Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato/Ford Transit Price from: £47,330 ex-works Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 5.96m/5.99m Width: 2.35m Height: 2.89m Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 698kg (Fiat)
Chausson’s 640 has been a best seller right across Europe. With its mix of big lounge (and super-sized drop-down bed above), spacious end washroom/dressing-room and a full-sized bike-swallowing garage, its appeal is plain to see. Perhaps, the only thing against it is its length – even a fraction under 7m is too big for some buyers.
So, for 2020, the concept of the 640 comes in three sizes. The new 650 is over half a metre shorter (despite the greater model number) but it’s the real baby of the trio – the 520 – that we’re interested in here as it’s only 5.96m long (when based on Fiat, 3cm more on Ford). The new 520 also replaces the previous 530 and introduces the Smart Lounge format into Chausson’s smallest low-profile for the first time, making this a unique offering in the market.
Thus, this diminutive little motorhome (the same length as many a Fiat Ducato van conversion) has Chausson’s Maxi-Lounge (with side settees that convert into forward-facing belted travel seats), a wide entrance door (600mm), a large washroom and even Isofix for a pair of child seats. And, although it can’t match the external garage space of the larger 640 and 650, it still has an outside locker accessed by a top-hinged hatch in the rear wall. In here there are two fold-up shelves and a maximum height of 0.95m, while depth is 0.35m.
It’s the space in the lounge that really impresses, though. The settees seem a touch high (taller than the swivelled Ford cab seats on their highest setting) but there’s room for up to seven folk and the nearside settee is a generous 1.57m long. Also, the table twists, slides and folds to free up space – or unfolds to a 1.00m by 0.82m dining surface. An overcab Skyroof further increases the feeling of space.
There’s plenty of headroom under the drop-down bed when raised and, when down, it measures 1.88m by 1.39m (narrowing to 1.20m). It comes right down to seat height and only slightly obstructs the entrance.
The kitchen includes a fridge totally out of proportion with the size of motorhome – a whopping (and welcome) 167 litres. It’s a French spec model shown here but UK versions get a Thetford Triplex cooker with three burners and a combined grill/oven.
Across the rear, behind a curving white tambour door is a good-sized washroom with a rectangular basin, cassette toilet, generous separate shower with roof vent and twin drains, and a large, mirror-fronted cupboard with sliding door. More mirrors hide the double wardrobe with side-by-side hanging rails, but be aware that a lot of space is taken up by the extra cushions which convert the lounge into a second double bed (if required).
The 520 is available on either Fiat or Ford chassis (120 or 130bhp as standard respectively, but with upgrades available). Our choice would be the Transit, which offers the more modern cab and more cosseting suspension set-up, as well as a slightly lower price.
You’ll definitely need the £1,750 VIP Pack (cab air-conditioning, passenger airbag, cruise control, flyscreen door, colour-coded front bumper, seat covers, panoramic skylight, etc), but it’s tempting to go further with the Premium Pack (an additional £2,200) which enhances the motorhome with everything from cab blinds to central locking on the habitation door, a reversing camera and plenty more.