A new Ford pop-top is the big news here as the Cotswold converter returns to this sector
New Ford campervan
THE very first Auto-Sleepers all had elevating roofs and such models dominated the company’s output throughout the 60s and 70s. More recently, the Trooper was its popular pop-top on three generations of VW, until the T5 version bowed out in 2012.
Now, the Ford-based Air that will hit the market later this year picks up where the Trooper left off, taking a popular base vehicle and adding a classic side kitchen layout. The new model will be sold exclusively through Marquis for the first season.
Auto-Sleepers sees the Air sitting at the top of the campervan tree, competing with OEM models such as Ford’s own Nugget, the Mercedes Marco
Polo and, of course, the best-selling VW California. The only major options will be a choice of manual or automatic gearbox (the latter at a £1,500 premium) and a selection of metallic paint finishes (blue, red, orange or silver), while halfleather trim can be added for £1,295. The £1,500 Executive Pack will be a default option, so every Air will have it – not that you’d want to miss out, as it adds £3,084-worth of Ford goodies over and above the already well-equipped Trend spec Transit Custom.
Of course, the Air will also have European Whole Vehicle Type Approval and Auto-Sleepers is aiming to achieve Ford’s QVM standard, too. It
even comes with a lithium leisure battery as standard, as well as a roll-out Thule awning, a 60W solar panel and, most unusually in this size of ’van, a 15-litre underslung gas tank.
Externally, the Air is classily restrained and service points are hidden – the mains hook-up is underneath on the offside and the fresh water filler is in the step well, just inside the driver’s door. With privacy glass and 16in alloy wheels, the overall look is of a high-end people-carrier.
It comes with the 170PS engine as standard, along with sat-nav, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and myriad safety features, such as lane departure warning, blind spot
assistance, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition. Automatic lights and wipers, cornering lights, a heated windscreen, electric folding mirrors, front fog lights, a leather steering wheel and even heated cab seats are included.
Continuing the top-notch theme, Auto-Sleepers is fitting a German SCA roof. It features a 1.89m by 1.10m roof bed on Clima Plux springs. Then, below, is a Reimo Variotech sliding seat system with three seatbelts and Isofix mountings for a pair of child seats. Both cab seats swivel, too.
The kitchen has the expected combination twoburner hob and sink unit in stainless steel, as well as a front-loading 47-litre compressor fridge.
More of a surprise is the separate grill. The gloss finish cabinets look contemporary and storage includes a cutlery holder above the grill. A generous selection of USB ports is fitted, too.
Interior lighting includes reading lights over both front seats, as well as over the rear bench/bed and a long LED strip illuminates the galley, while under-counter downlights add a hint of bling.
A cupboard is provided to house a Dometic portable toilet and there’s a cold- water- only external shower in the rear boot area. Blinds and flyscreens are fitted on the side and rear windows, while insulated stick-on screens are provided for the cab. A Webasto diesel-fired blown-air heater is a standard feature, too.
It’s a comprehensively equipped package with proven German components for the key items of seat and roof. With the Auto-Sleepers name behind it, too, the Air is bound to be a hit.
There are no major changes to the rest of AutoSleepers’ range, although Peugeot Boxer-based models get increased spec to compete with the facelifted Fiat Ducato cab. This will include a Zenec multimedia system which can be controlled from the steering wheel or via a 9in touchscreen. There are also new upholsteries (Slate in van conversions, Pebble in coachbuilts) and cab seats now get twin armrests.