It’s MMM magazine’s Motorhome of the Year, did you know? That’s the rather prestigious prize the Pilote Référence P716LPR scooped up at the start of 2013.
It’s not short of competition, from pretty much all of its rival continental manufacturers, whose similar models were introduced in 2012 and even 2011. What these vehicles do not have is any direct UK-built competition. The reason for that is, although at “floor level” this is pretty much a standard rear French bed/washroom, front lounge, mid-’van kitchen and washroom layout, it’s over that lounge that the piece de resistance is to be found.
It boasts the one item that’s proving highly popular on mainland Europe – a drop-down double bed.
The P716LPR is actually one of three new Références announced for this season with this feature – it all depends on your choice of bed at the back of the vehicle, hence there’s also the P716LGR (transverse rear double) or P736LCR (island). UK dealers and the Pilote Owners Association had the opportunity to chip with their say, too. And this is the award-winning result.
It’s also the relatively rattle-free drive that will impress. Always a sign of good overall build quality, Pilote uses a mix of polyester (ie GRP) roof and aluminium sides, with Styrofoam insulation and a unique use of aluminium joints where the sides meet the floor. It’s all on a 3500kg Fiat Ducato chassis as standard (upgrades are available).
Step inside and that lounge includes an L-shaped settee, inward-facing nearside seat and both cab seats swivelled, all around a sturdy, multi-adjustable table. There’s also a choice of upholstery alternatives to the Macaron pattern shown here.
It’s the kitchen where Pilote has made the most effort to appease UK motorcaravanners, not just with the provision of a full Thetford dual-fuel cooker, but all the other wherewithal for meal preparations indoors – right down to spice jar rack and kitchen roll holder.
Throughout, storage is very impressive, especially the under-bed area (with lights), where you’ll also find a neat fold-out linen bag (for your dirty washing?).
The overall specification is high, too, ranging from Truma’s most powerful 6EH heating and hot water system (including the facility to operate whilst on the move) to central locking to all three doors to cab air conditioning.
Criticisms? Well, the use of tungsten-bulb lighting seems rather retro. Despite its ability to seat up to five for travel, the fifth seat is rear-facing and a bit lacking in terms of head restraint, full framework etc. And that plastic kitchen tap is out of keeping with the rest of the quality.
And then there are those sleeping berths. The French bed (as designated by its cutaway section) is adjacent to the washroom, while electrical operation assures the lounge bed glides down into place with no effort required other than keeping a finger on a switch.
The secret of a good night’s sleep? Let’s just say Pilote has cracked it with the Référence P716 LPR. With prices starting at just over £50,000, it’s surely onto a winner. But, you already knew that, didn’t you?
Attempts to appeal to British tastes make this motorhome all the more attractive
Plus: Competitively priced and well equipped. Bed comfort.
Minus: Some options should be standard
In a nutshell: Win, win, win
Cost to insure: £287.50 *
Pilote Référence P716LPR
- Based on Fiat Ducato, 2.3-litre, 130bhp, Euro V
- Price from £51,095
- Dimensions 7.18m L, 2.30m W, 2.85m H
- Maximum weight 3500kg
- Payload 525kg
- Key options Cruise control £193, reversing camera £401, fridge vents £80, floor carpets £281, 150bhp engine £800
- Security and safety Central locking to all doors, ABS, driver’s and passenger’s airbags, immobiliser
MPG estimate 23-26
More info Pilote (www.pilote.fr)
Alternatives: Bürstner Ixeo it 664 and 700, Rapido 776 FF, Adria Matrix 650 SF
*Motorhome insurance cost based on Pilote Reference P716 LPR retailing for £51,095. Fitted with standard security and Thatcham Cat 1 Alarm/Immobiliser. 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 22/04/2013.