Automotive

Ford mini-camper goes full Swiss Army to transport 9, sleep 4

Ford mini-camper goes full Swi...
Southvan increases flexibility for driving passengers, camping, shuttling gear, carrying cargo and everything in between
Southvan increases flexibility for driving passengers, camping, shuttling gear, carrying cargo and everything in between
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Initial sketch of the Southvan Allrounder
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Initial sketch of the Southvan Allrounder
The narrow bench creates a narrow bed, but it's still large enough for two ... especially if the kids sleep downstairs, adults upstairs
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The narrow bench creates a narrow bed, but it's still large enough for two ... especially if the kids sleep downstairs, adults upstairs
In addition to positioning next to the three-seat bench, the included single seat can be moved around via the floor rails into other positions
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In addition to positioning next to the three-seat bench, the included single seat can be moved around via the floor rails into other positions
A better look at the Schnierle three-seat bench that helps make the Allrounder the most versatile van we've seen in terms of moving people, gear and camping equipment
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A better look at the Schnierle three-seat bench that helps make the Allrounder the most versatile van we've seen in terms of moving people, gear and camping equipment
In this example, positioning the single seat in front of the bench makes room for the available storage shelf
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In this example, positioning the single seat in front of the bench makes room for the available storage shelf
Southvan also builds the Allrounder on the Transit Connect Trail edition, easily recognizable by its Ford Raptor-like grille
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Southvan also builds the Allrounder on the Transit Connect Trail edition, easily recognizable by its Ford Raptor-like grille
The Trail is designed to be a more all-terrain-ready Ford Transit Connect, using a limited-slip differential for better traction in slick terrain
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The Trail is designed to be a more all-terrain-ready Ford Transit Connect, using a limited-slip differential for better traction in slick terrain
Both Allrounder kitchens swivel out of the side door for outside cooking
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Both Allrounder kitchens swivel out of the side door for outside cooking
Lounging downstairs in the Southvan Allrounder camper van
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Lounging downstairs in the Southvan Allrounder camper van
The top-level Allrounder kitchen has a slide-out fridge box easily accessed from the bench
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The top-level Allrounder kitchen has a slide-out fridge box easily accessed from the bench
Induction cooktop and available shower kit
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Induction cooktop and available shower kit
The Allrounder kitchen's induction cooktop hooks up to the included Goal Zero power station (note that the kitchen is rotated here to accommodate the mountain bike and can spin so the fridge faces rearward to clear the floor rails and move the bench up)
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The Allrounder kitchen's induction cooktop hooks up to the included Goal Zero power station (note that the kitchen is rotated here to accommodate the mountain bike and can spin so the fridge faces rearward to clear the floor rails and move the bench up)
Leave the extra seat at home and you can fit a bike or two inside, while still seating five people and sleeping four
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Leave the extra seat at home and you can fit a bike or two inside, while still seating five people and sleeping four
The Allrounder kitchen expands with various flip-up and slide-out tables and worktops
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The Allrounder kitchen expands with various flip-up and slide-out tables and worktops
The Allrounder Light kitchen has a slide-out single-burner gas stove and an inbuilt door fridge
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The Allrounder Light kitchen has a slide-out single-burner gas stove and an inbuilt door fridge
Getting creative with a biking/camping trip for two — a couple seated at the front of the van or on the bike and sleeping in the pop-up roof
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Getting creative with a biking/camping trip for two — a couple seated at the front of the van or on the bike and sleeping in the pop-up roof
Southvan increases flexibility for driving passengers, camping, shuttling gear, carrying cargo and everything in between
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Southvan increases flexibility for driving passengers, camping, shuttling gear, carrying cargo and everything in between
The Allrounder Light kitchen back inside next to the motorbike
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The Allrounder Light kitchen back inside next to the motorbike
The Allrounder mini-camper is smaller than the typical moto-hauling camper van, but it looks to work for two people exploring via van and bike
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The Allrounder mini-camper is smaller than the typical moto-hauling camper van, but it looks to work for two people exploring via van and bike
You might even be able to squeeze two thinner motorbikes in there if you remove the rear shelves
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You might even be able to squeeze two thinner motorbikes in there if you remove the rear shelves
The Allrounder Light kitchen has the larger fridge but no power station
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The Allrounder Light kitchen has the larger fridge but no power station
The Allrounder kitchens can also double as mobile offices
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The Allrounder kitchens can also double as mobile offices
View gallery - 22 images

Over the years, we've seen small camper vans that impressively convert into six-, seven- or even eight-seat people-movers. The new Allrounder from German shop Southvan beats them all, using a smart, expandable indoor/outdoor kitchen and adaptable seating system to slide, spin, fold and flip its way to nine-person capacity ... while still in camper mode. Whether you're driving your entire starting baseball team to the diamond, sleeping inside with the family and two mountain bikes, or relaxing with your spouse over top a motorcycle, the Allrounder beats out Ford's own Nugget as the most versatile, little all-terrain Ford adventure MPV in wilderness or city.

Southvan got its start with a van so straightforward it calls it simply "Camper." While versatile in its own right thanks to a floor-rail attachment system, the cozy Camper doesn't follows the popular midsize conversion formula closely, carrying a driver-side kitchen block with removable dining table, swivel front seats, a folding rear bench/bed and an available pop-up sleeper roof.

With the 196-in (497-cm) Allrounder, Southvan doesn't merely break the mold, it obliterates any trace of it, launching a modern mini-camper versatile enough to keep up with ambitious boardroom-to-backcountry multisport weekend adventurers and their families. The Allrounder is as comfortable driving the neighborhood kids to school on the way to work as it is solo-camping on a mountain saddle.

The Allrounder kitchen expands with various flip-up and slide-out tables and worktops
The Allrounder kitchen expands with various flip-up and slide-out tables and worktops

Southvan centers its build around a kitchen block that goes by the same Allrounder name. The swing-out indoor/outdoor kitchen reminds us of similar designs we've seen from European converters like Tonke, but it's sized and shaped to accommodate Southvan's fully configurable seating arrangement.

It may be small, but the Allrounder kitchen expands into a spacious cooking area with all the essentials. Southvan keeps it simple up top with an open counter next to the sink, skipping the inbuilt stove to increase flexibility with a portable single-burner that can be used on the main countertop or one of the extensions.

The kitchen block is hinged to a structural frame member just behind the driver's seat, so it easily swivels out the sliding door to cook under the sun or stars. The various slide-out and flip-up worktops extend like wings to offer plenty of space for chopping, mixing and cooking.

The Allrounder kitchens can also double as mobile offices
The Allrounder kitchens can also double as mobile offices

As you can see when looking through the photos, Southvan has developed two different Allrounder kitchens. The top-tier €5,900 (US$6,860) package has the smaller fridge, a slide-out 29-L Webasto cooler box-style compressor unit, making room for the included Goal Zero Yeti 1,000X portable power station that powers the USB and 230-V outlets, in which the owner plugs the induction cooktop. It also includes a pull-out faucet that sets up as an outdoor shower and 12-L fresh and waste water tanks.

The €4,690 Allrounder Light replaces the induction cooktop with a gas-cartridge single-burner, eliminates the Yeti power station and outlets, and swaps in a larger 47-L Dometic compressor door fridge below the counter. Outdoor shower capability is optional for the Light.

The second building block of Southvan's highly flexible, configurable adventure van is the compact three-seat rear bench secured via floor rails. Unlike a full-width bench, the Schnierle bench here actually saves space for another single seat that completes a rear row of four and a van total of six. Those six seats come standard, and Southvan offers three extra seats optionally to get to nine, which can all be installed without removing the kitchen block.

The Allrounder kitchen's induction cooktop hooks up to the included Goal Zero power station (note that the kitchen is rotated here to accommodate the mountain bike and can spin so the fridge faces rearward to clear the floor rails and move the bench up)
The Allrounder kitchen's induction cooktop hooks up to the included Goal Zero power station (note that the kitchen is rotated here to accommodate the mountain bike and can spin so the fridge faces rearward to clear the floor rails and move the bench up)

Southvan says the base Ford Transit Custom's 7,050-lb+ (3,200-kg+) GVWR can handle all nine passengers plus the 77-lb (35-kg) kitchen, but of course that will ultimately depend upon the total weight of the passengers and whatever they're bringing along.

The tightly packed rear seats don't look particularly comfortable for anyone and will likely only be suitable for children or very small adults. The bed is also narrower than it would be with a full-width fold-out design, but at 45 inches (114 cm) wide, it's no slimmer than other midsize van fold-out beds. Plus, the 49-in (125-cm)-wide bed in the pop-up roof has a little extra elbow room and could serve as the main bed for parents, leaving the lower bed reserved for children.

Leave the extra seat at home and you can fit a bike or two inside, while still seating five people and sleeping four
Leave the extra seat at home and you can fit a bike or two inside, while still seating five people and sleeping four

Any of the other five to nine passengers not able to squeeze in on one of those two beds will have to bring a tent or go cowboy-style. But the real beauty of the Allrounder isn't loading up people and camping gear to full capacity but converting the flexible interior for the many different types of daytime and overnight uses a household might encounter.

An Allrounder driver can load up eight kids and head to school or sports, enjoy a comfy weekend camping trip with their family, or load a mountain bike inside next to the bed on a solo bike adventure. The floor rails also mean that the bench can slide all the way forward or remove all together to increase cargo space. Southvan's photos also highlight how the Allrounder can support a couple's motorcycling and camping trip, hauling a two-seat motorcycle inside next to the kitchen while still offering the double bed in the pop-top.

Getting creative with a biking/camping trip for two — a couple seated at the front of the van or on the bike and sleeping in the pop-up roof
Getting creative with a biking/camping trip for two — a couple seated at the front of the van or on the bike and sleeping in the pop-up roof

Southvan introduced the Allrounder at last month's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. The van starts at €51,990 (approx. US$60.450) when built on the Ford Transit Custom Trend with 129-hp 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engine. The €54,300 ($63,150) Trail variant includes the same engine but with Ford factory upgrades like a mechanical limited-slip differential and Raptor-style "FORD" grille. Southvan also mentions the option of building the Allrounder on a hybrid Ford Transit Custom but has not yet added that model to its price list.

Southvan also builds the Allrounder on the Transit Connect Trail edition, easily recognizable by its Ford Raptor-like grille
Southvan also builds the Allrounder on the Transit Connect Trail edition, easily recognizable by its Ford Raptor-like grille

Those van prices include the six-seat configuration with folding bench/bed and pop-up sleeper roof, but the kitchen is sold separately. Add on the Allrounder Light kitchen and you have the complete camper van starting at €56,680 ($65,900). Each extra seat costs €830, so up that to €59,170 ($68,800) for the effective base price of the dual-bed nine-seater with kitchen. Other available add-ons include diesel heating, solar charging, a portable chemical toilet, and roof rack and bike rack options.

Source: Southvan (German)

View gallery - 22 images
3 comments
3 comments
Nobody
Looks very uncomfortable to me. Camping usually includes bugs, chilly nights and periods of rain that would make this setup cramped and miserable. Having to constantly rearrange things isn't my idea of convenience. Not much better than tent camping for the price.
PAV
Where's the toilet?
Grunchy
The biggest disadvantage of a typical camper is they are too big for the hotel parking lot. These people solved it!