The 768 is innovative and feature-rich, with an impressive layout and the convenience of fold-away travel seats and not one but two double beds. Equally appealing is the Ford Transit base vehicle with its 168bhp grunt and smooth automatic (although you can get a Ducato-based if you prefer). However, it has been built to a keen price and there are areas where its budget price tag shows.
Base vehicle: Ford Transit Price from: £50,650 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 7.49m Height: 2.92m Weight: 3,500kg Payload: 528kg
Together with twin rear bed layouts, there has been a surge in the uptake of island beds, with Chausson offering its 768 layout as part of a 13-strong ‘configurable low-profile’ Welcome range. In Chausson-speak configurable means electric drop-down beds over the lounge area (except where they are standard as the main bed) and a choice of standard spec, VIP Pack and Premium Pack equipment levels. Some models also feature additional electric height-adjustable rear beds and even fold-away rear travel seats. The 768 model has the lot, making it a real-life Transformer of a motorhome.
However, it’s not just a one-dimensional gadget-laden motorhome, as the 768 has a popular layout featuring that all-important island bed, separate shower and loo cubicles, a well-equipped kitchen and even a decent-sized rear garage.
Unusually, there’s a choice of base vehicle – either Ford Transit or the familiar Fiat Ducato. Both models are also available with an automatic gearbox – a robotised manual for the Fiat and a torque-converter-equipped transmission for the Ford. The test vehicle was based on the Transit with the upgraded 168bhp (170PS) engine and the automatic; this would be our top choice. You also get a five-year Ford warranty, rather than the two-year cover that comes with a Ducato with imported conversion (UK-ordered Fiats typically have a three-year warranty).
Having driven the 177bhp Ducato with the Comfort-Matic gearbox, there’s no doubt that the Ford’s engine and transmission are superior. It shifts gears more smoothly and the softer-sprung Ford is more comfortable and refined. The Transit is a more modern vehicle (launched in 2014, it gets a facelift later this year), while the Ducato (which debuted in X2/44 form in 2007) feels a little agricultural compared to the best in class large vans (with the latest Mercedes Sprinter and VW Crafter now leading the way).
Cab equipment levels in Chausson’s Premium spec include the usual remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, as well as air-con, cruise control, a heated front screen and twin airbags. While Bluetooth for smartphone connectivity is built into the stereo, together with steering wheel controls, it lacks a sat-nav.
Chausson is making a big deal about its IRP body design. This stands for Insulation, Resistance and Protection and the company is keen to point out that it uses composite batons in the corners that are wooden batons bonded to PVC – it says this dual-material baton is more rigid and stronger that just PVC and that wood is actually the best material to use (pointing out that’s why your house rafters are made of it).
This wood/PVC framing is mated up to a glass-fibre outer skin, an XPS Styrofoam inner and an inside wall covering, with the floor gaining an additional 6mm plywood layer and a PVC floor covering on its upper two layers (glass-fibre also protects the underside of the floor). The whole assembly is bonded together and the aluminium extrusions at the joints are bonded – not screwed – to further prevent any chance of leaks.
The 63.5mm-thick floor and 54.5mm-thick roof also has insulation benefits and enables the Chausson to meet Grade III insulation standards.
Inset into the side of the 768 is what Chausson refers to as a Technibox, which is an all-in-one hatch containing all the 12V fuses and the 230V consumer unit trip switches. It’s also home to the fresh water winter drain-down point – a good idea.
One issue with motorhomes that have drop-down beds can be the ceiling height but, thanks to a lower floor around the lounge and kitchen, this isn’t the case with the 768 and over-six-footers won’t bump their head on anything as they settle into a settee.
With two large side settees, plus the two swivelling cab seats (which need the cab doors to be opened to rotate them), there are plenty of seating options and the central table (which can flip in half to save room) gives an A-class-like feel to the lounge.
We’d have liked more power sockets and USB points in the lounge – there are two USB ports above the cab but you’ll need long cables to use your devices on the dining table. There is a 230V socket in the kitchen area but this is designed for a kettle or toaster.
It’s a sociable layout that is practical for both dining and entertaining. While there’s a large overcab rooflight and the cab windows to let light flood in, the side windows could be slightly deeper to let in even more daylight – this is important on any motorhome with a drop-down bed that prevents natural light from a rooflight directly above. Deeper glazing would also benefit passengers in the travel seats.
The pair of travel seats is cunningly concealed beneath the side settees. Simply remove the cushions and twist a knob to raise the seat backs into position. Three-point seatbelts are integral to the steel seat frame and the settee cushions simply pad the backrest. A folding flap provides room for feet. It’s a great system and works really well.
Artificial lighting in the lounge is comprehensive and includes blue LED footwell lights, hidden ambient lighting, individual spotlights, vertical cabinet strip lights, under-locker lights and even glowing LED lighting to the settee bases.
As the kitchen is right next to the lounge, it makes it easy to dish up food or grab cold drinks from the fridge (which is a massive 142-litre model). The kitchen worktop is relatively modest, but there is a fold-out flap to extend the work surface.
A circular stainless sink fed by a square chrome tap dominates the worktop, while the cooker is a Thetford Triplex that boasts a grill, oven, two gas rings and, usefully, an additional electric hot plate. This cooker is a recent addition for the UK market only, so that Brits have less need to burn up that costly gas when on an electric hook-up.
Kitchen storage is at a premium and there’s only a single overhead locker, a cutlery drawer and a cupboard that form the dedicated galley space. There’s an additional cupboard above the fridge, but it’s rather high up. You can also stash food in the four overhead lockers in the lounge but these will not be easily accessible with the bed lowered.
There’s a small step up to the washroom and rear bedroom areas of the 768, with the toilet and washbasin being on the driver’s side and a separate shower on the passenger side. This not only keeps the toilet and basin area spray-free, but also allows both rooms to be used simultaneously.
The shower itself has a fold-down hanging rail and duckboard floor covering the shower tray. As the shower has 1.96m of headroom even with the wooden boarding in place, only the very lanky will need to remove it to gain another inch. The shower also has a funky head that seems to spray at an angle rather than straight down, so you’ll probably need to hold it to get a more directional jet. There’s a small chrome-effect plastic holder for your shower gel or soap on a rope, but there’s nowhere to put your shampoo and conditioner.
Two Perspex doors seal off the shower, with a sliding privacy door shutting off the rear bedroom from the main living space. The washroom is opposite and has a Thetford toilet and a stylish vanity unit with a rectangular basin and lots of handy storage. For wet shaving there are ample flat surfaces for your razor and there’s also a couple of shelved cabinets hiding behind a pair of flimsy-feeling sliding doors. Overall, it’s a well thought out, practical washroom.
At night-time, there are Remis blinds to seal off the cab, together with pull-across blinds for all the other side windows and rooflights.
The star feature of this motorhome, though, has to be the flexible sleeping arrangements. Most people will use the rear island bed as the primary sleeping space – and it’s a cracker. It actually measured a couple of centimetres wider than Chausson claimed at 1.62m and it’s also 1.92m long, curving around the foot end. It’s mounted on a beech slatted base and has a pleasingly deep foam mattress on top that’s wonderfully plush.
Both occupants get individual wardrobes, bedside tables for books, phones and glasses, together with a couple of upper lockers.
You can sit up in bed without knocking yourself out on an overhead locker, too, while there’s also a 230V socket, 12V socket and aerial point for a TV (but sadly no 12V or USB sockets by the bedside tables).
Completing the other pair of berths in the 768 is a drop-down bed that lowers over the lounge. There’s no need to push the dining table flat or to rearrange any lounge cushions prior to using the bed – you simply press the button on the edge of the kitchen worktop to activate the electric mechanism. The bed then lowers down to about 900mm off the floor via a slider mechanism and seatbelt-style webbing – usefully you can still access the roof lockers on the underside of the bed. A ladder is provided to access this and you’ll need to use it and, while the bed does slightly impede the habitation door access, you can still squeeze past it.
This front ‘Hideaway’ bed has another deep mattress over a sprung slatted base and is a proper adult-sized double measuring 1.90m long by 1.40m at its widest point. It tapers down to 1.24m at one end, which is fine. There are no reading lamps here, but a central overhead light is fitted. And, as there’s room underneath, you could even cobble together a fifth berth for a guest, too, if you needed to in an emergency.
The rear bed system has a party trick in that in it can be wound up and down via a handle in its base. Seatbelt-style webbing then raises the bed up by up to 30cm to increase the storage space in the garage. Chausson calls it the Easy Bed system and it is pretty easy to use. At first, it looks like a bit of a gimmick, but it provides a useful increase in the storage in the under-bed locker, allowing taller items, such as bikes or rigid barbecues, etc, to be stored while in transit and then retrieved when you’re pitched up.
The garage has the usual side door and, usefully, also has a rear-facing locker door that makes it even easier to access stuff inside. Why don’t all motorhomes have a rear door – it’s a lot easier than having to crawl in through a single side door?
Overall, the storage space has been well thought out and there’s ample dedicated stowage for four people, plus a decent amount of garage space for all your outdoor toys and kit.
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