I am sorely tempted to pop over to France for a few days but until the regulations are eased and simplified, I’m staying put!
Fiat has released the first details of the all-new Ducato, the most popular motorhome base vehicle across Europe.
It has already started taking orders, including in the UK, where prices start at £27,005 excluding VAT.
The Ducato is the flagship model of the Fiat Professional range and is used by the majority of motorhome manufacturers – and many campervan makers – as their base vehicle of choice, although it is receiving increasingly competition from Peugeot (Boxer) and Ford (Transit), especially in the UK.
With this all-new model and the recent arrival of the excellent new nine-speed automatic gearbox, Fiat looks set to retain its top spot in the motorhome world for some time to come.
This new model focusses on technology and connectivity, as well as enjoying a refreshed design and improvements to the interior.
A new all-digital configuration of the internal instruments, courtesy of Fiat’s Full Digital Cockpit that, it says, can immediately and clearly provide practical journey information and alerts – from the sat-nav to the driver-assistance systems right down to the options for reconfiguration and interaction with the UConnect infotainment system.
The new UConnect interfaces has screens up to 10”, a top-of-the-range full satellite navigation system including TomTom 3D maps and built-in wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. These latter systems provide access to the most commonly used vehicle controls in just one tap. There are smaller UConnect 7” – also with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto – and UConnect 5” available also.
The interior design sees a redesigned dashboard and steering wheel, along with a new gear lever, new door panels and automatic air-conditioning controls.
There are also new driver assistance and safety systems, and the new Ducato is being marketed as the first light commercial vehicle with level 2 autonomous driving, offering a full range of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) both on the road and when parking.
There is also a new digital central mirror, which digitally improves and shows the rear view to replace the relevant mirror, plus the ESC system has Cross-Wind Assist, Trailer Stability Control and Active Park Assist, the latter a semi-autonomous assistant for parallel and perpendicular parking maneuvers.
Other additions, which will all probably be optional extras, include Keyless Entry and Go – to lock and unlock the cabin and load compartment doors and start the engine without the key; electric parking brake to reduce clutter in the cabin and facilitate relocations; a compartment to charge mobile phones wirelessly; double USB-A and USB-C ports; a high-voltage 230-V power socket; larger and more spacious door panels; heated windshield with internal electrical resistance for quick defrost and self-leveling air suspension.
The cab seats also get a new look as well as new padding and offer more space and comfort, while the new electric power steering, which is standard across the range, is more precise and manageable and benefits from a smaller steering wheel with a reduced turning circle.
There are also new versions of the Multijet diesel engines based on the new and exclusive H3 power architecture proprietary to Stellantis, which lower CO2 emissions by up to 7%.
The New Ducato engines, which are promised to be quieter than the outgoing versions, will be available in four levels of output: 120, 140, 160 and 180bhp with a new 6-speed manual transmission available across the range with that new 9Speed automatic transmission available in the 140 160 and 180bhp variants.
On the exterior, the front features the new Fiat badge in its center. Similarly, the grille, engine housing and skid plates have been redesigned to give, says Fiat, “an impression of stylistic uniformity in step with the times”.
But perhaps more importantly, the new Ducato now comes with high-performance full-LED lights, which are divided into three sections, with the lower one dedicated to the LED light guide, which develops the luminosity “signature” characteristic of the Ducato. The three central lights come with a sporty look and offer 30% more brightness than conventional halogen headlights. Finally, the upper section is dedicated to the direction indicators, the style of which has also been refreshed with an LED light guide with a slider switch, an effect much appreciated and used in cars and now available in a commercial vehicle.
Finally, a new colour – Lanzarote Grey – has been introduced as a color at lunch, which says Fiat has been introduced to emphasise the “adventurous spirit of the New Ducato and specifically dedicated to clients from the recreational sector”.
The new model will be available in three configurations: Easy, Business and Lounge, which can be customised further by adding additional packs with ADAS systems, improved functionality and aesthetics such as in the Trekking pack.
Last but not least, the New Ducato’s Uconnect system can be enhanced in many ways: Uconnect Services and the Fiat app will make it possible to manage and monitor your vehicle directly from smart devices, wherever and whenever you like.
Many services are available through the app, such as remote assistance, smart navigation, remote control, and much more. This means owners can interact with the vehicle even when away from it, to lock and unlock the doors, check its location and set up alerts on speed, area and time slots, as well as monitor fuel level, tyre pressures, odometer readings and receive of direct notifications on maintenance or repairs.
There are other appealing features such as Send&Go, Parking Search and Refueling Station, which mean once you have searched for your destination in the app, it can be sent to the sat-nav with just one tap, then you can view refueling stations and parking lots along the way. The maps are always kept up to date over-the-air, without having to visit a workshop.
It also feature My WiFi, with added WiFi Hotspot, to allow owners to connect up to eight devices and use the Amazon Alexa Voice Service. For alerts if theft is attempted and to receive assistance if the vehicle is stolen, the My Alert pack is available.
And a couple of miles down the road is Boscastle.
Sometimes motorhomers find Cornwall a long way away but in an era of staycations it is back to being hugely popular.
Clearly my loyalties lie with the CAMC but even in these early summer days the sheer number of motorhomes is very apparent and and I can foresee “invasion” headlines appearing in local papers. Congratulations to the Tintagel beauty hot spot for accommodating day time and night time motorhome stays.
For my part I will stay on regulated sites and try to be a responsible tourist. Simply because that is easily the nicest way to have a cracking good holiday – which we certainly had this week at the drop dead gorgeous Trewethett Farm.
I have no idea what the The New Normal will look like but if being out and about virtually non-stop is the route to it, I’m doing all the right things!
Someone asked me what the main changes in my life look like being as (Boris permitting) things start to ease.
Firstly I speak an entirely different language. My most commonly used utterance now is “You’re on mute.”
Secondly I suspect hugging will soon be a recognised Olympic sport as seemingly everyone wants to hug everybody else. Handshaking may never re-emerge.
Thirdly, working from home was formerly seen as tantamount to skiving. Soon it will be so widespread and universally approved that offices will be converted en masse to fast food dark kitchens delivering to hermits skulking in their homes.
Meanwhile The New Normal has yet to be defined but anyway Faye and I are off out tonight to our favourite pub restaurant for an indoor meal.
Loving it – because I can!!
A ban on campervans in a dozen car parks by the coast have been lifted following frustration from users.
A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said it had listened to concerns raised by campervan owners in recent weeks, with existing restrictions banning any vehicle which exceeds 5.5m.null
In an effort to support users, restrictions have now been relaxed in 12 council car parks around the district.
Kerry Blair, head of operations at East Suffolk Council, said: “We understand the frustration of the campervan and motor caravan community who have previously been unable to park in our car parks.
“We have now explored the various options which would enable larger campervans to use our car parks, while ensuring parking spaces remain available for cars.
“Lifting the size restrictions on 12 of our car parks was the best option and we are pleased campervans and motor caravans longer than 5.5m can now use these designated car parks and enjoy a visit to one of East Suffolk’s beautiful towns.”
Six of the car parks, including at Southwold Pier, have lined parking places, while campervans can now use coach bays at Belvedere Road in Lowestoft and Nicholas Everitt Park in Oulton Broad, as well as at Garrison Lane in Felixstowe.
Designated caravan bays will be introduced at The Grove and Manor Terrace in Felixstowe, while the remaining car parks at Harbour Quay East in Southwold, Clifflands in Felixstowe, Sutton Heath picnic area, Upper Hollesley Common, Slaughden and Thorpe Road in Aldeburgh are unlined and have a natural surface.
While vehicles may remain in the car parks overnight, sleeping in vehicles is not allowed, while no vehicle using the car parks should exceed 8m in length.
A spokesperson for the council added: “As a courtesy to other drivers, vehicles exceeding 5.5m are not permitted to park in any other council-owned car parks as these have marked bays which are only suitable for use by cars and smaller vehicles.
“Allowing large campervans and motor caravans to park in these car parks would restrict other drivers.”
A passion for camping led one entrepreneurial couple from Leicestershire to invest in a new motorhome for hire business, Hey Campers – after the COVID-pandemic accelerated their modest plans.
Trudi and Adam Lilley have enjoyed outdoor adventuring together for the past 11 years and for five of them, have been motor-homing. After investing in their own home on wheels and choosing to let that out when it wasn’t being used by them, they saw an opportunity to take their stock of one vehicle to six – and are now looking to order more for the booming summer season.
Now, the duo, who have run an accountancy consultancy together for the past seven years, have taken on new premises for Hey Campers, in Coalville. With the aim of opening their depot as a show home when COVID-restrictions ease, it’s currently home to Tillie, Beni, Lexie, Lillie, Minnie and, Tessie – its six motorhomes who, as the names suggest, are already very much part of the family.
Hey Campers co-founder Trudi, said: “There’s so much uncertainty around holidaying and travel restrictions at the moment, but understandably, people are desperate for something to look forward to.
“We’ve already seen booking for half of our summer availability this year and feedback from campsites is that they’ve seen a rise in enquiries too. If holidaymakers can’t go abroad, then the chance to take to the open road and discover something new in the UK is a popular alternative, especially as motorhomes provide self-contained living with onboard bathrooms and kitchens.”
While the doors to the show home remain firmly closed for now, anyone interested in booking can take a virtual tour of their chosen motorhome and is well looked after by Hey Campers’ general manager and concierge, Samantha McCaffrey. Joining Hey Campers in early 2021, Samantha worked at Avis in Leicester before her role was made redundant due to forced closure of the depot because of COVID-19.
With extensive experience in vehicle hire and procedural management, Samantha’s passion for the role and her personal interest in the great outdoors, makes her the ideal fit for the brand. Joining as a marketing intern is also local graphic designer, Molly Jarvis. The Sheffield University student from Market Bosworth is responsible for managing Hey Campers’ social media and design.
Trudi concluded: “With Hey Campers we’ve added lots of personal touches and special extras, to make sure trips in one of our motorhomes, will be truly memorable. These include luxury bed linen, made to order food hampers, 5G enabled WIFI fitted as standard and premium sports and movie channels.
“Our ambition is to also explore ‘money can’t buy’ experience stays and to get the message across to all our customers that with a Hey Campers hire they can have holidays they’ll remember for a lifetime. Just last year, Adam and I were sitting in our motorhome Tillie in Jersey overlooking the beautiful St Ouen’s bay. As I watched the waves crashing over the rocks, Adam made us a Sunday lunch with roast lamb and all the trimmings. We sat down in this perfect location to enjoy our meal and I remember thinking, what more could you want? That’s what I want for all our holidaymakers.”
I guess like many motorhomers and caravaners I have been booking sites ahead in the hope that one day, one of them will become a real booking and off I go! No harm in dreaming.
Anyway, things are getting close and at the end of April we have a pitch booked at the exquisite CAMC Trewethett Farm site near Tintagel. The May Bank Holiday will be a few days later on May 3rd and might I get lucky and be able to get to Trewethett at the end of April?