Case for a longer compact
Eyebrows were just slightly raised when Auto-Trail announced its intentions of producing van conversions, some three seasons ago. With luxury, British built coachbuilt motorhomes very much its mantra, at the very least we were expecting something a bit special. We weren’t to be disappointed.
The V-Lines actually marked a return to the sector for the company (Fox and Badger were produced on the previous generation Fiat Ducato base), and it’s perhaps no surprise to hear there’s something of an attempt to redefine the whole sector, with Auto-Trail turning its nose up at the term “van conversion”, claiming instead these are “compact leisure vehicles”.
The range has been gently modified, too with this – the SE 636 – the latest addition. Don’t forget, also, there are more upmarket, more individualistic Sport models. The SE 636 is on the extra-long Fiat Ducato and it offers not just a rear lounge (with twin settees), but also travel seating at the front for up to four people (which differentiates it from its sister model, the 635).
That starting price opposite is for the two-litre, 115bhp engine version. Auto-Trail is confident most buyers will pay the extra for the 130bhp, especially as that also means you can go on and specify Comfort-Matic automatic transmission. They’re all Euro VI now which means, as well as lower emissions, you’ll be getting better fuel economy.
Metallic silver is the only exterior colour choice, with alloy wheels, discreet solar panel and wind-out awning all standard, while the 25-litre underslung gas tank is further proof that Auto-Trail really means business – such fittings save on your pocket (refills are so much less) as well as the storage space stolen by what’s starting to become the old-fashioned gas locker.
Inside, the cab gets a similarly upmarket specification, with upgraded stereo, air conditioning, cruise control, steering wheel controls, and more, all part of the inventory.
Swivel the cab seats and you’re facing a double travel seat across a pedestal leg table. In truth, though, it’s all a bit constricted here in terms of legroom.
To be honest, some folk are going to find it a bit tricky squeezing along the corridor past the kitchen and washroom. The reward, however, is a commendably spacious rear lounge where you can stretch out and admire the views all around – or even open those twin rear doors on really balmy days.
At night, there’s minimal fuss on converting the settees to single beds – 1.85m x 0.65m and 1.80m x 0.68m, nearside and offside respectively. Or, you can make a double by pulling together the slatted seat bases where, as the 1.85m x 1.585m dimensions suggest, it’s up to you regarding which way you sleep.
Kitchen and washroom provisions are well up to par. The former boasts a three-single hob and oven/grill combination, plus a microwave oven overhead, with a steel sink and worktop extension to its right. Kitchen storage is limited, though. There’s a floor locker beneath the oven/grill and a set of three drawers. Nearby, an 85-litre Dometic fridge, which includes a removable freezer box, is under the wardrobe.
Things are a bit restricted in the washroom too, although you can shower, toilet and wash your hands. The fold-down sink is a space-saver, and storage hasn’t been forgotten, with a vanity unit as well as some open shelving.
Just don’t mention the “van” word in front of any Auto-Trail representative! Compact leisure vehicles, that’s the preferred term – just remember that.
Verdict: Different enough to be worth a further look, but not without some strong rivals
Plus: Decent standard specification, generous rear lounge
Minus: Pinch space at the kitchen
In-a-nutshell: Compact, indeed. But a lot of qualities still shine through
There’s more information on the V-Line range on the Auto-Trail website www.auto-trail.co.uk. Find out more about insuring this or your current motorhome on our motorhome insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Auto-Sleeper Fairford, Autocruise Select 184 Travel
Auto-Trail V-Line SE 636 factfile
|Auto-Trail V-Line SE 636
|Fiat Ducato, 2.0-litre, 115bhp, Euro VI
|6.36m L x 2.26m W x 2.72m H
|From £48,675 on the road
|Safety & security
|Electronic immobiliser, remote central locking, hill holder and ESC, twin airbags, European Whole Vehicle Type Approval
|2.3-litre engine upgrade (£750), Comfort-Matic automatic transmission (£1,700), extra leisure battery (£120), towbar and electrics (£550)