30/06/2020
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Best fixed bed van conversion: Rapido V62 motorhome

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This van conversion from Rapido was a deserved winner in the What Motorhome Awards, taking top spot in the Best Fixed Bed Van Conversion group. Editor Peter Vaughan explained why...

 

The founder editor of our sister magazine, MMM, the late John Hunt, once told me that his perfect motorhome would be the size of a small car, but his wife’s ideal model would be as big as a coach. I guess that’s the quandary we all struggle with – finding a vehicle that offers all the comforts of home in as small and manageable a package as possible.

The desire to drive something that doesn’t feel as if it needs an HGV licence is best exhibited by the rapid growth of the van conversion sector. Campervans are narrower than almost all coachbuilts, so fit better on country lanes and in towns.

They are the same width from front to rear and usually have better visibility out, too, so they’re easier for first-time buyers to adapt to. And their all-steel automotive build gives greater reassurance should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident.

But – and it’s a BIG ‘but’ – all the aspects of living onboard have to be squeezed into a very finite space and one that lacks the simple voluminous box of a coachbuilt. That hasn’t stopped designers, however, trying to get every feature from their low-profile motorhomes into the confines of a panel van.

Rapido’s V62 probably comes the nearest yet to combining the best of both worlds. Even so, this is not a seven-metre Mercedes Sprinter but the oft-converted Fiat Ducato, in 6.36m extra-long form.

Buyers don’t want to compromise, even when downsizing, so the V62 has everything you’d expect in a modern low-profile coachbuilt. Overcab sunroof – check. Fixed double bed – check. Big fridge/freezer – check. There’s even a pretty generous 100-litre fresh water tank, too.

The layout will be familiar to those used to driving something bulkier. Of course, the slimmer body of a panel van won’t allow for an island bed, but the classical French bed here makes good use of space by allowing the washroom to nestle in alongside.

The bed is mounted quite high off the floor, both to maximise the mattress’ measurements and to increase storage below, but a pull-out step aids access. It even comes with a reclining head section, so the bedroom becomes a more useful relaxation area during the day. There are two reading lamps, a rear speaker, twin USBs and an opening window here, too.

The bed in the Rapido V62

Underneath, the rear boot area is 1.06m deep and up to 1.20m wide, with a load height of 0.78m – much more with the headboard raised. And, with the rear barn doors open for access, it’s a more accessible and versatile space than you’d get in most coachbuilts.

Another big plus is the super-sized sliding door, which really lets the outside become one with your accommodation on a summer’s day. Not only that, of course, but Rapido was one of the innovators that introduced a panoramic Skyview sunroof into the cab, not only increasing the amount of natural light here but giving fabulous vision for rear passengers and allowing full standing room right through the vehicle.

The lounge, of course, includes the cab seats, while the half-dinette bench not only features car-like shaping for better comfort, and automotive headrests, but also an extendable squab cushion for greater under-knee support.

Unusually for a van conversion, there’s also a side-facing seat and, although it’s backless, you can just add scatter cushions when the door is closed. It’s a spacious seating area for four or five, with a second sunroof over the centre featuring four spotlights in its surround, and there are touch-operated reading lamps in the cab.

Behind the half-dinette, the galley is another area that takes its design inspiration from larger motorhomes. Its L-shaped format includes six soft-close drawers, all with central locking – deleting one of those on UK models means you can have an oven/grill mounted at a convenient level instead.

The latest gas-on-glass hob combines the modern looks of an induction cooker with the convenience of propane, while a solid hinged cover means there’s enough worktop. A spice rack and storage slots recessed into the wall ensure that not an inch of space is wasted, while a rubbish bin is also built-in.

Opposite, there’s another nice surprise. No modest under-counter fridge but, instead, one of the tall/slim coolers with 135-litre capacity. It’s an automatic energy selection version, too, and has more cupboard space above, as well as a pull-out rack for tinned foods alongside.

Next to the galley, even the wardrobe is a good size and incorporates shelves as well as a hanging space, plus a drawer for shoes. There’s plenty of floorspace, too, around the foot of the bed for getting changed.

Finally, the washroom can’t achieve miracles – there’s no separate shower – but it has everything you could reasonably expect. A tambour door provides convenient access and the room is lined with practical GRP mouldings. The swivel cassette toilet is serviced via the rear doors and the new-look basin is a huge improvement on rivals’ flimsy tip-up units. Even the shower curtain has clips to hold it in place, so that it doesn’t entangle you.

Of course, all this comes with Rapido’s typical upmarket feel, including a choice of Castello or Elegance styles for the furniture. Everyone will opt for the Rapido Van Pack, of course, as it includes a passenger airbag, cruise control, ESC with ASR and Roll Over Mitigation and hill holder, cab air-conditioning, height-adjustable Comfort cab seats, a colour-coded front bumper, Duo Control automatic gas changeover system and a Pioneer radio with Bluetooth.

Right-hand drive versions also get living area carpets, a flyscreen for the sliding door, silver metallic exterior colouring, Traction Plus with Hill Descent Control, and a leather steering wheel with remote radio controls as standard, as well as the aforementioned gas oven.

The Control Pack and Safety Pack can add further base vehicle kit, while engine upgrades (from the standard 140bhp) and features such as diesel (in place of gas/electric) heating and a second leisure battery can also be added as options. What it all adds up to, though, is a motorhome that, for many, makes it easier than ever to choose a van conversion over a coachbuilt.

 

Read our review of the Rapido V62 campervan here.

Buy the July issue of What Motorhome magazine here

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