Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £62,100 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.36m Width: 2.05m Height: 2.88m Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 440kg
Words: Peter Vaughan
Photos courtesy of Dreamer
Whilst nearly every small campervan has berths for four, finding a larger panel van that’s family friendly is much more difficult. Recent trends towards the option of a pop-top on existing models has gone some way towards changing this but it also takes away all-season touring capability.
Wouldn’t it be better to have all the beds within the steel confines of the base van? Yes, of course, but there’s only so much that can be fitted into even the extra-long (6.36m) vans. It’s surprising then that others have not followed the lead of Dreamer which, for a number of years now, has offered a drop-down bed in some of its campervans. Up until now this has been manually operated but, for 2022, the Camper Van XL gets an electric bed.
As part of its update – and enhanced Limited spec – the latest model also gets a panoramic Skyview window over the cab. That’s a unique touch for a model based on the longest, tallest (L4 H3) version of the Fiat Ducato. The extra height ensures that there’s still 1.90m headroom under the roof bed when stowed. The new Limited version also gets the Comfort + Pack as standard, so a flyscreen for the sliding door, Alpine multimedia system and rear view camera are all standard, along with a colour-coded front bumper, height-adjustable cab seats with twin armrests and Traction +.
The interior layout (which debuted in 2018) is as you’d expect of a continental campervan, but with some useful features that aren’t found on many rivals. So, there’s a rear transverse double bed, but the Camper Van XL also has a generous lounge, the sort of fridge typically seen in big coachbuilts and a separate shower.
In the lounge, the usual half-dinette is replaced here by a more spacious L-settee. That makes all the difference and rear passengers will be happier because the forward-facing section has good shape to its backrest, while the squab slides forward to suit longer legs.
In the kitchen you also get three large drawers complete with soft-closing, space dividers and a central locking device. Or you can lose some storage and opt for an oven/grill. But the star feature is the 128-litre fridge.
The Modul’Space washroom has now been around for seven seasons but it remains an impressive piece of design. Quite simply, the whole wardrobe pivots around over the rear bed, revealing a separate shower cubicle, while still giving you access to your clothes via a second door. The shower isn’t the biggest but it’s a million times better than most campervan showers and there’s a roomy changing area, too, because the bifold toilet room door (opposite), closes off the rear of the campervan to create a full-width washroom.
Then, of course, there are the two double beds, each with a comfortable Bultex mattress. The drop-down measures 1.90m by 1.25m and has decent headroom – pillows go to the front and can stay there when you stow the bed. Then, the rear bed (1.95m by 1.37m) has rear speakers and remote switches for the radio, while tall cupboards on the offside, over your feet, provide a huge amount of space for folded clothes. Shallower cupboards are fitted over the other two sides of the bedroom.
With the bed folded away, the sleeping quarters can also become a garage, so that you can carry bikes (or other bulky stuff) on board. And even here the Dreamer shows its superiority over most rivals. For a start, the locker space forward of the gas compartment is behind a tambour door, so you can still get at what’s inside when the garage is full of clobber. There’s a removable false floor, too, under which you can slide outdoor chairs, leaving room for bigger stuff above. And the floor is a metal chequerplate, too, so you won’t worry about really using this load space.
Cleverly, the Camper Van XL Limited avoids all the usual downsides of downsizing from a coachbuilt – fridge size, storage, and a separate shower. That it’s also a practical four-berth should make you question whether you need, or want, a bigger campervan.
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