This month we review Auto-Trail’s compact island bed Frontier Delaware
The new Auto-Trail Frontier Delaware
The compact island bed motorhome was practically non-existent until recently.
Yes, there was the odd island bed model within the rarefied realms of top-end tag-axle monsters the size of coaches, but not much else.
Clearly today, the industry thinks demand in this country for such a motorhome is here to stay.
But even the best of the current breed have to concede compromise somewhere in their make-up.
The problem is that where traditional en-suite longitudinal fixed bed motorhomes manage to keep enough floor space back to create a good-sized kitchen and lounge up front, island bed designs take up a good third of a 7.5m-long motorhome’s interior length with the bedroom, meaning compromises have to be made elsewhere to avoid the lengthening of the chassis to include six wheels and the body up to 8.5m or so.
Auto-Trail has taken the rather radical decision of sacrificing the Delaware’s lounge to the laws of physics. The thing is: was that the right decision to take?
A motorhome’s lounge is, after all, its social heart, and there will be those who will cross the Delaware off their shopping list for no other reason than it can’t physically sit more than four folk for a sociable evening.
And yet, this is, at the end of the day, a two-berth motorhome. Granted, it can sleep three at a pinch (four or five if you take up the no-cost option of an overcab bed in lieu of the low-profile’s lockers), but it has been designed specifically for just two people and it only has two travel seats (those in the cab). Looked at in this light, the lounge suddenly doesn’t seem so bad after all.
First impressions of the galley are rather mixed, as you take in the encouragingly good news – the dual-fuel domestic-style cooker, 149-litre true fridge/freezer, ample locker space, more than ample worktop space, good lighting – only to discover that Auto-Trail appear to have deemed a kitchen sink an unnecessary luxury.
A closer look reveals, of course, that the upper section of kitchen unit that impinges into the central walkway actually slides further out still, revealing a good-sized sink, but not at the expense of valuable worktop space.
Living space in the new Auto-Trail
Granted, you can’t physically walk past the kitchen into the washroom or bedroom areas with the sink cover extended, but in terms of sheer simple genius, the Delaware’s kitchen is arguably right up there with the likes of Autocruise’s Rhythm and Wentworth.
The Delaware’s washroom is split into two separate rooms across the motorhome, with the shower cubicle on the offside and the toilet/washbasin on the nearside.
And its bedroom is one of the best of the current breed. The bed itself measures 6ft 2in by 4ft 5in, although the raised rear floor level (which extends to the washroom area) does cut available headroom therein from the super-generous 6ft 7in enjoyed by the rest of the motorhome to a more restrictive 6ft 1in.
The negatives of this motorhome, which include a small waste water tank, some cheap-feeling washroom fittings, a small lounge and high price, are far outweighed by the positives with this latest addition to the sub-8m island bed ranks.
Price from: £52,707 OTR
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato 40 Heavy AL-KO chassis-cab
Engine: 2.3 litre Multijet (130bhp)
Travel seats: 2 (4 optional)
Insurance cost: £250.25*
*Motorhome insurance quotation is based on Auto-Trail Frontier Delaware, kept on the road and fitted with manufacturers immobiliser and Phantom Tracker. Based on an annual mileage of 7000 miles. Motorhome owners – professionals aged over 50, with no claims in the last 4 years, convictions or health conditions, 1 years motorhome driving experience and a member of a motorhome owners club. Living in HS3 3DW. EU Travel costs an additional £17, EU breakdown costs an additional £42. Prices quoted include Insurance Premium Tax at 5% and are correct as of 06/05/2008
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Note: All details correct at time of publication but may be subject to change.