RV review: Frankia i7900

By: Bill Savidan


RV review: Frankia i7900 RV review: Frankia i7900
RV review: Frankia i7900 RV review: Frankia i7900
RV review: Frankia i7900 RV review: Frankia i7900
RV review: Frankia i7900 RV review: Frankia i7900
RV review: Frankia i7900 RV review: Frankia i7900
RV review: Frankia i7900 RV review: Frankia i7900

Frankia has its roots in a caravan manufacturing business started in Germany 50 years ago. They built their first motorhome in 1973 and marketed the first Frankia branded product in 1983. Now Frankia motorhomes are avalaible in New Zealand through Acacia Motorhomes in Auckland.

Group Pilote from France bought Frankia in 1990 and injected sufficient capital to allow a new manufacturing plant to be built. Frankia has prospered ever since, and now has a range of integrated body motorhomes as well as low-profile and bed-over-the-cab models built on Fiat and Mercedes-Benz chassis.

The model being reviewed, the i7900 in ‘Frankia-speak’, is an integrated body model, which means that Frankia builds the entire body from front to rear bumper on a bare chassis – in this case a Mercedes-Benz. The same model on a Fiat chassis would be designated i790.

The i7900

The ’79 series comes in three floor plans: an east/west bed at the rear and twin three-seater settees in the lounge; twin singles at the rear and an L-shaped dinette amidships; and the model being reviewed, with an island bed at the rear and the L-shaped dinette.

The Frankia i7900 presents as a solid example of motorhome design; it’s a pragmatic solution rather than a pretty one. The sidewalls and roof are 34mm thick foam sandwich construction with GRP exterior cladding, fabricated on Frankia’s enormous 12-metre-long 60-tonne press. The front and rear panels are fiberglass moulded.

Frankia motorhomes feature double floor construction. It is not unique to Frankia but they do execute it very well. The space between the floors is fully insulated and heated. Items installed in this space, like the waste and fresh water tanks, water pipes, electrical wiring and LPG pipework don’t freeze up in icy weather and are safe from ‘road damage’.

There are two options for climbing aboard the i7900: through the habitation door, amidships on the driver’s side or through the kerbside passenger door.

Cab/dining

The cab is spacious with a single level floor allowing easy entry and egress. First impression on entering is that the cab seats are a long way back from the windscreen.

Actually, the seats are in their customary positions. It is the windscreen that has moved forward to where the front of the bonnet would be if it were a conventional cab. Once the driver absorbs this point it makes maneuvering and parking much easier.

The cab is quite a bit wider than normal allowing room to fit wooden cabinetry alongside the driver’s seat enhancing the feeling the cab is part of the lounge area. The cab seats, upholstered in eco-leather to match the interior décor, can be rotated to face the lounge.

The dining table is very substantial and designed to cater for any eventuality. It moves back-and-forward on the pedestal that slides in tracks on the floor, and side-to-side on a steel frame under the tabletop. You can widen the tabletop by pulling the side leaves apart allowing a spring-loaded centrepiece to pop into place.

Frankia 79_1

Catering for four

Although ideal for two people with a queen-sized island bed in the back room, the i7900 is equally adept catering for four. At the press of a button, an electronically controlled additional queen-sized bed lowers from above the cab.

Although the shower and toilet facilities are located at the entrance to the rear bedroom they can be isolated for use by guests sleeping up front. A three-leaf sliding timber door closes off the bedroom and when the toilet compartment door is fully open it latches and closes off the kitchen, creating a completely private bathroom space.

As is the case with most European RVs the kitchen is quite compact. All the important ingredients are present, but not necessarily the way we are accustomed to seeing them. The 190-litre fridge/freezer is a beauty – as are the range-hood and the kitchen sink.

Last but by no means least, you’ve got the bedroom. I like the way the head of the island bed snuggles into the surrounding cabinetry. With the mood lighting in the headboard illuminated it appears even more inviting. The same mattress recipe as the front bed, cold foam over slats, ensures a good night’s sleep for the occupants.

The verdict

The Frankia i7900 comes well equipped and Acacia Motorhomes add in 400 watts of solar power, two 80Ah house batteries, an electric awning, a 22-inch LED TV and a Megatronic automatic satellite dish, as standard in New Zealand.

I think Frankia has earnt its reputation for producing a quality product its own way with some quirky but endearing solutions.

For more information, call 0800 112 828.

Pros

  • The drop down bed
  • The front blind
  • The double floor

Cons

  • The small kitchen

To read the full review, check out issue #129 of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine. Subscribe here.

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