As comebacks go, top Spanish manufacturer Benimar’s UK return has proved pretty sensational. Back after an absence of around a decade in time for the 2015 season, the big difference this time around is the marque has secured an exclusive tie-up with the Marquis Leisure dealer group – giving it an instant network of 11 branches throughout England.
More, though, is the influence Marquis has brought to bear in “Anglicising” the specification – all the way up to switching floorplans so that the habitation door is on the UK nearside. It also means more straightforward pricing than is offered by so many imports.
So far, it’s this – the Mileo 294 island bed model – that’s leading the sales charge. It heads a five-model low-profile coachbuilt range, where the prices start at £42,995.
If you think that’s “budget”, there’s absolutely nothing low-rent about the up-to-the-minute bodywork construction. It’s GRP-clad and wood-free, with Styrofoam insulation throughout. That habitation door might lack a window, but features like two-sides access to the garage storage area, pre-fittings for a bike rack, the opening sunroof over the cab, silver grille and more are in evidence.
There’s even more of a “Benimar style” to the interior, with items like white gloss worktops, cream and brown upholstery and complementary dark wood furniture with cream/grey doors. Luxury fittings range from Truma’s Combi 4 heating and hot water gas/mains electricity system to LED lighting to a flatscreen TV bracket.
Sure enough, it’s a conventional mainland Europe layout, too – the likes of which UK manufacturers are yet to attempt – with the facility to make an enclosed washroom/changing area forward of the island bed, a central kitchen and a lounge comprising the usual travel seat/settee/swivelled cab seats, all centred around a sturdy enough fixed pedestal leg table with extension. Crucially, this set-up also allows easy enough access around it.
Setting the tone for elsewhere, air conditioning, dashboard trim, captain’s style seats with added covers, stereo CD/radio with steering wheel controls, monitor for reversing camera etc all come as standard in the Benimar cab.
There’s just a small step down from here to the main living quarters, where you walk past the kitchen to the shower and toilet facilities, then on to the bedroom.
At 1.90m, that island bed is a tad on the short side, but note also the washroom sink bulkhead precludes the dangling of feet at the bed-end.
The sleeping options can be extended with a drop-down bed over the lounge (an extra £1,000 and 45kg) – although payload then becomes an issue.
Luckily, an upgrade of chassis rating to 3,650kg is a cost-free exercise.
The washroom is one of those clever arrangements whereby you have a separate toilet room and shower cubicle, with a central fixed sink, all of which can be sectioned off for complete privacy as well as full en suite convenience. Be warned, though. Despite the presence of a full floor-to-ceiling mirror-cum-sliding door, it’s arguably not as roomy as it could be in here.
It’s the kitchen that panders most to our UK expectations, with a Thetford Triplex cooker featuring electric hotplate, two gas rings and combined oven/grill. There’s a sink adjacent, with worktop between and soft-close drawers below, while across the galley is a Thetford N3150 149-litre fridge/freezer, with automatic energy selection, plus a microwave oven at a convenient height.
It’s no surprise to see its most obvious rivals at this price level are supplied by its Trigano cousins – Roller Team and Chausson. Price per specification, nobody else gets close.
Verdict: Puts the Spanish boot in
Plus: High standard specification, UK-friendly features, dealer network
Minus: Squeezed washroom, short island bed
In-a-nutshell: A Brit’ winner for Spain
Cost to insure: £374.50
- Benimar Mileo 294
- Fiat Ducato, 2.3-litre, 130bhp Euro V
- Dimensions 7.39m L, 2.30m W, 2.89m H
- Maximum weight 3,500kg
- Payload 275kg
- Key options: Drop-down bed (£1,000), automatic transmission (£1,695, from June), leather-effect upholstery (£1,095)
- Security and safety Central locking to all doors, immobiliser, ABS, driver’s and passenger’s airbags, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguisher, reversing camera
- MPG estimate 25-30
Recommended retail price from £49,995**
There’s more information on the Mileo series at the Benimar website. To find out more about our low-cost premiums visit the motorhome insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Chausson Flash 628/718 EB), Roller Team T-Line 740
*Motorhome insurance cost based on Benimar Mileo 294 retailing at £49,995 fitted with manufacturer fitted immobiliser and Thatcham Category 1 alarm. UK travel only. Kept in secure storage at TD9 8ED. Motorhome owners – professionals over 50 years old with no claims or convictions in last 3 years. 4 years no claims bonus mirrored from car policy and 2 years motorhome driving experience. Members of motorhome club doing less than 5000 miles annually. £300 excess applies. Premiums include insurance premium tax at 6% and are correct at 06/02/15.
**Price is ex-works and includes VAT but excludes a recommended delivery charge and the cost of any additional services.