The best compact coachbuilt motorhomes of 2023
When you’re a newbie about to buy your first motorhome, beginning with a beast – i.e. a large A-class motorhome – is not necessarily the smartest move to make. You could find it difficult on all sorts of levels (including the requirement to take further testing to achieve a higher driving licence category, as well as the actual driving of the vehicle itself).
It’s far wiser to opt for something smaller and more easily manageable – and so, in this edition of our blog, we’ll look at some of the best compact coachbuilt motorhomes. We’ll pick one that we think stands as a great exemplar of the type. First of all, a reminder of what a coachbuilt motorhome actually is…
What does coachbuilt mean?
It’s to do with the method of construction. The motorhome’s living area has been built onto a pre-existing cab and chassis. In simple terms you could think of it as a caravan placed onto the chassis of a commercial van. The bodies of coachbuilt motorhomes are put together from several different materials including fibreglass, aluminium and wood. They may weigh less than panel van conversions of a similar size, and they are usually wider and taller (which means extra space in the interior).
Coachbuilt motorhomes come in two types – over-cabs and low profiles. Over-cabs can provide beds for two to six people, as there is additional sleeping space in the section of the motorhome positioned over the driving cab (which can also be used as storage). Low profiles have more storage options in the living area (cupboards, in other words) to compensate for there not being the additional space over the cab. Additionally, because of this over-cab area not being there, low profiles are also a little easier to handle on the road.
The Auto Sleepers Broadway EL
Auto Sleepers’ latest Broadway EL model is a good looking compact coachbuilt motorhome featuring GRP bodywork with attractive aluminium skirting. The Broadway EL is Peugeot Boxer-based, built on a long wheel base/wide track chassis which measures 6.6m long and 2.77m wide. This makes for a compact yet spacious interior, where plenty of features, fixtures and fittings are geared towards maximising your living space without compromising on any luxury or comfort.
Where other vehicles of a similar size may feature a fixed bed, the stunning u-shaped end lounge at the rear of the Broadway EL offers a relaxed space and plenty of opportunity for socialising throughout the day, despite the more compact nature of the motorhome. There are windows to three sides of this area, which means plenty of coverage for spectacular views (depending on where you’ve parked up, of course), and a large rooflight which floods the space with generous light. There’s a choice of tables (these can be stored away when you’re on the move), including a single-pedestal one for occasional use and a free-standing one for mealtimes.
Speaking of mealtimes, the Broadway EL’s compact nature doesn’t mean the kitchen is a cramped an unworkable space. It’s actually really well kitted out and comfortable to use. There’s a generous amount of worktop space, and the kitchen contains everything you need to cook up some delights. The cooker features a dual-fuel hob, oven and grill, and there’s also a microwave oven. Across the motorhome’s central aisle is a Thetford slimline fridge including freezer (total capacity: 142 litres). There’s plenty of storage including drawers and cupboards, and the kitchen also contains an extractor unit plus a pull-up board of three electric sockets to plug in cooking equipment such as mixers, whisks or slow cookers.
When it’s time to hit the hay, there are options. You can choose to have a huge double bed (7’3’ x 6’2’) or twin single beds, converted from the seating. There are lined curtains in addition to window blinds, so you should find you can create a restful environment easily. Heating in the Broadway EL comes courtesy of a Truma Combi system (which uses mains and/or gas) and this features iNet as standard – so you can operate it remotely and get your motorhome toasty before you return to it after a cold day!
There’s lots more innovation and smart thinking in the features of the Broadway EL. The sunroof over the cab opens, and there are blinds for the cab windows. There’s a phone charger pad plus two USB ports, so all of your digital devices should never run out of juice. There’s also an electric step and grab handle at the habitation door, which is a really helpful touch. With so many great features designed to make you feel like the Broadway EL is a true home from home, Auto Sleepers has come up with a classic vehicle. It’s the perfect compact motorhome for couples or newbies to enjoy!