In the past year, we’ve seen a few new launches capable of vying for the title of world’s most impressive camper van. The Affinity camper van and the Frankia Yucon 7.0 Lounge are two that immediately pop to mind, and we’d be remiss not to throw in the Hymer Vision Venture, even though it’s merely a concept. Joining that select group is the new Alphavan, a massive Mercedes Sprinter that includes a duplex bedroom layout, built-in entertainment suite, and smart home-grade control system that can be accessed all around the van’s interior and exterior.
The Alphavan is something of a sibling to the Vöhringer ConceptCamper 2021 we looked at last week. Alphavan founder Stefan Krause partnered with Vöhringer on the Sprinter ConceptVan displayed at the 2019 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. Essentially a prototype version of the Alphavan, the concept highlighted the lightweight potential of Vöhringer’s Vunder Tech furniture material, which was on show again this year inside the Ducato-based ConceptCamper.
For his part, Krause moved forward with the Vunder Tech-constructed Sprinter layout previewed on the 2019 ConceptVan, founding Alphavan to bring the design to market. Alphavan offers one of the largest fully-equipped camper vans out there but manages to keep it lighter than some vans with well less space.
The Alphavan is built on Mercedes’ largest Sprinter, the 736-cm (290-in)-long extra-long-wheelbase variant with super-high (299-cm+) roof. For comparison, that van is nearly 1.5 m (5 ft) longer than the Sprinter 144 that underpins notable campers like the Winnebago Revel and Westfalia James Cook. Although the Alphavan is Mercedes van metal and not a separately manufactured motorhome module atop a Sprinter chassis, it is well larger than the La Strada Nova M Sprinter motorhome and its bigger brother the Nova EB.
In short, the Alphavan is a whole lotta van.
Alphavan doesn’t let the echo-inducing van cabin volume go to waste, relying on the Vunder Tech-panel furniture to provide all the comforts of a proper motorhome without axle-splitting heft. In fact, it doesn’t even need to upgrade the chassis, as the lightweight construction material saves enough weight to keep the camper well under 3,500 kg (7,716 lb), the leanest gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for this size Sprinter. That’s a distinction with a difference, too, because the EU classifies vehicles up to 3,500 kg as light duty, allowed to be driven with a regular Class B driver’s license. Larger vehicles fall under separate restrictions and licensing.
Comparing weights of different camper vans is never an apples-to-apples comparison, given the innumerable layouts and feature packages involved, but out of curiosity we ran the Alphavan’s listed 2,960-kg (6,525-lb) “ready to drive” weight against the other large Sprinter campers mentioned earlier. The Frankia Yucon 7.0 weighs in at 3,211 kg (7,079 lb) “ready to drive” when based on the 3,500-kg Sprinter, so 251 kg (553 lb) heavier. The Yucon is built on the shorter 699-cm (275-in) long-wheelbase Sprinter.
The Alphavan is also both larger and lighter than the 699-cm La Strada Nova EB, a Sprinter-chassis motorhome with an expansive live-in body constructed separately by La Strada. The Nova EB weighs 3,390 kg (7,473 lb) and rides on a 4,100-kg (9,040-lb)-GVWR Sprinter chassis.
Even the Affinity camper van, the shortest of the bunch at 636 cm (250 in), weighs over 100 kg (220 lb) more than the Alphavan at 3,090 kg (6,812 lb).
So it seems quite clear that the Alphavan boasts a low weight for its large size. That fact is made more impressive when you look at the spacious, elegant 2.1-m (6.9-foot)-high interior layout, which includes everything you’d expect from a camper van and some things you might not.
The highlight of the Alphavan layout comes at the rear: a ladder-accessed fixed bed space that Alphavan calls the “Relax Area.” Usually, such designations are marketing constructs, but this one seems fitting, as the sleeping nook is closed off with a rear wall. Overhead and wall-mounted lights brighten the space after hours, while a skylight takes over at dawn. The rear wall houses a set of Blaupunkt speakers and illuminated central storage cubbies with integrated 230V and USB outlets, positioned for access by both occupants of the 200 x 160-cm (79 x 63-in) queen bed. The left and right windows include blackout screens and blinds.
The high bed position cuts down on headroom as compared to lower beds, but that’s because it’s fixed above a large storage garage below. This space looks large enough to fit a pair of mountain bikes without removing any wheels or components, along with other gear or luggage, and includes tie-down rails on the floor and walls. The rear van doors have integrated chair holders, and a table storage system is also available. The rounded rear cabinets that run the length of the garage over the wheel wells match the interior decor and accommodate equipment like the water tank, which can supply an outdoor shower through a tap at the back.
Alphavan doesn’t use the term “garage,” instead calling the rearmost space a “FlexPort.” This denotes the dual-purpose design of the space, which doubles as a children’s room. A single or double folding mattress (up to 200 x 170 cm/79 x 67 in) stretches across the width of the van, supported by the sidewall cabinets, sleeping a child or two. Alphavan carries over the warm feel of the greater interior with matching trim, integrated overhead lighting and illuminated storage cubbies, ensuring the space never feels merely like a mattress thrown in a cold garage. During travel, the mattress folds up and stores on the cabinets, as not to interfere with the cargo floor.
The rear child room/garage connects to the fuller interior with a door that opens to a sizable wet bath on the left. A pull-out sink helps campers make the most of the bathroom space, which also includes a toilet and shower.
Just across the aisle, the 90-L refrigerator stands next to the main kitchen block that houses a sink, flush-mount dual-burner induction cooktop, and plenty of storage drawers and shelves. The four-seat dining area fills out the frontmost part of the driver’s side.
Glowing against the light grey of the door frame above the passenger-side entry is a 10.3-in Mercedes-Benz Advanced Control (MBAC) touchscreen, providing centralized smart home-style control of lighting, HVAC, the deployable entry step, the outdoor awning and more. It also monitors major systems like water and electrical. Best of all, the MBAC system connects to Apple and Android smart devices via Bluetooth to spread that control around the interior and exterior of the van. So a camper who wakes up shivering at night can crank the heat from his or her smartphone, without having to so much as sit up in bed.
The Alphavan includes an electrical system with 210-Ah lithium battery, 2,300-W sine inverter and 110-W solar panel. Other onboard features include a Truma Combi diesel water/cabin heater, 90-L fresh water tank and 80-L waste water tank. The base Sprinter comes with an MBUX infotainment system up front that serves as another MBAC camper control screen. MBUX also packs available Mercedes Me Connect digital services like WiFi hot spot, voice control, and smartphone connectivity with remote door locking.
Krause tells us the Alphavan is available for order now for a price starting of €125,000 (approx. US$148,250), before tax. Among the options available are a Sprinter 4×4 base van and a 22-in smart TV with swiveling mount that allows it to be positioned for viewing from the dining lounge or from the master bed “relaxation area.”