MMM Motorhome review of the 2006 Concorde Charisma 830F. This motorhome review first appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of MMM (Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly).
Our Auto-Trail Scout had stood us in good stead for some 11 years or more, but with our passion for the independence that a couple of small motorcycles gives, and with Janet passing her motorcycle test, our bikes had grown a tad larger.
So, the quest was on for a new ‘van that had a garage big enough to take the bulk and weight of our two bikes, plus all our clutter and still remain legal.
We went to view Carthagos at Lowdham Leisureworld (with no result) and Concordes at Southdowns in Portsmouth. At Southdowns, Janet popped her head into one example of a two-year-old Concorde Charisma. It had the oven under the hob and the microwave she wanted, plus the social seating area that we both wanted.
There was oodles of payload, a massive garage at the rear and a desirable Mercedes star on the front. We also discovered a built-in generator.
We had already been lectured by Dave Hurrell about the amount of cash we could save by buying nearly new and he was right. So the ‘van, with only 5,800 miles on the clock, became ours.
Apparently the previous owner had had all the goodies fitted, then decided it wasn’t big enough for his needs and upgraded to a larger one. On handover day Nigel Mansell was also in the showroom, ordering yet another new motorhome from Southdowns, so we felt in good company.
CAMPING AND KIT
Certainly, our Charisma is a fully-featured home on wheels, with no daily making up of beds, as there’s a comfortable fixed lengthways double (also known as a French bed) over the garage.
A 100-litre bulk gas tank, wind-out awning (with safari room) and SOG - niff-busting - toilet filter were all part of the deal with Southdowns, who also took our Scout in part-exchange.
The kitchen is fully-fitted, including a large fridge with separate freezer. There’s a three-burner hob, grill and oven with electronic ignition, along with an 800W microwave and a separate Nature Pure filtered water tap for drinking water.
Two mains sockets and a single 12V outlet in the kitchen are handy for the toaster and kettle when we are hooked up. However, the built-in generator or our inverter will also power these devices.
So why else have we gone from a traditional British ‘van to this German Goliath? Increased space, large motorbike-swallowing garage and big payload are important factors.
The Concorde’s frame is aluminium not wood, so doesn’t rot should water ingress take place. The double floor contains the massive fresh and waste water tanks, so they cannot freeze, especially as the superbly quiet and effective Alde wet-radiator heating system also heats the garage (and the rest of the interior).
The furniture and fittings are substantial: if you use them to haul yourself up from the floor the furniture does not move. There’s space - our Charisma is 8.5m long (27ft 10.5in) and, fully laden, weighs around six tonnes. We don’t expect, or get, the economy of a panel van conversion!
Storage space is more than ample, but we seem to have been able to fill it with essentials.
The washroom is two rooms, one for the shower and one for the hand basin and cassette toilet. Handily, there is a spare cassette stored in the garage.
So, has our Concorde Charisma proved its worth? The answer is most definitely: a true luxury home on wheels, the ‘van has long-term all-weather touring ability and with the capacity and payload to carry all our junk and our motorbikes. In short, our Charisma meets our needs in near-perfect fashion.
I did put the fully loaded vehicle on a weighbridge and found it too close to the limit for comfort. This resulted in a paperwork exercise with a company called SVTech. Now the Concorde has a gross vehicle weight of 6.4 tonnes, leaving 300kg to spare, even with full fuel and water tanks, two motorcycles, two large gazebos (plus sidewalls), the neccessary food, driver and passenger, plus all the clutter we often take away with us.
We use our Concorde as frequently as possible, attending most, if not all, of Warners outdoor shows, exhibitions at the NEC and visits to the Continent to soak up much needed sunshine. With our two motorbikes in the garage, the Concorde is the ultimate escape vehicle.
To download the full motorhome review in PDF format exactly as it appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of MMM, please click here
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