Premium French motorhome manufacturer Rapido is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011, and opened the year with a bang, by launching a raft of new models – including the V-series high-top campers and the mammoth 10-series Fiat Ducato based A-classes. And the good news is that the French manufacturer shows little sign of letting up for the 2012-season.


What’s changed

No fewer than 14 new models are being introduced for the coming season – although the entire 70+ range of high-end low-profiles has been dropped. Rapido says that its aim is to significantly redesign them and reintroduce them in 2013 at a lower price point. In addition to the new models, Rapido is also introducing five special 50th anniversary model variants, dubbed ‘Series 50’.


What you need to know

The year-old Series 10 range sees the biggest changes for 2012, growing to four models. The 10000 has a rear island bed, the 10003 has a rear transverse garage bed layout, the 10066 has twin rear single beds, and the 10001 has a rear island bed with an intriguing three-part washroom, reminiscent of Frankia’s QD ’vans. The shower and toilet cubicles are on either side of the rear bed area (with the toilet designed to slide into a locker under the wardrobe when not in use) while the sink and mirror are located at the foot of the bed.


Additionally, for 2012 all Series 10 ’vans will sport sleeker front and rear treatments, new wood-free construction (utilising a polyurethane habitation frame) and optional SOG toilet ventilation systems.


At the other end of Rapido’s line-up, the Series 6 entry-level low-profiles see two new additions – the 666, with twin rear single beds, and the 691ff, an island-bed identical to the current 691, but with an additional drop-down bed over the lounge – it’s the first of Rapido’s entry-level low-profiles to feature such a bed. Both 691 ’vans feature a new, more spacious shower cubicle design for 2012.


Three of the incumbent 6-series models – the 690, 643 and 646 – will be available as ‘B’ versions (690B, 643B and 646B), which indicates that they have an electric drop-down single bed over the lounge. This turns two-berth ’vans into proficient three-berths, ideal for couples travelling with one child.


The Series 7, which is made up entirely of drop-down bed low-profiles, has one new member for 2012 – the 791ff AL-KO, an island bed low-profile on a Fiat/AL-KO chassis. Rapido says that the AL-KO chassis has been used purely because of this ’van’s length – at 7.77m, it’s the longest Series 7 – and not to create a more luxurious ’van. This is why the 791ff AL-KO departs from Rapido’s convention of designating AL-KO chassis ’vans with a zero after the first digit in the model number.


To compensate for putting the Series 70+ on hiatus, Rapido has added two models to the Series 70 range of AL-KO chassis-equipped low-profiles. These are the 7065 and 7090 and they’re designed to take-up the slack while the Series 70+ is reworked. The former has rear twin single beds and the latter has an island bed. Both are optionally available with double floors and ALDE heating.


The Series 9dF mid-level Ducato-based A-classes have been significantly reworked for 2012, although there’s only one new layout. This is the island-bed 991dF. It’s based on the 990dF that it replaces, but has a redesigned kitchen and washroom.


The other 9dF ’vans retain their layouts and designations, but are very different under the skin, having undergone a revamp of their double floor and facilities design. For example, all pipes in the new 9dF ’vans run directly from the water tank to facilities, minimising the need for joins and forks in the plumbing.


Rapido’s higher end 90dF range of Fiat/AL-KO based A-classes, on the other hand, sees only minor adjustments for 2012, in the form of design and upholstery tweaks, as well as wider availability of optional ALDE heating.


At the top end of Rapido’s range are the Mercedes-based Series 9M A-classes, and they’ve also been left largely untouched for 2012. There’s one very interesting new model – the 966M-MH, which has a unique layout with twin rear single beds that push together to form an island bed – but this was unavailable to view at the launch. The 990MHV, a big hit from last year’s launch, which features an island bed that scissors out into two singles, has been tweaked to offer a larger shower cubicle.


Rapido was also keen to tout its special-edition 50th anniversary Series 50 ’vans. Five are available, each based on a specific model, which is then treated to a raft of exterior and interior improvements. These include – depending on the model in question – special decals, special wheels, luxury bed trim, ambient lighting, the famous Rapido ‘smiling face’ grille, nappa leather upholstery and high-end yacht-style furniture. The five models in question are the 791ff AL-KO, 9090dF, 9092dF, 10001 and 990MHV.


Contact: Rapido for full UK dealer listing