Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £58,729 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.98m Width: 2.32m Height: 2.93m Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 477kg
Carado might be one of the Erwin Hymer Group’s entry-level brands (along with Sunlight and Italian marque, Etrusco), but that doesn’t mean that it can’t offer a range of A-classes – or that its customers don’t want all the toys in their motorhomes.
This is the third season of Carado A-class motorhomes but the first year that it has offered higher spec Clever and Clever+ versions. For the 2021 model year, all three of its A-class models – I338 and longer I447 (both with single bed layouts) and the I449 with an island bed – are available in the two new enhanced editions.
Shown here is the Clever Edition, which goes without the alloy wheels, flush habitation windows and glazed entrance door of the Clever+, but gains an awning, second garage door, insulated waste water tank, larger fridge and an oven, compared with the standard I338.
It is based on a Fiat Ducato chassis-cowl with the 120bhp engine and stop/start, but this example (seen at Travelworld) had the optional 140bhp unit (standard on Clever+) as well as an LED TV and satellite dish to further enhance the spec.
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Externally, these Carado ‘I’ models are not the prettiest of A-classes (being rather boxy), but, with a starting price of under £60k, they have few direct rivals. Where they excel is in having a sturdy quality, with practical no-nonsense design as a watchword.
That starts here with a garage boasting a 1.18m internal height, 1.01m width at floor level, and tie-down hooks mounted on rails that run the full width of the locker, both fore and aft.
There’s also a light and 230V socket just inside the offside garage door, as well a selection of recesses to store smaller items, such as hoses and mains lead.
The cab, as usual with an A-class motorhome, has just a nearside door, but the twin-lens bus-style mirrors and wipers that are correctly handed for right-hand drive are welcome features.
Stepping inside, the I338’s lounge feels surprisingly spacious for a sub-seven-metre model, with the full-width A-class cab and its generous glazing playing a part in this.
The whole seating area retains the higher floor level of the cab, so everyone can sit comfortably without dangling feet. The captain’s chairs have a quilted upholstery, while the Nebula fabric is unique to Clever and Clever+ models, and the rear travel seats get automotive-style head restraints.
A fifth seat is provided on site by a rather diminutive inward-facing pew by the doorway, but you’ll certainly welcome the convenient cupboard under this for footwear.
To the rear is a decent L-shaped galley with conveniently located Thetford Duplex oven/grill. The Thetford hob comes with cast iron pan stands, while the low-level wardrobe alongside provides a useful extra worktop surface above, as well as creating a more open feel to the interior that would be lost with full-height furniture here.
Floor-to-ceiling units are solely on the offside, where a 167-litre fridge/freezer with automatic energy selection resides forward of the washroom. The nearside kitchen includes two drawers and a cupboard with fitted bin (under the sink) and that mini-wardrobe actually has a reasonable hanging depth (at 880mm from the rail).
The bathroom is one of this Carado’s best features, with a large mirror, tall storage cabinet, roof vent, robe hooks, clothes drying rail and a very good size shower without the need to use a clingy curtain.
As this is a relatively compact model without the space for a separate shower, it uses a tried and tested swing-wall arrangement where the basin rotates over the swivel cassette toilet.
The ribbed plastic walls to the shower look practical and easy to keep clean, while twin diagonal drains in the tray should ensure that you’re not standing in a puddle at the end of your shower.
It’s the single beds at the back of this motorhome that will be the reason to buy, though. Each measuring 810mm wide, they are 1.87m long on the offside and have an additional 10cm of mattress on the nearside.
A simple slide-out panel and a single infill cushion can then convert the twin beds into a simply HUGE double bed that’s 2.12m long (across the ’van) by a minimum of 1.87m wide.
A ladder is provided to access this vast bed, which is unusual as the centre section is as long as the mattresses that sandwich it on either side.
Of course, the twin beds have easier access, as the two steps are uncovered when the centre infill isn’t used but, even then, shorter folk may find the beds a tad high when climbing in.
Overhead lockers on the rear wall also prevent sitting up in the single beds, but this is nothing unusual with this type of floorplan. At the other end of the bedroom, illuminated shelved storage is available under the foot of each bed.
Of course, there’s another bed in the cab, too, where a typical A-class drop-down double is manually operated. The mattress here measures a generous 1.96m by 1.50m with 790mm headroom.
It’s good to see that a roof vent has been fitted here (the back bedroom has one, too) but there’s just a single light (on the nearside) for the occupants to share.
We expect most UK buyers will go a step further than this Clever Edition and opt for the Clever+ (from £60,739) which will look rather more upmarket with its alloy wheels and framed habitation windows.
There won’t be many further options to consider, except perhaps for Fiat’s smooth automatic gearbox (at £2,699) and, however you spec your I338, it’s likely that most of the alternatives at similar money will be pre-owned.
With the further advantage of a reasonably compact size and a respectable payload on a 3,500kg chassis, that makes this Carado an interesting model in the market.