Andrew McPhee

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The Practical Motorhome review of the CI Carioca 656

Design

Thick walls and a deep floor mean this is a valid ’van for winter touring. You get a roof ladder outside and sharp lines, and unfussy detailing.

On the road

It’s standard Fiat Ducato fare for the Carioca, with the 2.3-litre engine providing power. The CI’s cab specification isn’t great, though, as it doesn’t have the electric pack of cab central locking, electric windows or power mirrors, and the cab seats are not trimmed to match the rest of the interior. This ultimately doesn’t matter, but it does make the ’van look a little utilitarian inside.

Lounging & dining

Five out of six can sit for dinner, a feat made all the more impressive when you consider that its a short ’van. This trick is achieved by running the fixed bunks across the back. The dinette feels a bit snug as a result, but the layout works well, particularly the side washroom.
Four can dine comfortably, and there’s also a single facing seat on the opposite side to the dinette. Not all the residents can eat together, though. In a holiday setting and fine weather that’s not a major issue, but during low season touring, the lack of seating could be a major bind.

Kitchen

The Carioca has a dedicated work area, an impressive four-burner hob, a recessed sink with a usable drainer and a particularly useful vertical drawer cupboard, with wire mesh trays. Three overhead lockers and a sensible fridge mean the kitchen’s a good place to cook.

Sleeping

The overcab will probably be the master bed. Under the mattress, there are no slats or spacers, so condensation could be a problem.
The dinette bed is rather compromised. It’s only around around 1.8m long, for a start. As for the bunks, the lower bunk has a mattress that’s split into smaller fillet pieces to allow for folding up.

Washroom

The consciously budget CI has a predominantly plastic washroom, which is situated at the side of the ‘van, rather than its rear corner like many rivals. On that basis, it struck us as strange that the CI seems so spacious. It has a separate shower area, which feels light and spacious.

Storage

The CI offers great access to the rear garage, thanks to those transverse bunks, which allow access from either end. On the downside, however, the bottom bunk is trickiest to stow as you can only get to one end at a time to flick the securing latches. Seat base locker storage is good.

Technical specs

Sleeps6
Travel seats4
MTPLM3500kg
Payload628kg
Length6.53m21′5″
Width2.28m7′6″
Height2.99m9′10″
Waste water100L
External Options
GRP sidewalls, Awning light
Kitchen Equipment
4-burner gas hob, Separate grill
Washroom
Separate shower cubicle, Bi-fold shower door
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

The CI caters excellently for families with its ergonomic kitchen layout and plentiful storage. You will struggle to find a better family coachbuilt below the £30,000 mark.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Clever location of transverse rear bunks and side washroom, and a highly specified kitchen.

Cons

  • Lack of cab electric pack and slats below the overcab mattress.
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