Leisuredrive Vivante review and photos

CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
One of the Andys asked for more pics of our new van, and I wanted to post some pictures for reference and for others considering a rear kitchen campervan layout. Thanks to the excellent community here, the T6forum is always near the top of the Google rankings, and so I thought this might be useful for future buyers.

So, here is an in-depth picture review of the Leisuredrive Vivante. It is not a full review, as due to lockdown we have only slept on the driveway and been out for the day, but hopefully I will cover everything anyone might want to know. Feel free to ask questions or PM for anything I haven't covered.

The Van
It's a standard Highline 102, nothing special, no extras. It is 1 year old and mileage was under 12k; for speed of delivery and ease of purchase the Leisuredrive agent we used arranged it all and bought the van. No marks on the outside as far as I can see, and very good nick inside, only slight scuffing in 1 or 2 places on some of the cab plastic. Drives fine (for a van!), the EGR light came on, but Liverpool VW flushed it under warranty last week.

Didn't want silver or grey, throught blue was too boring (sorry!), and couldn't persuade my wife to Bamboo, so white it was - very pleased with the look now I have it. I think the decals go very well.

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A big bath-tub roof! Side elevating, so full-length full height.

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Barn doors, which make sense with the Vivante layout.

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The Vivante Conversion

So, to the inside! Leisuredrive are based in Bolton, one of the reasons we chose them. They don't do 'bling' or 'funky', the only LEDs are white (apart from two I will show later). But it suits us.

Starting with the back, you can see the rear kitchen layout. The barn doors I think are better with this layout, when the bed is down you can nip out of the back without having to open the tailgate all the way up. The rack / shelves on the left seem a bit open, but we have jammed stuff in there and nothing has fallen out yet.

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Kitchen is a double unit, with standard SMEV / Dometic hob and sink, and Dometic grill/oven.

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I couldn't find any pictures of the water / sink cupboard online, so this is for the future me's looking to see what will fit in! The middle shelf fits plates, saucepans, glasses, and probably bread and some packets of stuff as well.

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The water container is a 23l Kampa water container; a couple of annoyances:
  1. The hose curls up and doesn't sit on the base of the container, so you end up having to drag the container out and fiddle with the hose to use all of the water. (But I have a plan for that!)
  2. The hose goes through the open spout; we filled it before driving off for our first day out, and there was some splashing of water out of the spout. (Again, I have a plan!)

Gas cupboard; it was supplied with a 907, you can squeeze in a second one if you need the capacity / don't want to run out in the middle of the night; bit of a faff changing over but better than cold beans.

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Have to be careful with the kitchen drawer, the gas pipe is fixed below the hob and interferes with utensils if they are packed too high. But it fits the Nowpresso machine!

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On the other side we have the fridge; this is a 60l 3-way, so:
  • Vehicle 12v when driving;
  • 240v mains hookup;
  • Gas when off grid
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One of our requirements was a raised fridge, we wanted it at a sensible height, and this saves us bending down and reaching for things.

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Next to the fridge we have a very useful worktop space. Kettle, toaster etc. will all go here when in use.

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More tomorrow, posts below are reserved in order to fit all the photos.
 
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CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
Part 2 - Storage.

Storage is an issue. I've counted 4 compromises we have made which have impacted storage:
1. SWB rather than LWB (because an LWB simply would not have fitted on our drive; we could have had a full-length wardrobe and extra leg-room in the seating area)
2. Elevating roof rather than high-top (Leisuredrive do their own high-top with lots of locker space above the roof line)
3. Rear kitchen layout (the full-length galley means less storage, a standard layout has all of the back for bulky items, bags, sleeping materials etc.)
4. Toilet (the area above the toilet is obviousy empty space, otherwise it could have been a full height wardrobe / cupboard).

This is what we have in the elevating-roof Vivante, in addition to the kitchen storage in the first post.

Cupboard over the worktop; wide enough for a kettle, bottles, tankards, etc. It goes up inside, but there are electrics behind the plug and control panel.

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There is a drawer and cupboard above the fridge.

The drawer is no good for food or liquids, toiletries etc.; it gets rather warm from the fridge, so books, games, nothing that could age or melt. The cupboard is where our clothing and toiletries are going to have to go, we will need to be quite creative in how we pack, lots of compression cubes I think.

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Under the fridge is another cupboard, but this has the fuse box and transformer. It fits a toaster and various other bits, I'm trying to find a maximum-fit storage box to make it easier to access what is in there.

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Under the N/S passenger seat is a large space, about 35 x 50 cm. It has a 3-pin plug fixed to the inside at the back. We asked for a USB point on this side of the van, and they put it in the square box you can see. Again, looking for a maximum-fit box to slide in and out.

The passenger seat storage is accessed from the front, not from above; lots of other rear-kitchen conversions use single RIB seats, which tip forward to make it easy to access the storage.

You can see the Loc8 table in the sliding door; they hadn't supplied this before, but it's excellent for using outside under the awning. A bit trickier to get in/out than a standard conversion, because the seat is much further forward, but easy enough after a few goes.

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O/S passenger seat storage; the leisure battery is in the plastic box, and I presume more electrics on the left. This space will fit two pairs of hiking boots across the front, and nothing else!

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The table leg goes behind the driver, and the bed board down beside the O/S passenger seat.

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The table top goes behind the O/S passenger seat. Its a hell of a faff to get out, but I plan to fix it at the back, between the toilet cupboard and the back door.

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Finally, there is a safe under the front passenger seat. Not hugely secure, just a basic latch lock, and it is half-full of fuses and wires just hanging around, so I will use some carpet tiles to blank them off. Also need to put some foam in the corners to stop the rattle!

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Some storage around the loo:
  1. Space behind, the hook-up cable fits here, and various other bits, mallet, shower attachment etc.
  2. Cupboard in front; currently has ramps; awning tie-down kit; 2x toilet chemical bottles; tool rool.
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The rack at the back fits some food & stuff; tins, tea, coffee pods, etc. A bit of a faff to get to when the doors are closed though.

There is a gap behind the rack between the kitchen cupboard and the van side / door flare; We have an umbrella in there, plus walking poles and our pitch reserved sign pole. Could fit more long stuff in there.

DSC_0874.JPG
 
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CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
Part 3 - The Bed.

Do you remember those puzzle squares, the ones where you have to rearrange the tiles, and only have one empty space? This bed is like that!

These are the back seats, when upright.

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To make the bed (or the sofa), remove the cushion (they are just held with velcro strips), lift the latch, and slide forward.

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This is the sofa; most of the Vivantes come with a fixed sofa, we wanted the option of a fourth 3-point belted seat.

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To make the bed, you flatten both seats. Swap the cushions; the seats make for a better pillow than the backs as they are slightly raised at the front.

You can have two singles, it's a good setup for that, but for a double you take the bed board from behind the sofa (having forgotten to take it out beforehand, when it was easier) and place on the flat seats; four plastic wedges locate it in the right place.

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Sofa bolster goes in the middle.

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Then the fun part. The front seats need to be facing forward. Take the headrests off, and place on the floor between the seats. Move the seat all the way forward, then lay almost flat. Wedge the back seat cushion against the top of the seat, then push down on both as you flatten the seat, and voila!

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Turn around, do the same on the other side, then clamber onto the bed. Put the cushion on top of the headrests that are wedged between the seats, and you have your bed.

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Then realise that you have left your Duvalays in the footwells of the van, and have to climb out the back and drag them in!

It is a lot of work, you would need to be in reasonable condition to do this every night, and reverse it in the morning.

The bed may look awkward, but is actually very comfy. Add a topper, and it sleeps very well, no back-ache for me, and my wife sleeps well on it, which is not always the case at home. It's a very wide bed, we bought the widest duvalays and they fit perfectly.

The curtains wrap around the front; only a few minor gaps, which would probably not bother most, but were fixed by my wife. The blackout material is very good.

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Bedding storage is an issue with this layout; we will put the duvalays on the O/S back seat when travelling, and then move into the passenger and driver footwells when parked up.


The wrap-up, and the odds and sods next time!
 
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CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
The Good, the Bad, and now the Odd

Well, it's been 7 weeks since we got our van. We have done as much as possible to use it fully; been out for full days (breakfast-lunch-dinner) and camped on the driveway. What do we think?

In some ways it is very well designed and carefully built, in other ways there are things that seem a bit odd or sub-optimal.


Table storage

The table is stored behind the O/S rear seat. It is a complete pain to get out - ridiculously difficult. It might be easier in the models with a fixed side sofa, but with the forward-facing seat it is not easy at all.

Fortunately there is space between the toilet compartment and the rear door. A couple of brackets to keep it in place, and there you go. Easy to store and retrieve even with doors closed.

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Water

As I wrote above, the internal water storage is a 23l Kampa container, kept at the bottom of the kitchen cupboard. There is a hose that sits in it that feeds the pump, also in the bottom of the cupboard.

The two issues with it:
  • The hose curls up, and you can't get the last of the water / have to drag out the container and hold the hose end down.
  • If it is full or near-full, the water sloshes out of the top of the container when driving.
The solution:

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  • Brass hose tail and fitting to weight down the hose;
  • Rubber bung to hold the hose in the aperture and prevent spillage from sloshing water.
But really, I shouldn't need to be doing this; I wonder what all the other buyers less handy or more accepting do about it - do they just live with it?


Drawer

None of the reviews I saw mentioned this; the drawer sits above the fridge and gets very warm. Seriously warm. You cannot store food in there, any liquid or paste (creams, toiletries etc); medicines, anything that might be affected by heat.

There is also a gap:

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The back and sides of the drawer are only half-height. The fridge, with all of its wiring and gas ignition etc., are visible, and anything above the level of the back could easily slide down onto the top of the fridge while driving, or if you shut the drawer too violently.

So, unaccustomed as I am to carpentry, I got hold of some uPVC which was the right height (actually too tall, but easy to cut down) and fashioned a back for the drawer. Stuck in place with some double-sided stuff, it seems to be doing the trick, the drawer can now be fully loaded (with heat-resistant items !!).

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Again, how many other owners have had issues with this?


Behind the sink/hob

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There is a gap between the kitchen unit and the rear N/S window; mostly harmless except that it is not completely filled, there is a narrow slit which leads down between the unit and the side wall, so not suitable for anything thin. Our super insulated stainless steel mugs fit nicely there, along with kitchen roll, handwash, and washing up liquid.

Alarms

Pain in the neck (or shoulder actually).

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The rear roof end has the smoke and CO2 alarms fixed to it. Right where your shoulder goes when you want to use the sink. And yes, both have prominent 'test' buttons.

We considered moving them along to above the loo, but then your head would be pressing on them as you sat and contemplated, so we have left them where they are, and just take them off and put them on the ledge whenever we park up and use the back of the van.
 
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CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
Conclusion

All of the above might sound a bit negative, but really I just wanted to point out all of the practicalities and potential issues for anyone who might be looking at this type of layout, and the Vivante in particular.

In reality, we are very happy with it. Yes it has drawbacks in comparison to a standard layout, the main ones being storage and the awkwardness of the bed setup, but we are very happy with it overall.

I'm not sure it would suit a family, you may be better off with a standard layout. We like the seats being close together, we can sit diagonally to each other (one on the passenger swivel, and one on the sofa) and each put our feet up. We like the separation of seating and kitchen areas, allows me (or Mrs CAB!) to sit and relax while the other potters around.

It isn't very blingy; we didn't buy direct, but I gather Leisuredrive are not geared up for custom bling / lights / chrome / custom leather / funky coloured kitchens. No idea if you could get them to do lowered suspension, but I suspect not.

Many will not like the Leisuredrive front seats; they are necessary to make up the beds, but I imagine they are not as comfortable or customisable as standard.

We like the side-elevating roof, full height for the full length and very airy once up. Again, it's not stealth!

Now that we have bought and lived with it for a while, I have looked back at the other rear-kitchen layout vans, and most have the same problems; in fact most of them seem to have even more issues with storage then this one. Most of them will have easier beds though, with the RIB seats that fold out and can slide together.

Anyway, it's our van and we love it! Happy to answer questions or expand further on anything I have raised. I hope someone will find this review useful.
 
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Pete C

T30 102bhp converted to camper
VIP Member
T6 Legend
One thought - if that drawer gets so hot, is the fridge properly vented ?
i.e. where does the heat it generates get out ?

Good review thanks.

Pete
 

CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
One thought - if that drawer gets so hot, is the fridge properly vented ?
i.e. where does the heat it generates get out ?

Good review thanks.

Pete
Good question. I think it is; there are two big vents on the side of the van, which seem to be in line with the installation manual. Maybe I over-emphasised it; 'constant-warm' rather than 'hot' is probably a better description, but still limits what can go in there.

We used an absorption fridge when camping (this fridge is also absorption), and I think the heat is similar, certainly if it was enclosed I imagine what was above would be warmed up.
 

Spaghetti

Blackberry Highline Camper.
VIP Member
T6 Legend
A really interesting review. Nice van! Hopefully be able to get out and enjoy it properly soon! :thumbsup:
 
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Sib

Member
VIP Member
T6 Pro
Anyway, it's our van and we love it! Happy to answer questions or expand further on anything I have raised. I hope someone will find this review useful.


Hi CAB, excellent review, very useful and has turned me from a forum lurker to a Member so I could thank you (first post)!

We have just ordered one of these (from Leisuredrive) on a 2016 build, though we are going for the high top version so will have a bit of extra storage. One thing I had already considered was the water sloshing around in transit and had thought about something like the rubber bung idea. Do you have a link to where you bought along with the brass tail fitting?

As its still in build at the moment I may ask them to build the back of the drawer above the fridge a bit higher as your UPVC version.

One thing I haven't clarified with them is the waste water tank, is it internal or external?

Cheers,
Sib
 

CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
Hi CAB, excellent review, very useful and has turned me from a forum lurker to a Member so I could thank you (first post)!

We have just ordered one of these (from Leisuredrive) on a 2016 build, though we are going for the high top version so will have a bit of extra storage. One thing I had already considered was the water sloshing around in transit and had thought about something like the rubber bung idea. Do you have a link to where you bought along with the brass tail fitting?

As its still in build at the moment I may ask them to build the back of the drawer above the fridge a bit higher as your UPVC version.

One thing I haven't clarified with them is the waste water tank, is it internal or external?

Cheers,
Sib
Hi Sib, welcome to the forum!

Glad you found it useful, exactly why I wrote it! We had 13 weeks from ordering in which we planned various things and ordered loads of stuff, it would have been useful to have this reference before we did so!

You should be fine with food / clothing / bedding storage with the Hi-top. The only thing you will have to think about is big stuff like chairs / awning etc.

It's odd with the drawer. I can't see why it isn't full height all round. The cutlery drawer isn't, but that's because there is a gas pipe underneath the hob which would foul a full-height back. Maybe they will tell you it's a vital vent space :mad:

Waste water is a black plastic container; it lives on top of the toilet ordinarily, underneath the worktop; you place it underneath the sink waste outlet. I have ordered a stuff sac for mine, as if it gets wet / gravel on it, I can imagine it damaging the toilet lid.

I also got some waste pipe, to put a short bit from the sink outlet into the container, as otherwise it seems to alternately dribble and spurt.

I'll send you a pm with all the details of bungs, pipes etc.

What's your base van specification, was it yours or one they provided?

Let me know if there is anything specific, measurements / pictures etc., glad for any excuse to go into the van as I am WFH these days and need the movement!
 

Sib

Member
VIP Member
T6 Pro
Hi CAB (and anyone else with an interest in this thread)

Here are some photos of my Vivante build. It's a fairly basic base van, a Startline 102 but after our 20year old 2.0L petrol Peugeot Boxer it will be a dream! It's not going to be a daily driver either so can manage without some of the bells & whistles (I hope!) Going for the hi-top as we need the extra storage and have a little one and aim to use the van in colder climates too.IMG_9654.JPGIMG_9674.JPGIMG_9675.JPGIMG_9739.JPGIMG_9740.JPG

I've already sent a PM to CAB, but so others are aware - Leisuredrive are building the drawer above the fridge slightly higher as per CAB's mod mentioned above. They have also offered to do this to CAB's van should he so wish, so looks as if their after sales customer service is good!
 

CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
Hi CAB (and anyone else with an interest in this thread)

Here are some photos of my Vivante build. It's a fairly basic base van, a Startline 102 but after our 20year old 2.0L petrol Peugeot Boxer it will be a dream! It's not going to be a daily driver either so can manage without some of the bells & whistles (I hope!) Going for the hi-top as we need the extra storage and have a little one and aim to use the van in colder climates too.View attachment 77101View attachment 77102View attachment 77103View attachment 77104View attachment 77105

I've already sent a PM to CAB, but so others are aware - Leisuredrive are building the drawer above the fridge slightly higher as per CAB's mod mentioned above. They have also offered to do this to CAB's van should he so wish, so looks as if their after sales customer service is good!
Looking good Sib, Team Leisuredrive here we come!
 

CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
Packing for a weekend

So, first proper outing! A weekend at Teversal C&CC site, great weekend. How did it all pack in?

We like our comforts now we are getting older, and as there will usually be just the two of us, don't mind filling the van with a few bulky but comfortable / luxurious items.

As I think I might have mentioned above (several times!) this rear kitchen layout does not give you the large storage area behind a R&R bed, and the elevating roof (rather than a high-top) also restricts storage. This is how we packed:

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The black bag is our two chairs; the most compact reclining ones I could find:
Westfield Advancer Compact Chair - Blue

The grey bag(s) are our Duvalays; when made into a double the Vivante bed is very wide, so we went for the widest they do, and they fit across the van perfectly. We went for 4cm foam, very comfy on the laid-out Vivante upholstery, but 5cm would not have been a bad choice.

The Burgundy bag is a custom one from Bags & Covers Direct; it fits our 4 pillows (yes I know…. trust me, they are absolutely necessary for the two of us!).

The sofa bolster / bed middle and various Vivante and additional cushions make up the rest.

At camp
Once pitched up, in order to use the space in the van, everything gets moved.
  • Chairs outside, and bag under the van.
  • 1x Duvalay in passenger footwell;
  • 1x Duvalay on driver seat;
  • Pillows on top of Duvalay on driver seat.
It’s a bit of a faff, but if organised correctly, all fits in and allows use of the lounge area of the van. I am sure it will all become second nature after a few trips.


And the rest...
So, what about clothes? And toiletries, coats, fleeces, etc. etc.?

This is what we are left with…….

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Fortunately we are both good packers, and don’t we take multiple changes of clothes. Several (expensive!) Eagle Creek compressible packing solutions later, everything fits in. Most of my clothing is Rohan, which packs small and doesn’t crease. Microfibre towels, roll-flat vacuum bags for dirty laundry, it all manages to fit.

We don’t have a full week booked until Sept, so hopefully we will have perfected this over several weekend trips.

All in all, still very happy with our van and no regrets so far! :) We're both very much looking forward to the next trip, and are both rather disgruntled that we can't go again for 3 weeks :(
 

Sib

Member
VIP Member
T6 Pro
Glad it was a good trip away CAB, already got the Duvalay from our previous van! (should fit above the cab along with pillows etc being a hi-top)

I've just booked my van in for a towbar fit at Tamar Towbars. I've got an Erde 143 trailer for all the gubbins if we are going away for an extended trip.
May look into a tow bar box too for if we don't want to take the trailer......
 
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jjteal

New Member
I'm so happy I found this thread! Hello : )
We've just ordered a T6 LWB high top Vivante, and I am reading with interest - thank so much for the really detailed info.
We actually rented one (SWB) last weekend to try, so we have a bit of expereince now to plan for our own in the autumn.
Great idea on the table, we too are having two forward facing seats, so we may well brave this modification.
 

rod_vw

Senior Member
VIP Member
T6 Guru
Thank you for a really deep appraise of your camper. I am intrigued by the fitment of a three way fridge in that location, I would have opted for a compressor version which would have had no vents in the side and probably would have generated less heat.

You have confirmed all that we thought sixteen years ago when we were looking for a conversion company to convert a LWB T4 for us. None are exactly what you want, most are constructed down to a price and many are skimped beyond belief.

In the end, having been lucky enough to have been offered a handshake from work that was too good to refuse, I decided to convert ours myself. That was the first of five that I have done in the intervening years as we now run a 2016 LWB Highline T6 with Reimo high roof converted on a new vehicle. The things that we have learned about just how we use and require our camper to be are too numerous to mention and still I look at what could be better/different.

Anyone interested in how and what I have done can see our previous camper for sale at VW T5 Camper, 2014 Model LWB 2 Berth Hightop

Ours will never be perfect for everyone but has always done what we need over 50,000 miles of use.

Rod
 

Phil_G

Team Orange!
VIP Member
T6 Legend
Interesting review, thanks ;) You've done very well to get so much into a SWB.
Our Autosleepers (Trophy and Topaz) had a rear kitchen and one-each-side beds, Its been a while now but as I remember AS used the standard seats, at night they were both swivelled 180 and just the bum seat formed part of the bed, so its interesting to see how LD have done it.
Re the hot drawer, why not use that for your cuttlery?
 

CAB

Leisuredrive Vivante
VIP Member
T6 Legend
I'm so happy I found this thread! Hello : )
We've just ordered a T6 LWB high top Vivante, and I am reading with interest - thank so much for the really detailed info.
We actually rented one (SWB) last weekend to try, so we have a bit of expereince now to plan for our own in the autumn.
Great idea on the table, we too are having two forward facing seats, so we may well brave this modification.
Hooray, another for Team Leisuredrive ! Welcome to the forum @jjteal , that's exactly why I wrote it, it's the sort of thing I was looking for but couldn't find.

LWB and Hi-Top, you'll be able to fit your whole wardrobe in :laugh::laugh:

What have you gone for specs wise, older T6 or a new T6.1? Have you specced heater, awning, etc. Hot water? Is it the Vivante or their Vivante-X? When is your due date?

Good idea to hire one, nothing beats actually using and sleeping in one to firm up your ideas.
 
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