The attention to detail in this campervan is amazing. It feels and is well made. They’ve thought about the small details to make life in it easy and comfortable. If you love outdoor adventure, being away from it all and being off-grid, but like to enjoy it in comfort, then this campervan has to be on your wish list. It’s an excellent campervan and we want one!
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato 35 Light Price: From £51,704 Berths: 2 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.36m Weight: 2.05m Height: 2.59m Payload: 600kg
There’s no doubt about the distinctive nature of the Malibu Charming GT 640 LE. Its bold, orange paintwork (on this model), tinted windows and twin porthole rear windows make it difficult to miss. But, is there more to this Malibu than a great paint job and portholes? Yes; it’s inside the campervan where you begin to see why it’s so good.
Hit the road and the first thing you notice is how quiet it is. In some campervans, the bouncy country lanes we took this down would have created a din as the fittings shook.
There’s no such racket from Mr Charming. The quality of the craftsmanship becomes clear when driving it. Its quietness is in the details. For instance, they’ve put brush strips between some units so there is no wood-against-wood. The fittings fit snugly so there is no room for rattling.
The model we tested had the Fiat Ducato 2.3-litre upgraded 150bhp engine (130bhp is standard) with the optional Comfort-Matic automatic gearbox. It also had cruise control, which you control from the steering wheel. It zipped along well and made for a comfortable and relaxing ride.
The large wing mirrors fitted to the Ducato offer good visibility behind but there was no rear view mirror, which seems odd as you can see through the barn doors. Although there were parking sensors, no reversing camera was fitted to the test vehicle, so backing up was tricky – but you can specify a reversing camera from the options list, which we’d recommend.
There was, however, a snazzy Pioneer entertainment system that you can connect to with your smartphone via Bluetooth or USB, and there are 12V and USB sockets. There’s also a handy ventilated locker on the passenger side, which is useful for drinks and snacks when the air-con is running, and this also has a USB socket in.
In the centre of the dashboard is a flip-up clipboard that’s useful for keeping documents or maps to hand when you’re driving. Best of all, above the cab is a huge, opening skylight with a blind, which makes the space very light and airy. You do lose the overcab shelf space that’s usually here, but there’s plenty of storage elsewhere in the campervan. The skylight is pretty unique, so it's definitely a plus.
The lounge/diner at the front of the Malibu Charming GT 640 LE is about as comfortable as they come. Swing the leather captain's seats around (without having to release the handbrake), and four adults can comfortably eat around the table, which clips to a railing on the wall and is supported with a single leg that drops down, while a slide-out section further extends the table space.
The leather seats here exude quality and the cream under-panels and cherry wood-effect doors on the overhead lockers add to the classy feel. With two seatbelts on the forward-facing bench, you can also travel as a foursome.
The Charming GT’s lighting is delightful. In addition to the tinted skylight over the cab there is another one over the dinette, which has an LED spotlight in each corner. Furthermore, LED strips behind side panels provide soft light at night while a further four LED downlights provide bright light at the table. All three sets of lights can be usefully controlled separately from switches by the door, too.
The dinette also features a large opening window that’s tinted, and is fitted with a blind, flyscreen, nets and mini curtains! What more could you want? Great for keeping cool in summer while blocking the bugs, and staying private.
Above the table are two speakers attached to the entertainment system in the cab. They sit in the base of two lockers. Not only are these perfect for listening to music but they’re also hooked up to the Avtex 21in TV that was fitted to this demo model. There was also an aerial on the roof, and wiring for a satellite dish.
The kitchen unit is where you’d expect it to be – opposite the diner and next to the sliding door, which features a flyscreen. There’s a two-burner gas hob that has a glass cover and to the left of this is a robust, lift-up extension to give you more surface space. Below this extension is a chrome-effect switch strip that houses the light switches, electric step switch and a 240V socket – all very useful for when you enter or exit the campervan.
To the right of the hob is a small but practical sink that has a removable cover with a chopping board on the back. Best of all, it also clips to the wall to provide a shelf in the kitchen! Under the sink and hob are three big drawers for your cutlery, crockery and dry food. Above the hob is a locker for food, so there’s plenty of storage space.
To the right of the kitchen unit, located at waist height, is an 80-litre compressor fridge with freezer compartment.
Below this is a locker with hanging space, measuring 97cm high, 49cm wide and 55cm deep, which is a handy space for coats, boots and rucksacks, etc.
This camper is fitted with a Truma Combi 6 system, providing blown air heating and hot water. The control for this lives above the sliding door under an opaque, lift-up cover. The Charming GT also comes with inboard fresh water and insulated underslung waste water tanks, making it a proper go-anywhere, anytime campervan.
If you’re going to travel a lot, and you like to go off-grid, an important place in your campervan is the washroom, and the Charming GT has one of the best washrooms we’ve seen in a while.
First off, there’s a sliding door that pushes across of the way rather than swinging into the corridor. Inside, the shower tray has two drain holes. So what? Two drain holes means it will still drain, even when you’re on a slope.
There’s a Thetford cassette toilet that swings out from under a panel in the wall. You have plenty of space when you sit on it and you don’t feel crammed in. Then, swing the toilet out of the way to create an ample space for standing at the corner sink or showering.
The shower is also a work of art. To prevent water getting everywhere, shower screens cover the sink and mirror, the sliding door and the toilet. Each screen snaps to a magnetic strip so the screens completely encase the washroom. When not in use, the screens neatly stow out of the way, too. The showerhead sits on the wall so, to rinse your hair, you will have to take it out of its holder, especially if you’re tall – but that’s hardly the end of the world. There’s also a good-sized skylight in the roof that opens wide for ventilation, and allows light in to keep the washroom a bright and airy space.
In the corner, opposite the toilet, are the sink and a mirrored cupboard. There are a couple of holders for toothbrushes etc. above the basin and there’s more storage below the sink with a neat toilet roll holder with a slot in the panel beneath it to feed through the paper – nifty!
The hot water tank takes up the rest of the space below the sink. The only thing lacking in this washroom is a hook or two to hang your towels.
The clever design of this Malibu continues in the bedroom, as it’s pretty special. To maximise storage below, there is a step up to the lengthways bed. Lift the lid on the step and you find a shoe locker below.
The bed functions more like twin singles than a double as the section in the middle is shorter, and one bed is longer than the other. The offside bed is 1.90m long and the nearside bed is 1.78m long; the full width is 1.92m. The mattress sits on individually sprung slats, so it’s super-comfy.
The whole bedroom is light and airy, and well ventilated. That’s thanks to two tinted porthole windows on each side as well as a window in each of the barn doors. These all open and feature blinds and flyscreens. Additionally, there’s a Heki rooflight fitted with a flyscreen.
Come night time, there are four LED downlights under the lockers and two reading lights, which are operated from two sets of switches, either end of the bedroom.
Storage abounds here, too, courtesy of a total of five overhead lockers, two netted corner lockers, two cubbyholes, and a thin, lipped shelf running down each side.
Two of the lockers also house a hooked strap, one on each side of the bedroom. This is another example of clever design in the Charming, as it means the beds can easily be lifted up, complete with mattresses and bedding on, and safely hooked back to allow for transportation of things likes bikes or kayaks.
The blown-air heating system is housed under one of the beds and there’s space for storing two 11kg gas cylinders, too. And there’s still space for a few storage lockers that are accessed from the back of the campervan, via barn doors. Additionally, four anchor points on the floor are handy for lashing down gear. All in all, this is a proper action campervan that has been thoughtfully designed and built to last.