Best fixed bed coachbuilt under £60k: McLouis Fusion 360 motorhome
The McLouis Fusion range might not be as well known as some of its rivals but perhaps it should be. Not only does it come from the Trigano Group (which also includes names such as Auto-Sleepers, Auto-Trail, Benimar and Chausson), but its importation to these shores is handled by that stalwart of the British industry, Auto-Sleepers, and the vehicles have a generous UK-friendly spec, as well as a fully ‘UK-handed’ body with the habitation door on our nearside.
Its line-up is not the bewildering plethora of models offered by some of its more established opposition, as just five models cover most of the fixed bed bases. Here, we’ve sidestepped the obvious island bed models and plumped instead for the modestly sized (sub-7m) Fusion 360 with its extra-large garage and extra-long double bed. It may not be the most fashionable layout but it certainly has its pluses.
The first of those winning features is the garage, which comes with large loading doors on either side, plus heating, lighting, four corner-mounted lashing points and a small hatch into the living area (useful when it’s raining or if you have dog cages in the garage). Internal width at floor level is 1.09m and headroom is excellent, at 1.20m, so there’s plenty of room for a couple of e-bikes.
However, if you want to carry a more potent two-wheeler, there’s also an unusually generous 300kg weight limit for this garage – double what many rivals can offer. That might also encourage you to go for the no-cost upgrade to a 3,650kg gross weight, if your licence allows, thus upping total payload to a useful 593kg.
The exterior looks of the McLouis are from the standard European Motorhome Design Rulebook, but the key feature, of course, is the UK-side habitation door, which forgoes the need for any external step, thanks to the lower Fiat Camper chassis. More brownie points are scored for the big overcab Sky Dome window, the alloy wheels and the flush-fit habitation windows, which you might not expect at this price level.
The beauty is more than skin deep, too, as the Italian motorhome boasts a glass-fibre finish underneath and on the roof (which you can walk on). Body construction is referred to as WPS, the key strengths of which are a 70mm floor, polyester inner walls and a complete absence of wood.
Another plus is the spec which, on 2020 models, now includes the (previously extra cost) Lux Pack as standard. That adds a high-level DAB radio with sat-nav, a reversing camera that’s also linked to the radio display, a 95Ah leisure battery, cab blinds, a 120W solar panel and removable carpets for the living area.
So, the options list is commendably short and you’ll not be left pondering whether to tick that box or this one for extra kit. You can, however, have the new Fiat nine-speed automatic gearbox (priced at £2,000) and, if you want to maximise your load carrying potential, there’s a Heavy chassis option with 4,400kg maximum gross weight (also priced at two grand extra). It’s the 140bhp Euro 6d motor that comes as standard, while the potent 160bhp unit (with 380Nm torque output) is £1,000 more.
The ubiquitous Ducato cab may be lacking a bit of bling (bar the cream leather-look seats) but it’s not short of spec.
As well as the aforementioned Lux Pack items, cab air-con, cruise control, a passenger airbag, Traction Plus and hill descent control are all standard, as well as steering wheel-mounted switches for the stereo. Another important feature is the central locking, which includes the habitation door, not just the cab.
The lounge is typical of a continental 7m-motorhome, with room for five or six around the fixed table, which is a good size for family dining and rotates/slides in every possible direction, with just a single handle to operate it easily.
There’s good natural light from the overcab sunroof and artificial lighting from an unrivalled selection of LED strips and spots. For travel, the L-settee includes two three-point belts, while the nearside settee converts into an extra occasional rear-facing pew with a lap belt.
Net curtains add a bit of continental flavour, while the Sky Dome rooflight is one of the biggest of its type and the overcab has cupboards at either side (where others fit open pockets that rival chocolate fireguards on the practicality scale). But what really impresses as you start to examine the Fusion more thoroughly is the solid build, with a sense of no-nonsense durability that is lacking in some 'blingier' rivals.
The kitchen is, perhaps, where the sturdier quality shines through most clearly and the appeal here goes beyond the Thetford Duplex oven/grill and the tall, slim 142-litre fridge with automatic energy selection.
There’s a touch more worktop than you’ll find in some rivals and the twin (high and low) pull-out pantry units found between the fridge and the cooker are perfect for bottles, tins and packet foods. The spec here even includes an extractor over the hob.
It is hard to fault the design of the bathroom, too. Headroom is generous (1.93m) and the toilet area has an opening window, plenty of room to use the swivel cassette toilet and decent amounts of worktop and storage space.
Alongside, there’s a proper separate shower with twin drain holes and the usability of this well-proportioned space is increased by the step that’s perfect for feet-washing, or even to act as a seat.
Then, finally, there’s the rear bed, running the full width of the motorhome. Mattress length is a whopping 2.20m (headroom in the kitchen area also suits the super-tall, at 2.08m). The one-piece mattress offers excellent comfort and two built-in steps aid access.
As a four-berth, the Fusion 360 also comes with a drop-down bed up front (another feature that’s an extra cost item on some rivals). It’s electrically operated and, unlike many of its ilk, it doesn’t interfere with the kitchen or access through the habitation door and there’s no need to move any cushions (or even clear the table) before you deploy it. The mattress here is also as thick and comfy as the one at the rear.
So, the Fusion might not be the most obvious choice, but its great standard spec, durable quality and UK-friendly design should put it top of your must-see list.