When you start looking for a motorhome, you soon realise the vast array of choice available to you. It can be quite daunting. How do you know what is right for you? Do you want a fixed bed, do you want more living space? A bigger bathroom? External storage? A kitchen with a full sized fridge?
We certainly experienced this. We started looking and one of the first vans we saw was an Autotrail Mohawk. We fell in love straight away, and thought we had the answer. But we hadn’t really thought about what we wanted, as we would soon realise!
Before deciding on a van with the right lay-out, it’s good to be absolutely clear what you think you will use the van for.
- Will you spend a lot of time inside, or will you mostly be sat outside in the sun? This will impact what type of space and lay-out you need inside.
- Will you be going on long tours or will you mostly be going for weekends or shorter trips? This will determine storage requirements, payload and lay-out.
- Where will you go? Anywhere? Places that are easy to access? Or remote places? This will impact on the size of the motorhome. Lower, shorter vans can more easily go more places.
- Will you always use sites or do you want to wild camp or go off grid? On sites, perhaps you don’t need the bathroom as much, and you can use Electric Hook Up (EHU). If wild or off grid, you will need a bigger water tank, good facilities and a good solar panel and leisure batteries.
- Are you happy to reconfigure the inside to create a bed/put bed away daily? If not, you need a fixed bed;
- Transverse (often good storage underneath, accessible inside and out)
- French (often some external storage accessible on one side)
- Island (often internal storage under bed)
- Singles (could be bunks, often internal storage or may have garage underneath)
- Huge rear double with insert in the middle (often large garage underneath)
- Overcab (often two fixed beds with garage underneath, or rear lounge, some with garage underneath)
- Drop down bed (often as second fixed bed or with rear lounge)
- What driving licence do you have? If you passed your test before 1 Jan 1997, you can drive heavier vehicles, otherwise you’re restricted to 3.5T and would need to add C1 licence to drive anything heavier.
- How many people will travel with you? Passenger’s weights are included in the payload, so if you carry more people, you can carry less stuff.
- Will everyone sleep in the van? Sometimes vans have more beds than seatbelts… weird but true and often related to payload.
- Do you want to bring bicycles/e-bikes? Or tow a car? Think about a bike-rack or train length and weight.
For us, we knew we would want to store SUP’s, so external storage is important, and it has to be big enough. So a garage with minimum measurements
We also knew we didn’t want to make a bed all the time. After the T4 with a 3/4 bed, we wanted space and comfort without the hassle, so a fixed bed of some sort was needed. But would that be French, Transverse, Island, Overcab or Drop-down? The mind boggles..!
We want to be able to relax, like we would when at home. So comfortable sofas to lounge on. And a practical place to sit and eat. And a functioning kitchen. And maybe some passenger seats if we have visitors.
The weight of the vehicle was also an important consideration, along with payload. I’m restricted to 3500kg on my current licence, so we wanted to get a lighter van, but with maximum payload. This is virtually impossible. (I will be doing my C1 and we will upgrade the van).
The option to wild-camp, and especially use French Aires for example where there might be limited facilities and EHU meant that we wanted to have the option to carry enough water, have solar power and a fitted gas system (lpg).
Really, this was probably the extent of our list of needs. It probably still is, although I would add a practical bathroom to the list, which luckily we do have.
We were looking at all the different models, with a real focus on the garage. Bigger garages normally means a large fixed bed at the back, and therefore a smaller living space at the front. The living spaces on almost all vans really put me off, which is probably why I liked the Mohawk.
Once I noticed rear-lounge models, I was instantly sold! The only problem was the garage. We found an Autotrail Apache which seemed to do what we wanted. After going to see it, Stuart could also see that the garage would probably be big enough. We then found a Benimar model as well.
Things still weren’t quite right however. In the end, it came down to a Rimor Super Brig Suite and the Rollerteam AutoRoller 746. We were able to see them both at the show, and the choice was quickly made, based on the build-quality difference. The Rimor show model had plenty of little things wrong, like a shoddy finish, so we decided to go with Rollerteam.
The 746 gives us:
- A spacious garage
- A comfortable rear lounge with great views
- A good sized bathroom with shower and toilet
- A practical kitchen with hob, oven/grill and fridge/freezer.
- A dining area
- A HUGE overcab bed.
It also came with solar and a bike rack as standard which has been really useful, particularly the solar. We added in an extra leisure battery so we don’t need electric hook up (EHU). We also had a gas system fitted so we can easily take on gas anywhere in Europe.
For us, this is the perfect van. Even now, there is only one van I would like to see for comparison, and that’s the Hymer Duo Mobil which does many of the same things, but at a much higher cost, so I would have to win the lottery…
We love our Rexie-baby! We’re happy we found him.