Farewell 590, hello 520 - but it's more than just a numbers game with Adria. Nick Harding explains.

Overview

New for 2020, the 520 ST is the successor to the 590 SG. The latter model went through a seven-year production cycle virtually unchanged, and the 520ST is even better. 

Much remains the same, especially the bodywork construction. That coachbuilt body is in tough GRP that isn't as susceptible to minor damage as an aluminium skin. It's backed by a 10-year water ingress warranty, too.

Under the skin, Adrias are that bit different - using dowel where other manufacturers are tempted to get away with staples, for example. In short, it's that bit sturdier than most. 

On the road

Unlike the base vehicle pictured, UK-bound 520s will be on Fiat's Ducato. The 520 comes with the latest Euro 6d, 140bhp engine, but there are options to upgrade to 160bhp, which means you can also order the all-new 'proper' automatic transmission.

Lounging & dining

Dare I call the interior Tardis-like? Bearing in mind the overall length (slightly shorter than a typical Fiat Ducato), it's not a bad description.

It's a generous lounge, with the cab seats swivelled, an inward-facing seat for two and a forward-facing travel seat with three-point belts - all set around a large, fixed pedestal-leg table with fore and aft adjustment.

Kitchen

The kitchen is exemplary in its use of space, with a three-ring hob and sink configured to give a generous amount of worktop, while storage - drawers and open shelving - is very good. Plus, close to hand there's a larger-than-average 167-litre fridge/freezer.

Sleeping

Lots of the credit for this 'van's spacious feel goes to the drop-down bed, of course. It offers all the comfort and convenience of a fixed double, while the touch of a simple switch sees it gliding up to the roof to allow daytime use of the lounge.

When it's time for sleep, you can bring it down low enough so that a clever pull-out step is all you'll need for access. Alternatively, if you still want to use the lounge, or make a second double from the seating, just bring the main bed partway down and use the supplied ladder.

Whatever your night-time set-up, there's still access to the cooking and washing facilities, with kitchen and washroom wrapping around the back.

Washroom

The washroom is a bit unusual. First, it's roomier than it has any right to be in a compact coachbuilt. Second, it includes a bench toilet - much easier to clean around than swivel-bowls.

Third, the ladder for the bed stows in here. Not a bad idea - its location means it can act as a rather handy series of racks for drying wet clothing and so on. And there's a permanent high-level hanging rail in the shower.

There's another cleverly designed space-saver in here, as well: the fold-down handbasin over the toilet.

Equipment

There's no denying that £56,865 looks a cracking price for this compact coachbuilt with drop-down bed, from one of Europe's most popular manufacturers.

You've seen what's coming, though, haven't you? First, the £3060 Luxury Pack (alloys, central cup-holders, DAB radio with sat-nav, rear-view camera, roof rack and ladder, awning). All the evidence is, you won't be able to resist.

Then there's the £2590 Pack 2 or the £1820 Pack 1 - the latter alone bringing you cab air-con, passenger airbag and cruise control.

And while we're in spend, spend, spend mode, the £890 Safety Pack adds traffic signs recognition, high-beam recognition, lane departure warning system, automatic windscreen wipers and lights, and collision avoidance.

Here in the real world, then, what we're looking at is a vehicle costing from just under £62,000, easily going up to something around the £63,500 mark. Or more. Luckily, it's pre-wired for options such as a solar panel, TV and habitation air conditioning.

Technical specs

LayoutEnd kitchen
Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM3500kg
Payload716kg
Length5.97m19′7″
Width2.3m7′7″
Height2.78m9′1″
Fresh/waste water120L / 85L
Leisure battery100 Ah
External Options
GRP sidewalls, Integral awning
Kitchen Equipment
3-burner gas hob

Verdict

This Matrix model absolutely nails it in the space-optimisation stakes. It's not without some key rivals, but any shortlist of 6m-long coachbuilts with full facilities simply must include this. What's more it's from a company that's never afraid to innovate, yet roots its motorhomes in top-drawer build quality. 

You'll need to set your budget stalls out early, but don't let that deter you as you research this sector. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • For a compact motorhome, it's very spacious
  • Drop-down bed saves a lot of space
  • Cleverly designed washroom

Cons

  • All those option packs could be costly
  • Could do with more kit in the kitchen