Autotrail V-Line 540SE 130BHP Comfortmatic 2019 – A First Impressions Review

Oct 6, 2021
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I picked up my Benimar Benivan 120 yesterday. It is actually an Auto Trail. Unlike the Auto Trail it comes "complete", other than an auto box everything is included which makes the price fairly attractive in the end. Mine has the 9 speed torque converter auto, which performs like any other torque converter box I've had. It also has the 160bhp engine. Took it out for a decent spin today, bags of power, and good to drive, through the engine is very gruff especially when cold. It achieved 35mph at a reasonably steady 60mph which pleasantly surprised me, and I would expect this to approach the 40 mark when it is run in after 6-10,000 miles. It comes with the solar panel, carpets, TV aerial and booster and 8" sat nav/ rearview camera as standard. The Xzent is, BTW, a camper Tom Tom! I'm used to this sat nav, and it does work well if you get it set right -like any sat nav. As with all Xzents, it also allows you to put your own POI in, though it is already programmed with loads of campsites. An LPG site POI is a must! The included winter fridge vents are a nice touch too.

Mine is the 6m version, I looked at the shorter models and realised they were too cramped space wise. Mine came with Michelin M+S tyres, useful for France if only for the next couple of winters! I think they are over-inflated at the moment for the weight of the van, I can feel every bump in the road. Something to check. It also has a manual handbrake, had both types in the past, and really don't mind! Cab wise, the mirrors are nowhere like as good as the last Ford I had, I can't see out of the small bottom mirror on the passenger side for the Remis blind. I don't like the fact that the steering wheel won't tilt.

Mine has the newer Whale heater and separate water heater underneath the van so no wasted space inside. Found the Truma could be very temperamental, you soon learn what each of the myriad error codes mean, and am hoping the Whale is more reliable in this respect. It doesn't have a timer which is a bit of a pain nor the useful iNet. Being the longer van it has the 75 litre water tanks. It also comes with the Gas-It (yes it is Gas -It) underslung 25 litre gas tank which is another really useful space saver. From experience 25l lasts long enough, even off grid in winter.

Agree the battery is too small, mine is getting changed for a larger one - there is room, once I determine what will fit. Might change the solar charger in time so it charges both the hab and cab batteries, I'll see how it goes as I will be keeping it in storage. However, with the cab having stop-start it has the most enormous cab battery, must be close to 200Ah. 12amp charging is fine when on mains, even with 2 batteries, fast charging can damage the battery.

The water and waste are clamped with spring clips, so that they can be unclamped and lowered when draining so as not to not leave water in the pipes.

Build quality seems pretty good so far, and is rattle free apart from the oven, where a couple of tea towels work wonders, even with the impossibly hard tyres. The stowed table tops could do with a few felt pads behind them to stop the ominous clunk when going round corners. Can't think of a more daft place to put the fire extinguisher than at the back of the wardrobe though. The door flyscreen looks very fragile and will need treating with care, and soome silicone on the sliding bits. I shall also make a door stop to allow the sliding door to be opened part way if needed, especially if the rear window is open.

As with any van, layout always represents some compromises. I've ordered a rear cycle carrier, and can position it quite low as my electric bike is a folder with smaller wheels so it does not obscure the number plate or the lights. It is actually 20cm shorter than the door width.

I'm also getting electric self levelling fitted -the TESA autolift 4. Being electric there is no bulky oil pump and oil tank to take up precious space inside. The normal TESA Ducato fitting kit won't work because of the water and waste tanks, but they have just developed new brackets to overcome this, so all looking good for fitting in December. Good bit cheaper than the hydraulic ones too! Must have the odd luxury in old age. :dance2:

Table wise, I've simply ordered a Fiamma tripod leg so I can use it outside if needed.
 
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