We spend a night in the SsangYong Turismo Tourist campervan
Simon Davis takes to the New Forest for a night’s camping in SsangYong’s Turismo Tourist, and wakes up with a bit of a sore back
Growing up in New Zealand, camping was always a big part of childhood. A continent as varied and diverse as Europe wasn’t on our doorstep, meaning the vast majority of summer holidays for families in Aotearoa were spent in a tent or caravan on the beach.
So when I heard that we had a SsangYong Turismo Tourist Camper coming in to the office, I immediately volunteered to put it to the test and spend a night in it.
Designed and manufactured by Wellhouse Leisure of Huddersfield, the Tourist Camper looks exactly the same as a regular Turismo MPV, but open the door and you’ll find some serious conversion work has gone on.
The boot has been stripped out to make way for a miniature kitchen, complete with a fridge, sink, gas hob and storage cupboards, while the front four seats can be easily converted into two single beds. The roof even pops up to reveal a third bed fit for children.
In short, it had everything required for an overnight stay – even a portable toilet, but we quickly decided we wouldn’t try that out.
After a speedy getaway from work one Friday afternoon, we set course for the New Forest and our campsite, happy that the sun was shining and it didn’t look like rain was on the horizon.
One thing that became immediately apparent was the SsangYong’s vast size. Measuring more than five metres long and with an incredibly high driving position, you did feel like you were behind the wheel of a yacht rather than a South Korean people-mover.
Despite the car’s size, however, its 2.2-litre Euro 6 diesel engine did a good job of getting the camper moving. With 176bhp and 400Nm of torque on tap, the Turismo wasn’t as slow as you might expect it to be – especially considering the fact that we had literally brought the kitchen sink along with us.
In fact, cruising along the motorway in the SsangYong was a rather pleasant experience. Its size and tall driving position certainly give it a commanding presence on the road, and its soft suspension set-up means it doesn’t crash about over bumps.
That said, these two characteristics do mean that it can be a bit of handful when you inevitable pull off the motorway on to those tiny country lanes you often find out in the back of beyond. There is a serious amount of lean through the corners and you’re constantly conscious of its width.
Eventually, however, we arrived at the campsite just as it was starting to get dark and immediately started getting set up before we lost the light completely. Luckily, the roof is only held in place by a couple of straps, meaning it’s incredibly easy to pop up.
Getting the beds made up took a bit more thought, as you have to position the front and rear seats correctly so that when they fold down, they fold down flat. Overall, though, this was a piece of cake, and it took us about 10 minutes to get everything set up – although we didn’t put the rear awning in place, as we were only staying for one night.
After a barbeque and a couple of drinks, we decided it was time to call a night. It was only at this point that I realised I had made the amateur mistake of forgetting my sleeping bag, but figured it would make for a good test of how well the SsangYong retained heat.
Safe to say it didn’t fare too well, and I went cold – but I really only have myself to blame for this. One thing I will blame the SsangYong for, however, is the sore back that I woke up with the next morning.
Aside from the cold, sleeping in the campervan was made even more uncomfortable by the fact that the beds were lumpy and narrow – even with the in-fill cushions and memory foam topper in place.
The two of us had also managed to roll around in the night so much that our respective mattresses and cushions wound up on the floor.
So, the big SsangYong loses points in the comfort department. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that I wouldn’t want to spend more than a couple of nights at a time in the Turismo, which is a shame because I actually really liked everything else about it.
But then again, unlike full-size campervans and caravans, the SsangYong Turismo Tourist doesn’t give the impression that it’s been designed for lengthy excursions. As a place to stay over a weekend, and if you can overlook the slight discomfort you may wake up with the next morning, the Turismo Tourist is an incredibly likeable piece of kit.
If I had spare £35,995 knocking around, I’d seriously consider it.
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