Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £50,148 Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Length: 5.41m Width: 2.27m Height: 2.68m Gross height: 3,500kg Payload: 625kg
While Auto-Trail’s campervan line-up of Adventure, Expedition and V-Line numbers 17 different Fiat-based models, just one of those is based on the medium-wheelbase van.
For 2021, this baby gets the new Cab-Plus feature with full headroom and an integrated curved ceiling above the front seats, as well as three storage pockets.
For £1,495 extra you can upgrade to the Panoview sunroof, while other options include a bike rack and Motorhome WiFi. The 140bhp engine is standard, but upgrades and the automatic gearbox are available.
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On all V-Lines there’s also a new 4.7kW Whale gas and electric heating system. The Media Pack is now standard, too, with a 21.5in Avtex smart TV plus Status digital aerial, radio with 8in touchscreen and steering wheel controls, plus a reversing camera.
The 540 saves you £1,763 against the six-metre 610 SE but, more importantly, it shaves 0.58m from the overall length. The medium-wheelbase Ducato is barely longer than a long VW T6 or Ford Transit Custom.
Like its bigger brothers, this V-Line comes in a choice of six metallic finishes at no extra cost. The 16in alloy wheels are standard, too.
The 540 feels very roomy for its size, the main compromise being a shorter rear lounge that can only make into a transverse double bed (1.85m by 1.28m). The conversion from lounge to bedroom takes very little time but the fixed backrest bolsters do limit bed length. There are reading lights in each corner, a TV bracket and posh pleated blinds.
There’s good storage under the nearside sofa but not much opposite, where you’ll find the Whale heating and power supply unit. The gas struts aren’t sufficient to support the bases without first removing the cushions.
The kitchen is very well equipped, with a Triplex cooker (three burners and an oven/grill), a Russell Hobbs microwave above and a large worktop extension flap by the sliding door (with a convenient mains socket underneath).
A second 230V socket is behind the cooker, while a small cutlery drawer is concealed in the cupboard under the sink. The 95-litre Dometic 8-Series fridge is opposite, underneath the wardrobe.
The proximity of furniture to the driver’s seat will mean that taller pilots should check that there’s enough adjustment to get comfy. The main table is stored here, too, and both front seats swivel. There’s no coffee table up front but the kitchen counter extension can serve the swivelled passenger seat.
The washroom is the usual Auto-Trail design, with a tip-up basin, a curtain for showering and rather awkwardly placed shower controls. It comes with a towel ring on the door and a tiny roof vent.
Despite minor niggles with its design, the washroom could be the reason to trade up from a smaller camper, while also keeping this V-Line SE in contention for those downsizing.
Its size is a key part of the appeal but the 540 still manages to feel quite plush, as well as being fully equipped and comfortable for a couple.