Automotive

Challenger Combo drives like a camper van, lives like a motorhome

Challenger Combo drives like a...
The Combo comes standard on a 599-cm 140-hp Fiat Ducato
The Combo comes standard on a 599-cm 140-hp Fiat Ducato
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The Challenger Combo X150 has the wheelbase and length of a van but the interior of a small motorhome
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The Challenger Combo X150 has the wheelbase and length of a van but the interior of a small motorhome
The Challenger Combo X150 explores the great outdoors
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The Challenger Combo X150 explores the great outdoors
The Combo comes standard on a 599-cm 140-hp Fiat Ducato
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The Combo comes standard on a 599-cm 140-hp Fiat Ducato
The red, white and black paint scheme gives the Combo a sharp, sporty look and helps to disguise its Class C-style build
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The red, white and black paint scheme gives the Combo a sharp, sporty look and helps to disguise its Class C-style build
The Challenger Combo kitchen block has a dual burner stove, sink, flip-up worktop and plenty of storage; the refrigerator is across the way on the other side of the motorhome
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The Challenger Combo kitchen block has a dual burner stove, sink, flip-up worktop and plenty of storage; the refrigerator is across the way on the other side of the motorhome
Wardrobe next to the bathroom
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Wardrobe next to the bathroom
Challenger Combo shower
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Challenger Combo shower
If you couldn't tell that the Combo is a separate cab chassis/motorhome from the front or sides, the rear confirms it
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If you couldn't tell that the Combo is a separate cab chassis/motorhome from the front or sides, the rear confirms it
The Smart Lounge has seating for five, not including the swivel cab seats
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The Smart Lounge has seating for five, not including the swivel cab seats
Drop the single bed down for two people or raise it a little and convert the dining lounge furniture into a second bed
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Drop the single bed down for two people or raise it a little and convert the dining lounge furniture into a second bed
The full-width rear bathroom has separate toilet and shower floors, plus a sink that folds away when not in use
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The full-width rear bathroom has separate toilet and shower floors, plus a sink that folds away when not in use
During the drive, the Smart Lounge converts into two belted seats
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During the drive, the Smart Lounge converts into two belted seats
The Chausson Combo X550 is the near-identical twin of the Challenger Combo X150
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The Chausson Combo X550 is the near-identical twin of the Challenger Combo X150
Chausson Combo night configuration
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Chausson Combo night configuration
Chausson Combo bathroom
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Chausson Combo bathroom
View gallery - 15 images

Bringing together the maneuverability of a camper van with the living space of a larger motorhome is a mission that multiple RV makers around the world have made their own. In the US, we saw it with the recent debut of the Winnebago Ekko. In Europe, the La Strada Nova and Wingamm City Twins come to mind. There's something timelessly attractive about the idea of a comfortably roomy motorhome attached neatly and seamlessly to a cab chassis; for some, it's perfection. French company Challenger has released one of the most striking and affordable examples yet. Fittingly named the Combo, the new Class B+ rig gives road lifers a little more box with their Ducato camper van.

Look at the front 3/4 angle of the new Combo X150, and you might mistake it for a stock Ducato-based camper van. The roof rolls smoothly back off the driver cab, much like a high-roof van, and the seamless paint job conceals the slight width bump between driver cab and motorhome body. If Challenger had rounded out those rear roof corners a little, viewers might be completely tricked into thinking they're looking at a camper van.

The red, white and black paint scheme gives the Combo a sharp, sporty look and helps to disguise its Class C-style build
The red, white and black paint scheme gives the Combo a sharp, sporty look and helps to disguise its Class C-style build

Dive into the Combo's specs and there are a few small but critical differences. The Combo measures the same 599-cm (236-in) length as is available for the Ducato van but stretches 5 cm (2 in) wider. Its roof stands 275 cm (108 in) tall, a centimeter or two lower than the super-high roofs available for 404-cm (159-in)-wheelbase Ducato vans. The Combo's chassis cab has a 380-cm (150-in) wheelbase. The boxier construction of Challenger's foam-insulated poly-fiberglass module also eliminates the taper near the ceiling of the Ducato, maintaining width from floor to ceiling.

There's nothing particularly dramatic about those dimension changes, but they enable Challenger to broaden the floor plan over typical 6-m camper van options. The upsized dimensions feel obvious when walking through the passenger-side door (or by the fact that there's a passenger-side motorhome door at all).

The Smart Lounge has seating for five, not including the swivel cab seats
The Smart Lounge has seating for five, not including the swivel cab seats

To the right of the doorway, the Smart Lounge offers plenty of room for the four people on board (with a fifth seat to spare), seating everyone on left and right benches flanking the center adjustable table. The reason Challenger calls it a "smart" lounge is that it converts to two passenger seats complete with seat belts, accommodating the entire family of four on the way to and from camp while delivering more elbow room at dinner as compared to the cramped two-seat rear benches common on other small motorhome floor plans.

The Smart Lounge has one other transformational trick up its sleeve. Look straight up at dinner and you'll notice a thick ceiling panel that's actually the electric-lift 140 x 190-cm (55 x 75-in) transverse bed, the primary two-person sleeping area. That bed fits securely at whatever height campers set it thanks to the increased width and square corners of the motorhome box. The Combo drives up to four people to camp, and it sleeps them all after passengers convert the dinette over into a second 140 x 190-in double, completing the transition from dining lounge to bunk bedroom.

Drop the single bed down for two people or raise it a little and convert the dining lounge furniture into a second bed
Drop the single bed down for two people or raise it a little and convert the dining lounge furniture into a second bed

With all beds tucked up cozily behind the driver cab, the rear of the Combo is able to hold a full-width bathroom. It's a single room, but the shower seals off from the toilet via a roller door. The sink is located against the passenger-side wall, over the toilet and below the mirrored cabinet, folding away into the wall when not in use.

Separating the bathroom from the dining lounge on the Combo driver's side is the back wall of the tall, narrow exterior-access locker and the kitchen block with dual-burner stove, sink, flip-up extension counter, and plenty of storage in under-counter drawers and overhead cabinets. A 134-L refrigerator stands across the aisle on the passenger side.

The Combo X150 includes a leisure battery, 100-L fresh and waste water tanks, 4,000-W diesel heater and 10-L water boiler. The base 140-hp Ducato has a 3,500-kg (7,716-lb) gross vehicle weight.

The Chausson Combo X550 is the near-identical twin of the Challenger Combo X150
The Chausson Combo X550 is the near-identical twin of the Challenger Combo X150

Challenger hasn't published a price list on its dedicated Combo website, but reports from German RV and auto media suggest pricing will start around €60,000 (approx. US$72,825) — not bad at all for the roomy little camper van+. Like other Challenger products, the Combo has a near-identical counterpart from Chausson, Challenger's sister brand in Italy's Trigano VDL group of RV brands. The Chausson Combo X550 shares the same specs and floor plan, just with some slight tweaks in equipment, trim and color options.

Take a closer look at the Challenger Combo X150's exterior and interior in the short video intro below.

CHALLENGER | NOUVEAUTÉ 2021 | X150 | OPEN EDITION

Sources: Challenger and Chausson

View gallery - 15 images
6 comments
6 comments
SteveMc
An EV version would be perfect. The doubled price-tag wouldn’t.
Daishi
I'm surprised I have not seen more camper configurations that would be well suited to 1 or 2 traveling remote workers. If I designed something for me it would look so different than this. I'd have a futuristic looking office instead of the dining room/coffee table. I'd run ethernet cabling through it for PoE cameras to outside and wall mount monitors. Add some color change LED's or LED strips for indoor lighting and it would be a little like the mobile command center in meet the fockers I guess.
Orsen Wells
Yuk its French, could not buy it on principle!
Jesse Robert Allen
What worries me is servicing this vehicle in the USA. Is it available in North America?
ReservoirPup
A rare instance of campervan where I find the price to be quite reasonable.
Jbird
Is either available in US?