Andrew McPhee

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The Practical Motorhome review of the Dethleffs Advantage I 6501 B, a smart A-class from the well known German brand

Design

The Advantage's silver coachwork gets full the thumbs up from us, and fit and finish on the exterior panels cannot be faulted.

However, limited bonnet access in A-class motorhomes is the stuff of mechanics’ nightmares and this model is no exception. The real test will come if you are involved in a bit of vehicular jousting and need spares delivered sometime 
in the same century…

The internal layout features a forward lounge and central kitchen. There are contrasting handles on most of the doors, and Dethleffs might have won full marks here if not for the stepped floor from the kitchen to the lounge. This will be annoying to many, and certainly a no-no for those with restricted mobility.

On the road

This ’van is based on the Fiat Ducato chassis-cowl with a 3.8m wheelbase, and using the bigger ‘Ducato Heavy’ version allows for a 4000kg MTPLM. You will need a group C1 driving licence, and should be aware that heavy vehicles like this have lower speed limits, likely to be more of an annoyance in mainland Europe than the UK.

Fiat’s award-winning 130 MultiJet common-rail turbo-diesel powers the ’van with ease. You can specify an upgrade to the 160 version, but it is only available on special order. Cab air-conditioning is fitted as standard.

Getting into the driver's seat involves climbing across the cab from the left-side door, which is a pain you shouldn't have to put up with at this price. To be fair, it obviously doesn’t bother the many British buyers of the numerous motorhomes arranged like this, so perhaps we’re making a mountain out of a molehill? The residential entrance door on the ‘wrong’ side is less of an annoyance.

Lounging & dining

For comfort and adjustability, the seats in the cab are the pews of choice. Sadly Dethleffs did not think of putting a sliding window (instead of a top-hung one) adjacent to the dedicated travel seats so that rear passengers could enjoy some fresh air when on the move. In our experience, this is a frequently-voiced gripe of rear-seat passengers, especially those who suffer from travel sickness.

The inward-facing settee is fine, and the extending table has a mechanism that some other makers would do well to copy: when the table is pulled away from the wall, to accommodate the slot-in table-top extension, the leg comes with it so it is still at the end of the table top.

Kitchen

The importer has clearly taken note of Britain's love affair with toast and grilled kippers, as a grill (and oven) has been included. The kitchen is based on an ‘L’-shaped base unit holding the hob and sink on the offside, with the fridge on the other side of the aisle.

There is the tantalising suggestion of some worktop space, but not enough to be truly practical. The fridge-freezer is a two-door domestic-style unit, while the Spinflo oven and grill can be found underneath the hob, just where many feel it should be. Incidentally, the controls for the hob are, surprisingly, not on it but underneath the sink (cynics may claim that this ‘feature’ was designed by someone who never has to use it). However, as a kitchen it is visually attractive, and there is an extractor fan.

Sleeping

At the rear of the ’van we find a permanent low-level corner-double bed. At over two metres long it's bigger than most, though rather puzzling is the additional window in its back panel, just where the pillows go. There are two reading lamps.

The cab drop-down double bed is also a fair size and has an opening rooflight which makes the area feel less claustrophobic.

Finally, there is an extra transverse bed that can be made up in the dinette area. This is also over two metres long but barely one metre wide, and clashes with the ladder for the drop-down bed.

Washroom

The Advantage has a bench-style toilet at the rear of the washroom area, a shower area in the middle and a washbasin in the forward corner, with some cupboard space beneath.

The door is a sliding one, which left a gap when ‘closed’ on our test model.

Storage

There's plenty of storage here for four to six people as long as they don't all require wardrobe space. The Advantage has a particularly clever bit of storage space in the lounge, against the wall, with the table anchored to it – it’s a modern interpretation of a drinks cabinet complete with a useful, moulded, trinket tray on top.

There is loads of space under the rear bed, accessed by lifting the base on gas-assisted struts or via an access door from outside. There are also exterior doors for the generous gas lockers.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM4000kg
Payload650kg
Length7m22′12″
Width2.33m7′8″
Height2.67m8′9″
Waste water90L
External Options
Aluminium sidewalls, Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill, Extractor fan
Washroom
Thetford C-402 bench toilet, Shower curtain
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

A clever and civilised A-class offering from this established German brand.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Clever touches in the design-led interior; upgraded chassis.

Cons

  • Inefficient windscreen wipers; step up between kitchen and lounge.
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