One thing I learned at the Florida RV Supershow in Tampa in January is that if you attend a show like that and can’t find a rig that could work for you then you probably shouldn’t be RVing.
The show displayed more than 1,400 models from tiny teardrops to multi-million-dollar buses. Jessi and I saw a lot of things that turned our heads while others made us scratch them.
There is certainly a schism in the industry right now between trying to offer as large a rig as possible and offering as small a rig as possible. The 5th-wheel toy haulers are getting bigger but the Class B market is exploding, as well.
An anomaly sitting between the two extremes was a small RV design brought over from Italy and adapted to the U.S. market. The Wingamm Oasi 540 on display at the show measured in at just 17 feet long. But when you step inside, you think you’re in a much larger rig due to its clever design and layout.
Currently built on the Fiat chassis, the Oasi will be built on the Ram Promaster chassis when produced in the U.S. but the design is expected to remain nearly identical.
Despite this small RV being less than a foot longer than a Honda Odyssey minivan, the team at Wingamm has utilized the space very well.
Another thing you’ll notice is how bright it is inside, with abundant use of white and light-colored materials. Finally, we have a manufacturer that understands not everyone wants their RV to resemble a hunting cabin’s dark wood walls.
Jessi noted that all the light colors may mean it’s tougher to keep clean. But that would be worth the effort just because the unit felt so much larger when you are inside. Its sleek, European style even offered honest-to-goodness counter space. Too many manufacturers these days count the sink and stove covers as counter space. This is nonsense because you generally need to have your sink and stove open while you’re cooking.
The rig has a small dinette but the spinning and sliding table make access easy and the dinette more functional overall, especially given its size.
One of the most interesting, or frustrating, things about the design is the way they suspend the bed from the ceiling. Movable via spring-assisted struts, the bed moves up and down quite effortlessly. It has a 600-pound rating and when closed it still has enough space to keep your bedding in place.
The biggest downside to the be being on the ceiling is that it blocks a lot of the natural light The Oasi has two good-sized skylights in the ceiling. Wingamm promotes these as great for ventilation and stargazing while in bed. Unfortunately, during the day the bed blocks the ventilation and light. There are lights in the bottom of the bed to help, but nothing replaces strong natural light.
The Oasi 540 has limited outside storage. But there’s more than you might expect in a 17-foot rig. With a rear and side storage compartment, there is plenty of room for a grill, chairs, hoses, and other things that get dirty and that you don’t usually want to store inside your rig.
An additional feature that shows some thought went into the design is that one of the outside storage cabinets is accessible from a door under the dinette. That’s nice because you can get to things from inside the rig when needed.
The wet bath isn’t large but it is bigger than you would anticipate in a super-short RV. More RV manufacturers use cassette toilets now in small RVs. We’re not sold on them yet. Still, anything with a European influence is bound to have on because they are so common there.
Wingamm is planning to bring larger units over from Europe, as well, but for now, only the 540 is available for pre-order. And we think starting small is the right idea for the manufacturer. By offering a small RV with a tiny footprint but a clever, spacious interior, they have landed on a niche that could change the U.S. market for RVing.