a small fleet of imported Mazda Bongo campervans that were rented to tourists wishing to enjoy Scotland’s wide range of geographical attractions. In the past twelve years, it has grown its business operation to include a production line, upon which to indulge in small volume manufacturing of specialist vehicles, mostly with a campervan status.
Around three years ago, it became the first campervan company to introduce hybrid campervans to the market. However, its more ambitious plan is now being realised, as its founder, Gary Hayes, has repositioned the company as The Campervan Co, with four specific sub-brands: Campers – low-emissions petrol and diesel power; Eco-Campers – using hybrid power units; Campers Hire – continuing the original rental premise; and Campers Care – to handle servicing, maintenance and repair demands of its customers.
Its most intriguing product is the all-new Mitsubishi Delica D:5 Terrain. Previous iterations of this vehicle have been ‘grey-imported’ to the UK for much of the past 20 years. Based loosely on a Japanese market Mitsubishi van that sits on a chassis provided by the Mitsubishi Shogun 4×4, weekend anglers and contented adventurers have benefited from its reliability and go-almost-anywhere potential. However, the Delica has never been imported officially by Mitsubishi UK.
Thanks to Single Vehicle Approval regulations, limited numbers of privately imported new vehicles enable The Campervan Co to bring in street-legal models that it converts into campervans at its Scottish headquarters. They meet international safety standards, can be insured affordably as a campervan Group 2 and demand an annual road tax of just £255. As a new vehicle, it is protected with a single year’s mechanical warranty that can be extended and a further two years’ warranty on the campervan conversion.
The Campervan Co is one of the UK’s biggest Japanese vehicle importers and offers very high-grade base vehicles, with ground-breaking designs and upgrades. It has pioneered not just the Delica D:5 Terrain but also the Alphard Hybrid Eco Camper range, the Nissan Elgrand Exec Deluxe and the Honda Evolution. The firm has also designed and built new and used VW T6 and Ford Transit Campervans and is due to make a very exciting announcement later this summer about a brand-new PHEV campervan.
As Gary Hayes explained: “Like no other camper on, or off the road, the 4WD Delica D:5 Terrain campervan will take you and your crew to wild and rugged places. You can camp, cook, sleep in glens, near lochs, your favourite sandy beaches, or in a forest. The Terrain is built to sleep and cater for four people. It is equipped with two renewable energy cookers. The diff-lock can be activated for slippery off-road surfaces and it is well-insulated for sub-zero conditions. The ground-breaking, off-road Delica has multiple features expected of a top of the range campervan.”
The vehicle is angular but attractive and features Mitsubishi’s well-tried 4×4 transmission, complete with 2WD switch for more economical driving on normal roads and an electronic differential lock for tricky conditions off-road. The elevating roof enables sleeping accommodation for up to four people and a purpose-built galley offers tremendous flexibility with on-board chiller and twin induction hobs. Swivelling front seats and a removable table create a practical interior for occupants.
While a petrol engine is standard, a diesel option is available, both hooked up to Mitsubishi’s Constantly Variable automatic transmission (as features in the Eclipse Cross SUV model). Additional features include electrically-sliding side doors, cornering lamps, LED floodlighting and an inevitable range of awnings and other camping accessories. As a genuine, multi-surface campervan, I am certain that it will satisfy the vast majority of go-anywhere campers’ desires and, if property prices continue to escalate, I would not dismiss its potential as a new abode!
Conclusion: Priced at a most competitive £27,995 (prior to discounting), the Campervan Co’s Delica D:5 fulfils both private and business requirements for an affordable go-anywhere ‘command centre’.