QUESTION: WHICH FEATURE in a campervan is both an advantage and a disadvantage? Answer: space.
The lack of internal space in campervans is seen as a disadvantage when compared to motorhomes, but that same lack of space means smaller and more fuel efficient transport. It can also mean the vehicle is capable of various purposes.
These are the reasons I borrowed a Kea Campers VW 2+2 flip-top campervan for a late-winter trip to Queenstown, NZ, last year. I would be mostly skiing rather than camping, so I needed something that I could also use as a day vehicle; that is, a vehicle with a bit more space than a normal car with cooking and refrigeration facilities.
Although the 2+2 can carry four people, it’s really designed to sleep two adults and two children. It is built from a converted VW T5 van, and the flip-top (in lieu of a conventional pop-top roof) sees the front lift and the rear remain hinged to the vehicle’s roof.
Not everyone who enjoys the motorhome lifestyle will like the internal dimensions of the T5, but it’s designed for lightweight camping and it’s a great vehicle in which to travel. The 128kW turbodiesel engine, in tandem with the six-speed tiptronic gearbox, delivers rear wheel power without hesitation – particularly important on mountain roads, as are the all-round disc brakes. Fuel consumption came in at an average of 10L/100km. In the driver’s cab, all the usual features are mostly close to hand. There are two good-sized storage pockets in both doors.
On the outside, apart from the flip-top roof, the water tank filler on the nearside plus gas cylinder bin and mains power cable connection, there are few clues that this is a conversion. Other than the driver/passenger door windows, the only opening window is the one behind the driver’s door.
Setting up the 2+2 is a matter of undoing the external roof clips and releasing the internal straps.
Inside, the layout is quite simple. The van has swivel cab seats, a kitchen bench/cupboard area along the offside and a two-person seat in the rear that folds down to make up a bed. A second, smaller bed is available in the flip-top roof, but this would really only be suitable for children or one adult.
An interesting point about the 2+2 is that although it is built as a rental vehicle (i.e., designed for a few hard knocks) both the features and décor make it quite acceptable as a private vehicle. An example of this is the floor: the aluminium checkerplate looks a bit basic, but it’s very easy to clean and doesn’t damage easily.
Thanks to the swivel cab chairs, there is seating for four around the pole-mounted table. And when it’s only two people travelling, just using the swivel chairs makes it practical to leave the rear bed made up during the day.
The kitchen bench sports a Smev two-burner cooktop, a Vitrifrigo 90L fridge and a small stainless steel sink sans drainer. This still leaves a little bit of benchtop area for food preparation, with a cupboard and two drawers underneath. A drawer beneath the rear seat is purpose-built for storing cups and plates, etc. The bench is lit by a fluorescent and at the forward end there is a twin 240V powerpoint alongside the water gauges.
The cabinet area in the rear of the 2+2 contains a cupboard and a small wardrobe with enough hanging space for about eight items. The top of the cabinet lifts to reveal a small storage space for small and easy-to-lose items. The inside of the lid has a small mirror fitted.
In addition to all that storage, the air space above the rear doorway has an overhead locker fitted. It looks like it might be obtrusive but for all normal activities it’s fine. In fact, it’s quite a good use of space. Directly behind the seat, a shelf works as a rear-access storage area, and forms part of the bed when it is made up.
Designed as a day/night lounge, the rear seat can be folded down quite quickly to form a 2x1.3m (6ft 7in x 4ft 3in) bed.
As a hire rig (also available for private purchase), Kea supplies bedding with flat sheets, but you might prefer to have fitted sheets made to speed up making the beds.
Because of its size, there isn’t a bathroom in this camper; but there is a shower hose (hot and cold water) at the rear for external use.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Kea 2+2 flip-top campervan is a versatile camper. For our travels we used it more for day use than camping, and it performs well as around-town transport.
Indeed, it’s a campervan where the compromise in internal size for camping is well and truly offset by its other uses.
KEA CAMPERS 2+2 FLIP-TOP
Base vehicle: VW T5 LWB
Engine: 2.5L turbodiesel
Gearbox: Six-speed tiptronic
Max power: 128kW@3500rpm
Max torque: 400Nm@2000-2300rpm
Brakes: ABS disc
External length: 5.29m (17ft 4in)
External width: 1.9m (6ft 3in)
External height: 2.05m (6ft 9in)
Internal height: (average, roof up) 2m (6ft 7in)
Second stage compliance: Yes
Price: $89,000 (drive-away, inc. awning, rear tent, and flyscreen for sliding door)
Kea Campers, 106-110 Ashford Avenue, Milperra, NSW 2214, 1800 252 555 (reservations), 1800 252 201 (sales), www.keacampers.com.