This is a very practical twin bed motorhome that offers a layout that’s strong in almost every area – and the enhanced UK spec means that it doesn’t really need anything much adding to its £50,799 base price. Backed by German build quality and an impressive tally of kit, like the 167-litre fridge, cab air-con and cruise control, it feels more premium than budget. It’s not just good, it’s a class-leader.
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £50,799 Berths: 2 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.90m Width: 2.32m Height: 2.90m Gross weight: 3,500kg
Carado is one of those brands that may have passed you by - it’s not the first name that comes to mind when you think motorhome. But you should pay attention to this brand as it’s a creation of the mighty Erwin Hymer Group who, with Dethleffs, formed the Capron venture in the former East Germany to build Carado and Sunlight-branded models in a repurposed tractor factory.
These are billed as ‘budget’ motorhomes, but in our experience they’re a significant step up in quality from many other entry-level options.
Sunlight vehicles are retailed by some of the larger UK dealers, while Carado models are sold via seven dealers, including Travelworld in Staffordshire, which has recently invested in impressive new premises right next to junction 14 of the M6. We collected ‘our’ Carado T337 test vehicle from them and headed to the Cannock Chase Camping and Caravanning Club site to put it through its paces.
UK-bound Carados come with a whole host of extra kit as standard compared with the German market equivalents, and only a limited selection of options, which keeps things simple.
The Basic Package comprises a rooflight over the kitchen, shower room panelling and a wooden duckboard, recovered cab chairs and extra 230V outlets in the kitchen and garage. British spec also features the Chassis Package, which adds cab air-con, ESP, a passenger airbag, electric heated mirrors, cruise control, pre-wiring for the radio and an aerial, as well as a height-adjustable passenger seat. There’s a Thetford Duplex oven/grill added, too, for good measure - all for the £50,799 base price.
This test vehicle had also been fitted with reversing camera pre-wiring and a TV bracket, bumping up the price to £51,111. The cherry on the cake was that Travelworld was, at time of writing, also offering this T337 with a sat-nav system and reversing camera (valued at £2,000) for free.
The T337 looks quite smart, with its all-white bodywork and simple graphics. It’s fashionable to have the cab a different colour, but it’s good that Carado has resisted this option as it makes it look more integrated with the low-profile bodywork. It’s well made, too, with durable extruded aluminum side skirts linked to rear plastic wheelarches.
The rear skirt is ABS plastic, so it would be wise to add a towbar and steel bumper to protect this – happily, Carado fits steel chassis extension sections under the rear garage, so this looks like a simple addition.
It’s easy to fill your T337 with kit, too, thanks to the large garage – with convenient access from both sides – that features tie-downs, a power point and the tools for changing a wheel. No spare is supplied but you do get some sealant and a compressor. As this sealant can only cope with a limited amount of tyre damage, we’d recommend adding a spare wheel.
Aluminium laminates are used for the sidewalls, while a textured GRP panel is used to protect the roof from hail damage. The standard water ingress warranty is five years.
The only slight disappointment was the 15-inch steel wheels and plastic wheeltrims. You can have alloy wheels fitted as part of the Chassis Comfort Pack (which also includes a leather steering wheel and gearknob, plus some extra dash trim, a gloss black grille and LED daytime running lights) but, as this costs an extra £1,239, we’d give it a miss and just get some aftermarket load-rated alloys fitted for around the £500-mark.
Stepping into the cab, the retrimmed seats sport twin padded armrests. Both have swivel bases and are height-adjustable, while the steering wheel adjusts for reach, so the driving position is ok for most.
The Carado comes with the 130bhp Euro 6 Fiat engine. We’d normally suggest upgrading to the 150bhp version, but here that’s a £1,649 option and it’s just not worth it – the 130bhp pulls fine. You could also consider having it remapped if you needed more oomph.
On the road, the size of the T337 made it a doddle to drive – as it’s a whisker under 7m long, it’s more convenient to manoeuvre and positioning it on the campsite proved easy.
There were a few rattles on the road – mainly from the grill pan (easily solved by padding with a tea towel) – but also one from the lounge blind and one from the shower cubicle. These could be sorted by adding some self-adhesive foam rubber strips.
With two outlets in the lounge area for the Truma Combi 6E heating system, you’ll be assured of being warm. The 34mm-thick insulation in the walls and 44mm floor should help keep things toasty.
The fresh water tank is inboard (under the travel seat), while the waste water tank is underslung and can be insulated for an extra £139.
The forward-facing travel seats feature a contoured backrest, rather than a bolt-upright one. They also have height-adjustable headrests and three-point seatbelts. They’re great seats.
The cab seats also swivel around to face the lounge and dining area. Pleasingly, you don’t have to release the handbrake prior to swivelling the driver’s seat.
With the addition of a cab sunroof (£439) and the stock spec including two large side windows and an overhead rooflight, there’s lots of natural light to fall on the Arctic cream upholstery and the cream/walnut cabinets. With an airy feel and lots of elbow, head and legroom, the only hint of ‘budget’ is the pull-down cassette roller blinds, rather than superior concertina models.
As for the kitchen, this is more premium than budget and features a smart Thetford three-burner hob with a one-piece, cast iron, pan support that’s a lot easier to remove for cleaning than fiddly individual wires. A large sink sits next to this and there’s plenty of worktop on which to dish up or place an electric kettle (there’s a 230V socket under the edge of the counter, by the sink, too).
You can soon forgive the plastic chrome-effect tap when you spot the Duplex oven and grill mounted under the hob as well as the impressive 167-litre Thetford fridge/freezer. This posh automatic energy selection model has a 29-litre freezer section.
Kitchen storage is equally impressive and, as well as two spacious overhead lockers with positive locking catches, there’s also a decent-sized cutlery drawer, a deep cupboard under the hob and two smaller lockers under the oven and below the fridge.
Opposite the kitchen is the central washroom and, here, Carado has been a bit more ambitious than just screwing a showerhead to a sidewall. The electric-flush Thetford swivel loo sits next to a curved basin moulding, above which are two mirrors. Next to these mirrors is a tall and narrow wood-effect cabinet that can hold all your toiletries on its four shelves. There are also two towel hooks and a fold-down overhead rail that’s perfect for wet clothes while they drip-dry.
The shower cubicle is formed by unclipping the washbasin and mirror unit, and spinning the whole assembly 90 degrees anti-clockwise. The reverse of the basin unit reveals a ribbed cubicle and a shower mounted on an adjustable-height rail with separate showerhead. An additional plastic shower screen folds out from the back of the door to create a spacious cubicle that’s 1.88m tall with the wooden duckboard removed (it reduces headroom by 2.5cm).
Stepping through to the rear of the motorhome, you’ll find two fixed steps leading up to a pair of spacious single beds – the shortest measuring 1.95m and the longest being 2.03m. You can also slide out a centre panel and add an extra infill cushion to create a double bed (in which you could sleep transverse or lengthways) that’s a whopping 2.11m long and 2.03m across at its widest point! Both beds are made of memory foam over sprung wooden slats.
What’s not perfect, though, is that the short ladder that you need to use in double bed mode fouls the washroom door. Carado could have moved it away from the washroom to cure this, but this would then mean the fridge door wouldn’t fully open. It’s something that might niggle on a night-time pitstop.
There are two side windows in the bedroom, both sealed off with the more basic type of pull-down cassette blind, which let in some light at the bottom. Three overhead storage lockers offer room for your clothing, books, iPads, etc - just take care when sitting up.
Ambient LED glow lighting is fitted along the edge of these cabinets, together with a couple of overhead reading lights. There are no 12V charging points for your phone, but as the lighting wiring runs in this cabinet it should be a doddle to add a couple of 12V or USB sockets.
The bedroom also sports two narrow shelves (which seem a bit pointless) over the windows and a couple of deep wardrobes under the bed. The offside wardrobe is shelved and could hold lots of clothing, while the nearside locker has a hanging rail.
Happily, the controls for the heating are located adjacent to the nearside bed, so you can adjust the temperature without having to get out from under your duvet.
The full version of this Carado T337 motorhome review was published in the June 2019 issue of MMM - Britain's best-selling motorhome magazine. You can buy a digital version of the issue - as well as lots of other editions - here. For print subscription offers and prices, click here.