The 694 is a great layout for a young family of four, and is even set up to accommodate a few extra guests at mealtimes. CI is a well-established and widely represented brand here in the UK, and that makes Carioca a genuine and worthy rival to the much-loved British-built budget ranges.
Sociable lounge; plywood-free wall construction
Bright upholstery; two sleeping areas can’t be partitioned; confusing control panel
The front lounge is a real strong point: it’s elevated, which is a tripping problem until you get used to it, but once you do, there’s a level floor between the half-dinette, side sofa and swivel cab seats. Headroom in this area is 1.9m (1.85m around the rooflight).
A table clips to a wall rail on the nearside, and services the cab passenger seat and two people in the forward facing bench in its normal set up, but it can be extended by a further 50cm to bring the driver seat and the occupants of the side sofa into play at mealtimes.
All the lockers are positive-locking, with chrome-look handles and bronze-look inset panels. The LED ceiling-light clusters are rather weak at night time, and we prefer rear curtains to the voile decorative ones offered here. However, we were impressed by the tilt-adjust reading light strips in the lounge.
Heating and hot water is gas-powered as standard, but our test ’van came with the upgrade to gas- and electric-powered space and water heating (£595). It also came with a flyscreen on the habitation door (£212).
L-shaped kitchens amidships are a good compromise of space and usefulness, but they must be usable in a ’van at this price level, where young families are more likely to cook than eat out.
All UK ’vans get a Thetford Duplex combined oven and grill over and above the Italian specification. The three-burner hob comes without spark ignition, while the stainless-steel sink offers no separate drainer. The 150-litre fridge/freezer is a welcome standard issue.
Storage is decent, with overhead lockers, and drawers underneath the worktop. There’s also a storage area with removable lid cut into the surface, which we used as a waste bin.
Legroom on the swivel toilet is compromised, but otherwise this is a very usable space. The shower cubicle has a semi-circular shape to it, is finished in an attractive grey plastic and stylised with scoops and ledges for toiletry storage. It has a rigid bi-fold partition door, and measures 85 x 60cm, so it’s perfectly adequate, although we prefer two drain plugs for better water run-off in the event of not pitching completely level.
Elsewhere in the washroom, we were pleased to see that it does the simple things well: venting above the shower cubicle; an opaque glazed window; a good-sized basin, and decent storage underneath and overhead for sufficient toiletries for a young family of four on tour.
The premium bed is, of course, that lovely rear double. Although the mattress is split so it can be folded to enable access to the storage space underneath, it still feels firm and comfortable.
There are two reading lights beneath the overhead lockers at the rear, above the bed, but no headboard because of that rear-view window, and nothing in the way of shelves to rest a mug or a pair of glasses on. There is, though, a magazine-rack pocket fixed to the washroom wall.
The cutaway for access to the washroom isn’t too severe either, although the door doesn’t swing wide open, so access to the washroom is narrow. We would have liked to have seen a partition curtain to separate the rear bedroom from the front bedroom, for some increased privacy, too.
The lounge double bed is quick and easy to make up. The table unclips, and the leg hinges at the knee to form half of the bed base. The sofa seat box then slides to meet this, and the backrests and a few infill cushions, that are stashed in the wardrobe, fit in place to produce a pretty flat surface that’s a massive 2.15m across the width of the ’van.
The bed itself is 1.23m at its widest point, and a shade under 1m at the foot. It’s fine for an occasional bed.
All the locker doors have positive catches and provide as good a level of storage as you could expect in a low-profile motorhome of these proportions. We’ve mentioned the premium storage space beneath that double bed, which is easy to access from the outside, and from within, thanks to the hinged bed base and mattress.
There’s also some storage space beneath the nearside sofa, although this is less easy to get at: the sliding base that makes up the double bed is actually freestanding. There’s a separate hinged plywood locker top, so you have to lift both of these, and the seat cushion, to get at the space, all without any support from a gas strut or springs.
However, there is a clever little locker flap that provides access to this area from the doorwell if it’s just a small item you are after. There are limited cubby holes and lockers around the overcab area, while the wardrobe is on the small side for a family of four.