Don’t just take our word for it...
We asked Nick Harding, a highly experienced specialist motorhome journalist, to review our campervans. Here are his comments...
Campaway… having it your way
That campervan you always dreamed of could be one step closer than you think. Broad Lane Leisure, with over half a century as one of the UK’s leading leisure vehicle retailers, is branching out and offering campervans that put customer choice to the fore.
The Campaway brand is exclusive to Broad Lane Leisure, with its retail outlets in Kenilworth and Alcester, Warwickshire, but the manufacturer behind it is a recently-founded company, Journey Campervan Conversions Ltd. Despite being a new name on the scene, its team can point to over a quarter of a century’s experience in the design, build and selling of Volkswagen-based campervans.
Broad Lane wanted to find the right converter to produce campervans to order. Your order. Flexibility is key in giving you the widest possible choice so you can literally tailor your Campaway to suit your particular needs… as well, of course, at the right price.
Campaway is all about choices. The flexible manufacturing approach means you get the campervan you want, with the equipment you need.
Choices, 1. Your base vehicle
All Campaways are based on Volkswagen’s Transporter – the must-have vehicle for any campervan. Why? Because it’s great to drive and just the right size – not too big, not too small – for a campervan conversion. It makes for a cool leisure vehicle that’s perfect for everyday driving as well as having sufficient space and enmities for camping trips away.
It’s Volkswagen that defines the whole campervan sector – that VW badge on the bonnet means everything. Broad Lane’s long experience in the leisure vehicle industry – 50 years and counting – means it can reach out to source the best base vehicles on your behalf and to your order. That means a Campaway conversion can be built on any Volkswagen base vehicle – new or nearly-new, T6 or T6.1 – as fits your budget.
Volkswagen’s latest Transporter (theT6.1), is offered with a variety of engine and transmission formulas as well as trim choices – Startline or Highline. It’s the latter that gives you Climatic air conditioning, parking sensors, alloy wheels, leather-finished multi-function steering wheel, day-running/automatic headlamps, laminated heated windscreen, full alarm system and more – just the sort of stuff you’d expect on any modern leisure vehicle. An alternative is to order your Startline
with Volkswagen’s Business Pack, which then gives you the all-important air conditioning, parking sensors and alarm.
It's your choice of engines, too – 110PS, 150PS or 204PS – with manual or automatic transmission. All-wheel drive 4motion is also available if you want the ultimate in surefootedness.
You will also want to consider aspects such as a rear tailgate or barn doors and whether you want the front passenger seat as a double or a single.
Then there’s the paintwork. Not only can you have your Campaway in any of Volkswagen’s paint schemes, thanks to Broad Lane you can have virtually any colour you want – including two-tones.
Choices, 2. Your conversion
Before you delve into the details, there are key aspects of any campervan conversion work that have to be right – including the elevating roof, the rear seat/bed, furniture, windows and floors.
Unlike many others, the bed in the Campaway elevating roof is designed to take the weight of two adults – that’s thanks to the unique steel construction of the base boards, with a one-piece mattress to provide the comfort. Dimensions are a decent 190cm x 110cm – while the lower bed is a similar length and 103cm wide.
Upper level ventilation hasn’t been forgotten. There are generous mesh panels to either side as well as an acrylic window at the front. All have zipped panels for night-time blackout. There are also LED up-lighters ingeniously secreted into the bed frame, and a choice of reading lamps on stalks (model specific). The roof itself is easy to push up, thanks to gas struts (tip: if you have at least the sliding door open when you pull the roof back down again it’s an equally easy operation).
The rear seat is a safety-tested unit, featuring distinctive high backrests with integral head support sections. The whole unit glides out easily when it comes to bedmaking, folding out for a completely flat sleeping area that still allows you access to the fridge and cooker (so important for that first cuppa in the morning). It’s just as easy to push the bed back up into seat mode, too. Find out more at www.m1camperbeds.com.
Campaway’s furniture is all made in-house using CNC (computer-aided cutting) technology. It’s in a tough marine quality ply with a choice of laminate finishes. Note those hinges and catches, too. Plus, you can vary the storage options in terms of doors and drawers. Want a large enough floor locker to house a portable toilet? No problem. A flap opening into an uncluttered area in the rear seat base or (standard in the Vista) a large drawer? It’s yours.
Typical flooring is a superior quality linoleum – as ever, in a choice of finishes – over plywood. Worth noting, too, is that other flooring types are available.
But, it’s also about the details, too. That’s everything from inline fresh water pumps (rather than cheap submersible systems) and larger-than-average 27-litre fresh water tank right through to using the right fittings for the right jobs.
There’s also one aspect that will surely be a must-have for nearly every owner. The Platinum Pack option comprises a microwave oven, solar panel, Propex blown air heater and more.
Campaway Classic – a typical campervan?
The name says it all. This is the classic VW campervan formula – with a furniture unit running along one side and a rear seat the converts into a double bed. But, of course, the Campaway proposition allows you a huge choice in terms of the base vehicle and conversions specifications (see above).
All the camping facilities are here. The furniture unit houses a full camper-style kitchen with Dometic compressor fridge and a two-ring gas hob and sink combination in stainless steel, set off by flush-fitting smoked glass lids.
Practical details include the two-way access to the wardrobe at the back, with a hatch to the underseat storage just inside the back doors.
Your travelling companions (adults and/or children) will love all the space around the rear seat for travelling (it’s great if anyone who suffers from travel sickness, too).
You get everything from a charger unit with easy-to-use master switches, lots of LED strip and spot lighting, mains and USB sockets, blackout curtains and more – but remember, the final specification is up to you.
Finally, do note Broad Lane also offers its Campaway Classic using the long-wheelbase version of the Volkswagen Transporter. At 5.30m, this is some 40cm longer than the standard short-wheelbase, just as pleasurable and easy to drive (and park) yet offers that crucial bit of extra space on-board.
Campaway Vista – just a little bit different
There’s a clue in the name here, too, because the Campaway Vista does offer something refreshingly different.
In fact, it represents at least two major gains, but with just one minor loss. First impressions maybe of a typical campervan floorplan, but look again and there’s no wardrobe (does anyone really ever use clothes hanging space in a campervan?) – but there is extra work surface going right through to the back. This allows for more “elbow room” and an access hatch to the storage space below, plus a double mains socket, even more USB ports and a wireless phone charger. Also, you gain extra windows – perfect for letting as much daylight as possible in and allowing best possible views out – hence the Vista name.
There’s a Kiravans double front seat on the example shown here. It means you can have two passengers up front, and the whole unit can be swivelled to face rearwards once you’re parked up on site.
There’s also a clever piece of design work at the start of the kitchen. A “second door” opens up to reveal storage for smaller items (like that ketchup bottle) as well as a unique additional worktop that clips on for use. It is so handy, it can be used as a table for front seat guests, additional kitchen workspace, or swung around through 90 degrees, if required, and used in conjunction with the larger second tabletop that attaches to a rail on the furniture unit.
It's an arrangement that enhances the normal cooker/sink/fridge equipment you’d expect in any camper. It just offers more work space.
Storage is a key aspect of any campervan, and one that can so easily be overlooked when you’re “specc’ing up” with the kind of additional equipment that can easily steal space. Here, the Vista excels, with access to a generous amount of space under the rear seat – accessible via the back doors as well as there being a drawer in the front of the seat base.
Also, there are two tambour-doored cupboards, two upper lockers (above the kitchen and beyond the rear seat – which also houses a second set of speakers for the stereo system) and a floor locker large enough to accommodate a portable toilet.
Up top, you have Campaway’s easy-operating elevating roof, with its full-size double bed that’s designed for adults or children. Note here the reading lamps on stalks, both with handy USBs port in their bases.
All the Vista’s night-time illumination is energy-efficient LED, with downlighters along the nearside as well as ambient strip lighting. You can also have a rather nifty overhead light unit, like this (show picture?). Snug-fitting curtains to the side and rear windows provide effective night-time blackout.
There are other key upgrades, like the switch for the interior lighting just inside the sliding door – such a handy, intuitive location – and the handy storage pocket and double USB port adjacent to the rear seat. Also, the exterior gas outlet – ideal for connecting up your barbecue. So often, it’s features like these that make all the difference. See the full options list for other ideas to make your Campaway even more exclusive to you.
OK, Nick. So, what would you order?
I’m lucky. Having owned a number of campervans, I’d like to think I know what I need. And, if money were no object, I’d be ordering a Campaway Vista on a long-wheelbase T6.1 Highline. The tailgate version. And I’d want the 150PS engine, at least, as well as automatic transmission (it’s more relaxing to drive).
The Platinum Pack is a no-brainer, while any left-over budget would see me asking about a bike rack and an awning (canopy and/or drive-away). Those who want to go a bit more “off-grid” should consider a lithium leisure battery.
I’d also be scouring the full options list and weighing up the temptations of an exterior gas point as well as any of the alloy wheel upgrades on offer.
Finally, insulation is a consideration. I’d be requesting it not just for its thermal properties but it’s a great sound deadener, too – again making it just that bit more relaxing to drive as well as helping to dampen other noise so you’re less likely to upset your neighbours on site.
All the above is purely subjective, of course. The beauty of the Campaway offering is you can tailor your campervans to exactly suit your needs – and, of course, your budget. My general advice, however, is to stick with what’s tried-and-tested wherever possible. Also, when the opportunity arises, do go somewhere where you can view lots of campervans in one place – it’s the ideal way of comparing and contrasting.
Who is Nick Harding?
Highly respected in the camping and caravanning industry, Nick’s journalistic career began over three decades ago. As well as reviewing literally thousands of motorhomes of all sizes and shapes in that time, he is also currently on his third privately-owned campervan. Memorable experiences range from camping with his parents and brothers on his uncle and aunt’s farm in the Scottish Borders to an elevating roof almost getting blown off on the M25 motorway (not his fault, he says).
He's travelled extensively throughout the UK and Europe – and just occasionally beyond – in a huge variety of campervans and other motorhomes. Experiences range from music/arts festivals, to the glorious sandy beaches of Outer Hebrides, to Lake Maggiore in Italy, to quiet weekends away, and lots more.