Toyota Proace Matina Campervan road test review: Compact, but more affordable than many similar conversions, DAVID HOOPER says this Toyota Proace Matina Campervan makes a great travelling companion.
With Staycations still in vogue for the holidaying Brit, many of whom are still too wary to venture abroad, caravans, motorhomes, and camper vans have been in great demand, with prices soaring for new and pre-loved examples alike.
This little camper is based on a Toyota Proace van, with the conversion being completed by Wellhouse Leisure, based in Barnsley – and they’ve done a nice job of it.
With smart exterior decals, a pop top and stylish grey interior Italian designed cabinets this Matino model certainly looks the part, and it’s lovely to drive too, with an eight speed automatic gearbox controlled from a small rotary dial on the centre console. It has flappy paddles to manually control the gear changes, although I didn’t feel the need, radar cruise control for those longer trips and even a head up display in front of the driver, and returned average fuel consumption of around 35mpg during my test.
All the essentials are there, you get a very small 25-litre fridge, a two hob gas burner powered by a small Campingaz canister, and a sink with a tap and running water if you fill up the water tank
There are three good sized cupboards for storage and several odd shaped compartments for storage which didn’t appear to be the most practical of shapes inside.
The electrics are controlled by a nice 8in digital control panel, which you can sit on the central seat to programme and adjust. It shows you your onboard water levels, and controls the LED lighting which can be dimmed down at night to make it nice and cosy, the charge in the leisure battery and how much fresh water there is in the on-board tank.
All the windows are dark tinted and have their own curtains, and the large tailgate lifts up to provide shelter if you need to do things at the back of the van, which was useful on my weekend away when I had to dodge the regular showers.
As well as the electric hook-up, there is also a 100W solar panel on the roof to top up the batteries when you’re out and about and not on an official camp site, so you can really go off piste if the fancy takes you.
And when the nights get chilly, a Webasto 2kw blown air heating system will keep you warm – and you can even control it from a mobile phone app.
The two front seats both rotate round to face the back of the van, and a free-standing table is quick and easy to erect in the middle of the van for a picnic, or to work from while on the move. The rear passenger seats, which have their own seatbelts, slide backwards and forwards on runners and can be locked into position while travelling, but to get into the cupboards, you have to slide the seats backwards and forwards to be able to open the various cupboard doors
The sleeping accommodation, like the van, is also compact. I spent my first night “upstairs” in the pop up roof, but at an inch under six feet tall, my feet were on the end of the van, and I couldn’t really stretch out, and the mattress wasn’t thick enough so I was a bit achy in the morning.
For my second night, I converted the central seats into a bed, again, widthwise it would be very cosy for two adults (I was on my own, so had enough space) and my feet still hung off the end of the “bed” if I stretched out, so although in theory it can sleep up to four people, you would have to be very close or very small, especially for the upstairs.
The pop top roof is quick and easy to put up, but a bit more of a fiddle to pull down as you have to ensure that the front and sides are pulled in properly to close the roof correctly. With a bit of practice, it’s fairly easy, but the roof is only held down by two ratchet straps, which was a bit alarming at first. Other vehicles like this I’ve tested have had a substantial clamp to lock the roof in place, but it does work well enough, and then you just tuck the long ends of the straps into the gap and off you go.
This Toyota-based van conversion costs a very reasonable £56,000, with a 6-speed manual version being offered for £54,000. If you can afford one, they make a great day or weekend van, and once you get used to living with it, they may not quite be a home-from-home in the way a large motorhome or caravan can be, but they are great fun, and the other beauty of them is that they are easy park in a normal parking space if you want to stop off anywhere while on your travels, taking up no more space and than a large car or SUV.
If you’re planning a staycation this year, or exploring a new part of the country, they are well worth a look and make a lovely travelling companion.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Toyota Proace Matina Campervan
ENGINE: 1997cc, 174bhp four-cylinder diesel engine, driving front wheels through 8 speed automatic gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 105 mph. 0-62mph in 8.5 secs.
ECONOMY: Combined (WLTP): 36.20-38.60.
Wheel World test average: 36.5mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS: 191g/km.
FUEL TANK: 69 litres.
WARRANTY: Up to 10 years or 100,000 miles
- All data correct at time of publication.