XNH Volkswagen camper van packs homey interior and two kitchens
Germany's ABT is known best as a high-performance automotive tuner and motorsports sponsor, but now it's stepping into the RV market. It's transformed the Volkswagen T6.1 into a very attractive camper van with exterior body kit, four-sleeper floor plan, and both indoor and outdoor cooking capabilities. Instead of going it alone in the new market, it's teamed up with an experienced camper converter to transform Volkswagen's commercial midsize van into a warm, cozy camper.
For years, we were quietly on the lookout for a Volkswagen camper van from ABT. However, the version we were hoping for wasn't just the average van but a camper based on the all-electric T6.1 e-Transporter ABT developed in conjunction with Volkswagen. That ABT e-Transporter seemed like a natural to become one of the original electric camper vans in Continental Europe, but with the ID. Buzz on the way, Volkswagen discontinued it before a camper version ever emerged. That's probably for the best since the van's WLTP range was a measly 82 miles (132 km), well lower than the 248-mile (400-km) NEDC figure Volkswagen was advertising during the van's 2019 premiere.
Instead of an e-camper, ABT has launched the first camper in its 125-year history atop a 209-in (530-cm) long-wheelbase T6.1 with 148-hp diesel engine. It calls it the XNH, short for "Explore New Horizons," a fitting moniker for any camping vehicle, though perhaps even better for the ABT e-Transporter camper van that never was.
ABT stays in its lane, focusing its efforts on the exterior and electrical system of the van and leaving the interior floor plan to camper van specialist Vaning GmbH. Its body kit includes skirts around the sides, front and rear, a new front grille, and a foil graphics package featuring topographic contours. Between the skirts, ABT bolts on 18-in glossy black wheels rolled up in Goodyear Eagle F1 tires.
We love the topo graphics, but the real highlight of the XNH is located on the other side of the sliding door. Vaning contrasts the white of the scratch-resistant high-pressure laminate (HPL) furniture foundations with natural wood drawer faces, surfaces and trim, warming what could be a cold, clinical interior into a homey space. Sheep's wool provides natural insulation inside the fiberglass-panel walls.
The three-seat rear bench slides and flattens into a 79 x 51-in (200 x 130-cm) double bed, and a 79 x 42-in (201 x 106-cm) second bed lowers down from inside the pop-up sleeper roof above. The bench also serves as the main seating for the removable indoor dining table, with the front passenger seat swiveling around as a fourth dining place.
The little XNH becomes a big cooking powerhouse at mealtime thanks to separate indoor and outdoor cooking areas. Inside, the main kitchen block behind the driver's seat includes a two-place induction cooktop, 45-L Dometic fridge and brushed stainless steel sink with oak cutting board lid. A 10-L fresh water tank supplies the sink, and a second 10-L waste tank catches the water on the other end.
Outside under the tailgate, the side-by-side pull-out unit has a portable Primus Tupike gas stove to the left and a Eurobox-sized storage slide on the right. An included axe mounted inside helps in preparing firewood and kindling.
ABT relies on its experience in developing automotive-grade electrical systems to give the XNH more power than the average VW camper van. Its system includes a 1,900-Wh Clayton LPS II lithium power station with 230-V outlet, a separate 75-Ah AGM leisure battery and a 350-watt roof-mounted solar array. That system powers the aforementioned induction cooktop and fridge, as well as LED lighting and outlets throughout.
The XNH is a nice all-around VW camper van package, but we're not quite sure it's worth near the €138,900 (approx. US$148,000) asking price – roughly double the cost of some VW midsize camper vans and well more than even converted electric ones. It certainly packs more style and potential than Volkswagen's own California 6.1, but €60,000 more?!
ABT seems confident its price is reasonable enough to sell a limited run of 500 XNH vans, and that's what it plans to do. It will host a premiere of the new camper van in cooperation with auto dealer Autohaus Schweiger at this week's F.re.e. leisure and travel show in Munich.