/ Best estate car micro camper
After considering buying a van for the third year running, and as always concluding that I can’t justify the expense, I’m looking to buy an estate with fold-flat back seats that I could comfortable sleep in, possibly with the addition of a sleeping platform, but ideally not.
I’d love to hear what people have got and how they find them, what mods you’ve made etc. Honda Civic Tourer looks like a good bet, but people complain about the driving position
Looking to have my cake and eat it here, obviously, but ideally these are the requirements:
MPG above 40 and CO2 as low as possible
Boot length at least 6ft with seats down
Reasonably nippy drive, not an absolute tank (I’m not a petrol head but a bit of squirt would be welcome)
Not look shite
Cost 10k or less for a 2013 model or newer
We have a 2008 Ford Galaxy Ghia. 7 places. All rear seats fold completely flat in about 2 minutes. 1m20 wide between wheel arches. 2m10 ish (maybe a bit more depending if you slide front seats forward) length. No mods necessary. Don't know what the more modern versions are like.
Have you looked at the Hyundai i40? No personal experience but nice motors I'd consider for my next sleeping wagon.
I sleep in my Subaru Forester which is also a great drive, no way can you get above 35 mpg though!
Maybe your not keen on these type of car/van but you should have a look at some models like the Berlingo, Caddy, Partner, Doblo - all these make great little campers with loads of space and are are all pretty good on fuel.
Probs not the quickest or best handling but you can get bigger engines in the same models
Worth a look
Plus they still pass as cars on French toll roads
Dunno if you'd get a '13 for under 10 but the Golf estate I used to have was pretty good - seats went completely flat and it drove really well. I had the diesel-gate model (2.0L TDI) which had been chipped to 180 bhp so was quicker than one expected and really nice with DSG and flappy paddles.
Panoramic sunroof leaked which cost me a fortune (thousands) to diagnose and fix but other than that it was a pretty good car - if it hadn't had the sunroof, I'd probably still be driving it.
Golf a lot more refined that an Octavia which I tested and found was really noisy on the motorway.
On my only trip to Skye I spent three nights at Glenbrittle in my Coleman tent (no problems at all in spite of the wind and rain) but I also reverted to my favourite sleeping setup, Octavia Scout, front seats fully forward, head at the rear.
Three nights looking through the raked rear window upwards as you fall asleep, then if you wake, a different pattern of stars altogether. If it wasn't exactly heaven, at least I had a good view of it.
Thanks for all the suggestions guys. I hadn’t really considered caddys etc, assuming they’d be guzzlers. Stats look pretty good but I wonder if they maintain that when they’re carrying a conversion in the back.
I had considered a golf but as you say they’re pricey. Mitsubishi looks like a good shout though. There’s one round the corner so I’ll have a look this week!
I doubt an Octavia is less refined than all the van derived options put forward above.
In any case, I can't imagine a person willing to sleep out in a car having "refinement on motorway" at the top of his list.
Whatever you end up getting, do not get an automatic diesel VW Caddy, they drink fuel for fun. We've had replacement vehicles and I can get almost 50% more mpg out of them, on exactly the same journeys.
Second the Forester - awesome vehicles that will take all you throw at them. I'm 6'4" and me and my partner sleep in the back comfortably, with me able to lie fully extended on my back. Economy isnt great, but I reckon you'll get >40mpg out of a newer vintage diesel. If you go for a 2.5 petrol then perhaps not though...
Have a 63reg Focus Estate which I have used extensively as a 'micro camper' all year round throughout the UK both solo and with my wife.
Seats fold flat with plenty of space width wise (no wheel arch intrusion into the load space). I have made insulation for the rear windows from a roll of camper van window insulation, this just attaches using suckers and blocks out all light and keeps things toasty. I use a thick blanket or old duvet, depending on the time of year, strung across the back of the front seats, secured using the front grab handles, this blocks light from the front and creates a cosy, insulated sleeping area. Ventilation is fine just with the windows down a tiny amount, though this is easily adjusted as the weather changes. In midgy areas like Scotland I have window socks, sold as sun screens for children, which work well to stop insect intrusion. In heavy rain, removable wind deflectors allow the windows to be kept slightly open without any water getting in. At night gear just gets moved to the front seats.
It's not as versatile as a van, I won't cook inside and it's not as easy to sit out bad weather in. Also with the bike it needs to be kept on top if sleeping two up, I can sleep alongside a couple of bikes slid in upright (with the front wheel off) in the back if I'm on my own.
I'm 5'10" and just fit in the back, if you're 6' then it might not work as well, though I'm sure all of the above would also be the same for a Mondeo estate, if you wanted more length.
Would prefer a van, but 25,000 miles a year, including a daily 50 mile motorway commute and things like running costs etc make that more difficult. 1.6d gets 60mpg and £30 a year tax, Might not be blistering in straight line but the Focus has a bit of a rep for decent handling. Paid just over 10k for it as a 2y/o car with 11k mikes on it.
Something I read on another forum about year models, was to think about the individual car and it's owner instead, to do with the number of miles, and service history and how long they've had it for, towards 'getting a feel' for if it's a good buy.
Must just be me then; I like a relaxing drive before a nice night in the boot.
I don't suppose that sleeping in an estate car precludes somebody from wanting a relaxing drive for the rest of the time they're owning and driving it.
> Second the Forester - awesome vehicles that will take all you throw at them. I'm 6'4" and me and my partner sleep in the back comfortably, with me able to lie fully extended on my back. Economy isnt great, but I reckon you'll get >40mpg out of a newer vintage diesel. If you go for a 2.5 petrol then perhaps not though...
If I thought I could get >40mpg from a Forester I'd buy one tomorrow. Might so a bit of research on that. Thanks for the tip!
I get 28-34 ish from my 2.0 petrol, worth it though.
> Have a 63reg Focus Estate which I have used extensively as a 'micro camper' all year round throughout the UK both solo and with my wife.
All my cars have been estates and all have been fine to sleep in (I am 6'4''). The focus was the nicest to drive and, surprisingly, just as comfy to sleep in as the Mondeo. Just make sure you get one where the bench of the back seat can be removed rather than merely folded up before folding down the back. Having to slide the front seats forward is no problem - just fill the footwell with your stuff; it's got to go somewhere anyway! I can't imagine ever bothering to do a "conversion" though!
I have a VW Sharan which is the same as the Seat Alhambra and earlier shape Ford Galaxy. The 1.9TDi averages 43 mpg but on motorway runs gets upper 40's to 50. With the rear 2 seats out its a 5 seater estate with an enormous boot and with all but the front seats out its a decent sized van, 3.2m cubed payload and 700kg load capacity. It has about 7 feet length to the back of the front seats.
I've made some boxes to fit in the boot with a platform over the folded down rear seats which gives a 6'6'' sleeping platform with gear stored underneath. On longer trips I take out the back seats altogether for more storage still. The front seats rotate to face the back so we can sit with our legs under the sleeping platform as a table.
You could do something similar with any 7 seater MPV.
Here's some pics of it
No, it might be what you were used to before. I have come to Octavias via vVuxhalls, Fords and VW s and dont see any difference in refinement if you don't count the petrol/ diesel difference.
Are the Foresters in the UK longer? I just had to go out and lie in mine to confirm, but even with seats all the way forward, it definitely isn’t a comfortable lie down in the back for my 6ft length. It is considerable shorter than the legacy I used to have. This is NZ, so maybe different models?
Have you considered a small crew-van? I have a Vauxhall Combo 1.7cdti.
It's basically a 'high sided' estate car and van all rolled in to one. Factory built, so Windows in the rear, proper 'car ceiling' and the added bonus of a tailgate on the back, which is very handy on a rainy day.
Seats right forward and tilted forwards too. Stuff piled in the rear foot wells, head at boot end and I'm sorted. Ours is a 10 plate.
VW Passat. Completely flat in the back and massive. The bluemotion stuff means you get tonnes of miles/gallon. But you might struggle to get on your budget ... like all VW don't come cheap and repairs aren't cheap either. They are significantly over engineered though - really built to last.
I have a 2006 skoda octavia estate which is wonderful and would recommend! Definitely above 40mpg even when weighted with 4 kayaks and 4 people. Got great power too. Have done a few multi-day trips (incl winter stuff) with another person and there is enough space for all your gear.
The only issue is that when the back seats are folded down flat, there's drop between flat seat height and boot height. This can be padded out with rucksacks and miscellaneous items but a sure-fire way of a snug finish is to put a bouldering pad in. I found my alpkit phud fits corner to corner and height wise 100% perfectly It's one of those things that works and is just really satisfying.
I was going to recommend a Mondeo estate over a focus. They are truly cavernous.
Is the S**d* O***v*a long enough? :D
> I was going to recommend a Mondeo estate over a focus. They are truly cavernous.
I agree. I'd have said Mondy or Vauxhall Insignia as the two fairly plentiful (because of being ex-fleet cars) used large estates.
> Maybe your not keen on these type of car/van but you should have a look at some models like the Berlingo, Caddy, Partner, Doblo - all these make great little campers with loads of space and are are all pretty good on fuel.
The boot isn't 6' long in any of those, though (other than maybe the Caddy LWB). I've kipped in a Berlingo, but it was a bit curled up.
If your budget is £10k you can certainly afford a van... Cost me about £8k to buy and convert a slightly older low mileage SWB relay, and I've had 5 years and 45,000 pretty much trouble free miles out of it so far
Genuinely considered it.
Thanks a lot guys. Got me thinking if I could do anything with what I’ve got now (Peugeot 207 estate). Thought it’d be too small but if I can bridge he gap between the folded rear seats and the front passenger seat I’m laughing.
Just had a go at a mini prototype and I’m pretty pleased with it! Should be an,e to build something like this to sit in the boot sideways and extend into position with two of the front seats down. Worth a gamble on 20 quid of this miner before doing anything drastic!
If I can figure out how to post pictures I will!
Ford S-max? Massive boot with all seats down, reasonable drive, good driving position, cheapish to service, will take 7 at a push and 5 in comfort plus luggage.
I've slept in all my estate cars quite comfortably, the focus was the most impressive in terms of space in the rear but the best has been the subaru outback with the rear seats removed and a platform put in. The rear is quite low so removing the back seats let me build a much lower profile seat which made it comfrotable to sit up in the middle row seats and then it all folded down to a full platform to sleep in. I'm selling it just now and just using the landy but it's a lot older than you're looking for, I probably still have the woodwork in the shed.
A few years ago I briefly looked into what was available in this market; but they are quite expensive. Even 2nd hand older ones. I think because they are a low-volume, high labor, production; you're essentially buying a bespoke limousine - (classy.)
I reckoned it would only be financially viable if you picked up a really old one - like more than 20 years old, and you would really need to be prepared to put a lot of work into re-fitting etc. and if you're going to do all that - you might was well just get a van....... (but that would just be boring)
We agonised over this for a while and eventually bought a Ford Tourneo Connect LX - it's a LWB Transit Connect with windows/seats/air con etc. Internal rear space is around 195cm and in the 'Grand Tourneo' model the seats fold down completely flat. It's also pretty nippy and good on fuel. On a recent trip we got 45MPG fully loaded (three people plus kit and the conversion so bed/floor/insulation etc) on a trip to Spain which included driving through the Pyrenees. We did 130km/h most of the way and it didn't miss a beat. It's also a pleasure to drive for general use as it's based off a Focus so just drives like a big car. Ours is a late 07 model as well so you can expect much better performance from a newer one. We even managed to insulate under the factory roof and then fit it again with no change to the internal which was pretty cool. Pictures on instagram if you're interested: https://www.instagram.com/mischahy/
Level Ups/Level Ramps are a great investment if you're going to sleep in your car/van. I use these things. Level sleeping platform = good nights kip.
Ended up building this. Yet to christen it but I’m pretty pleased with it! Just been and bought some foam to make a mattress. Should have it finished in time for the weekend!
Actually man If your budget is £10k you can certainly afford a van... Cost me about £8k to buy and convert a slightly older low mileage SWB relay, and I've had 5 years and 45,000 pretty much trouble free miles out of it so far
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