Different types of motorhome explained
From small micro-vans to enormous RVs which would dwarf your local bus, we explore the different sizes, styles and varieties of motorhome you can buy in the UK...
It’s often said that buying a car is the second-largest purchase most people make in their lives, but anyone who owns a motorhome knows that this is simply not the case.
Buying a motorhome represents quite a significant investment, so you need to make sure you’re getting the right one for you – but there’s a huge range of options out there.
There are numerous motorhome constructors and converters, all doing something slightly different, so it can be overwhelming at first. The best thing to do is work out how much you want to spend, what you want your motorhome to do, and how many people will be using it. Do you want to cook in it and wash in it? If you’re new to the motorhome world, focus on these factors and you’ll be able to narrow down your search much more quickly and efficiently.
If you’re a motorhome owner who’s changing their vehicle, you should consider the reason why you’re doing it. Here, we explain the various types and sizes of motorhome, so you can make the perfect choice.
These are motorhomes that are based on small MPVs or their associated small vans. As such, the accommodation can be quite rudimentary, but they’re still more than capable of taking you and a significant other out into the countryside for a long weekend.
Some have a small kitchen and a seating area that can also be turned into a sleeping berth, while others have a lifting roof that makes things a bit roomier.
Think campervan and the first thing that springs to mind for most people is a Volkswagen Type 2 from the 1950s. But things have moved on, and the term campervan tends to refer to a medium-sized motorhome that’s based on a van, such as the Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Traveller or Volkswagen T6 Transporter.
The internal layouts vary considerably by manufacturer, but they tend to accommodate beds and a kitchen, and some are offered with a pop top that brings extra sleeping accommodation or storage space.
A further subsection of the campervan arena is that of so-called day vans. These tend to have a simple kitchen and a sleeping berth, but they’re meant for the odd weekend away, not longer camping trips.
In a case of ‘doing what it says on the tin’, these are exactly what they say they are – campervans based on slightly larger base vehicles. These are also known as panel-van conversions, and these often serve as the basis for high-top campervan conversions.
There are a range of lengths and engines to choose from, and they tend to feature either two or four seats, plus larger, more comfortable accommodation, a bigger and more usable kitchen area, plus even a small washroom on some models. Meanwhile high-top vans offer plenty of extra storage space.
However, bear in mind that these vans have intrinsically bigger dimensions (in all directions), so you need to be more careful about the places you can take them. Multi-storey car parks, for example, will be off limits.
‘Coachbuilt’ is when a motorhome uses the bare chassis of a commercial-type vehicle, most commonly referred to as a Luton, and builds a dedicated motorhome body onto it.
These are bigger even than large vans, and come in two main forms – either a low-profile unit with a small storage area over the top of the cab, or a higher-profile design with another bed area sited over the top of the cab.
These are naturally large vehicles, and allow more people to join in the fun. Manufacturers tend to find these easier to construct than large-van conversions, because an entire custom-made unit is simply attached to a donor vehicle. These living compartments also tend to be well insulated and more practical, with much more usable storage, a cassette toilet and much more comfortable living areas.
The easiest way to recognise and A-class motorhome is in the fact it has no separate cab area – indeed, it looks more like a luxurious bus. This is because the motorhome manufacturer starts off with only a bare chassis, engine and dashboard, and fits everything else around it.
This means the motorhome has a fully insulated body right up to the cab, and loads of space inside for everything you can think to bring. Think of it as a large static caravan that isn’t stationary and you’ll get the idea.
There’s room for more beds, a decent bathroom, a toilet, and plenty of space for everything you might want to bring with you on board.
Bear in mind, though, that these are not small vehicles, so you might want to think about extra training before you get behind the wheel.
Tag axle motorhome
A ‘tag’ axle is simply a third axle. These are most commonly found on coachbuilt motorhomes or A-class motorhomes where the manufacturer wants to make the living accommodation even longer for more space.
These are, in essence, A-class motorhomes, but even beefier. They represent the ultimate in motorhome technology, being vast and filled with interiors that would put a high-spec house to shame.
Luxury equipment abounds – they’ll have a climate-controlled interior with lots of high-tech equipment, including leather air-conditioned seats, and perhaps even a fireplace and multiple televisions. Some even feature an outside television, plus sides that expand outwards for that full-on lounge experience.
However, there’s a caveat. You need to be prepared for a fuel bill equivalent to the debt of a small country. You can convert these motorhomes to run on cheaper Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), but the fuel costs will still be significant.
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