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Features Motorhomes and campervans

What’s the difference between a campervan and a motorhome?

If you’re in the market for a new campervan or motorhome, you’ll quickly discover a vast choice of vehicles but what is a campervan and what is a motorhome? When does a campervan become a motorhome?

Campervans and motorhomes tend to fall under one of three categories: Class A, B or C.

In the UK, motorhomes fall under the categories A and C, while campervans make up Class B.

Campervans explained

Think campervan and many will likely think of the iconic VW campervan.

While you’ll still see plenty of cherished classic campers on our roads in the summer, it’s a breed that has come along way since those early days.

There’s now a booming industry supplying campervan components to conversion companies that transform an ordinary panel van – new or old – into the ultimate compact home-from-home.

Campervans, known as ‘Class-B vehicles’ usually start life as a standard panel van and are then converted by professional conversion firms from new – some firms also converted older used vans

The UK’s van life scene is also seeing an increase in the number of self-conversions, in which keen DIY amateurs get creative and build their very own, one-off unique campervan conversion.

Options range from a more-basic day-van to high-tops, pop-tops and even side flare van extensions.

Inside, owners can opt for a clean, factory-finish look or a more personalised rustic feel – the possibilities really are endless.

Most tend to include a small kitchen and dining space, a double or two single beds and some storage.

Larger campervans may be even have a toilet or wet room too.

And for those who are wishing to embark upon a spot of stealth camping, the commercial exterior appearance of Class B campervans could be just what you’re looking for – not many would expect to see a tiled kitchen, log burner and cushion clad bed inside.

Being the smallest of three classes of recreational vehicles, usually no longer than 25 feet, they tend to be easier to drive down narrow lanes and car parks.

Motorhomes explained

Motorhomes are either ‘Class-C’ with a body built on a chassis behind a cab, or what is known as a ‘Class-A’ motorhome with a full body structure over the vehicle’s dashboard and engine.

Popular motorhome base vehicles include the Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer or Mercedes Sprinter.

There are also some, albeit to a lesser extent, built on a Volkswagen Transporter or Crafter.

New motorhome prices start from around what you’d expect for a new campervan, which is around £45,000-£50,000, but motorhome prices can go way beyond this price bracket.

Class-A motorhomes are the largest of the bunch, oozing with luxury and boasting plenty of space – typically 25 foot in Europe but they can extended to as long as 40 foot.

Fridges, self-contained bathrooms, televisions, entertaining and living spaces are all commonplace, along with air conditioning.

Class-C motorhomes offer a slightly more compact alternative to Class-A vehicles but share many of the same amenities such as fridges, hobs, bathrooms and air conditioning.

Class-C motorhomes are the mid-size option between Class-A motorhomes and Class-B campervans, with a typical length of 20-33 foot.

Should I get a campervan or a motorhome?

Still deciding between a campervan or motorhome?

A motorhome tends to have a longer wheelbase which, together with the box-like ‘coachbuilt’ structure, means there’s much more internal space.

Some, particularly ‘Class-A’ motorhomes even have a raised floor with storage space underneath.

With all that extra space, motorhomes benefit from a having separate cab, living and sleeping zones unlike campervans which tend to feature swivel cabin seats and rear seats that fold out to make a bed, to make the most of what space they have.

Don't forget: Any vehicle over 3.5 tonnes requires a different driving licence in the UK.

There’s no doubt that the motorhome is the more luxurious, spacious option but that’s not to say it’s for everyone.

Driving a motorhome down narrow lanes, through tight streets and round busy tourist destinations can be stressful for some – and that’s before you consider the special parking considerations and campsite policies on vehicle size.

Campervans tend to fit in most parking spaces, fit under most car park height barriers and can cruise along country lanes without fear.

If you’re one to head off the beaten track and perhaps try a spot of wild camping, a campervan would be the sensible option.

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