French premium motorhome specialist, Rapido, goes into the new season with seven UK dealers on its books and a host of improvements – together with a smattering of new models – across its line-up. The company reports a healthy season so far, with the 7000 vehicles it has manufactured (including Westfalia) taking it to number two in its domestic market. Exports have apparently risen in all European countries this year, and particularly so in Germany and the UK.
The first of the new models to be introduced for 2016 appear in the low-profile line-up, kicking off with the 665F, 680FF and 690F. The 665F is of particular interest, since it brings Alde ‘wet’ central heating to the 6F series for the first time. Curiously, all other models stick with the Truma Combi system.
One of two models within the range to offer twin fixed single beds (the other being the 666F), the 665F has the added benefit of a full-width end washroom and a separate shower, to go with its L-shaped forward lounge, all contained within a body measuring just under 7.4m.
The 680FF – which, in Rapido-speak, refers to a model fitted with a drop-down electric bed – is not the first model in the range to sport a central rear island bed mounted longitudinally (the 691FF has a similar layout), but packs it into a usefully shorter body – 6.99m versus the 691’s 7.39m.
The new 690F has broadly the same layout in a longer 7.39m-long body, but omits the forward electric drop-down bed.
There have been some casualties from the 2015 model year line-up, with the 681F, 691F, 640B, 7066dF and 7090dF all being dropped for the coming season.
All three van conversions remain for 2016, albeit with considerable modifications to the V56 and V68. V56 gains a new design of washroom, gas storage moved further forward and a wider rear garage. V68, meanwhile, retains its large twin beds and packs in a larger fridge.
Moving further up the hierarchy, the 8F series loses one model from the existing range (the 840F), but gains two in its place, specifically the 850F (essentially an A-class 650FF) and the 855F. The former has an offset (to the offside wall) longitudinal island bed in a 6.69m body, while the latter has twin fixed rear single beds in a ’van that just about squeezes under the 7m barrier.
Moving on, the 80dF series comprises three new models: 8066dF, 8080dF and 8090dF. 8080dF and 8090dF both sport longitudinal island rear beds, in, respectively, 6.99m and 7.39m bodies, while the 8066dF opts for twin rear single beds in the larger body. Both 8066dF and 8090dF also warrant the option of Alde heating, while all have double-floor storage.
The 90dF range – whose Al-Ko chassis are fitted with independent suspension – has been pruned extensively for the new season, with the 980dF, 990dF, 9083dF and 9066dF all being dropped, leaving six models ranging from 6.49m to just under 8m.
The Al-Ko tag-axle A-class 10 Series is left much as per 2015, with just two models, but the portfolio-topping Distinction loses 2015’s i81 model, but gains a new i80 model (island bed in a 6.99m body) and a tweaked i90 with the option of Alde heating.
Both 80dF and Distinction models gain new double-floor storage for 2016, which is accessible from both sides of the vehicle and contains the 130-litre fresh and 100-litre waste-water tanks. 8F also warrants a new pull-out 45-litre exterior storage drawer that can hold up to 50kg.
8F and 80dF get new coach-style A-pillar windows with electric adjustment and heating, with 6F/6FF and 70FF now offered with optional LED daytime running lights.
Certain models, including the 6F/FF, 70FF and Distinction have had their kitchens modified with lower adjacent lounge backrests and height-adjustable headrests, while others gain black glass hob/sink covers and backlit splashbacks.
Several rear bed models, including 665F, 680F, 80dF and Distinction, now have an all-through single-level floor, with others, including the 6F/6FF, 70FF and 90dF/dFH, getting a new height-adjustable bed and some island bed models (the new i80) receiving retractable bed frames. Still more (640F, 680F among them) get reclining headboards and others (Distinction included) adjustable foot boards. There are new upholstery options, with last season’s Vienne, Oxford and Miami schemes replaced by new Calvia, Porto and Canberra schemes and new, lighter carpets.
In other news
Detail modifications are myriad across the range and far too involved to go into in any great depth here, but key options include ‘black piano’ dashboard trim, a split table, climate control, leather steering wheel and gearshift trim, and steering wheel audio controls. Suffice to say, if you're looking at motorhomes for sale and Rapido is on your list, there are many details to consider. You may also want to check out the 2016 'vans from Rapido's budget brand Itineo.
Practical Motorhome's star 'van – Rapido 8090DF
The 8090dF is one of three new models added to the 80dF series and offers, claims Rapido, the best storage of any other comparable double-floor A-class motorhome. Its island-bed layout offers ample sleeping for four, thanks to the traditional drop-down bed over the cab area.
The familiar L-shaped forward-lounge area can easily sit up to five people in spacious comfort and the multi-adjustable table ramps up the versatility when it comes to dining.
Out back, the island bedroom is one of several models within the Rapido range to benefit from a totally flat floor, which makes it feel more spacious. The increasingly popular split-level washroom (toilet and vanity on the offside, shower on the nearside) can also be rendered en suite by closing the toilet room’s wooden door.