Nick Harding is impressed with the standard kit and competitive pricing of Benimar’s low-profile coachbuilt

Spanish manufacturer Benimar (which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year) offers four models in its UK-specific Mileo coachbuilt line-up for the 2024 season. Available through Marquis Leisure, each is available with manual or automatic transmission as well as engine upgrades. Prices start at £77,995 for the standard, four-berth 286 model, but we tested an upgraded version with a 180bhp engine, automatic transmission and a 4,400kg chassis upgrade, which starts from £87,495. Still great value? Let’s see.

Build quality – 78%

An almost wood-free construction with tough GRP outer shell is backed by a five-year integrity warranty, while the Mileo features a striking new metallic black cab with matching front grille.

Standard fittings include black alloy wheels, flush-fitting windows (including in the habitation door, which, importantly is on the UK nearside), rear-view camera, solar panel and generous garage sporting sufficient space for a couple of bikes and more.

Upgrading to 4,400kg maximum weight (from the standard 3,650kg), gives you a whopping 1,269kg of payload capacity.

Driving – 86%

Unfortunately I was unable to take this example out on the open road, but from experience I can confirm the Fiat 180bhp engine/nine-speed automatic gearbox combination is an absolute joy. It’s relaxed, reasonably quiet under most conditions, and there’s plenty of torque when you need it. Fuel economy of 30mpg should be achievable which, with the 90-litre fuel tank upgrade, means a range of nearly 600 miles.

The Ducato cab is perhaps starting to show its age a little. Nevertheless, standard specification includes an infotainment unit with DAB, sat-nav, MP3 and Bluetooth functionality. This example also boasted an electric handbrake.

The 286 provides travel for up to four, with a rear bench seat home to two lap-and-diagonal belts.

Daytime – 74%

There’s a huge lounge to your left as you step in at the habitation door. Both cab seats are easy to swivel and there are two settees, the offside being L-shaped. There’s a drop-down double bed, but there are sufficient windows, plus opening sunroofs over the cab and between the lounge and kitchen, to let plenty of daylight in.

For mealtimes, there’s a free-standing square table, the only minus being its storage location in the garage. Truma’s trusty Combi 6 system, located in the nearside settee base, provides heating and hot water and has iNet remote-operation functionality.

Night-time – 75%

The drop-down double bed measures a generous 1.90m (6ft 3in) x 1.40m (4ft 7in) and features a one-piece mattress with slatted base. It operates electrically (there is a manual override in case of difficulties) and glides down effortlessly. There’s a bump stop to prevent it going too low but if you don’t want to make the lounge seating into a second double, adaptations can be made so the main bed comes all the way down to settee level for easier access.

The flatscreen TV holder nearby has full height adjustment so you can watch from bed.

Kitchen – 80%

A lot of thought has been put into what is an excellent kitchen – from its 141-litre capacity fridge with freezer and low-level drawer, to generous storage and permanent worktop provision, and sensible low-level location for the microwave.

A Thetford Triplex cooker sits opposite the fridge on the nearside (there’s a small slot-in worktop extension you can add here), featuring two gas burners, electric hotplate and a combined oven and grill. To its left is a circular sink in stainless steel, with a drainer attachment. There’s a decent amount of worktop to its left, over which are two mains sockets – perfectly located. There’s a large window as well as an extractor fan over the cooker and a rooflight that includes an electric fan.

Washroom – 72%

The clever design continues in the washroom which starts with a step up in via a solid door. The Thetford swivel bowl toilet is set on a plinth and there’s a small, fixed handbasin. A separate shower cubicle is decent sized, with folding doors, two plugholes, plastic wall linings, drop-down rail for wet clothes and a tray for bottles and so on.

Storage is excellent – a double-doored mirrored locker over the window, locker under the basin and a huge cupboard area that will take towels and plenty more.

Downsides? The shower head is fixed rather than being on a riser bar, the handbasin isn’t the biggest and there’s no lock to the washroom door.

Other details include a toilet roll holder, soap dispenser and mug, towel rail and a couple of hooks.

Details – 80%

Across the back wall is a high-level wardrobe – it may not be full-hanging height but it’s very spacious and even features a large shelved area on the right. There’s also a clever fold-out step to aid access for shorter folk, which is set into a hatch to the garage area, also home to a spare wheel over which is stowed the Fiat toolkit.

Storage is a strong point in the 286, where a lack of lockers in the lounge is more than compensated for elsewhere. There’s also a generous amount of LED lighting, with dimmable control from the main panel just inside the habitation door, and mains sockets and double USB portals on the cab bulkheads each side of the lounge.

The list goes on: external gas and shower sockets, vinyl flooring with two main loose carpet sections, four scatter cushions and a Thatcham Cat 6 Trackstar tracking system, with first year’s subscription paid.

Verdict – 78%

Paying a higher amount for a more powerful engine and automatic transmission is a matter of personal choice. Regardless, if you like the layout, you’ll find this outfit possesses the winning formula of a high specification combined with a keen price.

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