Inventive mini-camper van seats five, becomes a cozy tiny lounge
The forever-infamous year that was 2020 dragged down many aspects of life, but one thing for which it raised the bar was mini-campers. The year saw some very creative ways of shoehorning full living amenities into tiny and tinier vehicles. The young new year is picking right up where 2020 left off, and we've already seen a mobile mini workstation, all-electric winter camper van and rolling bivouac. German startup Vanderer adds to the fun, previewing a Swiss Army knife-like mini-camper with convertible dining lounge, scenery-soaked sofa, indoor/outdoor dual-power kitchen and four sleeping berths. All that, and it still costs under €30,000 to start.
Vanderer begins its Urban Camper journey with the 110-hp Citroën Berlingo XL. In this instance, the "XL" is quite relative, as the extended variant of Citroën's smallest van measures in well under 5 meters at 475 cm (187 in), bumper to bumper — a true mini-camper. A pop-up roof becomes a necessity for opening that interior up into the type of roomy "three room apartment" Vanderer has envisioned, and it's a sleeper roof with 185 x 110-cm (73 x 43-in) integrated double bed. When open, that roof creates plenty of interior height, and when closed, it drops the vehicle roof down to 190 cm (75 in), low enough to slide comfortably into parking garages.
The Urban Camper comes standard as a five-seater, with an upgrade to seven seats available optionally. Vanderer's camper conversion, therefore, is modular, designed to easily install and remove to let the owner switch between everyday family driving, gear/cargo transport and adventure camping. The camper kit packs into the trunk space behind the second row, allowing the van to transport and sleep a family of four.
At camp, the Berlingo rear seats fold down to make room for the full camping lounge layout, which includes an L-shaped sofa and a versatile indoor/outdoor kitchen. The driver-side Vanderer box packs the cooking equipment, sliding out to reveal a compact single-burner gas stove that can be used on the slide-out or removed for use away from the vehicle. On the top of the box, just inside the tailgate, a single-hob induction cooker provides an indoor alternative for cooking food.
The sink is located directly across the way on the passenger-side rear module. There's no slide-out function, but the sink's position allows for easy indoor/outdoor use. A 16-L fridge finds its home up front between the driver and passenger seats. Those looking for more cold storage can drop a cooler in the trunk, as the Urban Camper system leaves space on top and between the modules.
Unlike full-width tailgate camper box systems, Vanderer's empty center aisle makes for easy egress/ingress directly through the tailgate. The company even offers an optional Höfats Beer Box, a multifunctional crate that can flip over and work as a step while also doubling as a stackable storage crate, stool/table, fire pit and wood-fire grill.
Inside, the Urban Camper tabletop on the driver's side works as a counter when folded in half and a dining table when folded out. It lifts up via an electric telescoping base, creating a comfortable dining lounge in conjunction with the sofa. At night, the table drops down and teams with the left and right modules to support a series of cushions, creating the optional 205 x 120-cm (81 x 47-in) bed to complete the van's four-sleeper capability.
The Urban Camper comes with an 80-Ah leisure battery and 12-L fresh and waste water tanks. A more extensive electrical system with lithium-ion battery, solar charging, and a full complement of 230-V, 12-V and USB outlets is available optionally.
Usually mini-campers feel cramped just looking at them, but Vanderer has done a beautiful job in opening up the Berlingo XL cabin into a warm, comfortable space in which to spend both day and night hours. We're sure it still gets crowded with four people moving in and out, but it's certainly a more usable space than mini-camper floor plans that simply switch between a vehicular rear seating bench and rear cabin-filling mattress.
Vanderer debuted the Urban Camper at the CMT Digital show this week and is currently taking inquiries from both customers and potential dealerships. It plans a full launch in Summer 2021 (Northern Hemisphere), starting pricing at a very affordable €28,990 (approx. US$35,275), before available base vehicle and camper options. For an additional cost, Vanderer can also build the camper on the Berlingo's corporate siblings, the Peugeot Partner, Toyota Proace City or Opel Combo. The Peugeot Partner features in the photos.
Source: Vanderer (German)