Rolling Homes Kingsley
Rolling Homes has built quite a reputation for their bespoke campervan conversions over the last decade or so with the Kingsley its only Ford Transit-based offering. Nick Harding assesses whether the four-berth lives up to its award-winning VW and Mercedes stablemates.
The Rolling Homes Kingsley is named after Victorian explorer and scientist Mary Kinglsey who travelled to Sierra Leone and Angola before canoeing up the Ogooué River in Gabon. All Rolling Homes models carry the monikers of key adventurers and this one in particular has some hard acts to follow as the company’s Volkswagen-based Shackleton and Mercedes-based Magellan won their respective classes in the Club's Motorhome Design Awards in 2018. Can the Kingsley, the manufacturer’s first Ford Transit-based model, compete?
Build quality – 92%
The Ford sits higher on its 16in alloy wheels than many of its base vehicle peers. It necessitates an electric slide-out step (complete with LED light strip), for the nearside rear door, and also means it’s that bit taller than a typical campervan – so be wary of height barriers.
As for the conversion work, expect the best. Rolling Homes buys in high-quality components in the form of SCA elevating roofs and RIB rear seats for its whole range. The company is also known for its woodworking expertise, employing lightweight oak that doesn’t adversely affect the vehicle’s overall weight.
The table – a free-standing unit on a pedestal leg with tripod base that can be used inside or out – is a good example.
There are also some high-end, less-obvious touches. For example, the insulation is in an eco-friendly Irish wool. Carpet lining to the side walls is, again, exemplary in its fitting. Our test Kingsley sports a striking leather upholstery option (other colours are available), while popular extras range from solar panel to inverter to diesel heating.
Driving – 88%
The latest breed of base vehicles has upped the ante as far as driving is concerned and the Transit is no exception. Indeed, this revised version is even better than before – tweaks to the exterior are slight, but inside you’re greeted with an 8in touchscreen, air conditioning, cruise control and all manner of ‘electrics’ (windscreen heating, door mirrors, and more).
The quality of the conversions is reflected in the subdued, rattle-free drive, too. This allows you to enjoy listening to that stereo system, with its DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, and bodes well for long-term touring. Indeed, there’s arguably more noise at tickover than when on the move.
The gear-change, as you’d expect from any Ford, is super-slick, and there’s automatic transmission as an option (a £680 add-on). Steering is both light and positive, while the small-diameter, leather-trimmed, multi-function steering wheel sets the tone for a very car-like cab.
Safety and security features run to a Thatcham Category 1 alarm/immobiliser, rear parking sensors, automatic driving lights and windscreen wipers and front foglights with cornering function.
Daytime – 85%
The Kingsley’s conversion is derived from Rolling Homes’ Volkswagen-based Columbus, offering a side furniture unit and a rear double travel seat/bed. Shorter-legged folk will always find the RIB rear bench sits a little high (the other side of the coin is that storage space in the base is optimised), but you’ll appreciate its supportive nature and adjustable head restraints.
The cab seats are easily swivelled (not always the case in a campervan), and it’s a simple enough task to retrieve the table-top and leg from the forward end of the kitchen unit.
At the back, the large, uncluttered boot area would easily take a drive-away awning, or similar. There’s also a floor-to-ceiling locker here, on the offside, which houses the fresh water container and gas locker, as well as shelving and a hanging-rail wardrobe area.
Night-time – 82%
There’s an easy-to-learn system for converting the rear seat into what is a very flat double bed measuring 6ft 3in x 3ft 8in.
The Kingsley is a proper four-berth, too, thanks to the double bed in the roof – the Deluxe SCA unit. You get a one-piece mattress (6ft 7in x 4ft 2in) on plastic independent springing which also provides underbed ventilation. In the roof’s canvas sides, there’s a mix of Perspex (offside) and mesh (nearside and front) zip-open panelling, allowing you to easily adapt how much daylight/fresh air you want. There’s also a single, stemmed reading light.
Double-thickness Van-X curtains ensure full blackout for all the downstairs windows, while there are internal thermal screens for the cab. There are plenty of fixed downlighters, but I’d be tempted to appeal to Rolling Homes’ bespoke credentials and hold out for at least one adjustable reading lamp.
Kitchen – 80%
Chef can utilise a standard campervan two-ring gas hob and sink combination with separate smoked-glass lids. Ventilation comes from the sliding window in the door (or you could open the door itself). Fresh water is supplied via a container in the tall locker just inside the tailgate.
The worktop is super-quality Corian, under which there’s a drawer that’s large enough to accommodate a heavy-duty chopping board; there’s also a full-size, shelved cupboard to the right. Completing the kitchen kit is a Waeco 50-litre compressor fridge with freezer box.
There’s also a handy little cupboard in the wardrobe wall available as an option. Rolling Homes calls it a mug cupboard – but it’s perfect for all kinds of kitchen oddments.
Washroom - N/A
This is a campervan, so there’s no washroom, but the rear seat base does have space in which you can house a Dometic portable toilet.
Details – 87%
Conversion work really is out of the top drawer throughout this vehicle – a look at the neat wiring and gas pipework at the backs of lockers and so on provides further evidence.
Also note little details such as the bump-stops for the locker doors, LEDs in the tailgate that act as downlighters when it’s open, the CTEK smart battery monitoring system – even the way the handbrake cover is finished in the same leather as the seating. A three-year conversion warranty matches that of the Ford.
Verdict – 86%
Nobody has produced the perfect campervan yet – but this is a great effort in terms of the way it has been executed. Rolling Homes really embraces the ‘bespoke’ side of campervan production. The company only sells directly – but that means you have the opportunity to find out exactly what you are buying.