This van conversion packs a huge amount into its compact interior, and was a worthy winner of our recent Motorhome of the Year Award.

Overview

Elddis introduced van conversions into its line-up last season, the same year it re-established Compass as a motorhome brand, and put a couple of van conversions in that range, too.

This year, the Co Durham manufacturer expanded the number of van conversions in both of these ranges to three, and already, that has been enough for the new entry to win Motorhome of the Year for 2020.

Our judges were really impressed by the Elddis Autoquest CV60 (also known, in Compass guise, as the Avantgarde CV60).

It includes a French bed in the rear, regularly seen in coachbuilt motorhomes, but a rarity in a van conversion.This bed can also be folded up to become a daybed, which forms the central feature of the rear lounge.

We decided to take an early-season look at this award-winning motorhome.

Design

Our test model had a mostly white exterior, combined with burgundy red and black decals down the side.

The Compass version parked up nearby was Fiat Grey (a £500 option), with fetching blue decals.

The 'van has barn doors at the back, which give the rear lounge a wonderfully airy feel when they are open. But we did have a bit of a niggle about opening them: to get inside the 'van, you have to open both of the doors, because the right-hand door which you open first, is blocked off by the French bed.

That said, this shouldn't be too much of a difficulty in itself, but the left-hand door doesn't currently have any kind of handle to help you shut it again when you are on the inside. In a high wind, we think this could be a bit of a struggle.

However, in many other respects, this motorhome has been designed very much with the worst that the wind can throw at you in mind. Have you ever looked in the side mirror to see the covers of various outlets on the outside of the 'van flapping in the breeze as you drive along? Have you worried that they might even be ripped off before you find a place to stop? That should all be a thing of the past here, because the hook-up and water connections on the offside are both covered by a flap that slides down, rather than clipping on.

On the road

The CV van conversion range is rather unusual for Elddis, because it is based on the Fiat Ducato rather than the Peugeot Boxer, as all of its other models are.

Both base vehicles run off the same Sevel production line in Italy, but this change does mean you could soon benefit from Fiat's new nine-speed auto-gearbox - if you think it's worth paying extra for (an extra £2,000 for the 140-bhp engine, or £3,000 to get 160bp).

We found that your vision out of the back of the 'van is actually quite good, so you possibly won't need any reversing camera. Vision either side of the 'van is pretty impressive, too.

Lounging & dining

The CV60 could almost be described as a van conversion with its own living and dining room.

Although the main lounge is at the rear, once you have swivelled the cab seats, there is a sitting area up front - and this is where the pedestal table goes.

At first glance we thought that the tabletop looked a little small to dine at comfortably, but in fact it is fine for two. You fasten the pedestal leg to its base by twisting it around, so this at least is secure.

The table top can also be swivelled around to make it easier for you to get in and out, but you might want to be careful if the kitchen extension is out, because there is only a very narrow gangway between this and where the table can reach.

During the day, this area is lit from a rooflight, and there is a spotlight over the cabinet next to the table on the offside, where there would also be room for a radio, as there is a mains socket here, too. All in all, it is a pleasant eating area and is conveniently close to the kitchen.

The rear lounge is very homely. The bed pushed back into daybed position makes for a comfortable sofa, even though shorter people might find that they have to sit with their feet dangling if they sit near the back of the 'van.

You get four silvery-blue scatter cushions here, which complement the mid-brown tone of the woodwork and the heather-coloured locker panels. We were surprised to discover, however, that in daybed mode, the sofa has no cover, apart from a small matching silvery runner that you strap down the middle.

For most of the daybed, you are sitting directly on a white mattress - albeit in our case a Hypnos mattress that costs £200 extra. This is, apparently, intentional, because the main purpose of this unit is to serve as a bed, not a daybed.

The lounge is lit by a large rooflight, and the windows either side and in the barn doors. There are no curtains on any of them, and both flyscreen and blind are pulled down from the top.

The two spotlights are both in the rear corners of the 'van. They would possibly be better positioned at either end of the daybed, because someone sitting at the front end wouldn't get any benefit if they were trying to read here.

From anywhere on the daybed, however, you can comfortably sit and watch the television on its bracket on the other side.

As an improvement project, I might even consider trying to install a larger screen here. This would easily fit if you were prepared to sacrifice light from one of the windows.

Below this, a sideboard runs back the length of the 'van beyond the kitchen, cleverly disguising the wheel arch. So there's plenty of room for a tea tray, or some flowers in a vase.

Kitchen

The kitchen isn't hugely generous: you only get a three-burner gas hob, a relatively small sink and a Thetford Triplex oven and grill. But there are plenty of good points about it. It's very well lit, for starters, with two LED lights shining down from underneath the lockers and a third one in front of them.

You can easily see what you are doing, and the work surface, once you put the extension up, is reasonable. Once you have finished with the extension, it is easy to dismantle by pressing on one lever that runs along the underside: you don't have to scrabble about looking for where the struts are, as you often have to do elsewhere.

Storage, too, might look fairly meagre to begin with, as the overhead lockers are fairly small and what looks like a cupboard on the right of the unit turns out to be very shallow shelves.

But around the edge of the kitchen unit, below where the extension folds down to, you can find a row of four neat drawers, plus another mains socket. In addition, there's a large pan locker under the oven.

And if you really need more kitchen space, there is always the cupboard on the other side of the table and the overhead locker above it. You only have to turn around to reach them.

The 90-litre compressor fridge to the left of the main kitchen unit sits on top of the wardrobe so is also very easy to reach.

Sleeping

Pulling out the bed could not be easier - although you might have to lift it up slightly to get over the carpet. The backrest slips down easily to form the mattress, with a little extra attached cushion at the end to take account of the corner. You are then left with a superbly comfortable bed which, if you go for the Hypnos mattress, is possibly just as good as you might have at home. A full bedding set is a £260 optional extra.

And because the blinds and flyscreens on the windows both come down from the top, if you want to sit up in bed and read in the morning, you could potentially let the blinds up on the window on the rear doors and prop up a couple of pillows without worrying about damaging the cassette.

The bed is a good size, too, at 1.87m or 6ft 2in. This 6ft 6in tester felt comfortable. That's commendable in a motorhome that is only 5.99m long overall.

Even with the bed out, the drawers and the cupboards in the sideboard unit are all easily accessible, while you'll find the top of the sideboard now near enough to serve as a bedside table.

You can just about store a large duvet and pillows in the area under the bed once you slide it back in the morning, although you might need to be a bit careful, as there is a fair amount of technology under here, too. But there is a handy access hatch.

Washroom

The shower in the central washroom extends out of the large salad bowl-style handbasin in the corner. There is only one drainage hole in the tray below, by the side of the circular toilet, but at least the tray itself is deep and a roof vent should take the steam away.

There is a small mirrored cupboard on the far side, with an open shelf either side of it. Unfortunately, the only lighting for this is ambient - and it is also controlled by a switch sited outside the washroom, next to the fridge.

You do get a toothbrush mug, toilet roll holder and towel hook, however.

Storage

Aside from food storage, the wardrobe under the fridge is large enough for two, even if it is only half-height.

The sideboard opposite the bed has an ample cupboard either end of it and two drawers in the middle, which is a clever way to disguise the wheel arch.

Up above in the lounge, you will find reasonably sizeable overhead lockers, none of which is shelved. Then you still have the cupboard by the table and the single overhead locker above it, if you are not using them for the kitchen. And there's a slim cubbyhole above the cab. In other words, you should be all right, especially as this 'van has a whopping 654kg payload - huge for just the two of you.

However, because the bed slides out and the space beneath it includes the heater there is nowhere for really big items.

Outdoor furniture, for example, would probably have to be stowed down the aisle when you are on the move. But Elddis has included a little hatch at the end of the bed, which is exposed when you open the door. So you could stow something long and slim, such as a parasol, in there.

Equipment

To save space inside, this van conversion comes with a 25-litre underslung gas tank. That's a very handy feature you don't often find at this price range.

This year, the Autoquest range also comes with Whale's CompleteHeat system. This is lighter than the original Whale blown-air heating system: the 4kW unit fitted in here is 8.7kg rather than 11kg, thanks in part to having a plastic rather than metal casing.

Like the gas tank, it is also fitted under the floor to save space - although the largest storage space inside the CV60, under the bed, is still taken up with quite a bit of technology.

CompleteHeat's other advantage is that it warms up more quickly: Whale claims if you go for the combined gas and electric option, the time the motorhome will take to warm up under the conditions of the Grade III insulation test decreases by 40%.

All of that might outweigh the potential omissions in this 'van, including not having task lighting in the washroom , and a microwave being a cost option.

Technical specs

LayoutVan conversion, rear lounge
Sleeps2
Travel seats2
MTPLM3500kg
Payload654kg
Length5.99m19′8″
Width2.5m8′2″
Height2.67m8′9″
Engine (capacity)2300
Fresh/waste water90L / 45L
Leisure battery95 Ah
Gas tank size12.5kg
Kitchen Equipment
Waeco Compressor Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Washroom
Thetford C-402 bench toilet
Heating
Whale water heater, Whale blown air space heater

Verdict

As long as you don't plan to hold crowded parties when you are on site, and are sure you won't suddenly need to take someone else with you on the road, the CV60 is an absolutely ideal solution for a couple on tour.

You can lounge all day on the daybed and feel almost at home, yet still have a separate eating area.

And as the vehicle itself is less than 6m long, you can park it so much more easily in those out-of-the-way places.

New rules about vehicle excise duty mean that the overall price is now significantly over that crucial £40,000 mark, but this van conversion should still definitely be high up on your list of potential buys that are well worth considering.

Our test team's notes

Claudia Dowell: "For me, the luxury of having a French bed in a vehicle that is easier to drive because it is less than 6m long is what makes this 'van really special."

Sarah Wakely: "I loved this design from the moment I saw it. It's really innovative and comfy - just the thing to go away in as a couple. I also love the fact that you can choose to leave the bed in situ if you're going out for the day, and use the cab area to dine when you get back."

Bryony Symes: "In effect here, you can have a separate dining room and living room - perfect if one of you wants to do the crossword while the other one wants to watch TV!"

Conclusion

Pros

  • Comfortable French bed day and night
  • Lots of varied storage space

Cons

  • No accent lighting in the washroom