A VW California competitor with extra space, five seatbelts, German components and British design



Peter Vaughan reviews the CMC HemBil Escape-SL in long-wheelbase form. This VW Transporter T6.1 campervan has an extra-wide Reimo sliding seat system, four berths and five seatbelts but can, optionally, carry up to seven. The extra length creates more room inside, while the HemBil conversion mixes high-quality German componentry with British design and adds a dash of Scandinavian style.

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◼️ REVIEWED BY: Peter Vaughan, Group Motorhome Road Test Editor for MMM magazine and What Motorhome magazine Editor. Peter has been writing about motorhomes since the age of 14, has a love of touring France and is mad about old Italian sports cars.

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13 comments

  1. £75,000 for an overnight/weekend camper? It's totally unsuitable for a couple to do, for example, the NC500 without using having to go shopping every day, stay on camp sites nearly every night and do your laundry every 2 or 3 days.

    I'd rather spend less money to get a 5.99m van conversion with a fixed bed, larger fridge, oven &/or grill and washroom. No cushion jenga and going to the toilet in the kitchen.

    I suspect that this will appeal to overpaid posers who want to show off at music festivals.

  2. Thanks Peter, as ever another great in-depth review. You really hit the nail (or should I say, bed) on the head with the discussion on rear headroom in VW camper vans. As an attraction of the VW is the ability to use it as an everyday family vehicle it’s such a shame that it does not work for travelling if any of your passengers are anywhere approaching 6 feet tall (180cm in new money). This is a universal VW issue not specific to CMC or the Reimo seat. The problem is also much worse in the left rear (and, if applicable, front double) seats where the sloping roof line ingresses into head room much further.

    Such a shame, as it counts out the VW as an option for us.

  3. Hello Peter, thanks for the videos, very interesting! I’ve got a quick question about the Reimo seat/ bed if I may? Is it possible to have the end section nearest the back of the van in an upright position and the other sections flat so you can be reading or watching tv with your legs stretched out?
    Thanks
    Peter

  4. Peter, 20 inch wheels with the suspension upgraded accordingly will drive much better than with 17 inch wheels and the standard suspension. IMO, it would be madness to retain the standard suspension if you have no plans to lug around the loads that the Transporter was designed for – without those loads the ride is far too bouncy and crashy.

  5. Don't know if it's just me but I'm getting quite bored of VW campers. It seems to become a case of seen one conversion and you've pretty much seen them all, I've been looking around for something that little bit different and came across a Polish company called WaveCamper that's doing a lwb Renault Traffic conversion that has done just that. Yes it has the side kitchen, but the way they have approached the bed and rear seats have definitely caught my interest.

  6. As ever Peter, a first class review and I can see why you went for CMC for your own campervan.

    Compared to my California Coast T6.1 2021 model, I see the following benefits of this van :
    LWB 5.4m means that much more storage, although at the expense of some maneuverability in car parks, the turning circle being that much wider
    The narrower kitchen allowing for three seats in the rear is an excellent solution in a LWB
    The Reimo seat and roof are both quality well-sorted components, the roof in particular being easier to manage with the straps than the California equivalent clips which are always hard work
    The flexible water tanks, much better than the California built in tank
    And of course the left hand rear sliding door.

    However the California scores with :
    Integral blinds and better automotive feel to everything inside (no carpet on the walls !)
    Higher residual values
    SWB still more manoeuvrable as a daily driver at 4.9m
    I suspect slightly lower at 1.98m meaning those 2m barriers are just negotiable
    Much better arrangements for 2 chairs and 2 table storage – a real winner
    I suspect that the driving of a Cali is just that much quieter and better than in a Transporter highline equivalent.
    And lastly price, my Cali Coast last year cost under £52k with Drive the Deal, a long way below this CMC

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