Berths: 3 Travel seats: 4 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 575kg
Think of a continental motorhome brand and chances are its range includes a fixed bed layout within the confines of a Fiat panel van. The best-selling floorplans right across Europe are a transverse fixed double in a six-metre van and lengthways singles in the longer 6.36m Ducato. So popular are these formats – and the choice, even in the UK, so bewildering – that some manufacturers have worked hard to stand out from the crowd.
A few offer pop-top rising roofs on top of the high-top for additional berths, Knaus has its clever drop-down bed over the dinette and Hobby introduced a unique, eye-level fridge. Meanwhile, Rapido has its patented Modul’Space bathroom. If you plan to wild camp, stay on rally fields or aires, or attend festivals, then this is an innovation that could make all the difference.
While most fixed bed van conversions have their washroom sandwiched between the half-dinette and the rear bed on the nearside, Rapido’s V55 splits its ablutions department across both sides of the vehicle. So, the toilet cubicle is on the offside, aft on the galley and includes a cassette loo, corner basin and plenty of storage. Then, opposite, is a completely separate shower cubicle.
Just as you’d see in a much larger motorhome, the toilet door closes off the rear of the ’van to create a private en suite, but perhaps the cleverest part is the way the wardrobe lives in the shower area when the latter is now being used, then swings out over the bed when you want to wash yourself down. Even better, a second wardrobe door means easy access to fresh clothes when you come out of the shower.
The kitchen is more typical of this breed of camper as it stretches partially across the sliding door and needs a folding flap to provide some useful preparation space. In fact, the galley has been redesigned for the 2018 season and under the worktop extension there’s now a bottle store with elasticated straps. This may be a rather bijou kitchen but it does come with a three-burner hob.
Down below are three very large drawers, one with a cutlery holder, one incorporating a bin and two of them including divider rails so your plates, etc, don’t fly around. The drawers have a central locking device, too, but this will be less important if you forgo drawer space to have the optional oven – a rare find in this class. Just as rare – and equally appealing if the kitchen is a big selling point – is the V55’s fridge. The French ’van boasts a tall, 135-litre automatic energy selection fridge/freezer opposite the main kitchen unit.
The half-dinette has no such surprises but it does have plenty of legroom, high-quality upholstery and a wall-mounted table with swing-out extension leaf. At the other end of the vehicle, there are deep, shelved lockers over the bed on the offside, so feet have to go at this end. The mattress measures 1.84m by 1.28m but the usable length is greater, thanks to the shape of the side walls. Two reading lights, rear speakers and a new double USB port are fitted in the bedroom.