Review: Auto-Trail Apache

By: Bill Savidan


Bill Savidan is impressed by the latest Auto-Trail Apache, lauding it as a motorhome designed by motorhomers

The 2019 Apache is built on a Fiat Ducato cab/chassis on a 180BHP turbo-diesel motor. It has an automatic AMT transmission and is front-wheel drive. Leaners and experienced drivers alike find the Ducato rewarding to drive.

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The attention to detail on the bodywork of the Auto-Trail Apache is an excellent example of British craftsmanship

The more powerful 180HP engine makes it no problem keeping pace with the traffic flow both in the city and on the open highway. Auto-Trail motorhomes sold by Auckland Motorhomes that are built on Fiat Ducatos carry a full five-year Fiat international warranty. 

Exterior

Auto-Trail has developed a unique, innovate construction technique known as ‘Cube’, which involves building the habitation unit on air-suspended platforms, separate to the chassis. The resulting structure is extremely rigid. In addition, all panels now include a Styrisol core, which provides more thermal efficiency than the industry standard.

The Apache’s slimline, low-profile body fits like a glove over the cab, with the dark graphite cab colour carrying through into the motorhome decal pattern along each side. The rear panel is a work of art, with curved light clusters surrounding Auto-Trail’s trademark spare-wheel cover. To the best of my knowledge, Auto-Trail is the only manufacturer mounting the spare wheel on the back of its motorhomes in this way. I’m surprised others haven’t copied it.

There are five windows in the 634 body, one in the door, two kerbside, one in the rear panel and one on the driver’s side. Excluding the door window, they are all top-hung double-glazed acrylic windows, and all are the same height off the ground. 

Entry

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There is plenty of well-organised storage below the sink

Here you’ll find another Auto-Trail trademark item; the Auto-Trail umbrella, housed in the intricate inside-door moulding which is also home to a rubbish bin, grab handle and a window with a blind.

Although the step up from the ground is not high, Auto-trail has fitted a single Thule pop-out step to make entry easier. And to keep insects at bay, a full-height sliding insect screen is also included.

Interior impression

Having windows on three sides around the rear lounge makes the Apache feels spacious and light. The wide single-level walkway from the cab to the lounge contributes to this feeling, as do the three roof hatches and the unobtrusive interior décor. Cushion covers in calming shades of coffee and milk chocolate blend with the carefully crafted cabinetry, creating a restful ambience.

Lounge

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Windows on three sides around the rear lounge make the Apache feel spacious

Upfront, both cab seats fully rotate, and alongside each is a shelf to rest a glass, book or specs. It is a quiet place to relax and enjoy a modest amount of separation from your travelling companion.

The lounge area seats five or six and is an inviting area for socialising, dining, or just putting your feet up. It is ideally placed to watch TV (mounted amidships on the side of the fridge cabinet). Windows on all sides make it easy to keep an eye on daytime activities outside, and come dusk, just lower the blinds and snuggle in for the evening.

The Apache 634 is a good illustration of the difference between British- and Euro-designed motorhomes. Its layout resembles an open-plan studio apartment with the parts located around the walls with open space in the middle. By comparison, Euro designs tend to flow from one compartment to the next connected by a corridor. Think of it as an apartment-versus-compartment approach to RV interior design.

Bedroom

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If a double bed is preferred, pull out the slatted base from under the rear seat cushions...

When it’s time for bed, the settee transforms. Flip the seat cushions over, and they become 700mm-wide single beds (1800mm-long driver’s side/1750mm long kerbside).

If a double bed is preferred, a slatted infill base to bridge the gap between the settees sits under the rear seat cushions. Simply pull this out and rest the settee back cushions on the slats.

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... and rest the settee back cushions on the slats

Kitchen

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The simple sink cover can be reversed to cover the drain tray and it stays in place when travelling

The benchtop is made of marble-patterned laminate. Extra bench depth makes room for a circular stainless steel sink and draining tray as well as providing useful storage in the cabinet below, with shelves for tall items and a narrow pull-out pantry.

Appliances include four hobs, a full oven with a separate grill and a floor level ‘pan store’ locker. Immediately above is a microwave oven and opposite, a tall Thetford (138-litre model N3141) fridge with a usefully sized cold box. 

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When ordering their Auto-Trails, dealer Auckland Motorhomes (AMH) requests fridges rated for tropical conditions, not temperate climate fridges like those fitted for the British market. Experience has taught them they work better in New Zealand’s climate.

With its plate and cup racks, the locker over the sink is dedicated to crockery; the top drawer of the two beneath the sink is for cutlery. Flipping down the shelf front moulding beneath the microwave reveals a wide shallow shelf for storing trays and chopping boards. And the simple sink cover has a certain elegance too; it can be reversed to cover the drain tray if you prefer, but best of all, it stays in place when the vehicle is underway.

My impression is that motorhomers have designed this kitchen for motorhomers.

Bathroom

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This cupboard and the one in the vanity below, has practical wire baskets instead of shelves

The floor level here is one step higher than the rest of the RV. With the toilet and shower are to on the right, the handbasin in the middle and the shower to the LEFT?, it is a practical ‘dry’ washroom.

Stylish-looking semi-circular shower doors are held shut by a full-length magnetic strip. They look good, don’t rattle, and they stay shut. Mounted in the corner is the shower handpiece and shelves for toiletries. A short hanging rail is fixed to the ceiling. 

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Mounted in the corner is the shower handpiece and shelves for toiletries. A short hanging rail is fixed to the ceiling.

A water-efficient rectangular handbasin is fitted into the vanity top. Above it are a wall mirror and a cupboard that, like the one in the vanity below, has wire baskets instead of shelves. A mini Heke roof hatch above provides both light and ventilation.

Overall, an entirely satisfactory bathroom for one person at a time.

Summary

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Auto-Trail mounts the spare wheel on the back of its motorhomes — very convenient when you need it

Auto-Trail has been building motorhomes for nearly 38 years now and has learnt a thing or two about design. It shows in the careful way the Apache has been crafted. It is a thoughtfully designed well-built motorhome with a substantial kitchen, a big lounge, and a dry bathroom, all in under 7400mm long.

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This particular model has been designed for a specific audience, a couple who travel on their own who want daytime living. Buyers in this category should definitely inspect the Apache 634.

Find out more at aucklandmotorhomes.co.nz

Auto-Trail Apache 634 specifications

Make/model

Auto-Trail Apache 634

Chassis

Fiat Ducato

Berths

2

Body length

7370mm

Width

2350mm

Overall height

3030mm

Tanks. Fresh/grey water

140L/140L

LPG

1 x 9kg + 1 x 4kg

GVW/COF

3650kg

Tare

3130kg

Payload

340kg (depending on options chosen)

Price as reviewed, incl GST & on-road costs

$158,000

Pros

  • Mounting the spare wheel on the back means it is accessible but out of the way.
  • The user-friendly large rear lounge easily converts into a bedroom.
  • The well-equipped spacious kitchen is designed for discerning motorhomers.

Cons

  • For me there were none.

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