The large kitchen, spacious rear washroom and side settee lounge are difficult to fault, intelligently designed and packed with features. In two-berth mode the bed system works well, too, but, like its rivals, the Matrix is less successful as a four-berth, especially as the rear-facing offside travel seat isn’t pleasant to use. For two people, though, the 600 DT is the new class leader.
Price from: £62,865 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.99m Gross weight: 3,500kg
Drop down beds in low-profile coachbuilts have been all the rage for the last few years, ever since showgoers were transfixed by the sight of the bed effortlessly gliding down from the ceiling of a motorhome at the touch of a button.
Bürstner, Chausson and Rapido were key innovators in this sector and soon models followed from almost all the major manufacturers. Next came motorhomes that had the over-lounge drop-down bed not as an additional sleeping area but the main one.
That allowed compact, sub-six-metre models to flourish, but a demand for more storage (without resorting to a fixed bed) saw garage models such as Chausson’s 640 layout become best-sellers. Now Adria has joined the fray with the latest addition to its Matrix range, the 600 DT, which also (like its Chausson and Bürstner rivals) follows the fashion for a spacious, side settee lounge.
This model starts at £62,865 and uses the Fiat Ducato Camper wide-track chassis for a lower floor and better weight distribution.
While the habitation equipment is pretty generous in that price tag and includes the top-spec Truma Combi 6E gas/electric heating, a capacious 167-litre fridge and three-burner hob, as well as a separate oven and grill, the cab equipment is pretty basic and doesn’t come with air-con as standard. So, you’ll need to budget at least £1,820 to get the Pack 1, which includes cab air-conditioning, cruise control and a passenger airbag.
The test motorhome actually sported the more expensive Pack 2, which costs £2,950 and, in addition to Pack 1 spec, also includes front foglights, a leather steering wheel and gear lever gaiter, Traction Plus and Hill Descent Control.
Other must-have items are the excellent Camos reversing camera (£590) and the wind-out cassette awning (£680). If you want both these items and sat-nav, then it also makes sense to add the £3,060 Luxury Pack, which includes this trio and also alloy wheels, a head unit with DAB radio (as well as the sat-nav) and a roof rack and rear ladder.
All this takes a fully loaded Matrix 600 DT to just over £70,000.
The test vehicle was powered by the 140bhp version of Fiat’s 2.3-litre engine, which meets Euro 6d emissions and sips AdBlue. A 160bhp engine is optional for £1,850, while the flagship 178bhp engine also includes a chassis upgrade and costs a rather eye-watering £5,570.
The standard engine will be fine for most buyers and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. You can get an automatic (the new nine-speed unit) for an extra £2,950, but it’s only available with the 160bhp or 178bhp engines, so it’ll cost you at least £4,800 to lose the clutch pedal.
These latest Fiat engines are pretty refined and offer plenty of pulling power and the Matrix is a smooth drive. The only point to note if you’re a taller driver is that the swivel seat base does make it a little on the tall side. If you’re over 6ft, you’ll never need to use the sun visor, that’s for sure.
The retrimmed seats are well padded and include two upholstered armrests on each seat. One thing that’s particularly notable is the redesigned cab blinds from Remis, which have now dispensed with the plastic frame that part-obscured your view out of the driver’s door. They are now far less intrusive and even simpler to use.
When pitched up, both cab seats swivel around easily and you don’t need to lower the handbrake. As they’re on the same level as the lounge, thanks to an insulating false floor, they integrate really well to form two extra lounge chairs.
A pair of long and wide side settees dominate the lounge and, even though there’s no overhead rooflight, the sunhatch over the cab and the large side windows behind each settee let the light flood in.
The test vehicle sported a pleasing mix of Zanna grey fabric, offset by coffee-coloured Edvard leather edging and this worked well with the stripy wood-effect cabinets and gloss white cupboard doors. It managed to look ultra-modern and homely at the same time, which is always a pleasing trick to pull off.
Central to the side settees is a fixed dining table that can be lowered to coffee table height or lifted up to normal dining level at the touch of a lever. It slides forward and aft and also flips over to double in size. It’s an easy unit to use and, when in half-sized mode, it doesn’t get in the way of moving around the interior.
Also in the lounge area are a couple of rear travel seats. The nearside one is formed by removing a section of the settee base – in order to create legroom – and then rearranging the cushions. It’s a well-designed seat and has a steel frame that supports a three-point seatbelt as well as an adjustable headrest.
However, the second seat (on the offside) uses a rather thin steel framework that is attached to the seat base via push-in pins.
A headrest attaches to this assembly and there’s also a lap belt mounted to a steel frame. The trouble is the passenger sits facing backwards, with the lack of vision that results from such a layout.
There’s no need to use the dining table for food preparation duties, as the L-shaped kitchen is a delight with lots of useable worktop space. It is also fitted with a three-burner in-line gas hob, a large sink (complete with a removable draining board) and a Thetford grill and oven. Opposite is a tall 167-litre three-way fridge with a large freezer compartment.
All this kitchen kit isn’t at the expense of storage space, either, and there are lots of thoughtful details to delight any chef. For starters you get two large overhead lockers, while underneath the sink are a cutlery drawer and two deeper drawers that are ideal for pots and pans.
There’s an additional cupboard under the oven, but best of all is a wide slide-out larder (complete with a triple-shelved wire rack) that works brilliantly. With an extra couple of lockers above and below the fridge, you’re pretty spoiled for space here.
One of the downsides of the drop-down bed low-profile motorhome is that it generally lacks, or limits, the overcab and upper locker space. If there’s no fixed bed either, you might wonder if storage is sufficient.
The 600 DT gets around any lack of storage capacity by including a massive wardrobe in the washroom. This is large enough to hold all of your clothes and includes a long hanging rail and two deep drawers. It’s a very versatile locker and really adds to the appeal of the room.
An aluminium-coloured tambour door closes off the rear washroom and, even with this shut, the space inside is impressive.
The toilet is a Thetford electric flush pedestal version and there’s lots of room around it to get comfortable, while the washbasin bowl sits on a roomy section of grey worktop and is fed by a separate tap. A mirrored cabinet can hold all the family’s toiletries, while there’s an additional locker under the basin that’s ideal for spare loo rolls and cleaning kit.
The shower is housed in a separate cubicle on the opposite side to the loo and has a couple of good-quality aluminium-framed doors sealing it off. Although the wheelarch intrudes into the floor space, it doesn’t get in the way at all (and could be used to sit on). The shower tray itself has two drains and the high-quality shower sits on an adjustable rail and has been cleverly built into a deep recess that is perfect to rest your shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
Overhead there’s a large opening rooflight and even a hanging rail for soggy clothes to drip-dry.
This is a great shower for any motorhome, but especially in a relatively compact 6.99m model. And best of all, when you get out of the shower, there’s a palatial amount of space to towel off and get dressed. This is a first-rate washroom that you can’t help but love, and a good reason to buy the 600 DT.
Setting up for the night in the Adria is pretty straightforward, with the cab featuring built-in blinds. Two blinds pull across to close off the windscreen, while the cab door blinds are a redesigned version that fold out in a fan shape and magnetically attach to the door surround – they work much better than the earlier Remis design.
All the other blinds in the vehicle are the usual pull-down concertina type and, with all the daylight sealed out, there is excellent lighting from the many LED mood and spotlights that are dotted around the interior.
One double bed is formed by lowering the table to the floor and then slotting the lounge backrest cushions over the tabletop. This bed works fine but, when you press the button to lower drop-down bed above it, the headroom is quite limited.
Adria has provided some really narrow overhead lockers under the bed but these are too small to be of much use – you struggle to get your hand in them – so it would have been better to delete these to increase headroom. In reality, though, the bed made from the seats is an occasional-use item for when the grandchildren come, too – the main bed is the drop-down one.
The lowerable bed itself glides down easily and has two settings, depending on the number of berths in use.
In four-berth mode it stops halfway down and you need to use the ladder that’s stored in the garage to access it. Happily, you can retrieve the ladder via the hatch in the washroom, so there’s no need to venture outside.
With the ladder in place, you can now access the 1.96m by 1.50m bed and the foam mattress is on a gridded mat so it can air.
It’s a comfortable and spacious bedroom, but the reading light LEDs have been sited at the narrower end of the bed (most people will want to use the wider section as the head end). A couple of clip-up mesh panels make the bed suitable for kids and can be easily adjusted to prevent them rolling out of bed.
This new Matrix makes a lot more sense in two-berth mode, though, which involves flipping a hidden switch to allow the motor to stop the bed in its lower position, just above seat level. This works much better and allows you to get in and out of bed without needing the ladder.
Bedding can stay in situ on the drop-down double, so that’s another storage issue solved. And, not only does the 600 DT have that vast wardrobe but, below that is an excellent garage, with access doors on both sides of the motorhome. It’s an easy vehicle to load up and the locker door on the nearside is nearly full height, while the space on this side also includes a smart flip-up shelf design, further increasing versatility. You won't be short of storage space in this motorhome.