Peter BaberSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Motorhomes’ written by Peter Baber
We attend lots of new-motorhome launches during the summer months, both in the UK and abroad, but we’re always particularly keen to see what British manufacturers come up with. Thus it was at Auto-Trail last year; and we were interested to find that the company decided to launch two new models, both of which brought existing luxurious layouts to its cheaper ranges.
They were the Tracker LB, the island-bed floorplan that had featured only in the Frontier range; and the Imala 732, whose transverse island-bed layout had previously appeared as a Tracker.
It was the Imala 732 that we really loved; in fact, it impressed our Motorhome of the Year 2018 judges so much that it took the prestigious Best Family Motorhome category win at our most recent awards.
So we were delighted to get hold of an Imala 732 model for a long-term test; we recently collected it from Auto-Trail’s factory in Grimbsy, and are looking forward to giving it a full trial over the coming months.
The 732 is available in both Hi- or Lo-Line versions; the former features a bed in the overcab area.
Ours is a Lo-Line, so it’s a four berth; it also features twin facing sofas up front (forward-facing rear belted seats can be specified here for £825, which makes it more suitable as a family ’van).
The space to relax inside the Imala, with those two parallel facing sofas, was really appreciated by all when I brought the ’van home for an overnight stop. There was even talk about how cosy it was – quite an achievement, considering it was parked up a hill in a Pennine town on a January night with a light powdering of snow. And the heating wasn’t even on.
The next day, it was time to take the ’van down to Practical Motorhome HQ, then out on location for it to take a starring role in the first of the cover shoots we plan to do with it.
This gave us the chance to test the vehicle out on two really long runs.
Even in this Lo-Line model, which features a smaller Luton area containing lockers rather than a bed, we were a little susceptible to cross-winds. Our joy at being able to overtake a lorry on the M40 crossing the Chilterns was tempered by the blast of wind we felt from the side as soon as we had passed it; but it really wasn’t anything to worry about.
The Imala 732 is based on the Fiat Ducato, and the standard engine offers 130bhp; it felt powerful enough, but you can opt for the 148bhp version if you like (£1195), or even the 177bhp (£2820).
But this is by no means a slouch of a ’van. On the day of the shoot, we first gave it a thorough hose down at the lorry wash at Rownhams Services on the M27, then made an early-morning stop at the Sir John Barleycorn in Cadnam, a very pretty thatched pub just off the motorway.
We then took a detour, which involved ploughing through the middle of Salisbury (the safe route for motorhomes, according to the sat-nav). The Imala simply took everything in its stride.
Our next destination was the village of Rockbourne, just outside the New Forest. Our photographer worried that the large ’van wouldn’t be able to manoeuvre around some of the lanes but, thanks to the reversing camera integrated into the dashboard as part of the £1149 Media Pack, we had no trouble.
Even the potholed car parks in the New Forest proper were no ordeal, and the ’van was soon attracting the attention of the ponies.
As for that interior: it’s hugely comfortable and spacious, particularly if you’re travelling as a couple. In addition to that front lounge, the kitchen is great: there’s plenty of worksurface available, and room for other occupants to move past the chef to the washroom.
The latter, meanwhile, features a separate shower cubicle, and there’s room in here to get dressed.
So our first couple of trips out have been a huge success: we’ll report back on further outings.