Bathroom included: Ford Nugget Plus camper van outshines VW's pop-top
As beloved as it is, the VW California camper van often draws one major criticism: no bathroom. Ford already offers a bathroom option for its Transit-Custom-based Nugget camper van lineup, but the top-heavy high roof of that long-wheelbase Nugget Plus isn't for everyone and certainly doesn't look as cool at camp as an illuminated pop-top against a star-strewn black backdrop. With help from its partner Westfalia, Ford has fixed that with the new Nugget Plus pop-up camper van, which adds pop-top style and on-road handling to a neatly split multi-room camper that comes complete with indoor toilet room.
Westfalia introduced the 210-in (534-cm) Ford Transit-Custom-based Nugget Plus as a larger, bathroom-included alternative to the 196-in (497-cm) standard Nugget in early 2018, debuting it exclusively with a bulging 9.1-foot (2.8-m) sleeper high roof. High-roof vans certainly have some advantages of their own – solid-walled insulation in cold weather and more peace of mind in big, clawed predator country come to mind – but the camping world does love itself a pop-top camper van and its combination of maneuverable, parking deck-friendly driving and spacious, breezy campground living. Lower roof heights also make pop-top vans more practical everyday drivers.
It's no big surprise, then, that Westfalia has added a pop-up roof model to the Ford Transit Custom Nugget Plus lineup, bringing together its best Nugget features in a single model. Those features start off with a precisely packaged long-wheelbase "Plus" interior that Westfalia thinks of as a two-room concept: a spacious living area in the front/center of the van, split off from the more utilitarian center/rear of the van by an L-shaped kitchen counter.
We actually think Westfalia is underselling its layout, especially with the new pop-up roof, which could be thought of as a third room. When separated by the pull-out divider, the rear bathroom compartment becomes a fourth room – or, we suppose, a half-bath to round out a 3.5-room total.
However you count the rooms, the floor plan splits areas much more cleanly than many other small camper vans. Instead of sitting and relaxing next to the kitchen block, Nugget Plus occupants leave the kitchen behind for a dedicated dining lounge with a removable table splitting the three-seat rear bench from the swivel driver area seats. The kitchen takes on a more rear-central position, offering plenty of space and capability with its L-shaped countertop, stove and sink.
The bathroom compartment in back is no luxurious mini-spa, but it gets the most important work done with a built-in toilet. For added convenience, Westfalia adds a fold-away sink across from the toilet so that bathroom users can wash up without having to step across the kitchen. The sinks are plumbed to a 42-L fresh water tank.
As on the standard-wheelbase Nugget pop-top van, the new pop-up roof on the Nugget Plus tilts forward rather than backward, like the VW California or Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo. The roof creates a peak van ceiling height of 7.9 feet (2.4 m) and includes a double bed accessed via a ladder in the kitchen. The three-seat bench below converts into a second double bed, allowing the Nugget Plus to sleep four.
The Nugget Plus comes standard with a FordPass Connect modem for high-speed connectivity and Wi-Fi access for up to 10 devices. Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engine comes in 128- and 182-hp tunes, paired with a six-speed manual or available six-speed SelectShift transmission. Along with its other advantages, the 6.9-foot (2.1-m) closed pop-up roof will offer an estimated seven percent boost in fuel efficiency over the high roof.
The pop-up Nugget Plus will start at €56,669 (approx. US$66,950), according to Westfalia, and will be available for reservations at Ford dealerships in select European markets in November. Deliveries will begin in Q1 2021.
Ford's newest Nugget series has been increasingly popular since launching in Europe in 2019, and Ford expects 2020 sales to hit high levels. Thanks to the addition of the pop-up roof model, the Nugget Plus will get to prove itself in an expanding market, launching in the UK for the first time (the high-roof Plus is not offered there). Ford Britain did not provide UK pricing with its announcement.
Westfalia will be attending this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon starting next week. We expect it will show the pop-top Nugget Plus alongside the Ford Big Nugget, Mercedes-Benz James Cook and a VW T6.1 pop-top camper van that does have a bathroom ... the Club Joker City.