You’ll spot a common theme with Auto-Trail’s Frontier range that goes deeper than the ‘Wild West’ naming convention (Dakota, Scout, Delaware, Comanche). Stepping inside an Auto-Trail is a rewarding experience. You can see what you’ve paid for; their interiors are seriously top-notch.
It’s the little things that really make a difference; the use of woodgrain finishes, the rounded, stylised design of the kitchen sink and the integrated cupboard below (which also acts as an effective room divider), the tapware that looks like it has been plucked straight out of a modern apartment, the proper solid-wood door into the toilet that neatly arcs back into the main door frame to provide for instant privacy without the need for cheap-feeling concertina screens. As with other Auto-Trail models, it all adds up to a lot.
The Delaware sits in the middle of the Frontier lineup of models but is certainly kitted-out with a premium buyer in mind.
There are five models within the Frontier range—the Dakota entry-level motorhome measures in at 7.6 metres, with Serrano and Scout versions slightly longer at a shade over eight metres. These three models are basically denoted by their sleeping arrangements; a mid-mounted French bed for the Dakota, rear double for the Serrano, and convertible king-size or twin single bed configurations in the Scout.
If it’s a twin single set-up that Delaware owners are after, the model can be ordered as a Delaware S version with this layout. Our review vehicle features a queen bed at the rear, with roomy enough access on either side. Above the Delaware in the Frontier lineup sits the Comanche (and Comanche S), which is 8.73m long. We’ll hopefully get a chance to take a close-up look at one of these range-toppers in the months ahead.
The Delaware is available in both hi- and lo-line form. Upon entering, you immediately stand beside the kitchen sink. Now that might sound like a flaw, although it is anything but.
Rather than being fixed flush against the opposite wall, the kitchen bench and sink curve out into the passageway, meaning you can converse with guests or family members seated on the twin sofas at the front of the motorhome while you prepare meals; handy for making eye contact with the kids when it’s time to do the washing up too.
The other notable thing about the view back towards the driver’s cab is the amount of overhead stowage on offer. There are nine individual cubbies; plenty of room for all manner of items (and the continuation of a theme when the Delaware’s large underfloor garage is considered).
The rear sleeping quarters are fantastic and can be sectioned off completely from the living area thanks to a clever bathroom door that doubles as one for the bedroom. Decent closet space and a roomy shower with saloon doors complete the picture back here.
As with other Auto-Trail models, the Delaware boasts Fiat running gear, with the new Euro 6 180bhp multi-jet common rail turbodiesel engine providing plenty of grunt. The European manufacturer’s Euro 6 emissions tested multi-jet turbodiesels are great power units, with plenty of low-down torque to get the Delaware up and down New Zealand’s often steep terrain. Local distributor Auckland Motorhomes offers a five-year Fiat warranty too.
The cab features an array of top-notch features such as Bluetooth phone connectivity, air conditioning, and a reversing camera embedded in the central five-inch touchscreen. There are also plenty of 12V outlets up front and in the living area for devices as well as cubbies to store them away out of sight.
As you’d expect, the motorhome arrives with plenty of safety equipment as standard, including Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Cruise Control, ABS braking and Hill Descent software, which mitigates uncontrolled increases in speed when heading down a decline. In the living area, features such as a smoke alarm, separate fire extinguisher, and isolation taps to all the gas appliances provide for extra peace of mind.
Oh, and speaking of ‘peace of mind’, the Delaware also features a mass carry weight of 870kg, which means you can shove a fair bit of holiday-themed kit aboard without taxing the engine unduly.
LAYER UPON LAYER
It’s worth reminding that all British-built Auto-Trail models meet a strict industry standard for both insulation and heating. The manufacturer subjects every one of their designs—big and small—to a harsh weather testing regime to ensure they perform even in the sort of inclement conditions you’d have to be unlucky to be away in your motorhome in.
Underneath the impact-resistant outer shell of the vehicle is a polystyrene core and layer of recycled plastic composite material. This is one hundred percent water-resistant and as strong as steel and is supplemented below decks with a specially-fitted waterproof board on top of a Styrofoam core and a PVC outer skin. All this insulation (‘Grade 3’ level in industry-speak) means that inside the living area, a stable 20-degree temperature can be maintained even in sub-zero temperatures. Double glazed windows and a large two-way gas/electric ducted heating system help too.
The Delaware provides for some mid-range magic from Auto-Trail. This is yet another well-designed, well-engineered model from a solid motorhome builder, augmented by a 10-year Auto-Trail body construction warranty and a five-year Fiat warranty provided by the local distributor.
The Delaware is positioned at the upper end of the market, but you get a tangible sense of what you’ve spent your money on from the moment you open the door.