Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS

By: Lawrence Schäffler


Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS
Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS Motorhome review: Auto Trail Tracker EKS

Auto Trail's 2015 Tracker EKS comes with a number of upgrades which enhance this popular motorhome's appeal for couples. Most are aesthetic changes, but buyers with an adventurous bent will be pleased with the bigger wheels – much better for going bush.

The 6.4-metre EKS rides on Fiat's Ducato chassis and the 2015 model boasts a few cosmetic changes. Outside, the new headlights have a sleeker shape – they look racier and are better integrated into the overall lines of the cab. And there are new LED running lights.

Inside the cab, the dash's centre console has enjoyed a significant makeover – it provides more user-friendly cavities for storage and coffee mugs, and the fully upholstered captain's seats are now height adjustable and fitted with twin armrests.

Also new are the paddle controls on the steering wheel for the electronics. These drive the colour touch-screen radio/CD player and the Bluetooth hands-free system. It's all designed for an easier, more enjoyable driving experience.

Upgrades inside the vehicle include a HDMI TV (a fold-away model mounted against the cab roof), new upholstery and an extensive splash-back introduced to the kitchen (mounted against the rear wall) – a practical piece of design to minimise grease stains. The microwave oven is flashier and with a new stainless steel fascia, it looks pretty handsome.

But the most important change is to the size of the wheels. Earlier generation EKS Trackers rode on 15-inch tyres – the new EKS' have been increased to 17 inches. These bring two advantages: owners will have a bit more room to manoeuvre when venturing off-road – there's less chance of the chassis being rearranged by an obstinate rock. In addition, that all-important spoiler in the front, sitting a little higher, is more protected during dodgy parking manoeuvres.

Collectively, these enhancements add up to an even more functional, attractive and cosy motorhome. And while it's positioned as an easy fit for a couple, it's also a perfect consideration for those contemplating a downsize. At only 6.4 metres-long it's easy to manoeuvre and squeeze into tight spots, yet retains all the trappings required for comfortable living.

Auto _Trail _Tracker _4

Driving the EKS

Always a pleasure. Trackers are available in three styles – Lo-line, Super Lo-line and Hi-Line. The latter has an additional bed above the cab. This EKS – geared to couples – is the Super Lo-Line model (3.03 metres-high). With the cab's roof profile smoothly integrated into the body, the Super Lo-Line offers less drag than its Lo-Line and Hi-Line sisters.

Furthermore, it's equipped with Fiat's mid-range engine (150hp, four-cylinder, 2.3-litre Multijet fuel injection, Euro 5 compliant) and the power train includes the smooth, six-speed Comfortmatic automatic transmission. At 3500kg, the EKS presents zero problems for this engine. The smaller 130hp or bigger 180hp engines are options, but I think the 150hp is ideal.

Safety features abound: there's the electric stability control (includes hill hold facility) and traction plus, an electronic traction control system with a hill descent facility. Disc brakes all round (and ABS braking) provide superior stopping power and, for drivers with the heavy foot, employing the cruise control (with speed limiter) will probably be a good idea.

Accommodation

The EKS' double bed (east-west) measures a generous 2.10 by 1.66 metres, and deploying it requires rearranging the bases and cushions of the two facing settees in the lounge. It's a quick conversion and when lying in bed, you'll enjoy the clear view of the roof-mounted TV in the cab. On clear, starry nights you'll also enjoy the view through the large Skyline roof window. As an opening model, fitted with blinds and insect screens, it will provide welcome ventilation.

In lounge mode, the two settees will seat four (and more) around a free-standing table that's easily shifted outside for romantic, under-the-stars dining.

It's a rich, luxurious yet cosy interior – the warm cherry timber is nicely complemented by the Tennison upholstery with its full curtains and co-ordinated pelmets. It's easy to create the perfect ambience at night thanks to the sophisticated LED lighting system – over locker, under locker – and much of it is dimmable.

Auto _Trail _Tracker _9

Kitchen

I like the kitchen right at the back of the motorhome because it caters so easily for al fresco dining. The main entrance is also at the rear, at the kitchen. This configuration is perfect for serving platters of nibbles and refreshments to ravenous guests sitting under the three metre recessed awning.

Despite its modest length, the EKS has a fairly roomy kitchen. While the cooker/oven and sink are mounted against the rear wall (a wall now fitted with that new splash-back to accommodate overly-enthusiastic chefs), a second work area just forward (near side) provides masses of additional bench space. The cooker has four plates – one electric, three gas.

Above the bench is the 800-watt microwave (eye-level), and below is the 97-litre fridge/freezer. There's no shortage of lockers (eye-level) or drawers for groceries, crockery/cutlery and pots/pans. All lockers are fitted with cushioned strips to eliminate irritating rattles. It's a very practical kitchen, with lots of natural light/ventilation from large overhead and rear wall windows. If the trainee chef burns the toast, you can open the main door for more ventilation.

Bathroom

The EKS' bathroom is fairly compact, but I like the separate shower (divided from the toilet and washbasin by curved acrylic doors). More importantly, the shower has a recessed floor, so there's no chance of water leaking across the bathroom. In addition, the motorhome's gas-heating system is reticulated to the bathroom – perfect for use as a drying room and for keeping things toasty for those who enjoy winter touring.

Auto _Trail _Tracker _3

The verdict

Like all Auto Trail models, the EKS is well-equipped for winter touring. Complementing the heating system are double-glazed windows and a Grade 3 insulation system. It offers a decent capacity for extended touring, carrying 100 litres of fresh water (plus 85 litres of waste water). You might think about increasing the battery capacity however (it only has one 100ah unit) and fitting a solar panel (an optional extra).

Perhaps the EKS' major virtue is its broad appeal. Tracker aficionados will welcome the new model like an old friend and enjoy the upgrades. For those that are new to the motorhome scene, size will be a big consideration – it's not an intimidating vehicle. And for couples tired of operating an oversized behemoth, downsizing to an EKS will make a lot of sense.

Best of all, with those bigger wheels it could take you to places never before explored.

For more information, contact Auckland Motorhomes on (09) 294 6500 or email info@auckland motorhomes.co.nz (without the space).

Pros

  • Bigger tyres, higher clearance – more freedom to go bush
  • Rear kitchen and main door – easy serving for al fresco diners
  • Skyline roof window – views and Ventilation

Cons

  • Needs another battery – more power extends range

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