United Campervans’ Premier 2+1 motorcamper test

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Malcolm Street


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Malcolm Street takes a United Campervans Premier 2+1 motorcamper on a short jaunt to Rotorua

United Campervans’ Premier 2+1 motorcamper test
United Campervans’ Premier 2+1 motorcamper test
  • Good general storage
  • Multiple arrangements for making up beds
  • Easy vehicle to drive
  • Swivel seats open up lounge area
  • Electrical controls in one location

With the forecast for rainy weather in Rotorua, we decided to stay around the immediate area where a few inside activities and thermal spas looked inviting. This is where travelling in something the size of the Premier 2+1 is an advantage – there’s room for two to stretch out when the weather’s a bit inclement.

Engine and power

Our United Campervans Premier 2+1 was based on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. Powered by a 2.2-litre 80kW turbo diesel driving through a five-speed gearbox, it is an easy-driving machine.

Measuring just under 7m, the Premier 2+1 is a relatively lightweight vehicle and manoeuvres with ease around the town and along motorways. For those that prefer a manual vehicle there are Fiat Ducato-based Premiers available, but in the United fleet (though not in the budget Alpha range), they are to be phased out.

External features

Although United has retained the standard Mercedes windows, there is little doubt about the van’s conversion to a motorhome. In addition to the water heater, toilet cassette door and gas cylinder bin on the offside, the United decals give the game away.

One of the external features I missed was an awning. Although many people associate them with sun protection, an alternative practical use is having the awning open halfway to keep rain away from the open sliding door. Halfway also means being considerably less prone to wind damage – I know that’s a problem for rental operators.

A benefit of a motorcamper like the Premier 2+1 is that it takes about three minutes to set up camp – park, plug in the power lead, turn the gas cylinder on and you’re ready for the night. Well almost. There is the bed to make up but we figured out how to speed that process up too – keep reading.

The interior

Inside the Premier 2+1 is a familiar layout. Two sideways-facing lounges with a swivel table in between in the rear, a kitchen bench runs along the nearside and a bathroom is fitted opposite.

Up front, both driver and passenger seats swivel around and there is a third seat behind the driver’s. The 2+1 bit refers to two adults and one child. Lighting throughout is via 12V halogen downlights.

The bed configuration is interesting. The two rear lounges can be made up as two single beds (1860mm x 600mm and 2000m x 600mm) or as a double (1860mm x 1800mm) running lengthways.

The latter means making up the bed each night, but because we are both less than 1800mm tall we stole the cushion from the third seat at the front and made up the double bed across the van. It meant we could leave it made up all the time and still have seating space to use the swivel table.

For us it worked quite well (except for the lack of reading lights) but we could not have done it had there been a third person (child) because the driver’s seat and the seat behind it are used to make up the extra bed. Maybe having the long back cushions split in two might make it easier.

Storage is under both beds; the nearside one has a small safe fitted. Naturally there are overhead lockers on both sides as well – appreciated was the towel rail under the offside ones.

Additional storage, in the form of a small wardrobe, has been fitted in the air space adjoining the bathroom and above the offside bed. It doesn’t get in the way and is a very practical idea.

The kitchen in the Premier 2+1 comes with a microwave and a four-burner cooktop/grill with a stainless sink sans drainer alongside. Under the cooktop is a Waeco 80-litre fridge and beside that are drawers, cupboards and a wire basket slide-out pantry.

On-board bathrooms are always going to be compact and this one was no exception, but it did come with a Thetford cassette toilet (great on wet nights even if you don’t use them at any other time), flex hose shower and wash basin – those both using a common hot/cold water outlet.

Outside the bathroom the wall was used as a mounting point for the 12V switches, tank gauge and hot water controls. Always good to have the controls at a common point – some manufacturers have switches everywhere.

A slight problem at night was that the curtains went across the back of the cab, not around the window. The flat-screen TV mounted outside the bathroom wall above the third seat was easily viewable from the swivelled seats, but I occasionally banged my head on it when at the kitchen bench, so I wondered if it might have been better on the opposite side in the space above the kitchen bench.

Summing up

Did we like our travels in the United Premier 2+1? You bet! Once we’d figured out how to leave the bed made up in the motorhome, our setting up times were minimal and the Premier 2+1 proved ideal for a short break. Of course, it would be excellent for a much longer one as well.

For more information contact United Campervans, 3 Kingsford Smith Place, Airport Oaks, Mangere Auckland, ph 09 275 9919 or visit www.campervan.co.nz.

Specifications

Rental company United Campervans
Model Premier 2+1
Base vehicle Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI
Engine 2.2-litre turbo diesel
Gearbox Five-speed auto
Max power 80kW @ 3800rpm
Max torque 280Nm @ 1600-2500rpm
Brakes Disc brakes
GVM 3550kg
External length 6.95m
External width 2.42m
External height 2.7m
Internal height 1.9m
Cooktop Smev four-burner and grill
Fridge Waeco 80L
Gas 1 x 4.5kg
Lighting 12V halogen
Toilet Thetford cassette
Fresh water 80L
Grey water 100L

 

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