The good folk at Rapido are celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary in 2010, so they’ve decided to commemorate this in the best possible way – by growing their model range with a raft of exciting new models.

One of the most interesting introductions to Rapido’s line-up was the Series-6 mid-range low-profiles, which were introduced in the middle of the 2010 season; the brief was to deliver a solid motorcaravanning experience, with high levels of quality and innovative layouts, at a price point which slots in under most of the Rapido stable.

The range proved so popular that Rapido has expanded it for 2011, incorporating three new models, one of which was the 691.

Measuring 7.37m long, the 691 hasn’t been designed for compactness, but it’s still on the small side for a ’van with such a huge island bed (1.93 x 1.4m, if you’re wondering). The exterior design is sober and restrained, although as a result the bright white 691 can seem plain and dull compared to the classy silver of Rapido’s higher-end models.

The layout features a compact L-shaped dinette with a side-facing single seat, an L-shaped side kitchen and a washroom split into two cubicles on either side of the rear bedroom area.

Rapido has done a very good job in the last couple of years of updating its warm and traditional interior style, without losing all the qualities that help differentiate it from its rivals. The wood veneers are suitably rich and inviting, and are splendidly offset by cream trim panels and upholstery.

The half dinette provides decent levels of lounging space, and thanks to the side-facing seat a couple can invite up to three guests to join them for evening drinks or even a meal. The roomy lounge table impedes movement between lounge and cab, but it can be folded and rotated so that you can tailor the amount of table surface on offer, as well as give yourself a bit more space to get past.

Rapido has always done a good line in kitchens, and the 691 has a fine example – our only complaint is that it’s short on workspace, but in our experience after a bit of time in a ’van you get used to juggling between the lids on the hob and sink in order to use them as food preparation workspace.

In every other department the Rapido’s kitchen excels, particularly when it comes to storage. The locker under the sink is a particularly clever touch; open it and – along with the customary wine bottle rack – you’ll find a large drawer with lots of free space around it, ideal for large and oddly shaped items. The location of the washroom in the rear bedroom area means that Rapido has managed to shoehorn in a huge 150-litre fridge with a separate freezer compartment.

The washroom is nearly as successful as the kitchen – the circular shower cubicle has a central draining hole that works very well, and there’s ample storage space in the toilet cubicle for all your toiletries. A plywood door – with a reassuringly solid metal handle – allows you to isolate the washroom cubicles and the bed area, creating an ‘en suite’ area that can be used for changing. We’d like to see some clothes hooks or a towel rail attached to this door, though.

With the door shut, space for movement at the foot of the bed becomes a bit tight, but it’s perfectly liveable. The bigger of our two testers – 5ft 11in tall – found that the shower cubicle was a little bit on the cramped side, though, and that kneeroom was slightly tight on the toilet.

The 691’s pièce de résistance has to be its big, comfortable bed. There isn’t much to be said about it, because ‘big’ and ‘comfortable’ basically sum it up. One niggle – the mattress does overhang the base of the bed a little bit, which means it can be awkward to sit at the foot of it.

Storage in the bed area is as impressive as it is elsewhere in this ’van, with two separate wardrobes on either side of the bed, a couple of lidded nooks which double as bedside tables, two roomy overhead lockers and a huge drawer under the bed. The excellent garage isn’t accessible from the bed area, although if you intend to preserve it for storing outdoor kit like chocks and cables this won’t be a problem.

People looking to buy this ’van will prioritise the bed area, and in this department the 691 excels; add that to its competitive list of standard kit, its good price and Rapido’s renowned build quality, and you have a very tempting prospect indeed.