French manufacturer Chausson is at the top of its game right now, and for the 2012 season the focus is on rationalising its product lines and streamlining its three ranges, which are divided clearly into budget, mid-market and high-end.
The well-liked budget Flash range features a total of 11 models for 2012, one of which is all-new, and two of which are new arrivals to the UK market. All three of these new ’vans are low-profiles with drop-down lounge beds.
Interestingly, the Flash range now has only two overcab coachbuilts – the only overcab ’vans anywhere in Chausson’s 2012 range, in fact – which seems to indicate that overcab coachbuilts’ fall from favour continues to grow on the Continent.
The Welcome range sees no changes for 2012, and continues to offer five mid-sized, mid-market low-profiles. Chausson’s lauded Suite range of island-kitchen drop-down bed low profiles sees the addition of one all-new model, taking the range to four ’vans, and all of them have received interior upgrades to distinguish them from the rest of Chausson’s line-up.
What you need to know
The new Flash 10 is the most exciting new model in Chausson’s 2012 line-up. It treads a path originally charted by Bürstner with its Ixeo time it585 and Rapido with its 700ff – a compact, rear-washroom low-profile with a drop-down bed over the lounge.
Unlike those two ’vans, though, the Flash 10 is built on the Ford Transit base – great news for those seeking the Ford’s legendary robustness and driver involvement. Chausson’s designers have chosen to prioritise the washroom over the kitchen in the Flash 10, making it one of the largest and most comfortable washrooms to be found in any 2012 Chausson ’van.
Elsewhere in the same range, the Flash 24 (a five-berth low-profile with twin rear singles) and the Flash 30 (an island bed low-profile) have been brought to the UK for the first time. Both ’vans feature drop-down beds over their lounges, giving them five berths each.
The other big addition to Chausson’s line-up is the Suite Relax, which grows the island-kitchen Suite range to four models. The Relax is the biggest Suite ’van yet, at 7.49m, and features a rear transverse double bed. This comes with a twist – the area around the foot of the bed has been kept clear, creating a kind of semi-island bed, with free space on two sides rather than just one side, as is normally the case with rear transverse double beds.
The entire Suite range has received a significant interior upgrade, with glossy, contrast-colour furnishings and hard glass kitchen worktops with cleanly integrated burners – they look much more modern now, in keeping with the Suite range’s position as the most cutting-edge of Chausson’s motorhomes.
Every year the Suites also play host to some exclusive new feature that sets them apart from the rest of the market. The original Welcome Suite had its revolutionary island kitchen, and last year’s Suite Maxi had a clever upright electric bike rack from Fiamma.
This year the attention-grabber is undoubtedly the new Easy Chef external hob, which is standard on all 2012 Suite ’vans. It’s a two-burner Dometic hob – exclusive to Chausson for two years – that lives in an external locker next to the habitation door. It has an integrated wind deflector and is ideal for al fresco cooking – we suspect it’ll turn a lot of heads at the upcoming motorhome shows.