Illustrating the significant inroads Ford has made into the Continental market in the past few years, the Auto-Roller 500 comes on the Transit.

Its mix of fine handling, ergonomics and bombproof build is hard to beat. The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel found in the Auto-Roller also churns out an impressive 206 lb/ft of torque and 109bhp.

The Auto-Roller has an onboard fresh water tank, while the hook-up point is at the rear of the ’van. The waste water drain valve is also at the back, but its release lever is far under the ’van, which can make it a pain to find. Its position allows water to be drained straight out of the bottom of the tank, rather than through a pipe. The gas locker is a rather inconvenient 94cm off the ground.

Inside, the door opens onto an entrance area, with the kitchen on the right and a TV stand/dresser on the left. From the door, an L-shaped corridor runs through the ’van to the cab.

We like the clever use of silver and cream highlights to offset the wood surfaces. Roller Team has also included four belted travel seats in the lounge – two facing forward and two facing rearwards, allowing it to carry six people.

The single cutaway entrance step is steep and has a small surface area. Although this means it doesn’t intrude much into the living area, it also can make stepping out of the ’van a bit of a trial. Also, the tinted windows and relative lack of rooflights means that the Auto-Roller has a pretty gloomy interior.

Dinettes with settees facing them are the order of the day, with comfortable cushions that should provide enough support for lounging, although perhaps not firm enough for travelling. There’s a single-leg table that clips to the wall, also used to form the bed base.

There are large windows on either side to provide ample natural light, although the Auto-Roller has the poorest lighting, with two fluorescent fixtures over the dinette and settee – they may be energy-efficient, but they emit cold, white light. One feature that does set the Auto-Roller apart, though, is the inclusion of a power socket beneath the dinette.

There are two separate beds in the lounge, which are made up using the settee to form a single bed and the dinette to form a double. The single is 1.79m x 0.56m – pretty small. The double is assembled by lowering the table to fill the gap between the two dinette seats. The bed also requires two wooden base extenders that are clipped in place in the wardrobe. To put them in place you have to lift the seat cushions completely out of the way, which can be a hassle.

The overcab double bed is a good size at 2.07 x 1.53m, and it has an 11cm-thick mattress. However, this mattress is hinged at the middle to allow the bed to raise, so there is a noticeable dip in its centre.

The Auto-Roller has a set of racks in its TV stand – you just pull the whole door out and the racks follow. This means you can access them from the lounge as well as from the kitchen. There are some excellent storage facilities in its kitchen, with two large, shelved cupboards and a big cutlery drawer. The sink has a stainless steel draining board, and the three-burner hob lies above the oven and grill unit. Instead of being recessed into the worktop to 
accommodate the glass cover, the hob cover is raised, giving you more space for pots and pans on the hob.

The Auto-Roller’s smallish lounge means it has a big washroom. The designers have even managed to squeeze in a proper shower compartment. This area also has dark grey walls that are an attractive alternative to the usual blinding white, but because there is no dedicated lighting here, the grey walls can make the area feel a little claustrophobic. In the toilet area, there’s ample legroom on the toilet, lots of storage and large mirrors, too.

Interior storage is hampered due to its onboard fresh water tank. However, despite this, there’s still a good amount of storage. The wardrobe is deep and will certainly cater for five people. There are also storage spaces under the dinette seats, though none under the settee, and no proper storage provision for cables and chocks.

READ MORE: February 2013 issue of Practical Motorhome. Reviews: Roller Team, Shire and Auto-Trail

Our tests and ’van reviews make essential reading if you’re building up to a big new purchase. In the February 2013 issue’s big live-in test, we examine the four-berth Auto-Trail Tracker RB. Plus we review the budget European six-berth Auto-Roller 746, while Gentleman Jack tests Shire’s built-to-order Phoenix ML