Review: Auto-Trail Imala 730

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


Although classified as an entry-level motorhome, the Imala 730 is on par with RVs a grade or two higher. NZMCD gets a sneak peek at the 2018 model.

When it was released in 2015, the Imala range of motorhomes caught many Auto-Trail followers by surprise. Lighter in weight and less expensive, it appealed to younger customers as well as those trading up to something larger.

Auto-Trail Imala 730 features

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Imalas are good-looking motorhomes that display design features of their more upmarket brothers and sisters. There are two body styles in the range: the Lo-Line model that provides useful storage over the cab and a Hi-Line model that offers a double bed over the cab.

Auto-Trail has been building motorhomes for nearly 30 years now. That is all they make. They have the reputation of building one of the UK’s most sought-after luxury motorhomes. They opened a new production facility in 2002, which has since been extended twice and is now a modern state-of-the-art motorhome production facility.

One section of the factory manufactures components and the other section assembles them. They have a unique build method. The motorhome body is built ‘off-chassis’, making it a solid standalone body unit. On completion, it’s married to a chassis.

The 2018 Imala models look smart. By overflowing the metallic graphite cab colour onto the motorhome body and motorhome white onto the cab, Auto-Trail has tied the two components into a single, attractive unit. The Auto-Trail Imala trademark roof rails still dress the roofline, one each side from the Luton to the rear panel, and the Luton moulding over the cab is classic Auto-Trail.

Safety first

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Built on the well-known Fiat Ducato chassis, the Imala 730 has a 2.3-litre 150hp turbo-diesel motor driving the front wheels through a six-speed AMT automatic transmission. It comes equipped with a full suite of safety features: Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Roll Over Mitigation, ‘Traction +’ that improves road holding on slippery surfaces, ABS Braking assist, Hill Holder for perfect hill starts, plus Hill Descent control to keep you safe descending narrow winding metal roads.

Other refinements, such as the steering wheel controls for radio and phone, a gearshift indicator on the dashboard, and cruise control, all make the Imala 730 a pleasure to drive.

Exterior

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A tidily sculpted skirt moulding dresses up the side and rear panels. There are just three sidewall hatches: the toilet cassette and LPG bottle hatches kerbside and a hatch in the rear panel wide enough to allow barbecues, outdoor tables, and chairs to pass through to the storage area under the bed. On the inside of the door, in its own moulded recess, ready for a rainy day is a large blue umbrella.

Interior

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It’s not a big step up to enter the Imala. An electric step is fitted, though, just in case. The floor is flat through from the cab to the bedside steps. In this model, there is a double bed in the uncluttered and beautifully shaped Luton over the cab.

Lutons are not so common these days, but Dan Monk, Auckland Motorhomes proprietor, says they are still the most popular choice for his Imala buyers. It has ample headroom for adults to sit up in bed. A large ceiling hatch provides light and ventilation but there’s just a single reading light. An access ladder and a safety net are provided to keep the Luton bed occupants safe. A portion of the mattress hinges upwards to improve access to the cab.

Dining

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Caravan owners making the switch to a motorhome will immediately feel at home in the standard Imala layout. This has a pair of two-seater settees facing each other to form a lounge behind the cab seats.

An optional layout, as seen in the vehicle under review, suits those who need four belted seats. This has a dinette in place of the driver’s side settee. They are fitted with two lap and diagonal belts and are comfortable travel seats that offer easy viewing through both the windscreen and the side windows.

The large removable dining table is made even larger when the extension leaf is brought into play. Storage space is available under both the side settee and the dinette seat.

Note that the dinette increases the GVW from 3500kg to 3650kg, meaning a six-monthly COF applies rather than an annual WOF. Both versions can be driven on a Class 1 (car) licence.

In a departure from the norm, Auto-Trail mounts the TV on a neat, drop-down bracket located in the cab ceiling, meaning the dinette seats offer the best viewing rather than the cab seats.

I found the interior ‘Isabel’ colour scheme with timber veneer cabinetry, oatmeal-coloured upholstery with Ivory/Gold dress curtains and cushion covers unobtrusive and warm. The flooring is bamboo patterned cushioned vinyl and loose, shaped, edged mats are supplied for use in the colder months of the year.

Kitchen

Mealtime

UK-built RVs tend to have larger kitchens than their European counterparts, and the Impala kitchen follows this trend. It is well equipped with a full oven with separate grille, a microwave, and a 100-litre under-bench fridge/freezer (with a removable freezer box).

With the oblong shaped sink as far to the left and the hobs as far to the right as they can go, there’s a decent amount of space left in the middle for meal preparation and serving.

Both the sink and hobs have hinged covers, providing even more worktop space if needed. Storage below and above the bench for food and beverages is both adequate and accessible. And there is enough room to walk past the food preparer.

Bathroom

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There is a small step up into the bathroom and it is barely noticeable. A swivel toilet is to the left, a trendy looking cantilevered handbasin in the middle, and a separate shower stall is on the right.

This shower stall is compact and has a folding two-piece door with a magnetic catch and the foot tray is moulded with a single water outlet. There is a generous-sized locker for toiletries above the toilet. It is a compact bathroom with sufficient space for one person. It closes off behind a solid bathroom door. What happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom.

Bedroom

Bedroom

The head of the island bed in the Imala 730 lies against the rear wall. To avoid having the foot of the bed too close to the adjacent bathroom/kitchen cabinetry, the designers opted for an old solution but gave it a new twist. The mattress and bed base are hinged about a third of the way back from the bed head.

Pushing the bed towards the rear wall causes the bed head to rise out of the way, creating a comfortable backrest and an ideal spot for a daytime read or snooze. The bed can remain made-up, so when it is lowered at sleep time, it is all ready to go. There is room to squeeze past the corners when the bed is down but it is easier to pass if the bed is raised.

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Storage is excellent with two overhead lockers, two bedside hanging lockers, and a shelf for your morning cuppa with small shelves below each side of the bed. There is no storage space below the bed; that is accessed from outside. But there is a mirror and a few small corner shelves at the foot of the bed. A window each side of the bedroom and a ceiling hatch above provide excellent ventilation. If privacy is needed, a concertina sliding door isolates the bedroom.

Verdict

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Most motorhome owners, new or experienced, dream of camping in an idyllic spot far from hustle and bustle of their everyday life. It is good to know the motorhome of your choice can meet certified self-containment requirements and allow you to fulfil your dreams.

The Imala 730 has the necessary requirements in place: adequate fresh and grey water tankage, battery power and a solar panel to recharge it, a fridge/freezer large enough for your needs, and enough LPG aboard to go the distance.

Although Auto-Trail regards the Imala 730 as an entry-level motorhome, it will provide stiff competition for all comers supposedly a grade or two above entry level. It ticks all the boxes: build quality, style, and value for money.

The Auto-Trail Imala 730 retails from $135,000 including GST and on-road charges and five-year Fiat and Habitation warranties.

Auto-Trail Imala 730 specifications

Vehicle make/model: Auto-Trail Imala 730 Hi-Line
Engine: 2.3L Euro 6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Berths: Four
Approx. overall length: 7260mm
Approx. overall width: 2350mm
Approx. overall height: 3100mm
Tanks: 135L fresh, 85L grey
Gas: 1 x 4kg, 1 x 9kg
Tare: 3160kg
GVM: 3650kg

Price as reviewed: From $135,000 incl GST and on-road costs

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