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Discover The Best Campervan Models In The UK

Thursday 23rd January 2020
By Ely Power
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By Ely Power

Let’s take a look at some of the best campervan models for life on the road!


Sadly, the unrivalled freedom of a touring adventure doesn’t come for free. That’s why it’s so important to choose your campervan wisely, buying a make and model that will truly enhance your travels (and has enough rental appeal to return your investment). 

Same goes for hiring - it’d be pretty upsetting to plan and pay for the road trip of a lifetime, only to realise that your 2WD van can’t access that bucket list destination!

Whether you’re interested in renting a VW T4 for your next road trip or want to test run different layouts and features before you invest, hiring a campervan is only the beginning of your #VanLife journey. Available in all shapes and sizes, make sure to opt for a vehicle that actually compliments your nomadic lifestyle.

Can’t decide which type of van to go for? To rev up your search, we’ve outlined the key factors to consider when finding your dream set of wheels, as well as the most popular campervan models on U.K. roads today.

Finding The Best Campervan For You

Lagoona on Camplify

Size

How many people will your campervan need to accommodate? Think about the maximum number of seats and berths you’ll need, as well as the amount of storage and living space you’d like. At the end of the day, this van is going to be your bedroom, kitchen, car and maybe even office so it’s a good idea to give yourself slightly more room than necessary.

A word of warning: the larger the van, the more fuel it guzzles, the more difficult it is to manoeuvre and the more expensive its parts. Really, it’s all about finding the right balance between comfort and practicality!

Budget

Thanks to the sheer variety of models, conversions and conditions available, there’s an affordable campervan out there for every budget.

To get the most punch for your pound, decide which characteristics you can’t envision van life without and which ones you’re willing to forego. Do you care more about age or size, make or mileage? In other words, prioritise and compromise. Armed with this criteria, you can start hunting for deals!

If you’re budgeting to buy rather than hire, don’t forget to factor in maintenance costs - certain models are built with parts that are far dearer to repair and replace than others.

Mileage and Servicing

When buying or hiring a campervan, consider what it has been used for and, of course, how well it’s been cared for. Has it always been a recreational vehicle or was it worked to the bone over the past decade, racking up mileage? Does it have a full service history?

If the van has been inspected and maintained regularly, then it shouldn’t let you down anytime soon. And when it comes to mileage: the higher, the cheaper. While this can bring brilliant bargains for the buyer, remember that one day it’ll be your turn to sell!

Interior Features

Depending on who you ask, this is either the most fun or most tedious step of the entire decision making process. Call us biased, but checking out campervan conversions (and blank canvases full of potential) is our favourite step!

Make a list of all the features you would love to have onboard, such as air conditioning, blinds, extra storage or even a toilet, and then cross reference it with whichever listings you come across - there are endless combinations of amenities, decor and extra touches to make your van a real home away from home. 

If you’re buying an empty van with the aim of converting it yourself, make sure that it has enough space to accommodate your design plans - bells and whistles included.

Drivetrain

Avoid 2WD campervans if you plan to explore off the beaten track on unsealed roads - of which the U.K. wilderness has many. Unlike larger or older models, small, relatively new campervans can deal with rough terrain no problem. 

Moral of the story: Think about your adventure before deciding on the vehicle to take you there - a 2013 4WD Mercedes Sprinter will handle the winding country lanes of the North Coast 500 much better than a vintage VW Kombi!

Wheelbase

Wheelbase refers to the distance between a van’s front and rear axles. Both short and long wheelbases have their pros and cons: the former facilitates speed and agility, while the latter brings more living space, increased stability and a smoother ride. 

What matters most is up to you!

High Tops and Pop Tops

An all time favourite, high tops offer extra headroom without the limiting width of a larger vehicle. That said, high top campervans consume more fuel and are often unable to access car parks, low tunnels or other spaces with height restrictions. 

That’s when the pop top shines, enabling you to raise your van’s roof when parked and collapse it for less wind resistance and more accessibility on the road. Make sure to examine your potential pop top thoroughly, checking that it rises steadily and is sturdy enough to withstand strong winds - if damaged, you could face a seriously expensive repair fee! 

Popular Campervan Makes And Models

Best For Unwavering Reliability: VW Transporter

Poppy on Camplify
Poppy on Camplify
Buy used for: £10,000 - £25,000
Hire on Camplify for: £60 - £125 per night

Easily Volkswagen’s most popular commercial model, the Transporter is a tried and tested favourite amongst van lifers far and wide. 

A real all-rounder, this vehicle is made to last. Developed over decades, its solid build, smart design and leading safety credentials mean you can enjoy the longest of road trips. Thanks to well-galvanised bodies, strong engines and heavy-duty mechanicals, the only worry you’ll have is which viewpoint to stop at!

What’s more, the Transporter is big enough to enjoy a roomy living space yet small enough to drive with pleasure - its engineers have made the extra effort to create a comfortable ride that minimises vibrations.

With its winning blend of style and practicality, the VW Transporter is a top contender for your van life experience. The only downside for buyers is its relatively high asking price. That said, this durable workhorse holds value extremely well and won’t let you down on the road.

Pros: 
  • Stands the test of time
  • Spacious interior
  • Good fuel economy
  • Sophisticated safety systems
  • Strong resale value

Cons
  • More expensive than competitors

Great for: Families and couples on extended road trips

Best For Retro Charm: VW Kombi

Bertie on Camplify
Bertie on Camplify
Buy used for: £20,000 - £30,000
Hire on Camplify for: £60 - £115 per night

When it comes to bringing romantic daydreams of Hollywood-worthy road trips to life, the iconic Volkswagen Kombi (or VW Type 2) simply can’t be beat. And it’s not just a pretty face, either. 

Perfect for pairs and lone explorers alike, Kombis fit comfortably in any parking space, while still delivering a double bed, kitchenette and smart storage solutions. Some are even complete with an extra row of seats, which can be removed and sold second-hand for up to £400!

Good thing, too, as buying a Kombi in good condition will set you back quite a bit - unsurprisingly, its timeless style and star-studded popularity have the price tag to match. Lastly, bare in mind that vintage models are best suited to shorter, gentler adventures. Running on an often underpowered petrol engine, this vehicle is also vulnerable to rusting so needs to be handled with care. 

Overall, this beauty of a campervan is ideal for anyone wishing to take things easy on a photogenic getaway (and who doesn’t mind giving it serious TLC in between).

Pros: 
  • A true classic
  • Compact design

Cons
  • Expensive to buy and maintain
  • Slower speeds with poor fuel economy
  • Difficult to find vans in excellent running condition
  • Rust, rust, rust

Great for: Couples and solo travellers on snap-happy weekends away

Best For Easy Drives: Mercedes Sprinter

Bertie on Camplify
Bertie on Camplify
Buy used for: £10,000 - £20,000
Hire on Camplify for: £55 - £85 per night

A staple in the van life community, the Mercedes Sprinter is a brilliant leisure vehicle with tons of space, durability and configurations. But as its name suggests, the Sprinter shines most when you hit the gas. 

Oh, what a breeze it is to drive! Although a standard 2WD system is the usual, you can also opt for 4WD. Whether you’re dreaming of a wild journey over rough terrain or a countryside escape down rural lanes, its dependable 4WD system will make it happen. To top if off, recent models are complete with an electronic steering system, which can transform your driving experience -  think graceful curves and tight turns.

Having been on the scene for years, buyers can find older Sprinter models for a pretty fair price. And if you’re planning to fit it out yourself, online layout guides and conversion advice can be found at the click of a button, saving valuable time and money on your build. 

However, you will need to set aside some extra funds for regular maintenance and future repairs - its parts are exclusively owned by Mercedes, so most issues will have to be fixed at a dealership. As a result, they can charge a whole lot more than your local mechanic. 

Pros: 
  • Conversion guides are widely available
  • Lots of configurations (including 4WD availability)
  • Great fuel economy on a diesel engine
  • Plenty of room inside

Cons
  • Needs a good bit of maintenance
  • Mercedes dealerships are often the only place you can take care of repairs
  • Such repairs can be very expensive

Great for: Adventurers who want to explore off the beaten track

Best For Affordable Quality: Ford Transit

Freddy on Camplify
Buy used for: £5,000 - £18,000
Hire on Camplify: £30 - £70 per night

All in all, the Ford Transit is an affordable campervan that doesn’t compromise on quality.
The Ford Transit is an affordable campervan that doesn’t compromise on quality. 

Surprisingly, this comfortable, well-performing campervan can be hired and bought for less than its smaller alternatives. Perhaps it’s the absence of 4WD or the lack of conversion tips and tricks online. Whatever the reason, we think this family-friendly van is a bargain.

Perfect for a half-term holiday, it’s slightly larger and significantly taller than other campervans - trust us when we say that extra space goes a long way on family road trips. With enough berths, storage and room to relax, your whole troop can enjoy the ride in peace! 

And if you’re taking on the challenge of a DIY conversion, its square cabin makes the measuring and fitting process much easier. Not to mention the extra space you’ll save around the corners while framing! Finally, the Transit has relatively cheap parts that can be serviced by any standard mechanic for a fair price. Where do we sign?

Pros: 
  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Newer models are far cheaper than Sprinter counterparts
  • Mechanic-friendly repairs and cheap parts
  • Square cabin makes for a simpler conversion process

Cons
  • Challenging to find conversion tips and layout guides

Great for: Family holidays who want to explore off the beaten track

Best For Bonus Features: Mazda Bongo

Mazda Bongo on Camplify
Buy used for: £5,000 - £15,000
Hire on Camplify for: £50 - £90 per night

Also manufactured as the Ford Freda, the Mazda Bongo has a different trim but is mechanically identical. Bongos were made for the Japanese domestic market between 1995 and 2006, with some being exported to the UK during that time. There is now a strong network all over the UK.

This van is small but mighty, with a lot more internal space and high tech features than initially meet the eye. You’ll be in your element if you’re a sucker for bonus features, with many Bongos boasting an elevating roof, electronic blinds and auto-close sliding doors. And the Bongo treats its drivers as well as its passengers, with 2WD and 4WD options making for an effortless journey on every road.

Another perk of going for this cosy little campervan is its strong fan base - a tight-knit community of Bongo lovers across the U.K. help and support each other with queries, issues and recommendations through websites and forums such as Bongo Fury. The beloved Bongo’s only significant downfall is its poor fuel economy, which averages at about 26MPG. 

Pros: 
  • Roomy and comfy
  • Extra touches that make a big difference
  • Pleasure to drive
  • Strong support network of fellow Bongo owners

Cons
  • Poor fuel economy

Great for: Families and couples who want to take their time over a shorter distance

Chosen Your Favourite Van?

Hire the campervan model that’s caught your eye on Camplify today. Whether you want to compare performance, features and layouts before you buy or simply get a taste of #VanLife on your next getaway, we’ve got you covered. With our extensive range of privately-owned rentals, you can book the best campervan for your unique adventure!




To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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