Wheel estate: Auto-Trail V-line 600

By: Lawrence Schaffler


Auto-Trail V-line 600 Auto-Trail V-line 600
Auto-Trail V-line 600 This 'panel van' motorhome comes with all the trimmings you'd expect in an Auto-Trail Auto-Trail V-line 600
Auto-Trail V-line 600 The shower's floor in the fully-moulded bathroom is cleverly placed lower than the toilet's to prevent flooding Auto-Trail V-line 600
Auto-Trail V-line 600 The V-line series has a high-quality finish Auto-Trail V-line 600
Auto-Trail V-line 600 The aisle running between the central dinette/lounge leads to double doors at the rear Auto-Trail V-line 600
Auto-Trail V-line 600 With the 600, the central lounge/dinette converts to a full-width, transverse double bed Auto-Trail V-line 600
Auto-Trail V-line 600 The large, curved skylight above the cab and lounge allows for prime stargazing Auto-Trail V-line 600
Auto-Trail V-line 600 Nifty lockers are built into the rear doors to make storage (and life) easier Auto-Trail V-line 600

In a strategic departure from its traditional lineup, UK motorhome manufacturer Auto-Trail has introduced of a new range of smaller, lighter, and more compact vehicles – the V-line series.

There are three models in the V-line series of converted panel vans — the 600, 610, and 620. While they all have the same overall dimensions (just under 6m long) and share the same Fiat Ducato chassis, their layouts are different.

The first of the three, the 600, was launched late last year — the 610 and 620 followed earlier this year. The New Zealand dealer (Drury's Auckland Motorhomes) has so far landed only a 600 — the other models are on order.

A driver-friendly motorhome

Before you wrinkle your nose at the notion of a 'panel van' motorhome, let me assure you this isn't a ham-fisted conversion. It comes with all the trimmings you'd expect to find in an Auto-Trail vehicle and has a surprisingly functional interior — easily adequate for a couple.

Auto -Trail -V-line -specifications

My guess is it will find a receptive audience among those who shy away from the weight and bulk of traditional motorhomes and dislike having to manoeuvre them into tight spots, for the V-line is very driver-friendly.

Much of its road manner is courtesy of the front-wheel drive Ducato chassis, its powerful 2.3-litre, 150hp engine and six-speed Comfort-Matic transmission. The engine ticks along without the remotest hint of stress.

Surgery has removed the van's standard roof and it's been replaced with a higher, fibreglass alternative. But even with this modification it presents a far smaller and more streamlined profile compared with a traditional motorhome.

To complete its driving appeal, it's fitted with snazzy alloy wheels and discs all round, with ABS braking and electronic brake force detection. Large side mirrors and a reversing camera/dashboard screen will help you guide it into a cosy spot.

V-line 600 Interior

A sliding side door is the main entry to the van, though the aisle running between the central dinette/lounge leads to double doors at the rear. With all three doors open, the sense of space is accentuated and provides good ventilation.

The V-line 600’s central lounge/dinette converts to a full-width, transverse double bed. The pedestal table's removed (it's not part of the bed) and supporting slats slide out from under the bench seats.

It's a light, airy interior, enhanced by the large, curved skylight above the cab and lounge. Plus it has a drop-down 38cm (15") TV unit fixed to the cab's ceiling.

In the kitchen, a two-burner cooker nestles next to a sink on the far side — with a black granite-like finish for the benchtop. The inset sink/drainer has a hinged cover which provides extra bench space. Opposite is a 65-litre drawer fridge (with a built-in freezer compartment) and a small oven/grill.

Auto -Trail -V-line -7

There are plenty of storage lockers above and below, and all the lockers are equipped with rubber damper strips to eliminate creaks and rattles.

You'll find a fully-moulded bathroom right at the end of the corridor. It's an integrated space shared by a swivel cassette toilet, shower, and vanity. The shower's floor is lower than the toilet's, so shower water won't saturate the entire bathroom floor.

Thermal insulation is standard Auto-Trail — your dentures won't rattle on chilly nights. I like the flush-fit, wrap-around 'glazing' over the windows. In effect, this offers the same advantage of standard, double-glazed acrylic windows, but with minimal aerodynamic drag.

A single 100-amp-hour battery powers the electrics. LED lighting curtails the load, but a second battery is an option — one I'd tick, particularly as the 600 is fitted with a 100-watt solar panel as standard. The LEDs are nicely recessed for subtle, ambient lighting, and they're dimmable.

Will the V-Line concept work in New Zealand?

I can't decide. I'm hesitant to call it an entry-level Auto-Trail that will appeal to budget buyers because, at $135,000, the 600 is not hugely cheaper than the manufacturer's existing low-end motorhome, the 6.4m rear-bed Apache (RRP is around $148,000).

As an Auto-Trail product, there's no problem with the quality of the finish. It's very compact, though, which might not appeal to everybody. On the other hand, it's much easier to handle and simple to park.

The best advice I can offer? Take a test drive.

Pros

  • Driveability and parking — just like visiting the supermarket
  • Shoe/table/chair lockers — practical, out of the way but easily accessed
  • Lowered shower floor — keeps the bathroom dry

Cons

  • Too compact — it's definitely a couples-only tourer

For more information contact Auckland Motorhomes on (09) 294 6500 or info@aucklandmotorhomes.co.nz

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