Westfalia's latest VW camper van works as holiday RV and everyday MPV
Westfalia may be still thought of fondly for its classic Volkswagen pop-top camper vans, but the company continues to innovate its way into the future with versatile, new floor plans built into large and mid-size vans. Something of a Franco-German design, the all-new Kepler Five shrinks down to sub-5-m mini-campervan size while offering a fully equipped layout with two beds, a full kitchen, and even an available toilet and hot shower. The downsized van is designed to move seamlessly from everyday city commuting to high-mileage road trips.
The latest member of Westfalia's Kepler family looks quite different from its older siblings, the Kepler One and Kepler Six. Unlike the more traditional sidewall-hugging central kitchen layouts of those two vans, the Kepler Five has its kitchen in the rear of the van and keeps the center reserved for the living and dining area. This reconfiguration takes place as Westfalia drops the Kepler Five down to a 490-cm (193-in)-long VW Transporter, from the 530-cm (209-in) model that underpins the Kepler One and Six.
The Five's compact kitchen block stands in the passenger side of the load area, pairing a dual-burner stove with a round sink. There's no extra countertop, so working is limited to the fold-up counter extension and stove and sink lids. A series of drawers offer storage below the counter, pushing the 51-L compressor fridge over to the driver side, where it stands atop the half-height wardrobe.
Much like Volkswagen and its California Beach, Westfalia created this Kepler alternative in part to comfortably fit in a three-seat rear bench. The smaller length of the van makes it more nimble for city driving and parking.
The Kepler Five's rear bench folds down into a 190 x 110-cm (75 x 43-in) bed. The bed inside the pop-up roof measures 190 x 120 cm (75 x 47 in), making the Kepler Five a proper five-seater family van during the week and four-person family camper on the weekend.
Westfalia's Kepler Five floor plan doesn't leave any room for a bathroom, but the van does include an outdoor shower connected to its 64-L fresh water tank. The shower head is fed via electric pump but is cold water only, unless the buyer adds in the optional 10-L water heater. Hooks on the outside of the fridge cabinet provide a place to hang a towel and soap-on-a-rope. A portable toilet is available optionally and stores between the wardrobe and rear bench.
Buyers looking for a comparably compact van with inside bathroom should consider Westfalia's 490-cm VW Club City Joker pop-top, which we checked out at CMT earlier this year. It has a built-in toilet located across from the rear-corner kitchen and a shower floor in the center of the aisle. The downside of that floor plan is that it only has a two-seat rear bench and comes standard with only the pop-up roof bed, a smaller 180 x 90-cm (70 x 35-in) folding bench bed available as an option.
The Kepler 5's standard features package also includes a Webasto diesel heater, removable dining table, swivel cab seats, a 100-Ah battery, LED lighting and a 36-L waste water tank. Available camper options include a 180-W solar panel, rear tent and mosquito nets for the doors.
Though Westfalia is a German marque building the Kepler series on a German van, the Kepler Five's design was influenced heavily by the French market, home to parent company Rapido Group and Westfalia's Benet plant. The Five debuted in July with an explosion of teasers, announcements and videos in France, ahead of a more formal world premiere at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon in September.
The Kepler Five starts at €52,900 (approx. US$61,775) in France when built atop the T6.1 base van with 89-hp 2.0-liter TDI engine and five-speed manual transmission, rising slightly to €53,290 in Germany. Vehicle upgrades include various powertrain options up to a 195-hp TDI mated to a seven-speed DSG transmission, 4Motion all-wheel drive and a locking differential.