Offers the great Murvi strengths of a great washroom and a well-equipped kitchen slotted into a compact motorhome.
Murvi Piccolo 2008
IT’S not every day – nor even every year – that a new Murvi is launched. And yet every year the Devon-based firm collect more and more silverware for their trophy cabinet.
That the ever-popular Morello is one of the finest of all high-top motorcaravans around is of little doubt, but like every current long-wheelbase Fiat Ducato (or Peugeot Boxer) conversion, it is no longer especially compact.
A length of (as near as dammit) six metres – and not far off 20 feet – affords extra interior space but it’s still a big vehicle to use everyday.
Of course, the medium-wheelbase van has grown too, but its 5.41m (17ft 9in) body will fit into a Tesco parking bay (just) and is much more manoeuvrable around town.
Remember, too, that this is pretty close to the size of the old model, which measured 5.60m (18ft 4in) after the 2002 facelift and 5.50m (18ft 1in) before.
So the new Piccolo gets many of the best features of the latest Morello in the more manageable body size, a recipe that sounds as tempting as one of Delia’s. And while Murvi may have taken their time to cook up this new model, we were sure the wait would be worthwhile.
While the Piccolo looks more petite than a Morello, the exterior holds no shocks. Silver is the new white when it comes to high-top camper hues – although you can choose any one of Fiat’s racier colours and the black bumpers are either more practical or a bit austere, depending on your point of view.
There’s no arguing over the merits of an all-steel high-roof body, though, especially one that incorporates a full-height sliding door.
There are tall rear doors too, but the left-hand one has had its handle removed (it’s blocked by the galley inside) and the right-hand door opens to reveal the bathroom – embarrassing if your partner is about to have a shower, but potentially practical alternative access after a day of surfing or sandcastle building.
The Piccolo has a wide selection of extras to tempt you on the conversion side. There are no glitzy options ‘packs’, just a list of features, individually priced – from an iPod connection at £41 to an automatic Oyster satellite TV system at £2,115.
One item you will want is a better radio – the standard Fiat unit looks cheap and switches itself off on site every 20 minutes. No wonder Murvi say most of their customers order a stereo upgrade!
It may be built every bit as solidly as a Morello, but the Piccolo is not just a shortened version, as some might have anticipated.
In the rear offside corner is the self-same bathroom and the
L-shaped galley is broadly similar, if a shade shorter, but up front things take on a new dimension.
Gone is the Morello’s sumptuous L-settee which is so superb for lounging, but which has to be shuffled into a different configuration for passenger carrying.
In its place comes an RIB Neptune forward-facing double passenger seat with two three-point seatbelts and a pair of adjustable head restraints. Suddenly, the Piccolo has yet another advantage over its bigger brother.
As a four-seater car, the Piccolo is hard to beat. The rear seat not only comes with the aforementioned safety equipment but it’s shaped like a seat, not flat like a bed.
And with big windows on each side and the Heki sunroof above, passengers are in a light and airy environment.
Both cab seats turn through a full 180 degrees and Murvi has extended the cab floor level rearwards to around 250mm (10in) behind their seat boxes, so that your feet are not left dangling in mid air.
Like the Morello, the Piccolo comes as standard with a 60-litre three-way fridge with a Smev combined oven and grill and four-burner hob mounted above. Do without the oven and you can upgrade to a 77-litre or (at extra cost) 97-litre fridge. If you think that leaves you a little light in culinary options you can have an eye-level oven or, as in our test ’van, an eye-level microwave (an 800W Bellina with shiny silver frontage).
You can even go for a 110-litre compressor fridge (12V only) and a diesel-fuelled two-burner hob and do without gas appliances altogether. Decisions, decisions.
Cupboard space, mains sockets and the (sliding) opening window are all well thought out, as are the differing worktop heights of sink and hob and the plate drying rack and vegetable basket that go with the stainless steel sink. There’s even a fitted kitchen roll holder.
The only moan I could manage concerned the tiny slide-out plastic cutlery tray which is too small to house tin opener, corkscrew etc.
The washroom is pretty close to perfection too and you’ll look long and hard to find anything superior in a high-top motorcaravan.
Forget flimsy flip-up washbasins: here there’s a proper fixed basin with a good-sized cupboard below. There’s plenty of legroom when you’re sat on the throne and showering is bliss, not a constant battle with a curtain that’s trying to smother you. In fact, the shower curtain only covers the rear door.
I slept well in the Piccolo and particularly appreciated just how easy the bed is to make.
Lift the seat squab up and flip it through 180 degrees and then tip the backrest forward to fill the void. It’s that simple and it makes a completely flat bed that puts your feet into a gap under the wardrobe.
In the morning you can just roll up the duvet into that recess, ready for the next night. Even better, the scatter cushions double as pillows.
A full version of this review first appeared in the June 2008 issue of Which Motorcaravan. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.