The new IH J500 motorhome is a bit of a looker – and not just because of its gold sides which seem to change colour with the way the light hits them.
Its shape is elegant and flowing and it’s not been cluttered with unnecessary graphics. At the rear there’s the company’s trademark half-height boot panel for access to a generous storage space.
Step inside and the chocolate brown leather, spacious interior and upmarket air are perhaps what you’d expect from IH – only more so.
No two J500s may ever be quite the same. There are the usual engine options and cab spec details before you choose the external colour – a light metallic green sounds appealing, while one customer is thinking pale blue. Anything’s possible.
The IH J500’s lounge
Want a bigger fridge? No problem – it’ll just reduce the wardrobe space above. Want to lose the swivel tub chair? No problem – why not have a TV locker there instead? IH can even adapt the bathroom to include a separate shower.
What you can’t do is go for a completely different layout or a different size body, but tweaks that don’t fundamentally alter the design will enable customers to truly create the ‘van of their dreams.
And if you’re after a pure two-berth with a fixed bed, the J500 is probably pretty close to your ideal already. For a start, when you walk in the door it has a very different feel to just about any of the opposition.
Of course, as you step aboard through the deep windowed Seitz door and hop up via the electric external step, the first thing you see is the long, slightly curved brown leather sofa with piped squab cushions and ribbed wrap-around backrest plus four big, squishy scatter cushions in part-leather trim, all wearing the IH logo.
The interior in the IH J500
The kitchen measures a whopping 1.76m (not far off six feet) from stem to stern – and that’s before you deploy the extra worktop which hinges up across the door. The Smev four-burner hob with combined oven and grill may look familiar but the two identical stainless steel sinks look deep enough to bathe twins. And where other ‘vans would have cupboards, the IH has five giant-sized drawers.
Up above, there’s not just a cooker hood but more storage (including a taller cupboard for cereal packets or squash bottles). Out back the J500 has the classic French bed arrangement with the bathroom alongside.
Underneath the bed the forward half is a utilities area – Combi boiler, fresh water tank (a generous 136 litres), water pump, auxiliary battery and charging system, while the deeper rear part is accessed from outside. Lift the boot and you’ll find toilet servicing on the nearside while the rest of the space – 750mm deep, 1230mm wide and 650mm (maximum) high is devoted to storage for everything from wellies to barbecues.
The bathroom gets an all-in-one shower-cum-toilet space but there’s plenty of room to use all the facilities.
The J500 is beautifully made, sumptuously appointed and surprisingly well priced and if you want a fixed bed two-berth you need to see this.
Price from: £54,995
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato
Engine: 2.2 litre multijet
Travel seats: 2
Insurance cost: £302.75*
*Motorhome insurance cost based on 2009 IH J500 valued at £54,995. Fitted with manufacturers immobiliser and Thatcham Category 1 approved alarm and approved tracking device, kept at home behind locked gates 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 £19 extra, European Breakdown £42 extra. Premiums includes insurance premium tax at 5% and are correct as of 24/06/09.