The Pilote Galaxy range provided motorhomers with a wide selection of variants and layouts to choose from.
The French manufacturer, which features in our best motorhome brand guide, has seven decades of experience in the design and construction of leisure vehicles and was the first volume producer to bring low-profile coachbuilts to the UK.
It was equally ahead of the game when it came to launching its first A-class (integral) coachbuilt, the R800A, back in 1985.
Since then, the brand has become Groupe Pilote, and was a winner at our recent Practical Motorhome Awards 2024, through the Pilote Vega Van V 600G X Edition, our pick for the best two berth motorhome. The manufacturer comprises seven highly regarded marques, including Bavaria, Frankia, Hanroad, Le Voyageur, RMB and the value-for-money Mooveo.
There isn’t room to describe every Galaxy derivative, so we’ve grouped them by length and motorhome layouts, and concentrated on imports to the UK.
First, similarities. All Galaxy models are A-class coachbuilts powered by the Fiat Ducato cowl and having a double floor. Behind the cab, some are based on Ducato chassis extensions, attached to which is what Pilote calls a DSF (Double Service Floor) – this houses all water, electricity and gas circuits. Other Galaxy models run on independently sprung, galvanised Al-Ko chassis extensions, to which a DFS (Double Floor Storage) is fixed. This has a higher internal floor height, allowing for a deeper void that can be accessed for storage.
Next to demystify are the three levels of specification for this era – Essentiel, Sensation and Emotion. Essentiel is the standard offering (although ‘standard’ suggests that it was more parsimonious than it actually was).
Sensation adds LED rear lights, cab blinds, better door locks, and stowage bars in the garage, and upgrades the Truma Combi 4 boiler to a Combi 6.
Emotion replaces blown-air heating with a programmable domestic-style wet radiator set-up, courtesy of Alde. It also adds a rear-vision camera, soft furnishing fabric upgrades, and visual enhancements (aka bling).
For most models, there was a choice of matt or gloss wood-effect locker fronts and cupboard doors, or a gloss white laminate finish. Originally, the drop-down transverse overcab bed was a cost-option, although most retailers specified them for stock models.
Our featured ’vans commenced with the launch of the facelifted Ducato (X/290) for the 2015 model year and consisted of 15 basic models, each in three spec levels, and available with three engine outputs and manual or automatic transmission.
The G650U, with the very popular U-shaped rear lounge, was created for the UK market and launched for the 2017 model year.
Originally, the front grille was white, then it was black as a cost-option, then black was standard, until a completely facelifted front was introduced towards the end of 2017.
What to look out for in a Pilote Galaxy
Look for a full service history from a Fiat main dealer or independent commercial vehicle specialist. Check the engine drive belts and motorhome tyres have been replaced at the required time interval. The standard 130bhp engine won’t pin you back in the seats, but is perfectly adequate for 3500kg examples.
These are generally well put together and Pilote is a dab hand at integrated aluminium extrusions with (durable) polyester walls and roof. That said, insist on a written damp ingress report that shows it to be leak-free, or carry out your own investigation using a damp meter with a % readout, rather than one with an alarm. Pay particular attention around retrofitted accessories. A full habitation service should ensure the safety of gas appliances.
Is accessible storage between the floors a priority? If so, one based on the Ducato Al-Ko chassis-cowl is for you. Without doubt, the compact 600 Series offers an A-class luxury motorhome experience in a very manoeuvrable package. Author’s choice: G741J, with easy-access longitudinal single beds ahead of a full-width washroom/changing area at the far rear.
What to pay
Prospective buyers will need around £60,000 to bag a used UK-supplied RHD model of this generation. LHD imports from Europe are a bit cheaper.
What we like about the Pilote Galaxy
- Huge range of lengths and layouts
- Most at 3500kg
- Strong residuals
- All fitted with either a ‘services’ or a ‘storage’ double floor
- Contemporary vibe to the interior
What we dislike about the Pilote Galaxy
- Driver’s and habitation doors are on ‘wrong’ side for the UK
Any A-class motorhome from other Groupe Pilote marques (except Hanroad). Mooveo is cheaper, the rest are more expensive in the UK. French A-classes from Rapido are also popular imports.
Or you could try:
- Swift Edge (2020-present): this is a thoughtfully designed range of low-profile and Luton overcab models
- Westfalia Club Joker & Club Joker City (2016-present): these two ‘vans are actually quite different, despite sharing similar names.
- Lunar Landstar (2015-2019): the Landstar provides carefully thought-out layouts and was unveiled at the 2014 October NEC Show.
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