Well, we’ve now had 40 days away in the van since its birth, 28 on a consecutive trip, so how has it been?
Well this has been rather good, the driving and passenger seats are very comfortable making full day driving quite easy. We have the 90ps 5 speed van, and considering we’re fully laden, the fuel economy is great and it drives really well, computer reports mpg of 52-53, but maths work it out to be around 48mpg, which isn’t bad considering we are full. The 5 speed is fairly lazy, so sedate campervan driving it fits perfectly. We’ve also gone over alpine passes at speeds we want to do, and the van performs fairly lazily at these speeds. For sure, 90ps is fine even if fully laden and its never gone slower than we want.
However, the 90ps is a wastegate turbo rather than the VNT in the 110. So, at low rpm (eg alpine hairpin) we loose turbo boost and need to change down or slip clutch a bit, so you need a lower gear than you otherwise would. The VNT gives full boost at low RPM so this would be easier and was how our transit was. Also, whilst we drove up the alps at the speed we wanted, we only noticed during an overtake on the pass that there wasn’t much puff left! So plenty of power but not enough to blast pass things – especially up hills. So the 110 would be better here, but overall the 90 is fine and as it’s a simpler engine we are happy.
The van satnav is okay, but TomTom on the phones is better, more flexible and easier to use, so we ended up using this. I’d not pay for the Nissan satnav – TomTom beats it hands down. The headunit for music though is fine.
I think we got what we designed, which is a nice little campervan. On this month long trip we were using it more like a motorhome and beyond logical limits! Fair to say, we could not have built it differently without other compromises – the bed would be better lower (but then no loo), or longer (but then no loo overnight), or wider (but then smaller cupboards). So we’ve maxed what we got in for our needs, but of course its compromised in places.
It did astound us how much we got in, every bit of space is taken up – so that is impressive, and we didn’t use all clothes or food, so improvements can be made.
You DO NEED to treat it as a campervan though and be neat. Everything has a place and it needs to be tidy. You need to do things a certain way. And you need to work together to make it work. I’m sure 95% of motorhomers would not fit in it or get on in it – it’s a different mindset
However, we used many aires, cooked, washed up, washed, showered (!), slept, and had lots of fun in it quite successfully. So its possible. Yes, of course a 6+m long van 2m+ wide, 2.5m+ tall would be more comfortable on long trips – but this van wasn’t designed for that, it was designed for other things bigger vans can’t do. So of course its compromised on a long trip! But it succeeded and was better than a tent 🙂
Technically, its pretty good, most bits we bought were good choices. The solar panel/controller are fantastic – very efficient. The fridge is good, but does struggle on a HOT day with sun on the back. But most days its as cold as you want. As it only struggled when the sun is out and its very hot, this means we’ll have more solar power we can use, so we’ll stick a fan or two to force airflow over the compressor as its this that is hot and not allowing the fridge to cook.
The sink/hob all brilliant, using the ridgemonkey we’ve not missed the grill or not having an oven (see our review section). Even in a bigger van the technical stuff we put in would work well.
One thing I should’ve done is had a 12v/USB socket near the heater or loo roll cupboard so laptop/phones can charge at the front. Not essential but would have been nice.
One design flaw is the fresh water tank. For starters it is tight, and has been hit by the rear axle – so obviously the bump stops compress more than expected. Actually, better to say the axle kisses the tank rather than hits! So its squished the insulation but, so far, not broken the tank. I’d expect it to fail at somepoint, but when it does I’ll design a narrower one. Also, the design of the overflow/breather is a bit wrong – perhaps too big, and perhaps should’ve been routed higher. This means, as it is, when we drive up alpine passes, we actually lose half a tank of water! Doh. And in hindsight we don’t need that breather as we can let the tank breath through the filler, but that wasn’t designed when we did the tank. So may modify the breather and block it – job done. But clearly, I didn’t consider driving up steep hairpins…. Apart from that, fresh, waste and the like are fine.
The solar shower we brought was useful, but only in limited circumstances. So we’ll ditch this and get another shower solution. The main use, is to wash/rinse hair which is otherwise a bit tight in the van sink.
The side window blinds worked okay, but are a bit big and bulky and show signs of use after a month. So I’m sure we can find a different/better solution.
Overall, not bad for a first attempt!