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Road Tests

Romahome R20 Hi

A fun little home from home. Just remember the gas...

Price: £30,995
Engine capacity: 1.6-litre diesel
Fuel economy (mpg): 50.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 146 Berths: sleeps two, carries four
Height (metres): 2.4

My girlfriend doesn't do camping. She loves the outdoors and is happy hiking, horse riding and cycling in all weathers. But camping...

She enjoys the campfires and walks to country pubs, but can't stand the stuffy tents, dirty showers or uncomfortable sleeping arrangements and thinks there's nothing worse than washing up plastic plates with baked-bean juice on them. She's not alone in this, I'm sure. I love camping, though, and the new two-berth campervan from Romahome was phase one of my plan to gently bring her round to my way of thinking. It comes complete with a comfy double bed, plenty of storage space, a good-sized fridge, a grill, a sink and two gas hobs, which meant I'd be able to offer her more comfort than my pokey flat, an ice-cold gin and tonic before a proper evening meal and a cup of tea and bacon bap in the morning. So last weekend we stocked up on batteries for our head torches, packed the folding chairs and headed for Cromer on the north Norfolk coast.

Things started well enough. The Romahome is based on the latest Citroën Berlingo (a very good budget-option family car) and has its one-piece body moulding added on by Romahome at its factory on the Isle of Wight. It behaves well on the road with a smooth ride and very little body roll, returns decent-enough fuel economy and its engine easily keeps pace on motorway runs. And if you're brave enough to try and use it as an everyday run-around (it's too tall for most car parks), it even has space in the rear for two additional passengers (it only sleeps two). The seating is dire, though – its seats don't move back far enough or adjust sufficiently – and as a result the default driving position is that of a hunched pensioner over the wheel and long journeys become a test of endurance.

The interior is spacious and well laid-out, but isn't exactly the last word in style (the upholstered seats look like they've come from the set of Last of the Summer Wine).

It's a camper van, not a luxury saloon, though, and it's on the campsite where it should come into its own. After pitching up 10 miles from Cromer on the hottest day of the year (so far) we're soon in need of shade and an ice-cold drink. Here things come unstuck. Due to a mix-up it emerges that the cable to hook-up to the campsite's 240V power supply is missing. This is bad news, as the fridge starts to heat up and my carefully planned dinner and chilled wines start to heat through. The van's thermometer is reading 31C at 6pm and things get worse when it transpires that the lockable cupboard for the gas canister is empty. There will be no supper and no tea in the morning. Needless to say, my companion isn't happy and discord looks likely. The offer of a rapidly warming gin and tonic does little to calm the situation and a sweaty night ensues.

It's a shame, really, as the Romahome – when kitted out properly – should be a luxurious (well, for a campsite) way to spend a night away. It has all the kit you need, is vast inside and isn't as unwieldy as a clunky caravan or monstrous motorhome. It's well priced against its rivals, too.

My girlfriend isn't a convert to camping, though – we very nearly spent the night in a B&B.