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Murvi Morello – High Roof Ford Transit.
A recent post from a Murvi Club member looking to upgrade their Morello commented that they were deterred from the Ford Transit-based option by the compromised headroom. We were following a similar path, looking to change our Fiat Ducato-based Morello for the Ford Transit option. But stepping in to the demonstrator at an NEC show it was immediately clear that headroom was limited, and moving towards the front of the living area I was having to stoop. I’m not spectacularly tall ( exactly 6’) but I wasn’t prepared to be “minding my head”! Looking at the available options we saw that an extra high roof (H3) version was offered giving another 239mm headroom, and, to cut a long story short, we went for this.
Effectively we placed the order unseen – and I think that Rex indicated this was the first H3 they’d actually converted. So, given that you’re highly unlikely ever to step inside this specific demonstrator, we thought that Murvi Club members might find our observations and comments -in general about the Ford Transit version and then specifically about the extra high roof – of some help. These are intended to be “impressionistic” rather than “technical”!
Fiat Ducato v. Ford Transit.
Base vehicle.In a word : fabulous. The cab (we opted for the Trend spec, automatic and 170 PS engine) has a quality feel with a great driving position that is adjustable in several dimensions to suit different drivers. The drive is smooth and quiet both in terms of engine and road noise and general rattle. The automatic transmission feels just like the DSG we’ve got in our Skoda and is a “proper” automatic unlike the Fiat’s Comfortmatic. Instruments and the various computer read-outs are easy to operate and to see in strong sunlight. The heated windscreen is really useful both for dispersing condensation and also for de-icing. The whole vehicle feels much classier than the Fiat.
All-in-all, it’s everything we were looking for and a welcome “upgrade” from the Fiat in almost every aspect.
Conversion Stepping into the Transit, our first reaction is, “It feels smaller”. For two base vehicles with almost identical exterior dimensions, it’s clear that the Ford has slightly less usable space. The bonnet + cab obviously takes up a greater proportion of the body length than on the Fiat. Or to express that in another way, the Morello conversion fits wonderfully snugly into the Fiat Ducato body whereas with the Transit, everything feels a tinybit pinched and doesn’t fit quite so neatly and comfortably in the van shell. For example, the wardrobe is a few inches narrower and this means that the Webasto doesn’t fit neatly beneath the wardrobe floor and consequently intrudes into the under-bed locker. Despite the higher roof, the over cab shelf is not very generous. The washroom already has less floor area since Murvi re-positioned the Dometic toilet but the doorway is actually narrower than my shoulder width, although a cut-out cleverly gets around this issue. The usual Seitz blinds don’t really sit comfortably in the Transit so we opted for a draw-round curtain.
It goes without saying, I think, that the overall fit-out and standard of workmanship are brilliant and everything we’ve come to expect from Murvi, with that myriad of small, well thought-out touches.
Extra High Roof issues. All these basic conversion aspects can clearly be seen and experienced on a demonstrator at the NEC or elsewhere. The dimension you’re unlikely to clock is the extra high top. We had thought that a higher roof/ceiling would result in much taller high-level lockers – which would have been more than welcome – as well as more headroom. But at the handover Rex told us that when they sketched out such a layout it really didn’t look right. So what we’ve got is exactly the same high-level lockers as the H2 iteration – but higher up…..and this has proven to be something of a problem as we hope the photos will illustrate. It’s not a particular problem for me, but Helen has found it extremely difficult/impossible to access the lockers and we’ve had to acquire a folding step. On the bright side, it now means that I can actually bend over the sink rather than having to stand back! The higher roof also means that the ceiling-mounted items may be harder to reach (although the powered vent over the hob has a natty remote control!) and the hanging rail in the wardrobe is also rather high up.
For most of the living area there is 2090mm headroom which reduces to 1910mm just before the cab area.
To put our comments in context we need to say that we had 4/5 seasons of completely trouble free, all-year-round-use of our Fiat Morello. To say we were dissatisfied would be quite wrong. Our quest was to do a good thing even better. If we had realised the full implications of the higher roof we might, I think, have tried to negotiate on the fit-out.
We have also recently moved to Shetland where there isn’t a Fiat dealership but there is a Ford Transit Centre – useful to have for any potential warranty issues and spare parts generally. This has already proved useful as we managed to clip one of the wing mirrors when passing another vehicle on a narrow Shetland road, breaking the indicator lens.
For Martin, the overall quality of the base vehicle just nudges the Ford ahead of the Fiat – the Morello now really is such a pleasure to drive that we’re fighting to get behind the wheel! The conversion work is top quality if you can live with the slight space compromises. But if you’re thinking of the extra high top, the almost-out-of-reach lockers is perhaps the aspect that you may want to consider carefully – it’s certainly a drawback from Helen’s perspective.
We’d be more than happy to answer any more detailed questions…..and if you happen to be passing….
Martin & Helen Randall.