AT A GLANCE
Fiat Ducato extra-LWB Panel Van
2.3-litre, 148bhp, Euro V, six-speed gearbox
Two travel seats
Maximum weight: 3,500kg
- Innovative use of space
- Great storage
- Exceptional build quality with total lack of rattles
- Expensive as tested
- Shortish transverse bed
- Functional, dated washroom
To call the N-Class 630 RG from IH a ‘van conversion’ does it a great disservice. It did, obviously, start life as a Fiat Ducato panel van but it is now a fully-fledged motorhome. You wouldn’t refer to a Hymer A-class as a chassis-cab conversion so I will not refer to this IH in such prosaic terms.
This 630 comes with the 148bhp, 2.3-litre, Euro V+ lump mated to the optional six-speed Comfort-Matic gearbox. It’s a very useful and willing partnership, but it does take a while to learn its quirky ways to get the best out of it. The engine is very strong but the semi-automatic ’box, while preserving the useful torque, takes the fizz out of its performance. It forces you to drive sedately, look a bit further down the road than you might ordinarily do, and prepare accordingly. Having said that, you’ll soon get used to it and come to appreciate that it takes the hassle out of constant gearchanges. Or you could order a 3-litre with manual gearshift…
The double bed is now transverse only – and there’s no single bed option. The bed is 1.88m long, so if you’re over 6ft you might struggle to get a good night’s sleep.
In use, the lounge is very comfortable and the space consumed by the ‘boot’ doesn’t actually feel imposing at all as it provides a useful shelf. The rear has been designed to be both a functional area, with lots of storage, and inviting too, with thick, firm cushions providing excellent sofa comfort. The aesthetic of the curved overhead lockers is enhanced with the trim decoration continuing onto the ceiling.
The washroom is one area where the term ‘functional’ applies. Obviously, getting a full shower, toilet, washbasin and storage for your towels and toiletries into a ’van of this size is nothing to be sniffed at but the facilities are pretty basic.
So, if you are used to a large coachbuilts and want to downsize without compromising on quality, or if you need to keep to a compact ’van but also fancy something with all the trimmings of an A-class, then check out the N-Class line-up. They’re not cheap but they are more than a bit special.
This is an abridged version of the full review that appeared in the March issue of Which Motorhome