Want a French take on a van conversion layout that’s been causing quite a stir on mainland Europe for a few years now? Here it is, and it’s in the UK.
Pilote may be best known for its A-class and coachbuilt motorhomes, but last year saw it producing van conversions for the UK market, with the introduction of this, the not so snappily titled F600DGA.
It’s on Fiat’s long-wheelbase Ducato with 2.3-litre, 130bhp engine as standard, and comes with a floorplan that gives you a transverse double bed at the back, which can be folded up out of the way should you wish to transport larger items of luggage like bikes etc. There’s also a four-seater lounge comprising a half-dinette with the facility to swivel both cab seats.
Space is indeed a precious commodity in a vehicle like this, but all this still leaves room in the middle of the ‘van for a kitchen (tucked just inside the sliding door, which remains on our UK offside) and a washroom offering showering and toileting facilities, with additional space created thanks to a sliding sink arrangement.
It’s all pretty clever stuff, especially the way storage has been considered with virtually every step of this conversion. The overhead lockers, for example, aren’t just a decent size (without being too big), they’re also shelved. And there’s a “false floor” at the back to give low-level stowage space between the bed boxes.
Having said that, the provision of a 110-litre fresh water tank in the rear seat base isn’t the most logical step. True, it should mean a degree of winterisation, but it robs the interior of a big storage area.
Also, somewhat ironically, considering the French reputation for cuisine, the chef here is limited to two gas rings, with support from an 80-litre fridge and a sink (that doesn’t even get a glass lid). To be fair, continental thinking is such that cooking inside your vehicle is considered very much a last resort. And a definite plus is all the kitchen storage space this subsequently allows.
All the evidence is here for a better kind of insulation, too. Pilote uses polyethylene foam to literally line the whole interior before anything else goes in. It doesn’t just help retain heat when you want it, it also means the interior stays cooler when the sun’s out. And it helps keep some of the inevitable conversion rattles to a minimum.
Now, before you get too carried away with that “window price”, it’s worth noting some of the optional extras fitted to the vehicle here (at least some of which would be considered essential in the UK) – cab seat covers add £401, the radio and cab speakers here will relieve you of a further £313, floor carpet pieces are £281 and there’s also an upgrade to Truma’s 6EH Combi heating and hot water system, adding £3,640.
And if all of this isn’t quite upmarket enough for you, do seek out the all-silver bodied Premium Edition version, starting at £40,639, that includes all the above and more.
Surprisingly good quality at an even more surprisingly attractive start price
Plus: Clever use of space throughout. Comfortable double bed.
Minus: Options push the price boundaries
In a nutshell: Ooh-la-la!
Cost to insure: £278.50 *
- Pilote F600DGA
- Based on Fiat Ducato long-wheelbase, 2.3-litre, 130bhp, Euro V
- Price from £38,040
- Dimensions 5.99m L, 2.05m W, 2.58m H
- Maximum weight 3300kg
- Payload 440kg
- Key options Silver Pack (silver exterior including colour-coded bumpers, cab air conditioning, passenger airbag, cruise control, awning light, cab seat covers, TV bracket, cab blinds) £2,599
- Security and safety Central locking to all doors, ABS, driver’s airbag, immobiliser
- MPG estimate 25-27
More info Pilote (www.pilote.fr)
Alternatives: Adria Twin SP, Rapido V53, Autocruise Alto, Tribute 669
*Motorhome insurance cost based on Pilote F600DGA retailing for £38,040. Fitted with standard security. UK travel only. Kept on driveway at home at TD9 8ED. Motorhome owners – professionals over 50 years old with no claims, convictions or health conditions in last 3 years. 4 years no claims bonus mirrored from car policy and 2 years motorhome driving experience. Members of motorhome club doing less than 5000 miles annually. £300 excess applies. Quote correct as of 19/03/2013.