The darlings of the motorhome hire industry are once again offering a choice of Fiat or Ford base vehicles. The emphasis at the Italian Roller Team is still on family friendliness and value for money, but kit levels have improved across the range and the way the vehicles are built has been tweaked to provide sterner competition for home-grown rivals.

What’s changed

There are no additions to the T-Line range (although the 785 has been revised), but the Ford-based Zefiro gets two new models. With the existing hi-line 675 and 690G models retained for the new season, the 2016 Zefiro range comprises four models.

In the Auto Roller camp there’s one new model, bringing the total on offer to four. The T-Line range is unchanged, but benefits from a host of spec and detail improvements.

Specifications and body options are improved on all models – more wood has been taken out of the vehicles’ basic build (dubbed ‘EXPS’) and the option of electric drop-down beds makes it into both the Auto Roller and Zefiro ranges.

The headlines

The Zefiro’s twin bunk/Pullman dinette 675 and garage-equipped 690G are joined by two new models: 695 and 696; both use the lo-line body on a Ford Transit 125bhp base vehicle.

The two ’vans seem identical, with each offering a typical lounge (L-shaped settee on the nearside, additional seat on the offside) and kitchen (midships, L-shaped, with the fridge opposite), together with a longitudinally mounted island bed at the rear. The toilet (offside) and shower (nearside) are separate at the foot of the bed. The area can be closed off to create a self-contained en-suite bedroom.

But up front, where the 695 offers occasional sleeping accommodation, the 696 has an electrically operated drop-down bed, making two fixed doubles in a ’van that’s just 7.45m long.

The Auto Roller line-up has a new model and one that’s been heavily revised, but the new lo-line body is now available (previously it was hi-line or nothing) and all 2016 Auto Rollers will be sold with the main entrance door on the correct UK side.

The 747 comes with the new lo-line body as standard and brings with it a Pullman-style lounge up front, with nearside additional seat. Out back, the U-shaped lounge converts into a transverse double bed. Above the lounge a double bed drops electrically from the ceiling at the twist of a key.

The revised 707 gets the new lo-line body, but retains its rear bunks/garage set-up. It also has a new electric drop-down bed over the lounge.

In other news

Auto Roller aside, all models with twin single rear beds get an improved ‘perimeter heating’ system, including heating vents in the overcab, while all Zefiro models now warrant the ‘Lux Pack’ as standard, which includes a colour reversing camera, a 120W solar panel, a four-cycle rear-mounted bike rack and a 95Ah auxiliary battery.

Auto Roller models get new Seitz ‘D-Lux’ flush-fit windows and an LED awning light. Inside, there’s a new locker design and 12V control panel, plus improved LED lighting, and the Lux Pack fitted as standard.

T-Line is now built only to lo-line body spec and comes fitted with a drop-down electric bed as standard. There’s a revised 785 model, with twin fixed single beds and a (small) end washroom with a separate shower.

Exterior modifications (bar the UK door) are as per Auto Roller, with the Lux Pack fitted as standard. Inside, there’s new upholstery. The Driver’s Pack remains as a £999 cost option.

Practical Motorhome’s star ‘van – Roller Team Zefiro 696

The new Zefiro 696, which takes the (also new) 695’s rear island bed layout and adds an electric drop-down bed up front into the mix – for a piffling extra £500 – is our star. The sheer versatility that this layout offers, together with the additional style and practicality the new lo-line body brings with it – and that great-value price – means this is one motorhome to keep an eye on.