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