It’s just over three years since I last reviewed a Carado T448. Back then, the Carado range was promoted as offering value for money with practical family layouts built with thorough German workmanship. Three years down the track, I was keen to see how this new model compared with those earlier promotional ideals.
This year’s model, a four berth, has the advantage of being built on the latest 2016 Fiat Ducato cab/chassis, which is sleeker and more ‘macho’ looking than the previous model. Although the gold, grey, and black colour scheme is the same, the decal patterns are now crisper and more purposeful. The silver and black alloy wheels bring added panache to the presentation. It looks good.
Under the hood
Powered by the 2.3-litre 96kw/130bhp multi-jet turbodiesel motor, there is more than sufficient power to cope with the Carado’s all-up weight of 3495kg. With its six-speed AMT automatic gearbox, it feels like a car to drive. Cruise control makes open road driving less tiring and LED daytime running lights are an added safety bonus. SmartRV specify the Carado T448 with important safety features that assist the driver in emergencies: anti-lock braking and electronic stability programming. And to be on the safe side, airbags are fitted to both cab seats.
The ability to freedom camp is on the minds of most motorhome buyers. They visualise sitting in a shaded spot by a sunny beach or bend in the river and kicking back with a good book and a cold drink. To make sure there is always a shaded spot available, SmartRV fit the Carado T448 with a four-metre awning. Other standard package items include fresh and grey water tanks and all the other equipment needed to comply with certified self containment requirements.
On-board power is supplied by two 90amp/hr house batteries topped up by a roof mounted 150-watt solar panel. An 800-watt 12-volt to 240-volt inverter provides a robust power supply for low wattage 240-volt accessories. Two 9kg LPG bottles are fitted into a cleverly conceived side locker. Two features, one old and one new, make this locker, constructed of folded metal panels, better than most. First (old), the locker floor is as close to the ground as it can be. Second (new), the front panel is hinged so it folds out of the way. Now, the 9kg LPG bottles (weighing around 18kg filled) only need lifting around 150mm when being stowed. Well-thought-out, well executed.
At the back of the T448 is the storage garage. It runs from side to side with doors on both sides. Smaller items can be stowed on shelves and there are tie-down points so large items can be secured. There is a weight limit, so heavy items such as motorbikes should be avoided, but it is fine for lighter items such as outdoor furniture, sports gear, and barbecues, and there is not an LPG cylinder in sight.
Cleverly designed dining
Inside, the layout is one familiar to most readers, with a dinette incorporating the cab seats at the front, kitchen opposite the entry door amidship, bathroom beside the entry door, and the beds at the back.
At first glance, the dinette looks much the same as many others but it’s not. The Carado design doesn’t have a return on the forward facing dinette seat. It’s a straight bench seat for two. The side settee opposite is a two seater as well. With the cab seats rotated, the dinette seats six comfortably with just a hint of ‘knee clash’ in the corner by the driver’s seat and the forward side settee seat. The table is less complicated than most. It slides sideways but not fore and aft. When pulled out from the sidewall, an infill panel bridges the gap. Overall, this dinette is an excellent piece of design.
The T448 has two floor levels. Doing this allows Carado to install a drop-down double bed inside a flat roof low profile body. From the kitchen through to the cab behind the driver’s seat is the lower floor level. The floor in the rear bedroom and the cab/dinette area at the front is around 100mm higher. The side settee seat cushion is level with those in the dinette and that puts it 100mm further off the floor than the other seats. That’s an uncomfortable height for most people, so the Carado supplies an infill panel to bring the floor in front of the side settee level with the dinette floor.
Drop-down beds are proving popular, as they offer occasional guests an easily accessible, comfortable bed that can be stowed away discreetly during the day. The one in the T448 lowers to the height of the kitchen bench partition and guests sleep across the vehicle. A short access ladder is provided. Its comfort is on a par with the rear beds—a foam mattress on sprung wooden slats. There is a hatch above for ventilation and curtains all around for privacy.
Plenty of kitchen space
Compared to the previous Carado T448, this year’s model, now fitted with an L-shaped kitchen bench instead of a straight one, has more bench top area and storage space.
Euro-kitchens tend to be compact so any increase in space is welcomed. The bench top houses three LPG hobs and a circular sink. A large locker above the bench has racks for cups and glasses and shelves to suit crockery. Drawers and cupboards below bench could house pots and pans with room for food there as well. There is more space available in the locker below the Thetford 167-litre two-door fridge/freezer. Thetford also supplies the under-bench Duplex oven.
Having the door opposite, a roof vent above, a window behind the bench, and an extractor fan above the hobs means ventilation in the kitchen is excellent.
The interior fittings are all top quality—double-glazed windows with screens and blinds and Truma Combi 6 combination water/space heater. SmartRV fit a 19inch TV with built-in DVD and an audio touchscreen system with auxiliary input and USB. And don’t overlook the hailstorm proof roof that comes with a five-year water-tightness warranty. Optional extras include a satellite dish,a towbar, a bike rack, a roof rack, and 240volt air conditioning.
Clever bathroom layout
If a motorhome around 7.4 metres in length has twin single beds in the back, it usually has the toilet, shower, and handbasin in a single compartment. Other bathroom layout options tend to rob space from the kitchen or living areas, so manufacturers accept the single room approach and make it as attractive and efficient as possible.
The Carado solution in the T448 is pretty darn good. The shower base houses a wooden duckboard where your feet rest when you are on the toilet and where you stand when using the handbasin or mirror. At shower time, a pair of circular sliding doors create a shower stall that keeps the remainder of the room dry. There is a wall mirror, storage cupboards, shelves for shampoo and soap in the shower stall, and vented hot air to keep things dry and warm. Overall, it is a carefully thought-out solution that works well.
And so to bed
In this case, up a couple of steps to clear the garage below. Cushions are supplied should you want to convert the singles to a large double bed, but then you will need a short ladder, also supplied, to climb into bed. Below the foot of each bed is a large locker. One has a hanging rail and the other is shelved. Above the bed head are three more lockers for personal items. With windows on either side and a roof hatch, the bedroom is light, airy, and well ventilated. There is LED mood lighting and reading lights that make it an attractive place after dark.
Compared to the T448 of three years ago, the current model has not changed significantly. Improvements are evident but they are evolutionary, not revolutionary. It still lives up to the promotional ideals set down three years ago—‘value for money with practical family layouts built with thorough German workmanship’.