Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £42,538 Berths: 2/4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.36m Width: 2.27m Height: 2.68m (with or without pop-top) Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 510kg
Words: Peter Vaughan
Photos courtesy of Auto-Trail
Auto-Trail’s Expedition campervans were a big hit in 2021. With a starting price of £36,995, they undercut even the kings of cut-price camping, Elddis, and were a no-brainer for this magazine’s Best Budget Van Conversion award. But there were just two models to choose from and, if you didn’t want a rear lounge, you’d have to spend more elsewhere.
For 2022, the Expedition range is expanded to include coachbuilts, but what we’re interested in here is the extra campervan that increases the line-up to a trio. The new 68 model is the first extra-long (6.36m) version and the first four-berth, too, as a colour-coded pop-top roof is offered as an option (also available now on the Expedition 67).
That’s the good news. The bad news is that, like everything in a post-Covid, post-Brexit world, the prices have gone up. The cheapest Expedition 66 now starts at £39,743, while this new 68 model is priced from £42,538. At least part of the increase can be attributed to the new Series 8 Ducato with its more efficient engines that meet Euro 6D-Final emissions standards. It’s not the most obvious of updates from Fiat, though, with most of the changes under the skin. Inside the cab, however, you’ll spot changes to the fascia, instrumentation, door trims and steering wheel. At this price point, you miss out on the fancier Fiat options, such as the big sat-nav screen but, whereas previous Expeditions came with a gaping hole where you’d expect to see a radio, the 2022 editions can be specified with a Zenec double-DIN head unit with Apple CarPlay – albeit as a £349 option.
You’ll also note that there’s a change of body colour. The original Expeditions were offered in any colour as long as it’s black, like the Model T Ford of 1909. The new range comes only in pale, non-metallic Expedition Grey, which is very on-trend and won’t turn your campervan into a motorised oven like a black camper might on a summer holiday in Spain.
On Iberian tours, you might also choose to sleep in the pop-top, where there are the usual large flyscreened vents at the front and offside (plus a window on the nearside). This isn’t the same roof as on the more expensive Adventure
range, instead being a generic Trigano Group fitting. It comes with a 1.92m by 1.29m mattress sitting on a solid GRP base (no posh plastic springs here), but it does feature a pair of flexible wand reading lights, each with a built-in USB port. There are small storage trays at either side of the front of the roof, too.
Be sure that you need the pop-top, though, as it’s a pricey option, at £5,500. It’ll reduce your payload by 126kg, too. Without it, you’ll be sleeping in the fixed rear bed, which is where the 68 differs markedly from its stablemates.
Unless a 1.73m bed is adequate for you, you’ll be sleeping across the width of the vehicle on a mattress that measures 1.78m long (on a slatted frame) but actually offers a more practical bed length of 1.86m wall to wall. Lying transversely, you’ll have a 1.38m-wide bed but that extends to the aforementioned 1.73m figure between bedside cupboards (the grey section of mattress in our images).
There’s room to sit up, too, unlike in so many of its ilk, because top cupboards are only fitted on the offside. There’s an opening window on this side, too, in addition to back doors’ openable glazing. Twin reading lights and a pair of USBs are fitted on the nearside but the ladder that will be essential for access to the bedroom (the mattress is 1.08m off the floor) was missing from this prototype.
Even more than the fixed bed, this camper is about the storage beneath, which is extremely generous, if not a match for the Adria Sports 640 SG. The garage here measures 1.71m long by 1.15m wide and 950mm tall, but it’s the optional slide-out storage trays (costing £295 each) that really make this space. These are large enough to carry full-sized bikes with their front wheels removed.
The rear is also home to the gas locker (for two 6kg cylinders) and a 230V power point on the nearside, while an additional water carrier is found on the offside, the thinking being that this could supply a portable pressure washer to clean your cycles.
As well as through the rear barn doors, the garage can be accessed from inside the vehicle (important if dogs, not bikes, are housed there), but, when loading from the exterior, the Expedition shows off a neat feature – a cover that not only keeps the bedroom private but protects your bed and bedding from rain.
The rest of the Expedition 68 is more conventional, although there are other new features. The kitchen, adjacent to the sliding door, has the usual hob/sink combination unit, as well as a worktop extension flap at the forward end. An oven/grill is a pleasant surprise, bearing in mind the price point, while the 84-litre fridge is a compressor model rather than the three-way absorption type fitted in the rest of the range. It’s mounted at waist height with a set of three drawers below.
The washroom – described as a one-piece GRP wet room – is a big plus not only over other Expedition models but also the pricier V-Lines. It comes with a bench cassette loo and fixed corner basin, but you’ll still need to deploy a curtain for showering (when the tap pulls out to double up as the showerhead).
The lounge is a carryover from other Auto-Trail models, with swivel cab seats and a half-dinette featuring seats with plenty of automotive-style shaping and support. There’s full headroom in the cab, too, while the table folds flat against the wall when not in use – a feature that’s better for passenger safety as well as creating a more open feel to the seating area.
Even with the expensive pop-top added, the Expedition 68 undercuts the rising roof model from Elddis (which is only 6m long). Its spec includes a solar panel but you might want to add the second leisure battery (£200), cab blinds (£590) and the alloys (£672). Fiat’s 140bhp motor is standard, so the only other thing you might yearn for is a step at the side door.
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