Ford Nugget road test review – but is it campervan gold?
THE Ford Nugget campervan has been a popular fixture in Europe for a while and is now developing a following in the UK.
Based on the Ford Transit Custom, it can sleep up to four people – although that would be a bit of a squeeze, but for a couple, it can open up a whole new world of adventure – if you don’t mind broken finger nails and bumped heads while you work out how it all works!
I took my little Nugget to the East Yorkshire Coast and stayed on the Caravan and Motorhome Club site on the outskirts of Bridlington, ideally located a stone’s throw from the lovely Sewerby Hall. Cliff top walks, Flamborough Head, Bempton Cliffs, or a stroll into Bridlington itself are all within easy reach, while the campsite itself was relatively quiet in mid-November, and spotlessly clean. It also boasts a children’s play area and a designated space for exercising the family pooch, with spacious, gravelled pitches – mine was “fully serviced” and had electric hook-up and a drinking water tap, so I didn’t have to go far to fill the kettle!
The Nugget is pretty self-contained and has both hot and cold running water, and its own onboard water tanks for fresh and waste water. It can run off the site’s electricity, its own leisure battery, or gas, although my van didn’t have a gas bottle installed. You also get a little sink with a mixer tap, a deep, cool-box type fridge which will hold upright bottles of wine, beer, milk etc and a two-hob gas cooker, with splash backs which flip up to protect your curtains.
All the rear windows have their own little grey curtains, while the main cab area has shaped silver blinds which attach to the windows with suction cups and then wedge into place. The UK spec Nuggets also come with two sliding side doors, which I liked, although the side and rear steps were quite narrow and needed care when wet!
Our van included a few extras like metallic paint, Blind Spot Information, running boards, adaptive cruise control, trailer tow electrics and a very useful rear view camera, but all these goodies do push the price up.
Once on site, the pop-up Westfalia roof can be unlatched, and pushed upwards to create standing room inside the van. Two catches release the bed which you pull down and towards you to create a large sleeping area for two, while the rear bench seat can also be converted into a double bed if you don’t fancy clambering up a little ladder, although to be fair, I found it easier to get into than the VW California I reviewed some time ago now. During my weekend away, I tried both sleeping areas in the name of research, and definitely preferred the upstairs option for comfort.
You have to learn to live in a motorhome, or caravan for that matter, and I find you spend half your time looking for things you know you brought with you, but have disappeared into one of the many storage spaces or cupboards, which, by the way, all seemed to be fairly substantial and of good quality.
Up front there are two captain’s chairs with arm rests which can rotate to face the inside of the van, or the bench seat for up to three passengers. There is also table that can be located in the middle, so great for a picnic, or a cheeky takeaway. The large tailgate is home to another fold-away table, which you could put under your wind-out awning which has a leg on each corner that can be deployed. Two large deck chairs were also stashed away inside, but at this time of year, I tended to stick to the indoor facilities!
I loved the LED lighting too, with some at floor level, some up the sides of the cabinets, and two really bright LED lights on flexible mountings which could be pointed wherever you wanted them.
You even get a shower attachment at the back of the van and can stick the shower head on the inside of the glass when the tailgate is up, but I thought I might scare my fellow campers – the site was quiet, but not that quiet, and it was a bit chilly for outdoor showers! It could be useful for washing off the dog though after a muddy walk, or your boots.
The Nugget itself is good to drive, and being a Ford Transit is going to be reliable. Our example was powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine with an automatic gearbox, and I found it no more difficult to drive and park than a big car, you just have to use your mirrors a bit more as the view through the vehicle is quite limited. I was surprised to find it didn’t have air conditioning though, which in a modern touring vehicle I would expect.
With the night time temperature down to around 5 degrees, I was very glad of the heater, which ran off the van’s diesel fuel and kept the interior nice and toasty through the night – the only negative really was having to venture to the toilet block in the middle of the night – in the driving rain and gales – a portable loo would be great, and is included in a longer wheelbase version of the Nuggett, but you would have to be very good friends with your travelling companions to use it in the van itself – and remember to draw the curtains!
Campervans have always been popular, and with staycations currently all the rage, they are even more so today. Prices for the Ford Nuggett range start from £66,012 on the road.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Ford Transit Custom Nugget Camper 2.0TDCI 320 SWB Low 185PS Auto
ENGINE: 2.0-litre, 185bhp four-cylinder diesel engine, driving front wheels through six-speed automatic gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 12.5 secs.
ECONOMY: Combined: 30-35mpg.
FUEL TANK: 70 litres.
PRICE: £67,422, as tested £71,106
• All data correct at time of publication.