Automotive

Hillside Leisure flips its VW camper van around for more cooking and bath space

Hillside Leisure flips its VW ...
We're not so big on this particular exterior color, but the Hillside Leisure Heatherton's interior is quite nice
We're not so big on this particular exterior color, but the Hillside Leisure Heatherton's interior is quite nice
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The kitchen area spans across the aisle and includes an oven/broiler, three-burner cooktop, sink and fridge/freezer
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The kitchen area spans across the aisle and includes an oven/broiler, three-burner cooktop, sink and fridge/freezer
With its multi-tone furniture and residential-like countertop, the Hillside Leisure Heatherton offers a warm, homey ambiance
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With its multi-tone furniture and residential-like countertop, the Hillside Leisure Heatherton offers a warm, homey ambiance
Not limiting campers to one cooking fuel source, the Heatherton includes a single induction ring and two gas burners
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Not limiting campers to one cooking fuel source, the Heatherton includes a single induction ring and two gas burners
Of course, there's plenty of drawer and cabinet space throughout
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Of course, there's plenty of drawer and cabinet space throughout
We prefer the rear beds of other Crafter camper vans over the convertible bench bed, which feels more appropriate for a secondary sleeping area, but Hillside's design does open up the room for a spacious rear bathroom
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We prefer the rear beds of other Crafter camper vans over the convertible bench bed, which feels more appropriate for a secondary sleeping area, but Hillside's design does open up the room for a spacious rear bathroom
The full width bathroom includes a cassette toilet, vanity sink and separate shower
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The full width bathroom includes a cassette toilet, vanity sink and separate shower
A better look at the fixtures of the Hillside Leisure Heatherton kitchen
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A better look at the fixtures of the Hillside Leisure Heatherton kitchen
The Heatherton includes a touchscreen for system monitoring and control of lights and heating
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The Heatherton includes a touchscreen for system monitoring and control of lights and heating
The two-seat bench and swivel front seats create the lounge
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The two-seat bench and swivel front seats create the lounge
A look inside the VW Crafter-based Hillside Leisure Heatherton camper van
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A look inside the VW Crafter-based Hillside Leisure Heatherton camper van
The removable table turns living room into dining room
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The removable table turns living room into dining room
The combo oven/broiler 
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The combo oven/broiler 
The refrigerator offers 115 liters of cold storage
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The refrigerator offers 115 liters of cold storage
Looking forward from the rear of the Heatherton camper van
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Looking forward from the rear of the Heatherton camper van
Bench folded for nighttime 
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Bench folded for nighttime 
We're not so big on this particular exterior color, but the Hillside Leisure Heatherton's interior is quite nice
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We're not so big on this particular exterior color, but the Hillside Leisure Heatherton's interior is quite nice
Heatherton floor plan and dimensions
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Heatherton floor plan and dimensions

In the past, we've known Hillside Leisure mostly as a maker of small camper vans, sized right down to the all-electric Nissan Dalbury E we looked at last year. But more recently, Hillside has been going bigger with gen-two Volkswagen Crafter camper vans. Its 19.7-ft (6-m) Heatherton features a layout quite different from the other Crafter campers we've seen over the past year, putting a full-width bathroom at the rear and a convertible lounge/bed up front. The Heatherton keeps its occupants comfortable and prepared on the move with central heating, an oven/broiler, a hybrid stove, and a touchscreen command center.

With the Heatherton, Hillside Leisure sought to go larger while also breaking away from convention. All of the other gen-2-Crafter camper van conversions we've covered have put the main sleeping area in the rear, whether as a convertible lounge, stationary bed, foldaway bed, lifting bed or expanding bed (we think that's all of 'em). But Hillside flips things around, pulling the sleeping quarters out of the rear and sliding in a transverse bathroom area. This full-width rear bath is much roomier than the narrow wet cell compartments of other conversions and includes a separate shower.

The full width bathroom includes a cassette toilet, vanity sink and separate shower
The full width bathroom includes a cassette toilet, vanity sink and separate shower

The kitchen is located just ahead of the bathroom and is also more spacious and well-equipped than the compact kitchen blocks of other Crafter camper vans. It starts with a triple-burner stove with two gas burners and an induction plate. Hillside adds a combination oven/grill to bring a bit more of the cooking capabilities of home. Behind that main block, the standing height fridge/freezer offers 115 liters of food storage space. Drawers, cupboards and shelves add plenty of space for dishes, utensils, cookware and more.

Heatherton sleeps campers on the convertible two-seat bench up front, the seats folding down to create a double bed, while the bench sits atop a storage compartment, putting seat height at the same level as the swivel driver cab seats. The van sleeps only two but seats four, both when driving and at camp. A removable tabletop turns the seating group into a dining area.

Looking forward from the rear of the Heatherton camper van
Looking forward from the rear of the Heatherton camper van

Comparing the Heatherton layout with other Crafter camper vans reinforces the idea that no matter how the floor plan gets rearranged, there's bound to be a compromise or two somewhere. The roomier bathroom and well-equipped kitchen are nice, but the compact folding front bed seems an inelegant solution in comparison to a rear bed or convertible rear lounge. Convertible front dinettes seem better left for secondary bedding, but we guess that's up to the buyer. And a different floor plan option is never a bad thing for shoppers – those that think they might prefer a rear bed can compare the Heatherton to Hillside's Crafter-based Hopton with convertible rear lounge.

The Heatherton comes standard with diesel central heating and hot water heater, with the touchscreen command center displaying water level and offering control of lighting and heating.

We prefer the rear beds of other Crafter camper vans over the convertible bench bed, which feels more appropriate for a secondary sleeping area, but Hillside's design does open up the room for a spacious rear bathroom
We prefer the rear beds of other Crafter camper vans over the convertible bench bed, which feels more appropriate for a secondary sleeping area, but Hillside's design does open up the room for a spacious rear bathroom

The Heatherton is based on the VW Crafter Highline and starts at £59,995 (approx. US$78,750). Engine options range between 101 and 175 hp, and both manual and automatic transmissions are available. The base van offers adaptive cruise control, an 8-in touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, and front assist with city emergency brake.

Source: Hillside Leisure

1 comment
Ralf Biernacki
Why the bucket seats in front? Putting in a bench front seat would hardly affect driving comfort, but could give another two sleeping slots---four seats, four beds, making much better sense. In the present version, where are the remaining two passengers supposed to sleep? And BTW, what is shown in the photos is a Brit layout, with the steering wheel on the right for wrong-side driving, and with the sliding door on the left. Do Hillside make a continental version?