Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £58,700 Berths: 3/4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 6.79m Width: 2.35m Height: 2.90m Gross weight: 3,500kg (3,650kg option) Payload: 615kg
Island bed layouts are amongst the best-sellers in most motorhome ranges, while side settee lounges have become increasingly popular. But to combine these features would usually require a motorhome of around seven-and-a-half metres in length – that’s hardly compact, unless your everyday driver is by Scania.
Meanwhile, Rapido no longer offers a truly compact coachbuilt – both the 604FF and 803F six-metre motorhomes were killed off at the end of 2018. Its 650F (and 850F A-class equivalent) have also grown by 15cm this year, becoming the 656F (and 856F), but that still allows them to claim the title of the most compact in their class (island bed/face-to-face lounge).
The result is also a motorhome that feels bigger inside than its relatively modest 6.79m overall length. There’s plenty of daylight, thanks to a big overcab sunroof and a large rooflight over the lounge. And the side settees may be short but there’s plenty of room for four to sit around the table, which is equally adequate for a quartet when expanded (but neatly compact when folded in half).
The cab seats can rotate through a full 180 degrees for feet-up relaxation but the front seats are noticeably taller than the ones in the back. Scatter cushions are provided and a TV bracket is fitted at a comfortable viewing height.
Rapido has also worked on easing the transformation of its side sofa lounges into travel seats this year and the conversion is now straightforward, with no additional panels or cushions required. The travel seats have enough legroom for adults, too.
Another area that’s improved over the previous 650F is the kitchen, which gains a larger (141-litre) fridge with bottle drawer and automatic energy selection.
There’s also a very useful, pull-out pantry unit. The galley also comes with central locking for the drawers, slot-in worktop extension and, for the UK market, a three-burner hob and oven (not shown in our photos).
There’s a step up into the bedroom, where the bed is offset to the offside – but this isn’t a French bed as there’s slim-but-adequate access between the mattress and wall. The bed itself is 1.92m by 1.33m and there’s a useful bedside shelf but, despite the stylish Art Deco reading lights, there’s not really enough height for sitting up to digest this magazine.
There’s a sliding door to close off the rear of the ’van but the position of the bed allows a rethink of the usual ablutions format. The shower shares space with a bench cassette toilet in an adequately sized cubicle alongside the bed, with bifold doors to cover the loo and bathroom door. Outside this cubicle, opposite the foot of the bed, is a washbasin with folding cover and a sliding mirror, so you can sit on the bed to apply makeup, etc.
Finally, there’s a good-sized external locker with access on the offside and a 150kg weight limit. Internal height here is 0.90m across 1.48m of the vehicle’s width.
If you’re looking for an island bed motorhome that’s more compact than the norm, the 656F is a good all-rounder – and one that’s significantly up-spec’d for the UK (outside shower, second leisure battery, etc, etc).