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If you are looking for a two-berth campervan which costs less than £40,000 then the Compass Avantgarde CV20 could be one to consider. Nick Harding tests and rates it.
There are eight models in the Compass Avantgarde range, comprising of six coachbuilts and two van conversions. Only interior décor and exterior graphics distinguish Avantgarde outfits from their stablemate Elddis Autoquest equivalents.
Here we look at the CV20 panel van – a two-berth offering the twin-settee rear lounge that’s so popular here in the UK. The pricing is keen-as-mustard – you could have a brand-new camper for less than £40,000 (only the presence of alloy wheels pushes this example over that crucial boundary).
The County Durham-based firm has done a fine job with the CV20. There’s doubtless been some guidance from parent company Erwin Hymer Group UK – some of the interior plastic mouldings, for example, seem of an even better quality than others I’ve seen in recent Elddis products.
Until now, Elddis has built on Peugeot Boxer bases but it has switched to Fiat’s Ducato for its van conversions. The CV20 makes its entrance with the two-litre, 115bhp engine as standard.
I suspect most buyers will happily pay the extra £900 for the 2.3-litre, 130bhp unit (which also means they can go on and specify automatic transmission). Talking of options, the £1,218 Lux Pack is another ‘must have’, especially as it includes a passenger airbag, along with cab air conditioning and cruise control.
The Fiat’s origins may be as a commercial vehicle, but it’s more than capable of comfortable long-haul journeys as well as – in this format – nimble around-town driving and parking, given its overall dimensions. You get what is a standard Ducato cab, although the steering wheel controls and DAB radio are welcome upgrades.
The rear settees layout means you really can fling open the back doors and welcome in the world. For dining, a free-standing table comes out of its safe stowage slot behind the driver. It’s actually a little bit tricky to manoeuvre around it when in situ in the lounge.
I’ve already mentioned the decent-quality plastic mouldings around the windows, although there’s some painted metal on show on the back doors to remind you this is a ‘budget’ vehicle. And there’s just the one blown-air outlet in the main seating area, at the forward end of the lounge.
Similarly, the small rooflight overhead is a bit cheaper than the larger Heki units you get with some rivals. Most folk will welcome the flatscreen television holder with aerial, mains and 12V sockets to hand.
If you want additional on-site seating for a couple of guests, you can also swivel both cab seats – although there’s a step down to floor level behind the cab.
The gas tank comes as standard, freeing up interior storage space – as do the Whale heating and hot water systems, which are also underslung. A flyscreen panel across the sliding doorway is standard, but cab blinds are a £450 option.
The main upholstery has an ‘Aquaclean’ finish, which means it can be wiped clean with water, while the foam is light but supportive.
Those settees are long enough, at 1.88m (6ft 2in) apiece, to be worth considering as single beds. Alternatively,a double is easy to make – the slatted bases have a particularly easy slide-out action. At night there are concertina blinds to the four double-glazed acrylic windows in the lounge; they’re top-hinged for opening, except the nearside one which is fixed (to prevent accidental damage if opening the sliding door).
Either of the settee bases can be used to stow your bedding. You can access these via large doors or by hingeing up the slatted sections. In addition, there’s a small hatch at the end of the nearside settee which is accessed when the rear doors are open – it’s ideal for stowing items such as your mains lead.
Compass has struck the right blend of cooking facilities and storage space in the kitchen. Thetford’s Triplex cooker has a three-ring gas hob and a combined oven and grill, complemented by a deep, circular sink with loose cover that will need to be stowed for travel. A worktop extension to the left of the hob is a useful addition.
For storage, there’s a drawer directly beneath the oven, a shallow floor locker under that, and a shelved cupboard under the sink that includes a mug holder. Plus, there’s a set of four drawers at the end of the kitchen unit, their location meaning they’re accessible from outside with the sliding door open, too.
Across the corridor, the kitchen facilities are completed by a narrow-bodied Thetford compressor fridge with freezer. It has a 90-litre capacity, which is generous for a van conversion, while its location, set over the wardrobe, makes for easy access.
It’s quite a surprise to see a fixed basin in here (most makers of van conversions go for some kind of fold-away affair). There’s the usual Thetford swivel-bowl toilet, while the shower tray has just the one plughole. The only ventilation is via a rooflight.
While the tap’s pull-out extension for the shower is acceptable in a conversion like this, the curtain on the narrowest of tracking suggests a compromise. Storage is somewhat limited, too – there’s a small locker overhead flanked by open shelving, but there’s nothing to hold your shampoo bottles and so on in place.
There are plenty of pluses in this department. The overhead lockers have positive locks and there are switched LED reading lamps as well as ambient strips over the lockers. The storage space over the cab is handy while smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are set in the ceiling. The only minus I could find was that the back of the kitchen’s overhead locker flexes too much.
It’s the price that’s all-important here and the Erwin Hymer Group has smashed it. You’ll want to budget for engine and Lux Pack upgrades, but that still brings you in under £40,000 – so well worth your consideration.