British mainstream motorhomes don’t come much bigger, or more comfortable, than the new Auto-Sleepers Berkshire.
It looks big, too – not just long, but as tall as a tower block and as imposing as Windsor Castle.
And with a Mercedes three-pointed star on the radiator grille you probably won’t be surprised at the lack of change you’ll see from £50,000 for a Berkshire.
The cab is fully specified with the sort of toys that add pleasure to your ownership, too.
The cab air-conditioning comes with climate control, which you can set as low as a chilly 16 degrees, while the cruise control seems appropriate to the Sprinter’s relaxing driving experience.
Park up for anything more than a quick lunch stop and you’ll want to wind down the rear steadies, for when you walk from the cab to the Berkshire’s lounge you’ll feel the vehicle moving about gently on its suspension.
You’ll soon forget too, for the over-riding impression of the Berkshire is not one of wobbly suspension, but of space.
The lounge in the Berkshire
The settees each measure over 6ft 8in in length, and the generous width of this motorhome means there’s room to go ballroom dancing between them. Enormous windows on both sides and at the rear – plus a wind-up Heki sunroof above – only add to the feeling of space.
In the kitchen, the three gas burners and one mains hotplate cooker is just part of a domestic-style slot-in unit that also includes an oven and grill.
Alongside, the stainless steel sink and drainer has a Chinchilla Glass lid (suitable for chopping on) and next to that is a huge expanse of uncluttered worktop, an expanse that gets even bigger when you pull out the extending part of the galley.
Looking back in the Auto-Sleepers Berkshire
There’s an eye-level microwave, and fitted crockery – real crockery, not cheap plastic – and a spice rack on the wall. There’s an 88-litre capacity fridge.
The table – once extracted from the wardrobe – is not of banqueting proportions. It’s free-standing, which is a bonus, but it’s rather narrow to be reached comfortably from both settees at once.
The shower is very good though the washroom is quite basic.
The rest of the vehicle has more cupboards than a three-bed semi. There’s so much under-seat storage space that you’ll run out of payload (435kg for the standard model) before you run out of room for duty free on the way home.
The Auto-Sleepers’ bathroom
The Berkshire’s equipment list is hard to fault. The Trumatic heater is boosted by single blown-air outlets in the bathroom and lounge.
In the case of the lounge, this doesn’t seem enough, but you will be pleased to discover gas and mains powered functions.
You’ll also welcome the Berkshire’s simply breathtaking array of lighting. The lighting strips between the upper cupboards and ceiling fill the whole ‘van with light (as well as illuminating those top lockers), while reading lights and spotlights are fitted pretty much everywhere you look.
And if you like gimmicks and gadgets, how about this? The ceiling lights and the awning lamp are operated via a remote control fob!
We reckon this is the best new Auto-Sleepers coachbuilt for some time. It’s a fitting flagship for the fleet.
Price from: £49,995
Base vehicle: Mercedes Sprinter 315 CDI LWB
Engine: 2.2-litre turbo diesel 150bhp
Travel seats: 2
Insurance cost: £260.25*
*Insurance cost based on 2008 Auto-Sleepers Berkshire valued at £49,995. Fitted with manufacturers immobiliser and Thatcham Category 1 approved alarm and approved tracking device, kept at home at SN4 7DP. Motorhome owners – professionals over 50 years old with no claims, convictions or health conditions 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 7000 miles annually. £250 excess applies. European cover £17 extra, European Breakdown £42 extra. Premiums includes insurance premium tax at 5% and are correct as of 17/11/08.