Andrew McPhee

See other motorhome reviews written by Andrew McPhee

Read the Practical Motorhome review of the compact low-profile Bessacarr E510 Compact

Design

The E510 Compact is based on Fiat’s special low-line chassis, which affords it a low-slung, sleek appearance.

The gas locker, with space for two 7kg bottles, is positioned alongside the accommodation door, which is handy for turning the gas on and off in times of bad weather. However, it is located fairly high up, so older or disabled motorcaravanners may struggle to lift full gas bottles up and into the locker.

The accommodation door itself is sturdy, with a two-point lock and a large window. A mid-sized waste bin sits on the inside of the door.

The low-slung chassis means there is no need for an electric or pull-down step at the accommodation door so there’s a built-in step in the door well. But it is fairly high, and some may prefer to carry a portable step to help entry and exit.

Our E510 was fitted with the Elegance option pack (£995), which includes a wind-out awning, and this was easy to set up.

Both fresh- and waste-water tanks are located beneath the ’van. The former, at 90 litres, is insulated but the latter is fairly small, at just 68 litres. Blown-air heating is provided via a Truma 6kW gas and 4kW electric combi-boiler.

On the road

One of the E510’s primary selling points is its small size, which comes into its own when you’re out on the road: its 5.9m length means it can easily be parked in town, and its small turning circle makes about-turns a breeze. Our test ’van was fitted with the Fiat 100 MultiJet engine, as standard. We found it surprisingly responsive and it certainly provided sufficient power. The standard-length wheelbase does, however, make for a relatively long overhang of 1.88m.

Visibility from the cab is good as the wing mirrors are fitted with small magnifying sections to help eliminate 
blind spots. There is plenty of storage space in and above the cab doors, and on the dashboard, with a lockable compartment ideal for storing valuables. 


Rear visibility is limited to the view through the kitchen window, although our test model was fitted with a Blaupunkt satellite-navigation system which doubled as a reversing camera screen (part of the Elegance options pack).

Lounging & dining

Motorhomes of this size often feel cramped inside, but not the E510 Compact. Its beige ‘Delta’ upholstery marries well with the oak woodgrain lockers to create a sense of light and space (caramel-coloured upholstery is also available). The large cab roof-light and the mid-sized version above the dinette area increase this sensation.

Two sprung-cushion facing sofas form the lounge and are supremely comfortable. They create a relaxing area in which to spend an evening and are augmented by the swivel cab seats. However, the back cushions are not fixed and have a tendency to slide off onto the floor when cornering.

The dining area is created by erecting the large, freestanding table which is stored in the narrow cupboard alongside the sink in the kitchen. Access to the cab seats is not easy when the table is in place, but it’s big enough for six people to eat in comfort. It can also be used outside, during warm weather, for al fresco dining.

There is also a small coffee table which stands separately, on a single leg, and slots into a base alongside the driver’s side sofa. This is a useful addition when reading or playing cards in the evening, but you may find that it tends to get in the way – and creates another storage problem at night. 


There is an 11cm step up from the kitchen to the lounge area, which you may or may not find to be an issue.

Kitchen

The E510’s kitchen is well equipped for a ’van in this price range. It comes with a microwave, full-size oven and grill, three-ring hob with electric plate and Thetford SES (smart energy selection) 104-litre fridge.

All this equipment means there is a slight dearth of storage space in the kitchen area. Somewhat frustratingly, the crockery rack is in the locker above the right-hand lounge sofa, so you have to walk halfway across the motorhome to retrieve your plates and cups.

Some buyers would surely forego the microwave – located at head height, which raises safety concerns anyway – for more storage room. That aside, there is a small shelving unit next to the microwave, but no restraints or rails on the front, which makes it inconvenient for use while you are on the road. A spacious cupboard with tambour doors is located alongside that.

Workspace is somewhat limited in the main kitchen area, although a chopping board fits neatly over the sink. However, our testers used the space on top of the unit between the kitchen and lounge area (actually the back of the gas locker) as food preparation space. A slim cupboard with pull-out wire racks and a cutlery tray is contained within this unit. There are two mains sockets in the kitchen area, both of which are handily located for gadgets. There is a further mains socket at the front of the right-hand sofa in the lounge.

Sleeping

The E510’s double bed is made up from the two sofas, and creating it is a straightforward process. The bed/sofa base lifts up and out via gas struts, and legs drop down for support. The back cushions then slide down to create a relatively spacious flat bed, with one end slightly narrower than the other. There is plenty of storage space beneath the sofas, and our testers were impressed with the bed’s comfort.

There is also an alternative bed arrangement. The sofa bases can be pulled out mid-way, and specially shaped cushions are inserted over the swivelled cab seats to form two single beds. This allows easier access to the washroom at night, as the occupants don’t have to climb over each other and there is ample room for movement between the two beds.

Two design features may cause frustration. The first is the inclusion of only one spotlight at the widest end of the double bed – if you use this end as the head of the bed (the most practical arrangement) and like to read before sleeping, the level of lighting is insufficient. The second problem relates to the heating controls on the side of the wardrobe: the cushions touch them when you make the bed, and the control knob on our ’van fell off several times.

Washroom

Spend more than a couple of minutes in the E510’s washroom and it’s easy to see why we loved it. Step inside and you’re faced with a decent-sized sink and a couple of long mirrors – and there’s plenty of elbow room in which to brush your teeth or your hair. Further back is the shower, with a slightly recessed floor which allows more headroom for taller motorcaravanners.

Two glazed screens pull across to create a separate shower area – it’s not huge, but should prove adequate for most adults. Behind this is the Thetford electric flush cassette toilet, which swivels to allow the shower doors to be pulled across, or to create more legroom when you are seated on the Thetford. Our only concern is that your feet might get wet if you wish to use the toilet after a fellow passenger has been in the shower, but this could be avoided with the addition of a duckboard on the floor.

A blown-air heating vent is located beneath the sink unit, so the washroom stays warm whatever the weather. All in all, this is a spacious, bright, practical area, ideal for two adults touring, even for some time.

Storage

Many similarly-sized ’vans offer little or nothing in the way of external storage lockers other than those for gas and the toilet cassette, but the E510 has a good-sized example behind the passenger door. It’s big enough for hook-up cables and levelling ramps, and can be accessed internally by lifting the left-hand sofa base – handy if you’ve forgotten to retrieve something from the locker when it’s pouring with rain.

Interior storage space is impressive for a motorhome of these proportions. In the kitchen it is adequate, but located rather inconveniently. There is further room underneath the driver’s-side sofa, which is ideal for stowing bedding, shoes or clothing. A three-quarter length wardrobe is located behind this sofa, with a handy light inside which comes on when you open the door. There is also a small space at the foot of the unit, which is ideal for shoes and other items, but it is impeded a little by the fuse box.

Four large lockers sit above the lounge area, but only three can really be used for books and spare clothing, as one houses the crockery rack.

The inclusion of the large roof light over the cab area means that this motorhome doesn’t have the storage space that is often included above the Ducato cabs, but there are two small bins either side, handy for gloves, keys and other bits and bobs.

But it is in the washroom that the E510 offers the best storage. The area is dominated by the large locker above the cassette toilet, and has more than ample room for the toiletries two adults might require during a weekend away. There is also a small cupboard beneath the sink, as well as chrome fittings including a toothbrush holder, soap dish and rack. The only thing the washroom could perhaps benefit from would be the addition of a towel hook on the inside of the door.

Technical specs

Sleeps2
Travel seats2
MTPLM3300kg
Payload515kg
Length5.9m19′4″
Width2.27m7′5″
Height2.79m9′2″
Waste water68L
External Options
Aluminium sidewalls
Kitchen Equipment
Thetford Fridge, 3-burner gas with electric hot plate, Oven, Separate grill, Microwave
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet
Heating
Truma Gas/Electric heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

A compact low-profile ’van with a large washing space that makes it highly suitable for two adults even on lengthy tours. In other words, Swift has come up with another winner.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Comfortable sofa; electric hot plate; good external storage.

Cons

  • Wardrobe alongside washroom is fairly narrow; nowhere to store coffee table; only one reading light by bed.
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