Three’s for crowds
It’s a cross-continental family affair as far as Benimars are concerned. The Spanish manufacturer is one of a number of brands under France’s Trigano umbrella – where it’s now a cousin to the British Auto-Sleeper Group which, to neatly complete at least one circle, owns Marquis Leisure – the 11-outlet retailer group, representing Benimar over here. And that’s just one example of the stranglehold European groups are taking on our leisure vehicle market.
It’s certainly helped the Benimar cause. The brand has emerged as the number one import, in terms of new vehicles sold. That’s partly thanks to a generous choice of coachbuilt motorhome – Benimars split between Tessoro (five models, based on Ford’s Transit and Mileo (13 models, all on Fiat’s Ducato) – before dividing further, with the 2-series, which are all low-profiles, and a five-strong 3-series line-up of overcabs.
So we get to the 301, a full four-berth that’s well under 6m in length. Whatever its merits, streamlining isn’t one of them. What you do get, however, is an almost-instant double bed in that overcab section – alternatively, and much appreciated by UK motorhomers, is it’s a vast cavern of a storage area.
But, the 301 also boasts another massive storage zone. There’s a garage under the transverse double bed at the back, which actually extends, thanks to the facility to raise by bed by anything up to 20cm, manually.
Good job there’s a healthy 550kg payload. Indeed, you can uprate the chassis to 3,650kg if you want an extra 150kg of load allowance.
True, all this means a bit of a squidge in the middle of the vehicle, where the kitchen, washroom and lounge all jostle for space. The latter extends to a cooker with three-ring hob (one of which is an electric hotplate) and combined oven and grill, as well as a circular sink with add-on drainer. Squeezing the fridge under the worktop here impinges on cupboard storage space.
The washroom has a space-saving plastic tambour door. Step in and there are doors for making a shower area, complete with two drainage outlets. Plus a fixed basin and swivel-bowl toilet. The details help – two towel rails, shelved locker over the window, deep shelf behind the toilet, opening rooflight overhead.
As standard, the Mileo 301 comes with Fiat’s latest 2.3-litre turbo-diesel producing 150bhp powering the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission (the robotised Comfort-Matic auto is an option). Its reversing camera may also pick you up an insurance saving. Also standard is a range of fittings from those black alloy wheels to in-cab luxuries like air conditioning, stereo system with DAB, padded steering wheel with controls, and more.
There’s certainly a long list of outstanding qualities to this motorhome. The GRP-clad, almost totally wood-free coachbuilt bodywork, Truma’s more powerful Combi 6 heating and hot water system, flush-fitting windows, LED lighting throughout, and microwave oven (although it’s set high).
Other standard features include solar panel, external gas point, corner steadies, LED awning light, soft-close drawers and lockers… it’s a truly long list that you’re best checking out for yourself.
Just as reassuring are the warranties behind each Benimar Mileo. The base vehicle is three years (the third year insurance-backed), while the conversion is two years, while the bodywork is covered for five years against water ingress.
There are, nevertheless, some aspects where costs have been pared. The furniture construction is basic, the cab seats only have covers, the single seat in the lounge is rather flimsy. Do note, however, like all Mileos, it’s a proper UK format, with the habitation door on our nearside. That’s rare, for any imported motorhome.
The deal-breaker here, however, is the price. Coming in at well below £50,000, on specification alone you can see why the Benimar brand is proving so attractive.
Verdict: Super value in an overcab package for four
Plus: High spec’/low price, under 6m long, big beds
Minus: Just a few corners cut, limited lounge space
In-a-nutshell: Worth a Spanish fling
There’s more information on the Benimar Mileo range on the Marquis Leisure website www.marquisleisure.co.uk. Find out more about insuring this or your current motorhome on our motorhome insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Chausson Flash C514, Elddis Accordo 125, Hymer Van 374, Rapido 604FF
Benimar Mileo 301 factfile
|Model||Benimar Mileo 301|
|Base vehicle||Fiat Ducato, 2.3-litre, 150bhp, Euro VI|
|Dimensions||5.95m L x 2.30m W x 3.05m H|
|RRP||From £47,495 on the road|
|Safety & security||Electronic immobiliser, remote central locking to cab doors, twin airbags, cruise control, ESC, hill-start assist, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, reversing camera, heated door mirrors|
|Key options||Automatic transmission (£1,750), leather upholstery (£745)|