UK manufacturers at the Motorhome and Caravan Show have started taking orders for Fiat Ducato-based motorhomes with the option of an automatic gearbox mated to the 2.3-litre, Euro 5 compliant MultiJet II engines.


The current generation of Ducato was launched in 2006, and is far and away the most popular motorhome base vehicle in Europe, accounting for two of every three motorhomes built.


This marks the first time that it will be available with an automatic gearbox across its range of engines. Fiat previously only offered an automatic ‘box with the top-end 3.0-litre unit.


The automatic 130bhp and 150bhp engines are the final pieces in the Ducato’s recent facelift process, which began earlier this year with the introduction of revised cab interiors and an all-new range of cleaner, more powerful engines that comply with the Euro 5 emissions standard.


At its summer launch, the Euro 5 Ducato was available with the automatic gearbox for the 3.0-litre, 180bhp engine.


The automatic ‘box – which Fiat calls ‘ComfortMatic’ – will make its way into the other two out of the three engine variants available to UK motorhome converters – the mid-range 2.3-litre 150bhp unit and the entry-level 2.3-litre 130bhp.


Motorhome manufacturers are taking orders at the show for both, with the 150bhp version immediately available, and the 130bhp to follow, with a view to delivery by May or June of 2012 for the latter version. Auto-Trail is officially offering the option, and charges £1386 for it, while the Swift Group isn’t officially offering it, but will take orders, charging £1695.


Fiat’s highly-regarded ComfortMatic gearbox doesn’t utilise a traditional torque converter – instead, it’s an automated manual unit, in which the clutch is operated automatically by the engine management system. By extending this much sought-after option to the entire Ducato range Fiat will go a long way towards reinforcing the Ducato’s position as Europe’s favourite motorhome base vehicle.