France-based Pilote is probably still best known in the UK for its well designed and often astutely priced low-profile Pacific and A-class Galaxy ranges, while its top-notch brand Le Voyageur has always been there to tempt those who like to dream.
Such an approach has proved successful in the past, as exports this year are up 21%, while UK sales are up 26%, making the UK the third most important export market after Germany and Sweden.
But this year that could start to change, as the emphasis has been very much at the other end of the scale, on the van conversions it builds on Fiat Ducatos of varying lengths (and which currently still only represent 15% of the company’s output).
While there has been talk in the past about introducing Hanroad, a van conversion brand Pilote’s owner markets in France, into other territories, these plans have now been scrapped.
But some ideas and design elements have been incorporated from Hanroad into the Foxy Van range, which the company is really setting its sights on in the UK.
This year’s launch was held at the company’s second factory at La Membrolle-sur-Longuenée near Angers. Its main factory, nearer to Nantes, was in the process of going through a €9m redevelopment.
The Foxy Van range for the 2018 season includes seven new layouts, designed partly around different sizes of fridges.
Some washrooms also feature toilets that can be slid away to provide more shower room.
And, for the first time, the French manufacturer is also offering pop-up roofs as an option on the Foxy Van.
Changes in the low-profile Pacific and A-class Galaxy ranges, meanwhile, are much more focused on improvements to insulation and wiring. However, two new Pacific layouts now feature a drop-down double bed.
The luxury Le Voyageur brand gets a new base vehicle: Pilote has parted company temporarily with Mercedes-Benz while the German manufacturer develops a new chassis. It is offering its 2018-season LVX range, now branded Signature, on a 5600kg Iveco chassis.
The changes to the Foxy Van range
Four of the seven new Foxy Van layouts are based on the extra-long-wheelbase Fiat Ducato, and all have fixed single beds at the back.
These include the V630E, with a standard shower that extends out into the aisle. But the V630JX, V630FX and V630EX all feature the new sliding Thetford C400 toilet.
This clever loo tucks away under the nearside fixed bed at the back, to provide a larger shower that doesn’t involve having to sacrifice aisle space.
The main way you tell the three apart is that the V630JX has an 80-litre fridge that sits on top of the wardrobe, the V630FX has a 141-litre fridge with a separate freezer and a cantilevered wardrobe, while the V630EX has a smaller 64-litre compressor fridge at ground level.
Other new layouts on the long-wheelbase Ducato include the V600SE with double bunks at the back and the V600 with a transverse bed.
There is also the V600K with a transverse bed and a particularly large kitchen worktop, with the 64-litre compressor fridge underneath it.
The optional pop-up roofs are available on all Foxy Vans, except those with bunk beds across the back. The roofs can also include solar panels.
Pacific, Galaxy and Le Voyageur updates
If all that sounds a bit of a mouthful, the only layout change in the low-profile Pacific range is the drop-down double bed that is now included in the island-bed P706C and the fixed-single-bed P706GJ.
Instead, improvements to the Pilote and A-class Galaxy ’vans are in construction. They now come with a 15mm thicker styrofoam floor, measuring 50mm in total.
This floor includes all the ’van’s wiring and piping, leaving the underside of the motorhome relatively clear. Aluminium inserts are also included to reduce external noise. Yet the internal and external heights remain unchanged.
The Iveco base vehicle in the Le Voyageur Signature range comes with a 156bhp 2.3-litre engine as standard, but with 180bhp and 205bhp 3.0-litre engines as options.
An island-bed (CF) or fixed-single-bed (HF) layout is available in lengths of either 8.0 or 8.5 metres. Those island beds are available in three different height options, for you to make the most of the garage underneath.
In other news
Foxy Van entrance areas now have a redesigned wider floor, while the area under the clip-on table now includes a cubbyhole for storage. The window curtain next to the table has been replaced by a soft panel.
For the 2018 season, Foxy Vans are also available in a Premium finish, with a more sporty imitation leather upholstery and cream woodwork.
Low-profile Pacific models have a redesigned kitchen worktop with more space in front of the cooker, which can now come with a three-burner hob as an option.
On the outside, Pilote’s Pacific motorhomes now get one-piece polypropylene wheelarches, as well as a new skirting panel along the bottom of the ’van.
For the first time, Pacific models can come with an optional skirting locker underneath the floor.
Low-profile ’vans with island beds now have a wider bed, with a 150cm width. In addition, the central section in fixed-single-bed layouts that can be used to convert the beds into doubles is at least 170cm wide.
The interiors of Pacific motorhomes have been warmed up with a new wood colour, while the rear panel includes a moulding for the integrated rear view camera (capable of viewing 170 degrees), as well as a rear bumper made up of three parts, to make it easier to repair.
This year the Le Voyageur roof has also been redesigned so that it now gently slopes away from the centre, to allow water to run off.
The 2018-season Pilote Foxy Van range at a glance
- Pilote Foxy Van V540G – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, rear transverse bed, 5.41m-long
- Pilote Foxy Van V600G – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, rear transverse bed, 5.99m-long
- Pilote Foxy Van V600F – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, rear transverse bed, 5.99m-long
- NEW! Pilote Foxy Van V600E – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, rear transverse bed, 5.99m-long
- NEW! Pilote Foxy Van V600K – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, rear transverse bed, 5.99m-long
- Pilote Foxy Van V600S – 4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, rear double bunk, 5.99m-long
- NEW! Pilote Foxy Van V600SE – 4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, rear double bunk, 5.99m-long
- Pilote Foxy Van V630J – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, washroom extended over aisle, fixed single beds, 6.36m-long
- Pilote Foxy Van V630 F – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, washroom extended over aisle, fixed single beds, 6.36m-long
- NEW! Pilote Foxy Van V630E – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, washroom extended over aisle, fixed single beds, 6.36m-long
- NEW! Pilote Foxy Van V630JX – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, sliding toilet in washroom, fixed single beds, 6.36m-long
- NEW! Pilote Foxy Van V630FX – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, sliding toilet in washroom, fixed single beds, 6.36m-long
- NEW! Pilote Foxy Van V630EX – 2/4-berth, 4 travel seats, front lounge, sliding toilet in washroom, fixed single beds, 6.36m-long
The Foxy Van range for 2018 includes seven new layouts, designed partly around different sizes of fridges