In Italy, McLouis is a well-known motorhome brand for the family market – everything from A-classes to van conversions, plus low-profile coachbuilts along the lines of the McLouis Fusion 330.
When fellow Trigano Group subsidiary Auto-Sleepers reintroduced the brand into the UK two seasons ago, however, it had an additional function.
Auto-Sleepers has a loyal following, but its customer base is traditionally slightly older motorcaravanners who have owned many vehicles before.
Trying to expand production to appeal to first-time buyers could be tricky, as the firm is based in the Cotswolds, where space is at a premium. So the low-profile McLouis Fusion, which the two companies have designed together, was intended to introduce first-timers (and families) to motorhomes, in the hope that they would later go on to purchase an Auto-Sleeper.
There’s a cost element here, too. The way McLouis manufactures its motorhomes, in batches of around 50, means they can be priced around £5000 to £10,000 cheaper than a similar vehicle by Auto-Sleepers, which produces them individually.
We visited the Auto-Sleepers factory to check out the latest model in the range, the McLouis Fusion 330.
Exterior and cab
As the name suggests, the Fusion range is intended to represent a halfway house between Continental design and UK spec levels. The first Fusion models to be UK-bound have a large garage at the back, and habitation doors on the correct (near)side for UK drivers.
However, the latest model – the 330 – tips the scales even further in favour of the UK buyer: it features a Brit-friendly rear lounge with a small garage beneath.
The cab is standard Fiat Ducato, with drinks holders. The reversing camera is part of the Lux Pack, which comes as standard on Fusion models. This also includes a DAB radio, cab blind and removable interior carpets.
There’s plenty of space to store things near to hand, with a shelf right above you, and a locker either side with doors that open out towards the windscreen.
All Fusions come with four travel seats. The two in the rear here are easily assembled by removing part of the dinette seat. There’s plenty of legroom and passengers shouldn’t feel boxed in – there is a large window. They can even keep mobiles charged, thanks to USB ports positioned under the locker.
There is a small step down between the cab and the dinette.
Lounging and dining
The front lounge area is dominated by a huge table that slides left, right backwards and forwards, to allow everyone easy access. The protruding part of the L-shaped seat isn’t the largest, so small children are probably best sat here.
The table feels a touch high for anyone sitting in the travel seats. Fortunately, because of the step, it is likely to be a perfect height for those in the cab seats.
The area is very well lit, not just from the large sunroof bringing in daylight from the cab and the big window. Under the drop-down bed, McLouis has installed a panel that includes LED downlighters and a long strip light.
There’s one heating vent by the door and another underneath the settee, but surprisingly, despite the inclusion of those USB ports, no TV sockets here.
The 330 is only 6.49m long, so it’s good that McLouis has managed to include a rear lounge that can seat at least six occupants. It does feel a tiny bit squeezed, but the designers have lessened the effect by not including overhead lockers across the back of the motorhome. Instead, there is a large window.
When the table is folded back, there is plenty of room here. Folded out, it is a good size.
Once again, there is a clever LED panel underneath the drop-down bed, and those on the nearside might even benefit from the light that is shed by the two spotlights, which have been angled for the bed when it is in the lowered position.
All of the lights in the lounge are conveniently controlled by just one switch in the offside front corner, while a heating vent on the same side keeps things warm.
You’ll find the sockets for the TV connection above a small cupboard that sits between the nearside end of the U-shaped settee.
There is a TV bracket in the bulkhead above here and from this position, most people sitting in the rear lounge could view a screen quite comfortably.
The McLouis Fusion 330 really shows its Continental origins in the kitchen. Here, you get a two-burner gas hob, which is positioned side-on. This is, of course, potentially space-saving, but could feel less practical in a confined area. You do get an extractor fan.
The sink is large, and the space is lit by a strip light and a backlit splash back, the latter with a switch over the door.
But, if cooking inside your motorhome is very important to you, you should note that there is only a small amount of work surface here. If you are doing any food preparation, other than just opening a packet, you will have to use the dinette table or the top of the small cupboard in the lounge (which could be a better choice because it’s right next to the fridge). At 142 litres, the latter is a good size for a family.
A Thetford Duplex combined oven/grill is fitted, but there’s no microwave as standard or on the options list.
The drop-down double bed at the back comes down without you needing to move any cushions or tables. That’s partly because its bottom position is a bit higher than some we have seen, but still with serviceable headroom for the bed, and the adjustable reading lights are a bonus.
The single bed at the back is simply made by removing the backrests. As a result, it is super-long and, we reckon, super comfortable. Whichever lucky person sleeps here will need to remember that the table will be in the way if they need to get up during the night.
The drop-down single over the front dinette – which completes the sleeping options in this motorhome – is also a good size. If you are a stickler for putting up the safety nets, reaching the hooks on the offside might be quite a stretch.
In Italy, the equivalent ‘van to the McLouis Fusion 330 includes a fifth bed, which you make up from the dinette and a couple of extensions. That is why there is a small ridge on the side of the kitchen unit beside the door – the unit is supplied with this ridge already fitted.
NCC regulations required easy access to the entrance door in the event of a fire have ruled that layout out here.
There is a bit of a step up into the 330’s washroom, but considering it is centrally located on only one side of the vehicle, it’s good to see that you get a separate shower compartment, which is formed by opening out the concertina screen that shuts off the built-in handbasin. The cabinet has a vent directly above it, so you’ll have no problem with star, and two drainage holes, which is excellent.
There’s a huge mirror in front of the basin, well-lit with two LEDs, and a big cupboard under it, with a toilet roll holder. Cosmetics are probably more easily accessed from the locker above the toilet. A toothbrush mug, soapdish and hook complete the accessories, while a heating vent keeps you toasty, and a small window means that you aren’t deprived of daylight.
The single overhead locker in the front dinette is partially obstructed by the mechanism for the drop-down bed, and the area under the travel seats is then taken up with a water tank, so there’s not a huge amount of storage here.
Things get better in the rear lounge, with four sizeable overhead lockers and the cabinet under the TV shelf. The offside wardrobe is half-height, although its width is probably adequate for four. It is a bit of a stretch up and back to the hanging rail.
There is a small cubbyhole under the nearside part of the U-shaped settee – the offside is taken up with the heater – and below the rear section, you can access the garage. The only issue is that the generous seat bases here are quite an effort to move. That garage may not be big enough for bikes standing upright, but it has holds for bungee cords, and it is well lit.
Kitchen storage includes a column of three sizeable drawers with proper catches, and a large pan locker under the oven. The one overhead locker is shelved, but the bottom half is partly taken up with the extractor fan fitting.
As you might expect with a Continental ‘van, one potential down side here is having two burners and a combined oven and grill in the kitchen. Given that, it’s impressive that McLouis still includes an extractor fan. Many British models of a similar price might have a dual-fuel four-burner hob, but you would have to rely on an open window for ventilation.
The fridge is a good size and elsewhere, the spec is much better. There’s a fine array of lighting, a mighty Truma Combi 6E heater – winter touring should not be a problem – and a well-equipped washroom. We were most impressed with what’s immediately underneath the wardrobe: a little cupboard that seems to be nothing but ducting, but actually gives you easy access to the Truma frost control.
All of the control panels are over the hab door, and here you’ll find another sign that this is a mass-produced ‘van. Italian McLouis models have underfloor heating. That is absent (it’s not even an option), but the switch for it is retained, by the step.
The last word…
- Really comfortable lounges
- Good choice of lighting
- Well-specified washroom
- Long rear single bed is perfect for individual adults
- Only two-burner hob
- Small amount of kitchen work surface
- Settee bases are a bit bulky to manoeuvre
- Safety net hooks for drop-down bed are a stretch
You don’t want to cook anything particularly sophisticated when you are touring, and you want a family motorhome that includes a garage and a fair bit of Continental styling, but still provides a good UK-friendly rear lounge. The large single bed sizes mean this is also a motorhome in which you can let your children grow up.
Continental-style motorhomes are becoming increasingly popular, but we Brits still like our creature comforts and a good amount of space for when the weather is doing its usual British thing. As a result, the fact that the kitchen here is relatively limited in terms of work space might put some people off. However, the idea behind the McLouis Fusion brand is a good one, and on the whole, it works well in this new model with its spacious rear lounge and comfortable sleeping areas.
Fiat chassis with iron-grey metallic cab and colour-coordinated front bumper. Body made using WPS wood-free construction system, with synthetic resin replacing wood for more durability and less weight. Anti-hail roof (35mm thick), fibreglass underbody with 7cm-thick Styrofoam insulation, polyester inner and outer side walls with Styrofoam insulation, skydive window with blind and flyscreen, sunroof over kitchen and rear bed, garage with up to 300kg load capacity.
LOUNGING AND DINING
L-shaped front dinette with movable table, U-shaped rear lounge with foldout table. LED main and ambient lighting. Door flyscreen.
Two-burner gas-only hob, 142-litre fridge, combined oven and grill, extractor fan.
Rear drop-down double 1.36 x 1.96m. Rear single 2.16 x 0.61m. Front single 1.86 x 0.81m
Truma CP Plus with LCD control panel, Combi 6E boiler, 115-litre fresh-water tank, 100-litre waste-water tank, 120W solar panel, leisure battery, two-burner gas-only hob, 142-litre fridge, combined oven and grill, extractor fan.
Lux Pack, fitted as standard, includes reversing camera, 120W solar panel and more. Winter Pack includes insulated external grey-water tank.
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It's good that McLouis has managed to include a rear lounge that can seat at least six occupants
|Shipping Length||6.49 m|