Benjamin Davies

See other motorhome reviews written by Benjamin Davies

Get the expert verdict on the Chausson Suite Maxi in the Practical Motorhome review

Overview

Chausson pulled the rug out from under the competition with the debut of the radical Welcome Suite. It won the gong for Best Compact ’Van in our 2010 Motorhome of the Year Awards and had punters queuing up to fill Chausson’s order books.

The low-profile ’van had an island kitchen smack in the middle, a full-width rear washroom, and an electric drop-down double bed over the lounge.

Not wanting to let that success fade from memory, Chausson’s 2011 model launch saw the Suite lifted from the Welcome series and plonked in its own range, comprised of three models - the Suite Mini, Suite Maxi and Suite Garage. All three are nearly identical towards the front, with electric drop-down beds, island kitchens and circular lounge set ups, but as you get to the rear things start to differ. The Suite Mini is essentially the same as last year’s Welcome Suite, while the Suite Maxi is a lengthened version, with a longitudinal instead of a transverse rear washroom. The Suite Garage adds another double bed to the equation, set transversely at the rear, with a garage beneath it, and a compact side washroom just in front of it.

We opted to take the Suite Maxi on tour to the south of France. With the Maxi, Chausson has taken the original Suite and ramped up its practicality levels, using extra habitation length. It’s a full 70cm longer than the Mini, but although it loses the compact sub-6m proportions of the original, it gains a lot of storage space.

The washroom is sited longitudinally, which frees up space in the rear nearside corner of the ’van. Part of this has been used for a full-height slide-out shelved cupboard, handy for food or clothing. The other portion of this newly available space has been used for something much more interesting. It’s a large external locker – nearly the size of some traditional rear garages – but has a strange shape. It’s taller than it is wide, which means that items have to be stacked on top of each other to make full use of it.

This might seem silly at first, but the final piece that completes the puzzle is a new motorised bike rack from Fiamma, a cost option we’d heartily recommend at £769. When the button on its dedicated fob is pressed, the rack’s securing straps spool out and it slides down and out of the ’van – with your help. Once it’s protruding far enough out of the locker you fold down a pair of strutted wheels – a board is provided for them to rest on, should you be on soft or uneven ground. Then keep pressing the button, and it will roll on the ground until fully extended horizontally. Load your bikes onto the rails, strap them in and use the fob to wind in the rack until it’s vertical. The bikes slide in and up until they are stowed, perpendicular to the ground.

Once you get past the bizarre sight of your bikes balanced upright on their back wheels, this makes a lot of sense. It’s a clever way to use the height 
of the ’van to stow awkward items, and your bikes stay hidden behind a locked door, rather than on display on an external rack.

It’s not perfect – the wheels that keep the rack on the straight and narrow sometimes squeal alarmingly as they slide on their rails, and you have to be careful that the rack and bikes don’t hit the locker walls or foul the straps.

In other areas the Suite Maxi is nearly identical to its smaller sibling, and functions in much the same way. On the road it’s a compliant drive, albeit noisy on rough roads. The washroom and kitchen are both excellent and the space for microwave and gas ovens is welcome. Space heating is provided by a diesel-fired Webasto unit, which works well.

The double bed over the lounge is easy to use and comfortable, and can drop all the way down to knee-height – but then you can’t use the single lounge bed.

One problem with the electric bed is that because it’s suspended by straps it might rock when you’re in it, bumping the walls. Our tester woke up twice because he thought someone was knocking on the door. It also bumps and rattles slightly on the move. We never noticed this problem with the original Suite. The lounge bed is serviceable for two small children or one adult.

Overall, although it has a pair of lap belts, the Suite Maxi is decidedly a couple’s motorhome that aims offers 
a better alternative to compact garage ’vans for those with two bicycles to carry. We think it’s a resounding success.

Technical specs

Sleeps3
Travel seats4
MTPLM3500kg
Payload479kg
Length6.69m21′11″
Width2.33m7′8″
Height2.89m9′6″
Waste water105L
Kitchen Equipment
2-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Washroom
Separate shower cubicle
Heating
Webasto space heater

Verdict

Chausson isn’t resting on its laurels after the success of the Welcome Suite last year, and happily the expanded Suite range doesn’t dilute the core appeal of the layout.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Useful lidded cubbies in the walls; large washroom; ingenious drop-down double bed; clever optional bike rack

Cons

  • Bed can knock against the walls when lowered; odd-shaped external locker, especially when bike rack isn't specced
Share with friends

Follow us on

Recently added motorhomes for sale

Most recent motorhome reviews

The Practical Motorhome Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo 250d Sport Long review – 1 - The Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo 250d Sport Long is priced from £56,670 OTR, £63,990 as tested (© Phil Russell/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome Chausson Welcome 711 Travel Line review – 1 - The new Chausson 711 is being sold in Welcome Travel Line spec only (© Peter Baber/Practical Motorhome)

Swift Rio 325

£52,180OTR

The Practical Motorhome Swift Rio 325 review – 1 - The 2018 Swift Rio 325 is just 5.99m long and has a licence-friendly MTPLM of 3500kg (© Phil Russell/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome IH N-Class 630 RLS review – 1 - The IH N-Class 630 RLS is priced from £73,995 OTR for the 130bhp variant and from £76,490 OTR for the 180bhp version – we're testing the latter (© Gentleman Jack/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome Marquis Majestic 196 review – 1 - Fitting six berths and six travel seats into a 3500kg motorhome is no mean feat – does it work? (© Phil Russell/Practical Motorhome)
The Practical Motorhome Swift Bessacarr 597 review – 1 - The ’van tested has an MTPLM of 3850kg, but there is a version with a 3500kg MTPLM (and a lower payload) – read more in our Swift Bessacarr 597 review (© Peter Baber/Practical Motorhome)