First look: new Pilote motorhome range


Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range
Pilote motorhome range Pilote motorhome range

Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations editor Peta Stavelli takes a guided look at the new to New Zealand Pilote range and finds a load of pluses.

It’s always important to have expert help when choosing a new motorhome. The same is true when it is being reviewed. Without the help of the importer, I would have missed some of the salient points of the excellent Pilote. So I was glad for Brett Smith’s overview when I dropped into DeLuxe’s Blenheim yard.

At the time, DeLuxe’s senior partner, automotive, Gary Smith, had recently returned from La Limouzinière, France, where he was given a tour of the factory and had also viewed Pilote’s latest range of motorhomes. He was bubbling over with enthusiasm for the manufacturer.

While the brand is new to New Zealand, Pilote has earned its straps in the European market where it has been designing and building recreational vehicles for more than 50 years. It currently turns out around 4500 motorhomes annually. And last year’s comprehensive re-organisation of the range saw its sales jump by 37% overall and a 42% rise in overseas sales. In 2016, it offered more than 100 configurations across its A-class and coach-built range. Among these new additions was the P700C island bed ‘garage model’, which I was here to view.

Hidden strengths

At first, I did not get it. There I was inside the much-touted Pilote and I was initially underwhelmed. Of course, the leather upholstery and boat-like fitments bring an elegance and charm to the interior, which is strongly European. At first glance, I could take in the numerous modalities that New Zealander’s crave in a home from home: L-shaped seating, en-suite with separate shower and toilet, and permanent island bed.

But it was the island bed, which should have wowed me, that had me flummoxed. It looked too short, too high, especially for the likes of me. Thank goodness Brett arrived in the nick of time to show me the hidden feature of this brilliantly designed island bed that glides smoothly, powered by a whisper-quiet electric motor, down for easy access. In the up position in which it was first viewed, the true genius of the design was unrevealed. Underneath, what looks like a high divan with sensible double drawer storage is an enormous garage.

Built-in integrity

And there was more. Brett pointed out the steel frame double rubber windows, which he believes are a true testament of a well-built motorhome. Of course, I should have known that DeLuxe prides itself on the sale of only brands that are built with integrity and durability.

On this score, the Pilote gets a big tick from the DeLuxe team. The Pilote range is built with Isotek construction on an aluminium rail to which the GRP roofs, thermal acoustic 28mm Styrofoam sidewalls, and 35mm polyester floors are attached. Pilote vehicles come with a five-year body integrity warranty. The double glazed framed windows are standard.

Pilote6

Kitchen/living

A European-styled galley is very much in evidence here. It’s a tight space if you want to do your prep on the bench, but if you incorporate the table, the galley will be adequate. There’s a Thetford oven, a three-way fridge, and a two-burner gas hob. Hot water is delivered courtesy of the Combi-4TRUMA heating/boiler that comes with a TRUMA Crash sensor simple regulator when driving.

There is no lack of storage options in the galley. The spice rack and inbuilt rubbish bin is a thoughtful extra. And you will love the rolled seating that looks plush in two-tone leather but follows through with uber-comfort. Extra seating at the table is provided by swivelling captain’s chairs and a nice and practical but as by now expected attractive single bench seat opposite.

All windows throughout the vehicle come with curtains, fly screens, and blinds. Light floods in via the panoramic skylight. The overall look is plush with sweeping lines and a practical, attractive integrated design.

Bed and bath

I have made mention of the cleverly-designed island bed that maximises storage options. There are also numerous overhead cabinets and the aforementioned drawers, so space is maximised for storing all you could need. But the thing I loved the most about the bedroom was the curved corner shower to the right of the door and the shower and toilet with hand-basin—with a generous space—to the left of the door. With double doors, the bedroom becomes an en-suite. It’s a winning combination.

The water capacity is 130 litres of fresh and 95 litres of grey.

The drive

Under the bonnet, you have an upgraded 2.3-litre Fiat Ducato 150hp Multijet automatic transmission diesel engine. The vehicle has a payload of 620kg. Much has been made of the reliability of the Fiat Ducato, so I will not press the point. There’s a reason the majority of manufacturers have switched to it.

The verdict

I was grateful for the guidance of the DeLuxe team to understand the numerous features this vehicle possesses, which has given them great faith in the product and which may otherwise have been overlooked by me. I was left with the feeling that the solid construction and entry-level price make the Pilote a serious contender for prospective purchasers of a good quality European two-berth.

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