Peter Baber
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An innovative van conversion for the UK leads the French firm's new-season offering, along with some clever design tweaks to old favourites.

A brand new range of van conversions produced in and especially for the UK, and a simplification and extension of spec levels, are the big changes from Chausson for the 2019 season. 

The French manufacturer produced 9000 vehicles last year, 1000 more than the year before, partly thanks to the introduction of new production lines at its factory in Tournon. It has also increased its workforce and introduced an extensive intern training scheme. 

Chausson's new van conversions will be built at fellow Trigano Group brand Auto-Trail's expanded factory in Grimsby. Known as the Twist and based on a 130bhp Fiat Ducato, the two-strong range closely resembles the Tribute line-up, which is already produced at Grimsby. 

The 594 is a 5.99m-long two-berth with a rear lounge that makes up into a double bed. The 697 is a four-berth with a lounge at the rear that is large enough to be used as two singles or a large double bed. Both have LED lighting throughout their interior. 

Prices for the two models are yet to be announced, but both have metallic silver paint, driver and passenger airbag, cruise control and electric rear-view mirrors as standard. Two tailored Travel Packs get you alloy wheels (15in for the 594 and 16in for the 697), cab air conditioning, LED daytime running lights, ESP, Hill Descent, Bluetooth DAB radio, sat-nav and a rear-view camera.

Among coachbuilts, Chausson has sought to simplify the offer, so those opting for the cheaper Flash spec level have no choice of chassis, and only one VIP pack as an option. This gets you cab air conditioning, cruise control and a speed limiter, a coded front bumper and gloss front grille, special seat covers and a panoramic skylight in most models, among other items. 

Salinas interior furnishings on the Flash series, which include all the company's overcabs, include dark worktops with natural wood. 

Those going for Welcome models can choose either a Fiat Ducato or a Ford Transit. They can also opt for the VIP pack and a Premium Pack. The latter includes a rear-view camera; higher-quality habitation door; ambient lighting; better-quality mattress on fixed beds; illuminated window surround and extra LED lights in the kitchen; an extra cupboard and square design taps in the washroom; cab blinds; and an external gas point and shower. The Welcome series has Malaga internal furnishings, with a more contemporary, lighter look. 

This season, there is a third Titanium series, based on five layouts, which comes exclusively on a 170bhp Ford Transit with an automatic gearbox as standard. With an exclusive Gladstone interior design featuring limed oak, the range aims to be all-inclusive, so 16in alloy wheels, grey side panels and a luxury entrance door all come as standard. Three models also have a fifth travel seat. The one option is whether you go for a drop-down bed. 

The manufacturer's only really new model, in terms of layout, is the Flash 634. This 6.39m-long four-to-five-berth repeats the drop-down bunks featured at the rear of the 716 when it was introduced last year, but brings them to the front, where they come down over the front dinette. The Kids' dinette at the rear has a double drop-down bed above and can itself be made into a small fifth berth. 

Behind this, you will find what Chausson is calling an Easy Box: a row of storage compartments with a total capacity of 300 litres, which can be raised to allow extra space in the rear garage to store a bike. 

Elsewhere, the new Welcome 708 is a version of the existing 628, but with the Smart Lounge that Chausson introduced last year, consisting of two face-to-face sofas in the front lounge which convert into travel seats. 

The Welcome 758 is another version of the 628, with a central washroom spread across the width of the 'van and a separate shower. There have also been tweaks in the 627GA, which now gets a fold-down table and a new-look washroom. The 747GA has a wider central washroom area with two partitions. 

Chausson is continuing its 711 Travel Line model with two habitation doors in the rear, and an anthracite cab. 

On the outside, all Welcome models now come with the additional green decal that was a feature on last season's special edition models. Welcomes also come with an exclusive rear light cluster, which changes again if you opt for the Premium Pack. 

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