Benimar Primero 283 review
If a brand new Benimar Mileo is a bit out of your budget then how about compromising on specification and taking a look at its lower-cost sibling, the Benimar Primero?
Models in the new-for-2019 Primero line-up come with more affordable price tags and it’s the 283 that steals the spotlight with its UK-friendly, rear lounge layout.
Build quality – 72%
It’s GRP-clad, 99% wood-free and has a five-year warranty against water ingress.
Fittings like the opening sunroof over the cab suggest anything but a low-cost motorhome as do flush-fit windows but standard steel wheels with plastic trims are indicators of its ‘budget’ credentials.
It’s all on the camper variant of Fiat’s Ducato chassis-cab with wider rear track and lower centre of gravity making it just that bit more suitable as a motorhome base.
Driving – 74%
It's pleasing to see that Benimar has gone for the proven 130bhp engine with six-speed manual transmission as standard which should provide economy the right side of 30mpg.
The regular Ducato cab features a few notable upgrades as standard such as air conditioning, cruise control, steering wheel controls and a touchscreen stereo offering AM/FM radio, CD player and MP3 connectivity, phone connection and trip computing.
The only option is a £2,100 premium for upgrading to the 150bhp engine and Comfort-matic automatic transmission.
Daytime – 68%
The rear lounge comprises two short, inward-facing settees surrounded by opening windows with cassette blinds and flyscreens, with a small rooflight overhead.
An over-sized table – great at mealtimes but can be a bit cumbersome otherwise – clips to a rail on the back wall and slots in adjacent to the offside settee for travel. There’s also on-site seating at the front, around a small circular table on a dog leg.
At the back there’s a large hatch across the rear wall which can be accessed for storage, although it’s a slightly tricky to get in to.
Night-time – 56%
Making the rear settees into a transverse 6ft 8in x 4ft 1in double bed is not the simplest of tasks.
If you’re a night-time reader you’ll be disappointed as the only illumination, apart from the LED strips, comes from the stemmed units over each swivelled cab chair.
There’s a third sleeping berth in the lounge – a solid section slides out from the bench base – but it’s strictly for small children.
Kitchen – 59%
Cooking facilities comprise a three-ring hob and a combined oven and grill. There’s a circular sink to the immediate left of the hob, while a flip-up extension to the right provides much needed worktop space.
Storage is pretty good – a deep, double-doored overhead locker and three decent capacity drawers – but you might feel a little short-changed by a fridge capacity of 81 litres, and there’s no direct lighting in the kitchen, either.
Washroom – 76%
I couldn’t find any difference between the Primero washroom and its equivalent in a Mileo. There’s lots of plastic mouldings, screens for a part-circular shower, twin plugholes, and a mixer tap for the fixed basin (small, but deep) that extends for use as the showerhead. A Thetford swivel-bowl toilet is in the right place and allows plenty of legroom.
There’s also a window, a couple of clothes hooks, deep mirrors, matching soap dispenser and cup, and a low-level towel rail – but the only storage is a shelved locker over the window.
Details – 61%
Limited lighting apart, there’s plenty in the Primero’s plus column. Of course, there are signs where costs have been saved. Loose covers for the cab seats are an obvious one but the seats themselves come with double armrests and height adjustment.
Verdict – 67%
A compact low-profile coachbuilt that puts value for money to the fore. And with a UK-friendly layout, I’d suggest this Spanish model is definitely worthy of consideration.
Price as tested: £45,995 OTR
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato
Engine: 2.3-litre Euro 6
Power: 130bhp @ 3,600rpm
Torque: 236lb ft @1,800-3,000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, FWD
User payload: 870kg
Overall length: 19ft 8in
Overall width: 7ft 7in
Overall height: 9ft 6in
Max internal height: 7ft 1in