The baby of the range, the 540 has been spruced up for the new season, but you'll probably want one or two of the options packages, says Nick Harding

Overview

Let's hear it for the short stuff. It's only in recent years, after all, that 6m has been considered a 'normal' length for a van conversion. 

The 540 is the smallest in the Cliff range from Sunlight, at 5.41m. It's not all change for 2019, but it has been spruced up and specified down. Previously, models were slightly quirky in their offerings (such as the larger, 120-litre fuel tank), so some subtle changes mean a lower starting price than last year. 

However, there's a bit of 'buyer beware' here. It starts at an eye-catching £37,499, but there are three package options: Basic, Chassis and Chassis Comfort. 

You'll need to research these for ourselves, but you might end up deciding that at least two are essential.

The example we're looking at, from Lowdhams, has the first two, plus other extras, which take it up to £41,803 - slightly beyond the £40,000 price point at which I'd have said this was stunning value. 

Design

The floorplan is tried and tested for mainland Europe, but arguably not so favoured over here - we do prefer a rear lounge, rather than the 540's fixed-bed formula.

It might only sleep two (there's a perfunctory third berth option), but there's travel for four; although it's a rather upright rear seat.

Sunlight might be part of Erwin Hymer Group UK, but it has fewer than 10 UK dealers. Fine if there's one near you, but something to consider when you buy.

On the road

The 705kg payload means you won't need to worry about how much equipment you take on board. However, do take the rest of this report as 'reviewed as seen.'

No surprises to find it's based on Fiat's Ducato, in plain white and on 15in steel wheels as standard; ditto the 2.3-litre 130bhp engine.

We think it would be better for those travelling in the rear if their side window was a slider that could be opened while on the move.

Lounging & dining

On site, it's the usual cosy gathering with swivelled cab seats and a rather narrow side-fixing table. You might like the extension, courtesy of the Basic Package.

Kitchen

Step down from the lounge to a standard kitchen for this type of conversion - but look again. The typical (but more modern) two-ring hob and sink combination is sited to give some worktop in front, with a flip-up extension.

The compressor fridge is set underneath, so it can be accessed from inside or out. It does impinge on locker storage, but there's a drawer and two slim lockers.

The ledge to the right will come in handy, as will the two hooks on an inset rail.

Sleeping

Arguably the 540's best selling point is at the back, where there are the comfort advantages of a fixed bed. The slatted base and cold-foam mattress pieces can be set aside for a generous luggage area, with lashing points to secure loads.

Washroom

Across the corridor from the kitchen, the washroom is compact, with a solid door that can't open fully. Inside, the toilet stays with the current fad for a raised position. Also here are a small frosted window, clothes rail, duckboarding (thanks, Basic Package), and an opening rooflight. The tap from the fixed corner basin extends for showering, with a curtain to pull around.

Storage

The lockers over the bed lack dividers.

Equipment

Despite the budget billing, built quality is above-par, as you'd expect from a German-built motorhome. Furniture and fittings feel more solid. The plastic mouldings seem robust. Neat touches include reading lamps on rails.

Quibbles? Lockers over the bed lack dividers. It'll also be great when continental firms discover the advantages of refillable gas tanks.

It's more a question of nailing that price at the equipment levels to suit your needs. You'll also want to ask about the time between placing your order and actually deliver.

Technical specs

LayoutVan conversion, transverse bed
Sleeps2
Travel seats3
MTPLM3300kg
Payload705kg
Length5.41m17′9″
Width2.05m6′9″
Height2.65m8′8″
Fresh/waste water100L / 90L
Leisure battery95 Ah
External Options
Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
Waeco Compressor Fridge, 2-burner gas hob
Washroom
Shower curtain
Heating
Truma Gas/Electric heater

Verdict

So, do you keep things basic, or go all-out for luxury in your van conversion? Sunlight's Cliffs make the case for the former, without compromising on build quality. But you'll need to do your own research to reach your ideal specification. The 540 is also compact enough to carry out daily duties.