Enjoying a stay at Black Knowl CAMC in the New Forest, Hampshire.
As an all year round tourer, January has a lot to offer. Many of us feel a bit flat after all the Christmas and New Year gatherings but for me time at Henley Four Oaks CAMC did the trick.
Apart from the Thames and Henley itself you are mixing of course with the glitterati – past and present – George Harrison, Dusty Springfield and Mary Hopkin for starters…..
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!!