Review: Auto-Trail F72

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Images supplied


Malcolm Street takes a look at brand new Auto-Trail F72 and is impressed with the flexible options for couples and families

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A wide range of Auto-Trail motorhomes have been available in New Zealand for some years but recently there has been a new kid on the block, the Tribute range. Brand new for this year, the Nationwide RV team was keen to show me a typical example, the F72.

It’s based on a Ford Transit 170, has an external length of 7340mm and a low-profile design. Inside the Tribute, the general look is classy with an all new colour scheme including Salinas Oak panelling, an assortment of greys for the upholstery, and matt white for the overhead lockers.

All windows have the usual integrated blinds and screens, and, except for the kitchen, have net curtains as well. Although maybe not intentional, the layout is an interesting mix of European and New Zealand design tastes with two separate lounge/bedroom areas. Also done well is the lighting, a mixture of concealed and semi concealed strip lighting 

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The front lounge area

Up front is a decent sized lounge area. In the rear, looking like a variation on a theme much loved by Kiwi motorhomers, is a U-shaped lounge but one that isn’t symmetrical. In between is a kitchen area on the nearside, and a bathroom opposite, along with some wardrobe space.

Rear lounge

I quite like the rear area, it’s possible to sit back, relax and watch the world going by outside, since windows are fitted on all three sides. Large windows mean plenty of natural light and fresh air.

Overhead lockers with shelves, are fitted above the seats and there is also under-seat storage available on both sides and that includes external access doors. What does take up a bit of space in the back section is a full height wardrobe complete with a cupboard area underneath. Drawers might have been more convenient but at least you get an extra shelf.

Facing the wardrobe is a small half-height cupboard that contains a free-standing table and space above for a small TV to be located – handily there’s a power point, 12V socket and TV antenna connection on the wall.

Sleeping

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The drop-down bed slides easily into position

In the time-honoured style, the lounge seats can be made up into a 1860mm x 670mm bed which is on the small side but is certainly okay for a single person. In addition to that is a second bedroom area up front.

Above the lounge area, the 1930mm x 1230mm drop-down bed lowers easily into position without the need to make it up every night. Raising and lowering a bed these days is very much a smooth operation.

An option on this particular layout is to have a second bed measuring 2110mm x 1490mm under the drop-down, it being made up from the inner facing lounges. It might be a little crowded at bedtime but this motorhome could easily be used for a family.

Mealtime

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The corner hob is a space saver

The kitchen bench set-up is a tried and trusted arrangement. Designed in a sort of L-shape with a difference, a three burner hob and a round stainless steel sink, both with smoked glass lids, are fitted into the bench top area. Both are sized well enough to allow for an effective amount of bench top working space.

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The kitchen bench is shaped for easy use

Overhead lockers, complete with shelves are fitted above and there’s cupboard space below the sink and the oven although no drawers. Adjacent to the kitchen bench is a Thetford N4142E three-way fridge, with a capacity of 140 litres.

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The fridge has good capacity

It’s one of the slimline models and is only 418mm wide, so fits in very easily. Above the fridge, all in one central location, are the general touch panel control, drop down bed control and Whale space heater switches.

En-suite

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The bathroom is relatively spacious

The bathroom is a little deceptive because it is bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. Having as it does a separate shower cubicle, Thetford cassette toilet and a vanity wash basin. Included in the bathroom fit out are two cupboards, upper and lower, four cubby holes and a decent sized wall mirror.

Multifunctional front

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Rear seat gives a four person travelling capacity

All the front seating has matching upholstery laid out in a neat fashion. There is two of everything – swivelled cab seats, side lounges and forward-facing rear seats, complete with seat belts.

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Rear seat gives a four person travelling capacity

It doesn’t look like there’s any leg room in front of the passenger seat, but the seat base and cushions can be lifted out when needed. Windows on either side give a good light factor, aided somewhat by the sky view hatch above the driver’s cab.

Quite often drop-down beds don’t have any overhead lockers underneath but in this case there are two shallow ones on both sides. For the TV watchers, there a TV mounted located on the wall by the doorway.

Power and heating matters

I’m not sure why but European motorhome manufacturers mostly only provide single 230V power points. So, when the conversion to New Zealand sockets gets done, the same thing happens – sometimes for aesthetic reasons rather than anything else.

That’s the case with the power points in the F72, all singles and one of the reasons I carry around a small power board when I use rental motorhomes, which I do quite frequently. Handily there are a couple of USB charger points located in the overhead lockers above the rear passenger seat.

For those who like to travel off-grid, there’s a 100AH deep cycle battery and a 100W solar panel on the roof. When the weather is a bit cooler, a Whale 4.7kw LPG fired space heater keeps things nice and toasty. 

Cab chassis

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The six speed auto is a smooth performer

The F72 motorhome I looked over came with a Transit 170 base vehicle, that meaning a 2.0 litre 125kw/390Nm turbo diesel engine. It’s a front wheel drive vehicle and the chassis has a GVM of 3500kg and a tare mass of 3000kg.

The 170 is actually an option, the standard engine supplied, the 130 has a power/torque output of 96kW/385Nm. I depends how you drive but I reckon I might be tempted into the more powerful engine. Both alternatives come with Ford’s Select Shift six speed automatic transmission as standard and for those who really want one, a manual gearbox is available as an option.

Bodywork

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Ready for the road in style

Certainly, the GRP (fibreglass to you and I) body has a very stylish look about it. I liked the cab colour which might be described as metallic blue but Ford call ‘Blazer Blue’. There are other colours available. The motorhome body does sit quite close to the ground.

All the windows are the standard double-glazed acrylic style and the door comes complete with a top window, garbage bin and umbrella. At the rear bin doors on either side give access to the under-seat storage areas.

Options

The base price of the F72 is $143,900. That’s with the 130 engine, no drop-down bed and only two berth. Adding the drop-down bed and a four-berth configuration means a price tag of $145,900. Finally adding the more powerful 170 engine (as viewed) takes the price tag to $149,900.

Verdict

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Floor plan

If this was an example, then the Tribute range has much to offer the Auto-Trail line up. It’s certainly a layout that can easily be used by a couple but having two separate living areas offers much for a family. The bed arrangements offer considerable flexibility and there’s room to move around. In addition, of course it has that Kiwi speciality, a lounge in the rear area. 

Auto-Trail F72 specifications

Engine

Ford 2.0 litre 125kW turbo diesel

Transmission

Six speed automatic

Berths 4
Approx overall length 7340mm

Approx overall width

2350mm

Fresh/grey water tank

100/80 litre
Gas 2 x 9kg
GVM

3500kg

Price as reviewed: $149,900

Pros

  • Ford Transit cab chassis
  • Two separate living areas
  • Overhead lockers with shelves
  • Front drop-down bed
  • Internal lighting system
  • Internal cupboard area

Cons

  • Low ground clearance
  • Minimal number of power points
  • External storage bin capacity

For more information, visit nationwiderv.co.nz

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