This Carado is, in many ways, a typical continental island bed low-profile. However, its combination of sturdy, durable build and relatively affordable pricing is not easy to find elsewhere (except with sister brand, Sunlight). It is refreshingly free of unnecessary bling but you might need to add a few options/accessories to complete your ideal spec.
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £52,899 (£55,435 as tested ) Berths: 2 (3 as tested, optional up to 5) Travel seats: 4 (5 optional) Length: 7.40m Width: 2.32m Height: 2.90m Gross vehicle weight: 3,500kg (optional 3,850kg) Payload: 557kg
This Carado model aims right at the heart of the UK motorhome market. It takes Europe’s most popular base vehicle, the Fiat Ducato, adds a low-profile body and completes it with what has to be one of the most frequently purchased layouts in 2019 - the island bed. It does all this in the usual length of just under seven-and-a-half metres and, crucially, arrives in Britain with price tag of around £55k.
Carado vehicles would be even more affordable if they adopted the back-to-basics specification seen on the Continent. In their homeland, you’ll pay extra for the Basic Package or Chassis Package, but here both are included as standard.
However, with two packs as standard, there are still two more that you can add at extra cost, and both featured on our test vehicle. The Emotion Package swaps the white exterior for one with Champagne-coloured sides, while the Chassis Comfort Package completes the aesthetic transformation with the stylish 16in alloy wheels, blackened headlamp surrounds and a gloss black grille, as well as a bit of bling inside the cab and a leather steering wheel.
As tested, the T449 certainly avoids looking Spartan, although there are still giveaways that you haven’t spent more. The habitation door has no window but does come with a flyscreen and an electric step and the habitation windows are the caravan-style ones that sit proud of the body. What you can’t fault here is the impression of sturdy build quality.
The lounge layout is the European favourite of swivel cab seats, a single side seat and an L-shaped settee incorporating two travel seats. The backrest here is a good deal less upright than many, while the fixed table twists and slides in all directions. Lighting is primarily from downlights mounted under the top lockers and, although there’s a ceiling lamp just in front of the fridge, we'd have liked another one over the table, as well reading lights for the cab chairs.
Even in bright Spring daylight you might wish for more of it to enter the living area, as there are no windows on the offside of the lounge and our test motorhome lacked the overcab sunroof, which is a £439 option worth considering.
You step down from the lounge into the kitchen (before stepping back up into the bathroom and bedroom), so headroom here is up to 2.08m. It’s a pretty well-appointed area, with the inclusion of a Thetford Duplex oven/grill as another Brit-pleasing touch that you wouldn’t see in Germany. Opposite, the fridge/freezer has a whopping 167-litre capacity.
At the rear is the T449’s key feature – the island bed. As with a number of rivals, the bed has a system to create more space around the foot by shortening the mattress. In the Carado, it’s simply an infill cushion that slots in at the head end. Without it, the mattress is just 1.79m long, with the infill added, bed length grows to 1.95m.
With windows on both sides, the bedroom area doesn’t want for natural light and there’s a simple curtain to provide privacy here. Do check out the space between the toilet room on the offside and the foot of the (extended) bed, though, which some may find too tight.
There’s more room around the bed on the nearside because, unusually, the shower cubicle has its frosted plastic doors pinned open by a false floor when it’s not in use. Remove that wooden panel and you step down into a shower with 1.98m headroom, twin drains, a roof vent and a reasonable amount of shoulder room. But with the shower doors unfolded there’s only 130mm between the cubicle and the bed, so you can see why it stows with the doors open.
The toilet cubicle is usable with its door closed, but works best when its door is opened around to shut off the whole en suite bedroom. Then, you’ll appreciate its well-planned storage, large corner basin and generous mirror. All in all, the ablutions facilities work well here.
Under the rear bed is a large locker that might not quite qualify as a full garage as its headroom is just less than a metre (0.97m). Nevertheless, it’s a good-sized space, although the gas locker intrudes considerably on the nearside.
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