On Test Carthago C-Line 4.8SHARP DRESSERCarthago Chic C-Line 4.8 on 3.0TD Fiat Ducato Al-KoWords & picturesby Dave Hurrell130 I OCTOBER 2008130-135 test extra.indd 1The latest range from Carthago aims to offerhigh quality and good looks at an attractive 11:06:25 AM

Test report extraCarthago and Chic rankamong the UK’s lesserknown brands and ranges, even so, examples remain some of the best motorhomes I’ve tested to date. One thing thatcomes across when using a Chicis the high quality of construction: camping inan overcab coachbuilt example, proved thestrength and integrity of fixtures and fittings, while test driving an entrant to the CaravanClub’s Design and Drive competition producedone of the quietest A-class vehicles I’ve everexperienced. In short, Chic seems just about asrock solid as a coachbuilt motorhome can be.With more than half an eye on the mainstreamA-class market, German Carthago has decidedto realign its Chic brand to offer more than onerange: introducing a more affordable versionthat also has other, laudable aspirations.Chic C-Line aims to meet competitionfrom the likes of Hymer’s B-Class head-onwith a price expected to be some 12,000Euro cheaper than the more upmarket Chics.Cheaper, yes, but the aim is to keep the Chic’shigh quality construction and distinctivegood looks. In addition to this, Chic C-Lineis designed to be lighter - in these days oflooming driving license restrictions – thus givinga decent payload on a 3500kg MAW chassis.At least in part, reduced price and weightsaving go hand-in-hand: Chic C-line is lessbulky than its more expensive siblings, whilethings such as the lack of double glazing inthe cab and swapping wet radiator centralheating for a Truma blown-air system saveboth cost and weight. Base vehicle choicekeeps costs down too, but the Fiat Ducatothat underpins, still does so with the aid ofthe more expensive Al-Ko low frame chassis.There’s a double floor here too: its not asdeep as the more expensive Chics, but it’sstill heated - enclosing all the tanks wiring andplumbing away from the cold and crud of theoutside environment.I NAME THIS CHIC.Chic C-Line is due to be launched in the UKat October’s NEC show, so I was very excitedwhen I got the chance to visit Carthago’sService Center in Germany and be one of thefirst to test a prototype ‘van, well in advance ofthe launch. The snappily named 4.8 model isactually 7.25 metres long and looks superb - itsthickly-clad alloy walls curve towards the GRProof in the same distinctive way as all the otherChics. Inside, the layout sees an L-shapedlounge upfront, while the galley and washroomtake the centre ground. In the rear, a cosylooking bedroom houses two single beds.CLOTHES test extra.indd 2 The good looking bodywork dresses a FiatDucato chassis cowl - its nether regionssporting that low Al-Ko chassis: great, in thatthis galvanised frame gives independent rearsuspension and better ride and handling.Not so great is the handbrake; a good pullis required on the lever to effectively preventmovement once you’ve parked.Thankfully, a cab door is a standard fittingwhere some makers would lever yet moremoney from your wallet to have one fitted.Don’t be disappointed that it’s on the UKnearside (and away from the driver’s seat onright-hand drive models), the caravan door ison the UK offside, so the nearside cab doorprovides essential UK kerbside access.The cab is enhanced by Aguti captain’sseats with inbuilt seatbelts, while the test ‘vanbenefited from optional cab air-conditioningand reversing camera with monitor neatlyinstalled in its own specially moulded housing.While on the subject of the rear view, theexternal mirrors are big, expensive-looking,electrically operated, and heated, all asstandard. This is a good thing as the ‘van’srear panel is blind: there is no view rearwardsthrough an internal mirror.The prototype test ‘van was fitted with the3.0-litre engine and six-speed gearbox - amatch made in heaven, at least where goingforward is concerned. The road test was ashort one, and over very smooth Germanroads where integrity of build was never inquestion: all remained quiet and everythingfelt very solid. However, a future full Live-intest might give more opportunity to travelOCTOBER 2008 I 1318/27/08 11:06:36 AM

On Test Carthago C-Line 4.81further and try a C-Line over more challengingsurfaces. Aside from effortless performanceand great comfort, this ‘van really does give itsoccupants that special ‘off on an adventure’feeling that all the best A-class cabs deliver.CLASSIC CHICThe interior benefits from classy-lookingcabinets that are ‘warm’ enough to impart acomfortable atmosphere. The lounge/diner’sdesign is a Continental classic – ‘Euro lounge’having become the generic term used todescribe the half-dinette layout and side sofafound here.Reasons for its popularity are many-fold,but its use of swivelled front seats is even morewelcome as cab becomes part of the livingarea and in an A-class it takes advantage of thefull width of the interior too. Another skill of thislayout is that it provides two three-point beltedtravel seats in the rear, on the forward-facingdinette seat. Those comfy Aguti cab seatsdeliver a double whammy, as, once swivelled,they become the best - adjustable armchair- seats in the house.Come mealtimes the - somewhat obtrusive- table adjusts to provide dining for four. Finally,a touch of luxury is provided by two features,one visible, the other hidden. Very visibleabove, twixt lounge and kitchen, is a sexylooking display cabinet, complete with two(Carthago monogrammed) glass tumblers andtwo wine glasses. Another crowd pleaser is theflat screen TV that pops up from behind theside seat to rest at just the right viewing height.The TV’s an option, but once installed, you (oranyone with nefarious intentions) would neverknow a TV, or even a locker, was fitted.simply a great idea: no grovelling into the backof cupboards for this Chic’s owner, simply lookdown and you can see anything you mightwant within easy reach. There’s even a slideout with recycling bins fitted. No less than ninedrawers in here - superb!Latest motorhome fashion dictates creamdoor and drawer fronts in the kitchen (severalbrands’ have a similar feature for 2009)and I’m told these have 10 coats of paint.Mmm, as long as the red wine and tomatosauce wipes off okay, I don’t mind! Kitchenappliances include a desirable big fridge/freezer; the hob, however, lacks electronicignition. Oh dear. The sink’s drainerless asusual, but at least there’s a slab of worktop infront: with some kitchens of this type it’s in theback corner, which is less than ideal. Whetherthere’s room for an oven in here I don’t know- the curvy kitchen unit might preclude it.CHIC CUISINEMove aft to the kitchen and you’re greeted byenough drawers to keep even a dedicated fanlike me happy. Drawers in motorhomes are132 I OCTOBER 2008130-135 test extra.indd 11:06:59 AM

Test report extraI LIKED A Carthago at an attractive price(hopefully) Stylish good looks Excellent build quality Al-Ko chassis Double floor Cab door as standard Captain’s seats Drawer-based storage in kitchen Pop-up TV Full-sized garage Excellent A-class bed Comfy single bedsI WOULD HAVE LIKED Lower set toiletI DISLIKED Shower panel covering washroom lights1 View forward shows L-shaped kitchen behindthe classic Euro lounge up front2 Cabinets and upholstery ooze class - Carthagodisplay cabinet with monogrammed glasses add style3 The lounge benefits from anadjustable table and handy side seat4 The galley has comprehensive drawer-based storage5 Big fridge/freezer boasts automatic energy selection6 The compact washroom utilises space wellwith a semi-separate shower2C-LINE LATHERwashroom feature is a swinging panel thathinges across to cover the basin at showertime. A multi-panel sliding screen completesthe job of enclosing the shower area.In spite of being the poor relation of theaverage Carthago bathing space, this washroomstill has all the right bits and bobs. There’s agood-sized vanity basin, plenty of countertop,big mirrors and lots of sensibly arranged storagespace. The toilet is the latest swivel-bowl modelThe C-line washroom saves space, weightand money, as it’s of the semi-separateshower variety and slightly plastic-y. Theroom is entered via a sliding-panel door that,when left open, allows the deployment of aconcertina screen that makes the washrooman en-suite part of the rear bedroom. There’snot much floor area behind the screen, butthis is a useful feature nonetheless The mainfrom Thetford that comes complete with easy-toservice cassette on wheels.Downsides? Well, this washroom will not bevery good for those of generous proportions andthe toilet is set a touch too high for comfortableuse. Strangely, the swing panel seemed toobscure the lights when in showering mode: anafter-dark investigation will be the only way tosort that one out. But, there’s always the oftused phrase: ‘this one’s a prototype sir!’645 test extra.indd 4OCTOBER 2008 I 1339/1/08 10:03:43 AM

On Test Carthago C-Line 4.87 A-class bed is easy to deploy and has good headroom8 Twin single beds have multi-zoned mattresses9 Flat screen TV pops up from behind the side seat.Heating is courtesy of Truma’s latest Combi boiler10 A dropped rear chassis gives goodheadroom in the spacious garage11 Chic C-Line retains the look of its moreexpensive - and bulkier - siblingsCHIC KIT7The C-Line’s double floor is crucial to itssuccess as an all-year-round motorcaravanas it encloses all the tanks, pipes and ducts ina heated environment. Heating is courtesy ofTruma’s latest Combi unit, which provides hotwater and blown-air space heating. The test‘van had a gas-only unit fitted, but I’m toldthat the gas-mains powered versions will bean option and maybe even standard on righthand drive UK models.Lighting is best described ascomprehensive: I counted 22, while Carthagohas dipped its toe into the uncertain new worldof energy saving illumination with a pair of LEDequipped reading lamps in the bedroom.Less impressive is the rather small leisurebattery. Rally and basic campsite fans shouldbudget for an upgrade.CONCLUSIVELY CHIC?The C-Line 4.8 is - initially - part of a range ofjust three models (C-Line 4.2 is a conventionalgarage model, 4.6, has an island bed layout)even so it made a very favourable impressionon me.So near, it seems, is the C-Line to its moreexpensive brethren, it must a have been acathartic experience for the designers, as theycreated a motorhome that seems to retain allthe important characteristics of the Carthagobrand in a lighter, cheaper package.In the final analysis it’ll be price thatdecides success or failure for this new range,as will have to compete effectively with thelikes of Hymer’s famous B-Class. I lookforward to carrying out a full Live-in test ona C-line ‘van and discovering the prices - inpounds Sterling - when the opportunity toplace an order (probably at the NEC show inOctober) arrives. I, for one, look forward toseeing Carthago C-Line arrive in the UK.8CHIC BETWEEN THE SHEETSBedtime brings two choices, with the classicA-class drop-down bed up front and the twinsingle beds in the rear. Those by-now-famousAguti cab seats show their mettle once again,as a quarter-turn of their reclining controlknobs allows the backrests to easily take abow. A twist of a control on the undersideof the bed’s base sees it descent to providespacious accommodation - coming nice andlow down (making it easier to clamber aboardand offering good headroom).Aft, it’s the twin single beds that will be themain reason to buy this motorhome: althoughone bed is shorter than the other, they shouldsuit most (different height) him ‘n’ her couplesfine. Mattresses are ‘zoned’ for comfort:no less than seven areas provide differentdensities to cater for the pressure points of134 I OCTOBER 2008130-135 test extra.indd 5shoulders, trunk hips, legs, feet, etc. Accessto the beds is up some steps, but still easy. Aslide-out panel and an extra cushion almostfills the lengthways space between the two- providing near-double status.C-LINE CLOSETSStep outside and open the big side-hinged doorin the offside rear and you’ll discover a ‘proper’garage big enough for bikes and other kit - evena mobility scooter. A combination of raisedsingle beds inside and dropped rear chassis railsoutside allow the installation of this tall locker.Inside, overhead locker doors have positivelocking with damped slam latches that are easyto use. Wardrobes are two in number, one twixtkitchen and (UK) nearside bed, one under thefoot of that bed. opposite, another - shelvedcupboard lives under the other bed’s 11:07:47 AM

Test report extraTEST EXTRA SPECIFICATION Price as tested: TBA Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Al-Ko chassiscab, 3.0-litre turbo-diesel producing157bhp, six-speed gearbox, front-wheeldrive Warranty: Two years base vehicle, threeyears conversion, 10 years water ingress Dimensions: Length: 7.25m (23ft 9.5in);width: 2.27m (7ft 5.5in); height: 2.89m(9ft 6in) Maximum authorised weight: 3500kg Payload: 400kg (after allowances for driver,fresh water, fuel, gas) Belted seats: 4 (including driver) Beds: In-cab drop-down double: 1.97m x1.60m, headroom: 840mm (6ft 5.5in x 5ft 3inx 2ft 9in). Rear fixed singles: offside: 1.88mx 760mm (6ft 2in x 2ft 6in); nearside: 1.92mx 760mm (6ft 3.5in x 2ft 6in); headroom900mm (2ft 11.5in) Kitchen: Cramer stainless steel sink withCARTHAGO CHIC C-LINE 4.8hinged glass lid and chrome swivellingmixer tap; Cramer three-burner hob withhinged glass lid, no ignition; DometicRM7605L fridge/freezer with AutomaticEnergy Selection, capacity 142 litres; singlespeed cooker hood Washroom: Thetford C 250 cassette withelectric flushing, oval plastic vanity basin,semi-separate shower with swing-panel