The Elddis and Compass brands are both within the Erwin Hymer Group UK, who you can find out more about in our guide to the best motorhome manufacturers. For decades, their motorcaravans have all been built in Consett, County Durham. It is widely opined that the Elddis Autoquest & Compass Avantgarde CV ranges are their first panel van conversion (PVC) models, but this is incorrect.
Elddis built an excellent range of Fiat Ducato-based high-tops during the late 1980s and early 1990s, appropriately monikered the Elddis Excellence.
For a long time, Elddis and Compass maintained that they didn’t need a PVC as they had the compact ‘Slim-Jim’ Elddis Accordo/Compass Navigator coachbuilts. Thank goodness that they had a rethink, because the result is one of the best value, most thoughtfully equipped and practical ranges of PVCs in the marketplace.
Although there are differences in colourways on the soft furnishings, cabinetwork and exterior graphics, all Compass and Elddis badged derivatives are in effect the same.
All are built on the long-wheelbase high-top version of the Ducato in either white or metallic Slate Grey.
Standard motive power at launch was courtesy of the 120bhp turbodiesel engine mated to the six-speed manual gearbox. However, every example I’ve seen has the extra-cost 130/140bhp unit. Buyers of early models requiring a two-pedal drive could opt for the ComfortMatic automated transmission.
The original spec was commendably high, including Whale space- and water-heating, LPG tank, 90-litre fresh-water tank, electrically operated exterior step and a spare wheel in a dedicated cradle. All of the above are located under the floor, not in the seat squab lockers, which remain (generally) uncluttered and available for storage.
The launch offer numbered two motorhome layouts. Both had a similar forward nearside kitchen, with the fridge, wardrobe and washroom opposite. The CV20 (two travel seats) favoured two long inward-facing settees at the far rear. These were instantly available as easy-access longitudinal single beds or could convert in a jiffy to a standard or regal-sized ‘all-over’ double.
The CV40 added another two travel seats by including a half-dinette just behind the driver, which could be converted into a child’s single bed. Including the dinette resulted in a shortening of the rear settees, which could now only make up a transverse double bed. That said, there is plenty of room for feet-up lounging, just not quite enough for a single bed option.
A third layout was added for the 2020 model year. The CV60 has a similar forward layout to that of the CV20, but replaced the rear settees with a convertible offside chaise longue/double bed and offered more storage than you could shake a stick at along the rear section of the nearside wall.
Fiat seriously upgraded the base vehicle for the 2022 model year, including the heavily revised Series 8 cab, featuring warp-factor improved connectivity and electrically operated power-assisted steering. Also available for the first time was a cost-option nine-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox.
The CV80 was also ‘new for 22’. This is basically a CV40 but with a bit more on top! Elddis crowned the high-top with a moulded GRP rear-hinged elevating-roof containing an additional longitudinal double bed accessed internally via a roof hatch.
This meant the range now included a variant with four travelling seats and four adult-sized sleeping berths, perfect for those growing families with lanky adolescents, or for purchasers wanting to have a double bed without having to disturb the rear lounge.
These high-top motorhomes made a brilliant purchase new, and will make an even better one pre-owned!
What to look out for with the Elddis Autoquest & Compass Avantgarde:
The Ducato is a highly evolved light commercial vehicle. The fact that it is the most popular base among motorcaravan converters says it all, really. However, as with anything mechanical, regular maintenance is essential, so look for a full service history and if applicable, a long MoT.
Potential drivers of diminutive stature should check that they can comfortably reach down to apply and release the parking brake. A dashboard push-button conversion is available, although it doesn’t come cheap!
The ComfortMatic gearbox is not quite as smooth as a torque-converter one, but it has proved to be very reliable. Check that it selects reverse and first quickly.
These are incredibly well put together for the price. That said, you’ll still need to check around windows and rooflights for evidence of water ingress.
Likewise, inspect around after-fit accessories that required holes to be drilled in the vehicle’s bodywork.
Stand at each corner and take a look lengthways down the coachwork, checking for evidence of donks and dings and/or badly repaired damage.
The fridge is a compressor type and therefore 12V/230V only; there is no option to run it on gas. So it’s advisable to leave a little folding in reserve to fit an additional leisure battery and a solar panel, if there isn’t one.
Finally, insist on a recent habitation service and make sure all requirements have been fulfilled for the transfer of any remaining warranties.
CV20 for solo/couples, CV40 for those using it as an only vehicle. CV60 for individualists, CV80 for growing families, as seen by its place on our shortlist for the best motorhome for families at the Practical Motorhome Awards 2022.
- Elddis Autoquest/Compass Avantgarde CV range all on Fiat Ducato LWB high-top
- Built 2018 to present in Consett, County Durham
- All-steel five-door panel van conversion
- Overall length: 5.99m (19’ 8”)
What to pay
Covid and its aftermath have caused a sudden surge in customers’ interest in these types of vehicles, which has meant demand outstripping supply. Be patient, because many more will be coming up to three years old, a popular age to trade in for a newer model.
There are private sales to be found from £36,000, but you’ll have to be quick. The latest two were sold within hours of them appearing online.
Or you could try…
These alternatives are all high-top:
PVCs under 6.0m in overall length: Auto-Sleeper Symbol/Symbol Plus/Warwick Duo; Auto-Trail V-Line 540/610/660/669S; Swift Select 122/144.
- You can also take a look at our guide to the best small motorhomes for more inspiration.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, why not get the latest news, reviews and features delivered direct to your door or inbox every month. Take advantage of our brilliant Practical Motorhome magazine SUBSCRIBERS’ OFFER and SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER for regular weekly updates on all things motorhome related.