Second-hand test: UCC 2+1 Big Bed 2008

By: Peta Stavelli, Photography by: supplied

UCC 2 1 Big Bed 2008 UCC 2 1 Big Bed 2008
UCC 2 1 Big Bed 2008 UCC 2 1 Big Bed 2008
UCC 2 1 Big Bed 2008 The bed folds out to a super-king size UCC 2 1 Big Bed 2008
UCC 2 1 Big Bed 2008 The compact vehicle is ready for freedom camping UCC 2 1 Big Bed 2008

One of my favourite vehicles at the recent Camper Care Show in Christchurch was UCC’s 2+1 Big Bed, which offers a lot of amenities in a very little space.

There was a lot to love at the recent Camper Care Show in Christchurch, but, for my money at least, the favourite was UCC's 2+1 Big Bed. If you're in the market for a second-hand compact 'van suitable for free camping that will still meet all your needs, look no further.

UCC recently bought some of recent model vehicles (2008-10) from failed New Zealand rental company, Pacific Horizon. These well-designed vehicles represent very good value for those who want to get away from it all and still have access to all the amenities in one compact camper.

Do not be afraid of the aforementioned adjective. In this instance, compact is not a euphemism for cramped. The 2+1 Big Bed delivers on its promise of a king-sized bed in a princely panel 'van. Perfect for a couple, you can also take along another, or several others, depending on which of the multiple sleeping arrangements you opt for: super-king, or two singles plus a nifty hammock.

The hammock is something of a clever cross between a camp bed and a ship-shape bunk bed. I didn't try it out, but as long as someone was prepared to give me a leg up, I wouldn't mind having it to myself in the future. Nor would I have any trouble sharing the magnificently comfortable-looking (and easily deployed) super-king, which can be easily accessed from the generous sliding door on the side.

This door, which opens up around half of the 'van to the great outdoors, is a great feature. It would create a valuable vantage point from which to take in the view of the mountain or shoreline. Alternatively, bang up an awning and you would have accessible al fresco space in a jiffy.

Now to the amenities. The bench seat which becomes a king-sized bed when unfolded — together with the smaller child seat (which has a diagonal lap belt) — can be paired with swivelling front seats, if required. This model did not have the swivelling seats, but nor did I feel I would have needed them to be installed, because what it did have was a uniquely clever table. This can be positioned lengthwise for dining or as a play-space for a passenger when underway. Brilliant.

I also loved the galley, small but perfectly formed as it was with light blonde joinery; preparation bench with white splash back; a two-way fridge; good- sized stovetop with grill; microwave and overhead rangehood. Storage certainly looked to be sufficient, with overhead lockers; underbench cupboards and numerous drawers of varying size — all of which came with push-bottom safety locks.

Now, I haven't spent five damp days in Fiordland in this vehicle, so I remain confident this compact camper would indeed be perfect for a couple without cabin fever becoming an issue. The main reason for my confidence is the lightness of space created by the white-with-light interior, and double opening doors at rear, together with that aforementioned sliding door to the side. There are also windows a plenty, and a skylight. All windows have curtains, and the roof vent has a block-out blind and an insect screen.

Did I mention the bathroom? If you're anything like me you'll be almost incredulous that this vehicle has bathroom — but there it is, right to the rear of the vehicle, opposite the galley. It's basic but all you would need for your average ablutions; containing as it does a shower and cassette toilet with 110 litres of freshwater at your disposal. This vehicle is certified for self-containment and comes with a 100-litre greywater tank. Extras include water monitors, Truma boiler and gas heater, and TV with DVD player.

The vehicle reviewed is the 2008 model. Identical 2010 models are also available with significantly less mileage. And all vehicles are on a Mercedez Benz Sprinter short-wheelbase vehicle with a recent WOF and service backed with the manufacturer's warranty*, so you'll be good to go, wherever you go.

For more information contact UCC Motorhomes on 0800 222 108,; or Leisure Vehicles on (09) 415 7199.

*Details of relevant warranties are only available from the vendor.

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