The Autoquest range of motorhomes has been a big sales hit for the Consett-based manufacturer for more than a decade. It’s aimed squarely at the budget end of the market, but for 2012 has been modernised throughout, with very impressive results. The company’s luxury range, the Aspire – which was launched at the October 2010 NEC show and won the ‘best ’van for two’ category in our Motorhome of the Year Awards last month – goes unchanged for 2012.
Exclusively built on the Peugeot Boxer, all models will appear at the NEC show based on the Euro 4 engine; we’re told Euro 5 Boxers will become available from November.
Elddis has discontinued the baby in its line-up – the Autoquest 100 – but has added a new model, the 165 (£37,349 OTR), featuring a rear French-bed layout, with a half-dinette up front, opposite a side-sofa.
There’s a raft of changes rolled out across the whole range, which modernise the line-up considerably. Externally, the low-line models get a new one-piece low-profile pod, which improves their appearance substantially on the outgoing version. The extrusion where the walls meets the roof and rear panel is now a white, powder-coated join, rather than the aluminium of last year’s model. Elddis says this will reduce black streaks on the ’van’s white sidewalls, but it’s also a big visual improvement.
The rear windows are new – they’re no longer just oblong but pleasingly asymmetric – and the wheel arch spats are similarly angular. The skirts are now all made from tough ABS plastic, and the underside of the floor is skinned with GRP to reduce the effects of road spray on plywood.
Elddis has worked hard to reduce weight and increase payloads for all of its Autoquest models, and one of the benefits of this is that they now get a 90-litre onboard fresh water tank (except the 180), which is a big improvement on the insufficient 45-litre tank previously offered, along with an Aquaroll that simply took up too much space.
All models get a new bathroom design, with a space-saving sink that hinges out from beneath the toiletry storage when needed, and a folding shower-screen partition. This, and the washroom’s entry door – which is water-resistant and fitted with seals – forms the shower cubicle. Thetford’s C250 toilet, with the holding tank mounted on wheels, is now fitted as standard.
The old Truma space heater has been replaced by the latest generation dual-fuel Whale heater, which is mounted underneath the ’van and so frees up space onboard for floor-to-ceiling wardrobes, with twin-height hanging rails.
The final, welcome, new addition: positive locking catches on all overhead lockers.
What you need to know
The low-profile two-berth 115 (£33,949 OTR) is the baby of the bunch, at 5.71m (18’9”) long, featuring facing sofas up front and a classic end kitchen with corner washroom arrangement to the rear. The six-berth 180 (£37,849 OTR), which features a twin-dinette up front and a wraparound rear lounge, tops the range at 7.2m (23’7”) in length.
Six further layouts of varying dimensions sit between these two. The low-profiles first: the 120 (£33,949 OTR) is a two-berth that features a wraparound rear lounge; the 140 (£35,049 OTR) shares the same layout, but in a larger body, so it offers a larger rear lounge. The other two low-profiles are the 155 (£36,049 OTR) and the 165 (see box out, left), both featuring a rear French bed, with washroom alongside it and a kitchen amidships. However, they differ up front: the 155 has facing sofas, making it a dedicated two-berth, while the 165 opts for a half-dinette and two extra belted travel seats.
There are three overcab coachbuilts: the end-kitchen 130 (£35,049 OTR), a four-berth with a twin-dinette and facing sofa up front, and rear kitchen/corner washroom. The 145 (£36,049 OTR) is an intriguing four-berth layout, a mix of UK-friendly rear U-shaped lounge, and Continental-style half-dinette, with belted seats up front. The six-berth 180 remains one of the best affordable family ’vans on the market, thanks to its twin-dinette up front (including four belted seats in the rear), a massive rear U-shaped lounge, and washroom amidships.
We’re very impressed by the 2012-season Autoquests. The improved payloads, the bigger water tanks and the modernising touches are all a great response to the giant leaps forward from the likes of Swift Group’s Escape and the Tribute coachbuilts from Auto-Trail. Elddis might just have done enough to wrestle back the crown of best budget motorhome manufacturer. We can’t wait to test one in full.
Must-see ’van: Autoquest 165
It shares the same rear end as the existing 155 model – that is, a rear French bed with washroom alongside it, and a kitchen amidships. However, the addition of a half-dinette up front, with adjustable three-point belts, turns this into a genuine four-berth low-profile.