French brand Itineo first made a name for itself by offering well-built, relatively cheap A-classes aimed at families. In recent years, it has moved into low-profiles, too. But this season, while sister brand Rapido was bringing out more compact models, Itineo priced up two of its 7.43m-long A-classes, with some extras and special Spirit Edition branding.

We went to check out the SB740, the longer of two models that Itineo offers with bunks across the back, at Oakwell Motorhomes in Barnsley.

Exterior and cab

This is a handsome, modern-looking A-class: its tinted windows and off-white exterior appear futuristic. The black alloys (part of the Spirit Edition upgrade) complement this look.

The Spirit Edition branding appears in white on black behind the driver’s side window, and in silver on white across the bottom of the rear panel.

The only front door is on the passenger side. This layout puts the washroom two-thirds of the way down on the offside, so access to the toilet cassette is close to the habitation door and would almost certainly come inside an awning.

Still, the hook-up point is by the passenger door, so there’s no danger of cable tangling in a groundsheet. The awning light senses your arrival and illuminates around the step, while fob-activated central locking means there’s no need to locate a keyhole.

Wide windows down both sides of the lounge mean visibility is excellent from the driver’s seat. Spirit Edition branding inches a leather steering wheel and gear level knob. The instrument displays on the dashboard have chrome inserts, which lifts the feel away from anything that might seem budget.

Our test model was fitted with Fiat’s new nine-speed auto ‘box. The vehicle also had a chassis upgrade to 4500kg, so could have a fifth travel seat fitted. This fifth seat is only available on the standard 3500kg chassis if you have manual transmission.

If you go for the 4500kg chassis (and this is where things become even more complicated), you also have to go for an engine upgrade: £3290 for the 160bhp unit and £5000 for 180bhp. The cost of the chassis upgrade is included here.

If your licence allows it, it’s wise to go for that upgrade anyway: on a standard 3500kg chassis this ‘van has a payload of just 450kg. That’s not generous for a family of five, and much less so for a family of seven who could sleep in here with the extra bed option.

Lounging and dining

Fold-out pedestal table in the lounge is large enough for all seated on settees

For a relatively budget motorhome, the combination of large windows, roof lights, ambient lighting and directional lighting provided in the lounge makes for a wonderfully warm interior, even with the drop-down bed over the cab.

This is complemented by the pale TEP upholstery with a brown stripe across the middle, which, along with the warm tone to the wood, stops the interior from looking too clinical.

We particularly like the textured wood finish you get on the edge of the settee and around the mirror above the entrance grab handle (one of two mirrors fitted in this lounge). When illuminated, this helps to make the interior look much more expensive than the price tag suggests.

You can swap the fixed pedestal table in the front lounge for a telescopic one as an optional extra

The fold-out pedestal table is large enough for all those who would be sitting around on the settees and swivelled cab seats, although it felt a little wobbly for those seated further away from the main leg.

You get a mains socket and handy USB points under the L-shaped settee. The sockets for a television, however, are in a dedicated space above the fridge to the left of the door. From this position, the TV would probably only be comfortably viewed by the people sitting in the cab seats. Not ideal for family viewing.

Still, any children might not mind, because there is a comfortable second dinette next to the bunks in the back, with two facing seats and a large table that swings around.

There’s a comfortable second dinette next to the bunks in the back

Although it is more meagrely lit than the main lounge, children should love it. It doesn’t have a TV socket, but it does have a mains socket and USBs. As it is separated from the main lounge by the central washroom, even sulky teenagers could retreat here and not have to tolerate embarrassing parents!

Kitchen

Three-burner hob and sink, but work surface is limited

The central kitchen is where this motorhome slightly shows its budget side. We somehow doubt madame or monsieur will be preparing a boeuf en daube in here! You only get a three-burner gas hob, a combined oven and grill, a fairly small sink and not much permanent workspace.

There is an extension that you clip on to the edge of the worktop in front of the sink, but when not in use, this is stowed away in the cupboard underneath, and we found it quite a stretch to reach in and release the catch that holds this in place.

An extension clips on to the edge of the worktop in front of the fridge

But you do get a spice rack above the hob, and mains and 12V sockets are helpfully placed near at hand. The area is well lit – another extra you get in this Spirit Edition model is a backlit kitchen window surround.

Across the aisle is a 150-litre fridge. That should be more than adequate for the food of a family.

The 150-litre fridge should be more than adequate for the food of a family

Sleeping

The double bed over the cab drops down easily

The double bed over the cab drops down perfectly easily. The only slight issue we had was in tilting the cab seats underneath it forward, to leave enough room for it to lower.

To do this, you have to pull up flaps on the outer front corner of each seat base – not a very easy thing to do, particularly with the driver’s seat, where there is no door to help you access the flap from outside.

When the bed is down, however, it’s an easy climb up the ladder to it, and it is comfortable. There’s a roof vent for ventilation, but you do only get one reading light here.

The bunks at the back are an excellent size and width, and each comes with its own reading spotlight. These are both on the nearside, however, so the head end of the bottom bunk is right against a window.

You can turn the lower bunk into a double – making the five-berth – by inserting a panel of wood that is stored in one of the wardrobes. You need to remove the swinging table to do this, and because it is both bulky and heavy, you would need to think carefully about where you store it at night.

As an optional extra, you can swap the fixed pedestal table in the front lounge for a telescopic one, and so make another double.

But do bear in mind that this model can only ever seat five people when you’re on the move, and even if those two additional people are travelling independently, if you are taking their luggage, you are likely to be getting ever closer to that payload limit.

Washroom

Well-equipped washroom has a large and stylish handbasin

On initial impressions, the central washroom seems to suffer the same budget restraints as the kitchen.

The sliding partition door seals off the front area, but it doesn’t have any runners at the bottom, so it is a bit awkward to pull out.

The shower cubicle is a little poky. It comes with a smartly designed column of racks for gels and shampoos, but this has a slightly rough wood finish, and we wonder what it would look like after several years of the shower being used. Still, you get a roof vent, a light you can switch on simply by pressing it, and a rail for drying clothes. The shower cubicle is a bright place to spend time.

The shower cubicle is a little poky

The main washroom area is much better, with a ceramic Dometic toilet and a large and stylish handbasin that for once is not of the salad-bowl variety.

There is another roof vent here, as well as a mains socket that you could use to plug in a hairdryer, and plenty of mirrors.

Storage

There’s limited access to the garage from the underseat area

The areas under the lounge settees are largely taken up with travel seats and the heater, so storage space inside this ‘van is mostly towards the back.

You do get a boot locker by the door, but otherwise there are only three overhead lockers, with shallow shelves underneath, above the lounge. Adults might need to use the area towards the back as space to dress.

Still, storage in the rear lounge is impressive, and includes two large wardrobes and two completely clear undersea areas, one of which give limited access to the garage.

That garage isn’t tall enough for standard bikes, but it does have two external-access doors and a mains socket, and is well lit.

There are two overhead lockers above the kitchen for dry food storage

Kitchen storage, like the kitchen itself, is a bit of a disappointment. What looks like three drawers under the sink turns out to be a cavernous cupboard with limited shelving. You then only have two overhead lockers for dry food storage. However, you do get large drawers underneath the fridge and the oven. Washroom storage space is perfectly adequate.

Equipment

There are two external access doors to the rear garage and a mains socket

Even with its Spirit Edition tag, Itineo is still very much an entry-level brand. Our test model did come with a few good extras, but many of them (including the stereo system and reversing camera) are included in the optional pack that costs an extra £1250.

As standard, spec levels are fairly basic, particularly in the kitchen, where you get a three-burner gas hob and a combined oven and grill, but no microwave. The 150-litre fridge should suffice for the food of most families.

The Truma Combi 6EH heating system is more than robust enough to make this an all-season motorhome. The lighting, in particular the ambient lighting, is very impressive, and helps to warm the ‘van up, too. We were also impressed to find mains sockets and USBs pretty much exactly where we would want them.

The garage at the rear has been fitted out better than usual, with a light and a mains socket.

It usually goes without saying, you get what you pay for. But if you add the options pack to this motorhome, you should be really flying.

Verdict

The SB740 has a fantastic layout, with room for everybody

The SB740 is slightly let down by a kitchen that is rather basic, with limited storage. And if you have to stick with a 3500kg chassis for licence reasons, you’ll also find the payload restricting. The extras that you get as part of the Spirit Edition certainly add a little bit of sparkle to this Itineo, however, and prove that you don’t have to forgo such luxuries in a family model. The SB740 has a fantastic layout, with room for everybody, too.

HIGHS

  • Well-lit and comfortable front lounge
  • Wonderful rear lounge for youngsters
  • Garage is brightly illuminated and easy to access
  • Fifth travel seat is sturdily designed
  • Upholstery and wood finish are bright and contemporary, without being clinical

LOWS

  • Payload is tight – we’d recommend the chassis upgrae
  • Kitchen spec isn’t the highest
  • Storage in the kitchen is on the meagre side
  • Levers to pull cab seats forward are awkward to reach
  • Rear dinette table is bulky

BUY IF…

This season the only other A-classes that come with bunks are other Itineos. So buy this if you really want an A-class, but are likely to be taking extended family with you – especially if the number who will be joining you is likely to vary each time. This ‘van should also be a strong contender if those same children would rather keep their distance when you are confined indoors!

CONVERSION: Fiat chassis, polyester outer side panels, roof and underfloor, polyurethane fibre structure, styrofoam insulation in roof, wall and floor, insulated step.

LOUNGING AND DINING: L-shaped front dinette with side settee and pedestal table. Second rear dinette with swing-out table. TEP upholstery. LED ambient lighting in all areas.

KITCHEN: Three-burner gas hob, 150-litre fridge, Dometic combined oven and grill, illuminated window surround.

SLEEPING: Overcab double bed 1.90 x 1.40m (6’3″x4’7″). Fixed bunks 2.17×0.81m (7’1″x2’8″). Rear dinette bed 2.00×0.52m (6’7″x1’8″).

EQUIPMENT: Truma 6EH dual-fuel heating with CP Plus Heating Control, iNet and crash-protection system, three-burner gas hob, 150-litre fridge/freezer, combined oven and grill, central locking, TV sockets, three USBs, wiring for solar panel, third battery and rear bike rack.

OPTIONS INCLUDE: Pack Life A-Class, £1250, includes cab air-con, cruise control and limiter, motorhome ESC, electric de-icing on mirrors, door flyscreen, LED day running lights, DAB Kenwood multimedia system with 6.8in screen, reversing camera with night vision, second remote keyless entry control. Nine-speed auto transmission, £2660, plus compulsory Eco Pack, £410, and 16-inch alloy wheels, £590. Chassis upgrade to 4500kg and 160bhp engine, £3290, or £5000 for 180bhp engine.

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