2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - the campervan highlights

  • We've visited the vast camping and caravanning expo in Dusseldorf
  • Show debuts from Volkswagen and Mercedes
  • We pick our favourites, from roof tents to insanely luxurious liners

-          We’ve been to visit the vast camping and caravanning expo in Dusseldorf

-          Show debuts from Volkswagen and Mercedes

  • -          We pick our favourites, from roof tents to insanely luxuri

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Carthago stand

We've been to the 2019 Dusseldorf Caravan Salon - keep reading for our full show report with pictures of all the latest and most exciting campervans and motorhomes.

What is the Dusseldorf Caravan Salon?

Not a hair and beauty parlour to make caravans beautiful. This is the largest motorhome and caravan show in Europe, held yearly at the vast Dusseldorf exhibition centre in the western German city.

Manufacturers from across Europe bring their very latest products, showcasing all the new innovations and refined ideas available in the camping world. The halls are huge, diverse and varied, with offerings ranging from the very smallest campervans aimed at single travellers to vast, liner-sized motorhomes based on truck chassis and costing more than a house.

Our picks from the show

Volkswagen California T6.1

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Volkswagen California T6.1, Volkswagen stand

It had to kick off with this – the new Volkswagen California, based on the new T6.1 generation Transporter van. Volkswagen’s stand was tiny compared with most, yet attracted huge crowds – after all, any new products coming from arguably the most iconic name in campervans will be met with excitement.

Though the changes over the previous California are incremental, they do add up, with items such as new latches for the cabinets, a touchscreen control panel and clever plastic springs for the roof bed improving comfort and liveability. And of course, there’s that base vehicle – more upmarket than ever, with properly car-like safety equipment. The California T6.1 goes on sale early next year, and it’s bound to be a hit.

2019 Fiat Ducato

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Fiat Ducato MY19, chassis

Moving up a size from the California, the updated Fiat Ducato is big news. Though Fiat doesn’t build its own motorhomes, the Ducato is wildly popular as a base vehicle for other manufacturers to build on. In fact, it accounts for around three quarters of the UK and European market – a trend Fiat’s taken in its stride, offering a motorhome-specific chassis variant.

The latest model features a new nine-speed automatic gearbox – a rarity in the panel van sector – and an improved cabin.

Citroen Possl Campster

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Citroen Possl Campster, blue

Over on the PSA Peugeot Citroen stand we saw this Possl Campster. It’s not a factory conversion like the VW California, but it still looks great – and the usefully small size of the Citroen Dispatch base vehicle means it should be a little more manoeuvrable in tight streets.

Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo, Mercedes-Benz stand

The Mercedes-Benz stand held the three-pointed star’s answer to the VW California in its latest form. Named the Marco Polo, it’s priced and equipped to compete directly, and as an extra feather in its cap it’s based on the luxurious V-Class MPV rather than the more spartan Vito van.

Carthago Liner-for-two S3

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Carthago Liner-for-two

There’s nothing particularly special about this Carthago, but it’s a perfect representation of the ‘A-Class’ motorhome – the preferred template for luxury campers on the continent. These vehicles have a body that completely replaces that of the base vehicle, with a high windscreen and a drop-down bed over the cab.

This model has one of the most popular and common layouts, featuring twin beds and a large garage area at the rear. 

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4

Off-road seemed to be a theme at this year’s Salon, and the brilliant Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 was the vehicle of choice for many of these conversions.

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Sunlight Adventure Van

Sadly not a production model was this amazing Adventure Van from budget manufacturer Sunlight. Resplendent with heavy-duty roof bars, enormous off-road tyres and even a pop-up hammock, its interior was set up with a capacious central aisle for storing bikes.

Roof tents

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Autocamp roof tent, VW Polo

Roof-mounted fold-out tents were also prolific. We found this example particularly impressive – a large home-away-from-home contained on the roof of a tiny Volkswagen Polo supermini.

A garage on wheels

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Concorde Liner with Smart Car

The biggest motorhomes in the expo were these vast ‘liner’ models – based on truck platforms and intended for seriously long-term adventures or even full-time living. These models from Concorde and Morelo had garage areas large enough to store cars in – and don’t worry if a Smart Fortwo is a little downmarket, because opting for the Morelo Empire Liner gives space for a Porsche 911 Cabriolet instead.

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Morelo Empire Liner with Porsche 911

Predictably, you’ll need pockets as deep as these garage areas to afford one of these liners. The Empire Liner starts at around 400,000 Euros, though for a price they can be tailored to suit just about any request.

Tischer Demountable

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Ford Ranger with Tischer Demountable

These bulky additions turn any pickup truck into a full-on camper. More popular in the USA than Europe, Ford nevertheless displayed this one on its stand, mounted to a Ranger. It sat alongside the Westfalia Nugget, a conversion on the Transit Custom platform that will be avaialble to buy through UK Ford dealers.

Bimobil

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Bimobil Unimog

Bimobil is one of the biggest names in extreme off-road camping, and it’s hard not to be intimidated by the bluff front and angry fascia of their Mercedes Unimog-based models.

In the rear cabin, you’ll find accommodation that’s more hardwearing and robust than plush, but considering these vehicles will scale mountains with more ease than most will scale kerbs, it’s easily forgivable.

Vintage Hymer caravan

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - vintage Hymer caravan

Occupying a rather charming corner of the show was this exhibit advertising the Hymer museum. Founded in 1923, the German brand has been building caravans and motorhomes longer than almost anyone else.

This vintage model looked rather cosy inside, and it was displayed alongside a glorious – and period-correct – Ford Taunus tow car.

Mercedes e-Vito Weekender

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Reimo weekender, Mercedes e-Vito

While any car expo these days will be littered with all-electric vehicles, the fuel of the motorhome world is still very much diesel. We had to look pretty hard to find this electric camper, a Weekender conversion by manufacturing giant Reimo based on the Mercedes e-Vito van.

The main reason campervans haven’t really made the switch to electric power is their limited range. The e-Vito doesn’t buck this trend – it’s theoretically capable of 93 miles on a full charge, but we expect the weight of all that camping gear will reduce that significantly.

Weinsburg Fiat 238

2019 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf - Weinsburg Fiat 238

Making us smile as we made our way to the press centre was this vintage Weinsburg camper, based on a Fiat 238. This van was Italy’s answer to the iconic Citroen H Van and endured until 1983, when the first Fiat Ducato was launched.

Also Read:

>> VW California T6.1 0 full details of new factory campervan

>> Review: VW Grand California - Volkswagen's supersized campervan

>> Full Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo campervan review

>> Campervans at the 2019 UK Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show

>> Campervan show stars - highlights from the 2018 Caravan Salon Dusseldorf