LIFE REALLY CAN BE A PICNIC WITH SSANGYONG’S NEW CAMPER VAN
Simon Davis takes to the New Forest for a night’s camping in Ssangyong’s Turismo Tourist. What’s it like to bring a version of home with you?
GROWING up in New Zealand, camping was always a big part of my childhood. A continent as varied and diverse as Europe wasn’t on our doorstep, meaning the vast majority of summer holidays for families in Aotearoa were spent in a tent or caravan on the beach.
So when I heard we had a Ssangyong Turismo Tourist Camper coming into the office, I immediately volunteered to put it to the test and spend a night in it.
Designed and manufactured by Wellhouse Leisure of Huddersfield, the Tourist Camper looks exactly the same as a regular Turismo MPV, but open the door and you’ll find some serious conversion work has gone on.
The boot has been stripped out to make way for a miniature kitchen, complete with fridge, sink, gas hob and storage cupboards, while the front four seats can be easily converted into two single beds.
The roof even pops up to reveal a third bed suitable for children.
In short, it had everything required for an overnight stay - even a portable toilet, but we quickly decided we wouldn’t try that out.
After a speedy getaway from work one Friday afternoon, we set course for
the New Forest and our campsite, happy the sun was shining and it didn’t look like rain was on the horizon.
One thing that became immediately apparent was the Ssangyong’s vast size.
Measuring more than five metres long and with an incredibly high driving position, you did feel like you were behind the wheel of a yacht rather than a South Korean people-mover.
Despite the car’s size, however, its 2.2-litre Euro 6 diesel engine did a good job of getting the camper moving.
With 176bhp and 400Nm of torque on tap, the Turismo wasn’t as slow as you might expect.
In fact, cruising along the motorway in the Ssangyong was a rather pleasant experience. Its size and tall driving position certainly give it a commanding presence on the road, and its soft suspension set-up means it doesn’t crash about over bumps.
That said, these two characteristics mean it can be a bit of handful when you inevitably pull off the motorway to those tiny country lanes.
There is an amount of lean through the corners and you’re constantly conscious of its width.
We arrived at the campsite just as it was starting to get dark and immediately started setting up before we lost the light.
Luckily, the roof is only held in place by a couple of straps, meaning it’s incredibly easy to pop up.
Getting the beds made up took a bit more thought, as you have to position the front and rear seats correctly so that when they fold down, they fold down flat.
Overall, though, this was a simple task, and it took us about 10 minutes to get everything organised – although we didn’t put the rear awning in place, as we were only staying for one night.
After a barbeque and a couple of drinks, we decided it was time to call it a night.
It was only at this point I realised I had made the amateur mistake of forgetting my sleeping bag, but figured it would make for a good test of how well the Ssangyong retained heat.
Safe to say it didn’t fare too well, and I went cold – but I really only have myself to blame for this.
Aside from the cold, sleeping in the campervan was made even more uncomfortable by the narrow beds – even with the infill cushions and memory foam topper in place.
So, the big Ssangyong loses some points in the comfort department which is a shame, because I liked everything else about it.
Then again, unlike full-size campervans and caravans, the Ssangyong Turismo Tourist doesn’t give the impression it’s designed for lengthy excursions.
As a place to stay over a week- end, the Turismo Tourist is an incredibly likeable piece of kit.
If I had spare £35,995 knocking around, I’d seriously consider it.