Gentleman Jack

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Dream big with a tandem-axle Pilote! Our expert shares his top tips, so if you'd like to live the high life with these luxury used motorhomes, read on!

A surprising number of prospective purchasers think that French manufacturer Pilote is somehow inferior or ‘small fry’ when compared to the likes of Germany’s Hymer. Nothing is further from the truth.

By the mid 1980s, Pilote was the top European producer of motorhomes, with a model range far exceeding that of most rivals.

Today, the Pilote Group also includes RMB, Bavaria, Mooveo, Frankia and Le Voyageur, and it has assembly and sub-assembly plants across Europe.

At the time the Diamond Edition was unveiled, Pilote’s offering comprised three main ranges: mid-market Aventura, premium Référence and flagship Explorateur. These ’vans were sold between 2012 and 2015.

Diamond Edition made an already highly desirable product even more so. This wasn’t achieved by adding bling. Instead, great attention was paid to construction methods to further enhance its integrity.

Specification upgrades were made and useful accessories added, but the criteria for inclusion was always quality, not quantity.

It all starts with coachbuilding the body around a double interlocking aluminium superstructure, not timber framing. Pilote used only branded, high-spec insulation made to the highest standard by DOW Chemicals.

The platform consists of a Ducato chassis-cowl coupled to low-line, wide-track, independently sprung and fully galvanised Al-Ko chassis extensions.

There are single-rear-axle Fiat Ducato-based Explorateurs, twin-rear-wheel Mercedes-Benz-based Explorateurs and even Merc Al-Ko-based ones – although the latter are extremely rare. We’ve chosen the tandem-axle Ducato biggies here.

Those prefixed G-782 are 8.03m long and those with G-832 are 8.53m long, the latter with the wheelbase extended by another 500mm. There were three alternative layouts over the two lengths.

LCE models have a rear peninsula, longitudinal low-level double bed. LGE models replace this with a high-level, transverse double bed over a full-sized garage. Finally, LGJE models feature twin longitudinal single beds above a narrow garage.

There was a choice of two engines: the 2.3-litre 150bhp unit, with the bell-ringing 3.0-litre 180bhp motor a worthwhile extra cost option. Comfort-Matic (Fiat’s automated gearbox) was available with either engine.

The essentials

  • Pilote Explorateur Diamond Edition on tandem-axle Fiat Ducato/Al-Ko Kober chassis-cowl
  • Built 2012-2015 in La Limouziniére, France
  • A-class integral coachbuilt
  • 8.03m-8.53m (26ft 4.25in–28ft)
      

What to look for

If you're browsing the used motorhomes for sale pages and considering a pre-owned Pilote like this, what should you look out for?

Base vehicle

“There ain’t no substitute for cubes,” our American friends are fond of saying… And they’re right: always go for the 3.0-litre engine.

The base vehicle was well sorted by now and is usually very reliable and a joy to drive, providing you like very long vehicles with big turning circles.

They are not quite a ‘Cunarder’ in the car park, but inexperienced drivers can be caught out on sharp 90-degree corners. Go for a meaningful test drive to ensure that you are happy driving longer motorhomes.

Conversion

Just prior to launching the Diamond Editions, Pilote undertook a root and branch reform of the way it constructed its A-class oˆfferings.

So water ingress on the seams shouldn’t be a problem. Although, of course, third-party items such as seals around roof lights do sometimes fail, so insist on a thorough damp inspection by an NCC-approved operative.

Many are used to spending the winter abroad in sunnier climes, so low mileage might not indicate light usage.

Likes

  • Understated luxury interior
  • Thoughtful design touches
  • Class-leading road holding
  • Spacious interior
       

Dislikes

  • No awning as standard
  • Difficult to find – owners hang on to them
      

What to pay

You’ll be very lucky to get a RHD example for less than £60,000.

Our pick of the Pilote Explorateur Diamond Edition range has to be the G-832 LCE – it is perfect for full-timing or long-terming.

Or, you could try a left-hooker sourced in Europe via the internet. There are many more examples to choose from, prices are lower, although the post-Brexit referendum slump in the euro exchange rate may leave you out of pocket, so you’ll need to negotiate hard if you want a good deal.

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