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MiniPlus Article
February 26 2018
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Ferqui Soroco: In demand, both new and used

Ferqui’s coachbuilt Sprinter-based Soroco is an established part of the minicoach scene. Thanks to its durable build quality, it is just as popular as a second-hand buy as it is a new one with many operators

The Ferqui Soroco has already established a very loyal following in the UK

Ferqui’s Soroco is a stalwart of the minicoach world. Mounted on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the coachbuilt Spanish product has established a loyal following in the UK, and not just for new examples.

Ferqui builds the Soroco on a chassis cowl, constructing it using galvanised steel framing and fibreglass paneling. That gives a low unladen weight - in fact, the Soroco is lighter than some comparable van conversions.

Galvanised steel and fibreglass also mean that no corrosion is possible anywhere on the body. Second-hand buyers have recognised that, and Ferqui’s UK agent Connaught PSV reports an ever-stronger trade in mid-life Sorocos taken in as part exchanges.

“When we sell a new Soroco we guarantee a 50% residual value at five years, subject to conditions. Even then, it’s rare for any second-hand example to stay here for long before finding a new home,” says Director Steve Peach.

The Soroco is due for further improvement with the arrival of the new Sprinter later in 2018. Ferqui promises that will make it an even more attractive proposition in what is a highly-congested market.

A desirable product

Connaught supplies around 35 new Sorocos per year, along with approximately 25 of the Sunrise, which is built on the Iveco Daily chassis and seats up to 33. Almost all of both models are built to order.

For the Soroco, the higher end of the market represents Connaught’s main focus. A 30cm extension was incorporated immediately behind the rear axle in 2016 to give a length of 7.64m and allowing a wide variety of seating and boot configurations.

Where outright capacity is needed, 22 passengers is the maximum. In contrast, 16 seats with standard leg room allows a huge rear storage area; with a slightly smaller boot, up to 19 can be accommodated, but other bespoke layouts are possible.

Bespoke builds are possible and they come with a wide range of luxuries

Ferqui is already using 3D printing for some smaller items within the saloon and the finish quality is another reason for the Soroco’s desirability as a second-hand purchase, says Steve.

“We could take in a 10-year old example that has done 250,000 miles. I’d put it through the workshop that we use to make sure it is free from defects, and we would also carry out a valet and replace the carpet.

“After that, apart from the changes made by Mercedes-Benz at Euro 6, it would be difficult to differentiate it from one that is much newer.”

Repeat business

The Soroco generates much repeat business, and some of that, too, can be credited to its popularity as a used buy.

“We have dealt with several newly-formed minicoach operators that, at the beginning, are in the market for a second-hand vehicle. Many used Sorocos have found homes under those circumstances. Then, when their business has grown, they have returned to us for a new one.”

When miniplus visited Connaught’s Thorne premises in January, a variety of factory-fresh and used Sorocos were present. One 2013 example with 19 seats had received any attention required and was ready for sale; while not a top-spec example, it was clean and tidy and wore its years well inside and out.

The new models were bespoke builds. One, with a large boot and 16 leather seats, included two tables. They had been supplied by AD Coach Systems, which is well known for fitting out many full-sized coaches used by Premier League football teams.

Two others, bound for The Amersham and Windsor Carriage Company (AWCC), had already visited AD’s premises. Each has just 12 two-tone leather Kiel VIP seats, and they also include tables, a plumbed-in coffee machine, cupboards and a fridge.

Soroco gained a 30cm extension behind the axle in 2016; now 7.64m long

“We have supplied 14 Sorocos to AWCC, in varying layouts with anything from nine to 19 seats,” says Steve. “Previously, it bought van conversions, but it has since moved to the Soroco, which now makes up all of its Sprinter-sized fleet.”

More to come

The Soroco is already a high-spec product as standard, and a wide variety of options can be added, including rear air suspension from Glide-Rite.

Connaught still has current-model Sprinter base vehicles available for 2018. All of those used for the British market are built on UK chassis, and so they come with a three-year Mercedes-Benz chassis warranty.

The manufacturer is already preparing for the next generation of Sprinter. Plans at the moment call for the first right-hand drive Soroco on the new chassis to debut at Euro Bus Expo at the NEC Birmingham on 1-3 November. Deliveries are expected to start in early 2019.

Steve promises that to go with the new chassis, Ferqui will introduce some new developments at the same time. miniplus looks forward to seeing the results.

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