During my recent visit to the Motorhome & Caravan Show at the NEC one of the vehicles I was keen to look at was the Autosleeper Symbol. Since selling the Hymer both Ewelina and I have missed having a motorhome. We are hoping to get a smaller campervan soon for weekends away with the dog Archie and a much older model of the Autosleeper Symbol would be one on our shortlist.
Autosleeper Symbol Overview
So if you happen to be in the market for a new sub 6 metre long campervan what does this model offer? Well it’s a model that has existed for many years and seems highly regarded by those who own it. In the early days it was a model designed to sleep 2 and carry 3. The driver and passenger seat would be captain seats that swivel and then behind the passenger seat would be another single seat with seatbelt. A side facing 2 seater sofa would then be behind the driver’s seat. More recently Autosleepers have introduced a Symbol ES model which adds another front facing single seat instead of the sofa so that it has a total of 4 belted seats. The model I saw at the show in the photo below was the traditional model with the sofa.
The vast majority of Autosleeper Symbol models you see on the road are based on a Peugeot Boxer van but there is also an option based on the Fiat Ducato that comes with a Comfort-Matic gearbox. The Comfort-Matic gearbox is supposed to offer the best of the fuel consumption of a manual gearbox with the ease of operation of an automatic. The show model was the Peugeot Boxer van with a 160BHP Euro 6 engine. The Fiat engine is a 150BHP model. Essentially both are more than powerful enough for the size of vehicle.
It should also be noted that the Peugeot model is based on their van with side windows. Most campervans are based on traditional vans where holes will be cut for the rear windows and then double glazing put in. By using the van that comes with windows a more sleek appearance is obtained. These side windows are single glazed which some may consider would be a weakness. However they use athermically treated black privacy glass which is supposed to offer the same levels of heat retention as the traditional double glazed units.
To the rear of the vehicle you will find the kitchen on the driver’s side. The 4 burner hob has 3 gas rings and 1 electric hob. Below it is an oven and grill. A small microwave is high up at cupboard height. Some don’t like having a microwave so high. Shorter people are concerned that they could spill hot food or liquids over themselves trying to remove them. The position is by no means unusual though and it’s not easy to cram all the features into a small space. There is also a 3 way fridge that will run on 12v, 240v or gas. The fridge also has a small freezer box. Cupboards at the top of the vehicle provide a decent amount of storage.
On the passenger side at the rear you have a cupboard for hanging clothes followed by the wet room which contains the shower head and toilet. To save space the hand basin folds flat against the wall when not in use. All in all it’s a reasonable layout that has been popular over the years. Other manufacturers though are perhaps being more ambitious with the space as we will reveal next.
Autosleeper Symbol v The Competition
Panel van conversions as with motorhomes generally tend to vary enormously in build quality. This build quality is usually partially reflected in the price. Whilst not wanting to knock certain manufacturers if you walk around an Elddis or Trigano campervan the quality of cupboards and furnishings is not of the same level. The level of insulation is also often less. The saving you make might be enough for you to consider these other brands. Much will depend on how often you plan to use your campervan, in what seasons and how carefully you treat things.
If you look at forums you will read time and again that most people feel Autosleepers is one British manufacturer who does build quality motorhomes. The number of old models in fantastic condition is proof of how durable they are. They hold their value relatively well too. On the used market they are very popular, even though the interiors of older models can look slightly dated in terms of the patterns and colour schemes used.
Panel van conversions are currently a very popular sector of the market. The Autosleeper Symbol still has many fans in what is an increasingly competitive market. For those looking for quality who want to buy British this is only one option. IH MotorHomes is another popular manufacturer. The overseas models also offer strong competition to Autosleepers for those looking for a panel van conversion. Slovenia’s popular Adria Twin model is a good seller and the current award winning model in this sector is the German Knaus BoxLife which has models that even sleep 4!
It will be interesting to see how the current model competes against some very good competition. For me personally and my budget, a used Autosleepers Symbol is certainly still on my shortlist.