This might just be the best value new motorhome buy of the 2019 season, with a classic British layout and a smart kitchen. Even with the essential Lux Pack fitted, the list price stays below £40k - remarkable.
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £37,827 Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2 Length: 5.99m Width: 2.05m Height: 2.67m Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 665kg
Rear lounge layouts – with or without extra travel seats up front – dominate in larger van conversions from British brands, just as fixed beds – transverse doubles or lengthways singles – are the go-to floorplan for continental makers.
Mainstream manufacturers such as Auto-Sleepers, Auto-Trail and Swift have long battled it out in this sector, as have specialist converters like IH, Vantage and WildAx. The choice is immense and you don’t even have to have a Fiat/Peugeot base vehicle, as last year’s category winner (the Hillside Hopton based on the Volkswagen Crafter) showed.
Perhaps it’s a shock, then, that one of Britain’s largest caravan and motorhome companies (Elddis), has not only been out of just this sector for a long time but also absent from the van conversion market altogether.
The explanation comes in the shape of the Accordo, Elddis’ van-sized coachbuilt which was designed to take on its panel van-shaped opposition. And, while clearly this strategy has been at least partly successful, the Consett, County Durham-based arm of the Erwin Hymer Group has now seen fit to join the campervan party.
Not just that but, for 2019, Elddis has a sister brand once again. Compass-branded motorhomes have been reintroduced, with a range that mirrors the Elddis Autoquest line-up, though cosmetic differences (and its own dealer network) separate them. As Autoquest models now include van conversions, you’ll find the same designs badged as Compass Avantgardes, too.
There’s a pair of six-metre, rear lounge layouts – one with rear travel seats (CV40) and one pure two-berth (the CV20, which we prefer). Both are based on the Fiat Ducato (unlike Compass and Elddis coachbuilts, which are Peugeot-based), so there’s an automatic option (that’s £1,750, including an engine upgrade).
Even with a pair of well-known brand names, though, you need more to stand out in this popular part of the motorhome scene – a new base vehicle, some innovative design flourishes, a shedload of spec or cutting-edge décor, perhaps.
The Elddis/Compass twins, however, have a different USP. In a category where it’s easy to spend £50k or more, the CV20 costs under £38k. And it’s no less remarkable to note that list price stays below £40,000 with the essential Lux Pack fitted. Clearly these models are waving the value-for-money flag so hard that it’s about to come off the pole!
The layout is a British classic that focuses on extra-spacious lounging in the stern. Both rear settees are 1.88m long – compare that with 1.40m sofas in the equivalent Benimar Benivan or Chausson Twist. The seats are actually longer than in some extra-long-wheelbase rivals and, of course, they’re perfect to act as instant single beds. Then, the area feels even more spacious with the back doors open on a warm day.
There’s only a small rooflight overhead here but there are opening windows all around and the German-sourced moulded trim panels on walls and doors show how Elddis has learned from continental brands in the Erwin Hymer Group. Reading lights are fitted in all four corners and a free-standing table – stored behind the driver’s chair – caters for dining (even eating outside if summer has finally come).
Up front, both cab seats swivel and there’s plenty of adjustment for the driver’s seat, despite the position of furniture close behind. Cab spec includes steering wheel-mounted radio controls and a central storage bin, but no fitted blinds (those are a £450 option, if you must).
The kitchen features a Thetford Triplex cooker with three-burner hob and combined oven/grill, while a 90-litre compressor fridge (mounted at waist height) is another big plus, especially considering the price. Many rivals have much smaller fridges, mounted low down where they are less easily accessed.
Under the fridge is the wardrobe (with 770mm drop), while the kitchen is angled at the forward end (where you’ll find four small front-facing drawers – another good bit of design) to increase floor space. A flyscreen on the sliding door and an electric step are more features that you might not expect, bearing in mind the super-keen pricing, while practical features include a slot-in cover for the sink and a folding worktop extension over the end of the nearside sofa. There’s an eye-level kitchen cupboard but no space-stealing microwave, though you can have one as an option if you insist (it’s priced reasonably at £195, but we wouldn’t bother).
Opposite the galley, the washroom is located where you’d anticipate it but you’ll be impressed to see a fixed corner basin on a plinth – no flimsy tip-up washbasin here, although the tap does double up as the showerhead. Towel hooks, toothbrush mug, etc, are provided and there’s a small mirror-fronted high-level cupboard, too. For showering you’ll have to deploy a curtain (few van conversions manage to do without) and park level as there’s just one drain in the shower tray, but this is just nitpicking.
Elddis turns to Whale for heating and hot water – 4kW for the former, eight litres of the latter, both mounted underneath, thus maximising storage. There’s an underslung 90-litre fresh water tank and the 25-litre built-in gas tank is another great feature in the standard spec – it’ll save you the effort of lugging heavy cylinders around when you run out of Propane and save you money when you refill, too.
You won’t want to be without the Lux Pack (cab air-conditioning, passenger airbag and cruise control) and it’s doubtful that Elddis will ever build any Autoquest campervans without it. The 130bhp engine upgrade (£900 extra) isn’t a necessity, though, as the standard 115bhp unit is adequate for a motorhome like this and it’s a smoother, lighter and more economical motor, too. Your insurer might insist on the tracker (£280) or alarm (£322) but alloy wheels (£650) seem like a bit too much icing for this particular cake.
Probably the best-value new motorhome buy of the 2019 season, the Elddis Autoquest CV20 even makes a lot of pre-owned van conversions look expensive.
If you enjoyed this motorhome review, you'll find many other models featured every month in What Motorhome magazine. Click here to buy digital issues and catch up on any copies you might have missed.