It had to be ‘U’
Nick Harding sings the praises of a classic, two-berth motorhome with extensive U-shaped seating
From Auto-Trail’s line-up of six coachbuilts in the F-Line series, all built on Ford chassis, I reckon it’s the F68 here that could most appeal to Club members. It’s a two-berth with a popular end-lounge floorpan. I say ‘popular’, but the time when all our domestic manufacturers had such models in their portfolios has seemingly gone.
At 6.8m long, the F68 is particularly spacious, offering extensive U-shaped seating at the back. This is no ordinary F68 under review here – it comes with the two key pack options offered by Auto-Trail, as well as an upgrade to the 168bhp engine with automatic transmission, plus alloy wheels (at £860). Even with the additions it’s a competitive £62,041 on-the-road.
Build quality - 80%
The past few seasons have seen Ford’s Transit really come into its own as a base vehicle. With Auto-Trail’s F-Lines, you get a choice of five metallic cab colours, white graphics for the white coachbuilt bodywork are restrained.
That bodywork, though, is the same as on any other coachbuilt that comes out of the Auto-Trail factory. The sides are ding-resistant GRP, as is the whole of the overcab pod. Side skirts are an equally tough ABS.
There’s full-width storage across the back of the vehicle, under the settee, with external hatches on both sides. Access at the habitation door is via an electric flip-out step – but note that there’s a considerable step-up to negotiate here. The warranties offered by Auto-Trail are reassuring – five years for both the bodywork and, impressively, the rest of the conversion.
Driving - 78%
These latest Fords do drive well, and this particular combination of the optional powerplant and a very smooth automatic transmission particularly impressed. You might not feel that you need the extra power, but it does make for relaxing driving. (Most owners will be able to beat 30mpg, whatever the engine choice.)
You should also enjoy the cab environment; the small, padded steering wheel with controls sets a car-like tone. The seats are easily adjusted, as are the electric, heated door mirrors, which are part of the Drivers Pack option. This also includes automatic headlamps, front fog lights, body colour side mouldings, heated windscreen, Ford’s Trend instrument panel, colour-matched front bumper, cab air conditioning and rain- sensing windscreen wipers.
Meanwhile, the Lux Pack brings you the Zenec Xzent 9.5in touchscreen monitor with sat-nav and colour reversing camera, as well as TV aerial, external gas point, solar panel, Omnivent, habitation door upgrade with flyscreen, and floor carpets.
The Drivers and Lux packs cost £1,578 each, and I’d be surprised if any purchasers choose to go without either. Other options range from Avtex 21.5in TV/DVD (£420) to motorhome Wi-Fi (£416), second leisure battery (£211), towbar and electrics (£684), and cab blinds (£620).
Daytime - 81%
The lounge has large windows to three sides (they have concertina blinds and flyscreens), plus a slide-out holder for a flatscreen television. Beneath this is a dedicated locker for the table, a free-standing unit that’s easy to open up as well as to nudge out of the way when you need access to or from the lounge.
There is just a standard rooflight overhead, although that’s partly offset by the generous opening sunroof over the cab. Heating and hot water are courtesy of Whale, with two blown-air outlets in the lounge area.
Lockers and corner shelving line the rear of the vehicle and there’s also plenty of storage space in the settee bases (thanks to the aforementioned Whale systems, whose main units are mounted under the floor). Loose carpet overlays on the vinyl flooring – part of that Lux Pack – add to the general feeling of comfort.
Night-time - 77%
You might have to make up the bed from the seating every night, but the upside is that it forms a 6ft 11in x 4ft 10in double. Alternatively, you could make a couple of singles – 6ft 8in (offside) and 6ft 2in (nearside), both of which would be 2ft 4in wide.
The double is easy to make up – pull-out slats span the gap between the settee bases and there are a couple of extra cushion sections to drop in.Finding a suitable location for the backrests – if you want them out of the way – is more of a challenge.
Kitchen - 68%
The L-shape in the small kitchen area (located on the nearside in the centre of the vehicle) creates a bit more space for storage as well as worktop. Nevertheless, the latter is fairly scant. You get a triangular three-ring hob and a circular sink (served by a chrome, swan-neck mixer tap) in matching stainless steel, plus there’s a Thetford Duplex oven and grill combination.
Storage is provided by a large, shelved locker under the sink with a slide-out cutlery tray. The two upper-level lockers are both shelved, and a floor locker (where you’ll also find gas isolation valves) sits under the oven. The acrylic splash panel behind the hob and a single mains socket are useful touches.
Across the corridor is a generous capacity (142 litres total) slimline fridge with freezer, set off the floor for ease of access. Overhead is an Omnivent electric fan/opening rooflight.
Washroom - 71%
There’s a step up into a decent-sized washroom, where there’s space for a separate, plastic-lined shower cubicle. There’s also plenty of legroom when using the swivel-bowl toilet. Storage is generous, with shelved lockers under the basin as well as over the toilet, where there are also small, open shelves.
Minor criticisms are the proximity of the tap’s outlet to the edge of the fixed basin, plus the fact that there is only a single drainage point for the shower. The room misses out on a window, too.
Details - 67%
There’s excellent storage throughout – in addition to everything already listed, there are locker-and-shelf units behind each cab seat and open shelving in the overcab area. The habitation door has a window and a waste bin, while a 100Ah leisure battery is standard. Other nice touches include that splash panel (which is illuminated), plus under-counter ambient lighting in the kitchen.
You might also want to sign up for a Thatcham Cat 7 tracking system (£95 annual subscription) so you can keep a constant eye on your pride and joy.
The F68 represents a great working of the end lounge format which functions so well as a two-berth.