The Excel is loaded with luxuries, and its build quality is superb, but the double bed is rather small. The 670 suits couples who need plenty of storage and a fixed bed
Easy to drive; build quality; specification
Small double bed; headroom
For 2011, the standalone Excel brand was folded back into the Auto-Trail stable, and is now the Grimsby firm’s entry-level range.
The Excel 670 is the largest of four models, and although its floorplan is unchanged from 2010, it gets a face-lift with dark, metallic grey cab, skirts and graphics replacing the metallic blue colour scheme. The ‘Sports Pack’ – formerly a £1095 cost option (including drop-down flatscreen TV, removable carpets, and graphite effect worktops) – is now standard, and helps to nudge the whole range over £40,000, into ‘mid-market’ territory.
The Excel has responsive steering and is easy to drive, thanks in part to a small turning circle. With five well-spaced gears and cruise control, motorways are a joy. Our wish list includes a grab handle for climbing into the cab, and a more obvious way of raising and lowering the cab seats.
The beige and black ‘York’ leather upholstery (a £1300 cost option) extends to the cab seats, which swivel to form an attractive lounge with the facing sofas. Opt for the leather and you get moulded, bucket-style lounge sofa backrests, which cosset you on site. However, they don’t then double as cushions to make up a bed, so it becomes a strict two-berth. The lounge area is well lit by LED strips in the upper part of the split-level habitation area – good news for those who tour off-grid. Tall people will duck or grouse here though, since the ceiling height is 1.8m (5’11”), but the rooflight surround reduces this to just 1.75m (5’9”).
The large, stylish kitchen has a triangular sink and gas hob, with covers, set in a granite-look surround. Under the sink is a grill, oven and cupboard. Opposite is a vast 190-litre fridge-freezer, TV concealed by a silver tambour door and a dining table cupboard next to the entry door.
The only real compromise on space is in the washroom area: it’s been squeezed in longitudinally alongside the fixed double bed. The toilet swivels to allow extra legroom, but the sink restricts elbow room while using the toilet. However, we were pleased there was still a separate cubicle for the shower. Under-bed storage is good: a gas strut holds the bed up for easy access to stowed gear from inside the ’van, and there’s an external locker door. The bed measures 1.90 x 1.22m (6’2” x 4’) at the head, tapering to 0.91m at its foot.