Producing van conversions since 1980, Murvi has accumulated an abundance of awards year-on-year. With lots of alternative options available, Nick Harding puts the ‘Limited’ level Ford-based Morello to the test.
Although a ‘morello’ is a sour cherry, there’s plenty that’s sweet about this motorhome from Murvi. The company has been producing van conversions of the highest order from its Devon base since 1980, picking up no end of awards and many dedicated customers along the way.
The Morello has been a mainstay of Murvi’s portfolio since day one. The version we have here is based on Ford’s Transit – don’t worry, Fiat fans, it’s still available on the venerable Ducato, but the Ford chassis gives it a whole new lease of life.
Prices start at £65,343 for the standard Ford-based Morello, using the Transit 35 L3 high-roof van base vehicle with front-wheel drive and 128bhp engine. There are lots of alternative options, including rear- or all-wheel drive, a higher roof (translating to greater standing room inside) and more powerful engines.
The main option on my test model – all £8,544 of it – is the upgrade to the rather inappropriately named ‘Limited’ level. That means you get automatic transmission and an extensive array of kit – electronic cab air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, fog lights, automatic bi-xenon headlights, keyless starting, alloy wheels, colour-matched front bumper, mudflaps all round and more.
Metallic Chrome Blue paint costs an extra £780. On the conversion side, there are the following additions: Avtex 21.5in TV/DVD (neatly housed, £660) and Status directional TV aerial (£234), rear lap restraints (£360) and an oven/grill (£660) – all adding up to a grand total of £76,581.
Build Quality - 89%
As mentioned already, Murvi has a great reputation for its quality builds. Here, conversion work involves adding windows to the sides and rear doors of the Transit, as well as 50mm-thick insulation to the sides and roof. Also added to the base vehicle are fittings such as the 150Ah lithium leisure battery and underfloor 25-litre gas tank (which, of course, allows for more internal storage). Note the wider-than-average electric slide-out step at the sliding door, too.
Driving - 88%
In automatic guise (as here), this is a thoroughly pleasant and relaxing vehicle to drive. The standard manual is slick, but the auto is slicker. Plenty of features are geared towards safe driving, while you also get Hill Start Assist and Quickclear heated windscreen.
Comparisons with Fiat’s Ducato are inevitable, and if you’re au fait with that base vehicle you will soon notice that the softer springing of the Transit makes for a more comfortable ride. The cab feels more modern, too, and the seats benefit from eight-way adjustment. Ford’s ICE Pack 17 is here to enhance your enjoyment; it includes DAB radio with 4.2-in touchscreen.
There’s an optional facility to carry two rear passengers. That entails swinging round the main settee base section and adding lap restraints to fitting points on the floor.
Daytime - 83%
The Morello has one of the best lounges you’ll find in a van conversion. It’s just brilliant being able to draw back the sliding door and have the great outdoors right there as you eat and drink.
The settee stretches along the offside and has a slight ‘L’ to its shape, with backrests that are commendably high. Just as important – vital to many, and particularly owners of pets – is the generous amount of floorspace.
Swivelling the cab seats after putting them up to their highest setting for ease of movement adds to the on-site lounge seating. These are the best options when you want to watch television; a padded panel on the bulkhead beyond the lounge is the perfect place to hide away a flatscreen monitor when not in use. Note also the scatter cushions, two of which are deliberately pillow-sized, and can therefore be used at night as well as during the day.
Murvi offers a comprehensive range of soft furnishings, furniture and flooring colours. There are two tables – one freestanding, one for use between the cab seats when swivelled.
The heating and hot water system is a Webasto Dual Top, operating from diesel and/or mains electricity.
Night-time - 79%
The double bed is made by pulling out the settee base before folding it flat (thanks to its rock-and-roll style hinge). The rear seat section also extends to create a substantial, pretty flat 6ft 7in x 4ft 6in mattress area.
Most folk will already have the cab seats swivelled, which can give you a bit of extra bed length, but an alternative is to keep them forward-facing and use them as backrests if you want to sit upright in bed. That would be perfect for watching a TV (optional) mounted on the bulkhead behind the rear seat.
As mentioned, the larger two of the daytime scatter cushions can be used as pillows at night. Blackout comes from cassette blinds (also with flyscreens) to all the side and rear windows, plus an easy-to-use curtain with thermal lining for around the cab.
There is also a no-cost option for single beds, although this then prevents use of those rear lap restraints mentioned above.
Kitchen - 80%
The ‘L’-shaped kitchen is like no other, starting at the rear and extending along the side. Murvi offers different cooker and fridge configurations; many will be tempted by the 115-litre compressor fridge, rather than the 85-litre unit fitted to the test model. There’s a three-ring gas hob and Dometic combined oven and grill (a cost option).
There’s a slight ‘step’ down to the counter along the side, where you’ll find the stainless steel sink and drainer combination as well as plenty of extra worktop space. An electric extractor/vent overhead, along with opening windows at the back and side, should mean more than adequate ventilation.
There’s also plentiful worktop space around the appliances as well as upper- and lower-level locker storage. Useful details include the kitchen roll holder, two mains sockets, brushed metal effect splash panel adjacent to the hob and heat resistant panel on the underside of the locker directly over the hob.
Washroom - 79%
There’s folding door access to a clever washroom that includes a Dometic ceramic swivel-bowl toilet, plus a decent-sized fixed basin with a tap outlet that extends for showering. A curtain can be pulled across the shower.
The basin and shower tray are in GRP (much tougher than the usual, often flimsy, plastic) to Murvi’s own designs and there’s good upper- and lower-level locker storage. An opening window in the rear offside door takes care of ventilation, plus there’s a rooflight above. Opening the door gives instant, easy access to the toilet’s holding tank.
Details - 89%
Opening the wardrobe door reveals the level of thoughtful detail in the Morello: on the back wall are first aid and spare bulb kits, along with fuses and circuit breakers. Safety is certainly a priority, with a fire extinguisher just inside the sliding door and provision of a fire blanket and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
There are USB sockets and LED lights aplenty (the latter having a blue night-time setting). Other details worth noting are the fully adjustable shelving in the forwardmost kitchen locker, the set of crockery that is held in place by a rather clever self-adjusting plastic holder, and the safe in the cab passenger seat base.
Verdict - 84%
This latest version of the well-put-together Morello is further enhanced by the Ford Transit base. It’s a great motorhome for two and well worth adding to your shortlist.
Vehicle supplied for testing by: Murvi Motorcaravans, 4 East Way, Lee Mill Industrial Estate, Ivybridge, Devon PL21 9GE
Contact: 01752 892200, murvi.co.uk