Andrew McPhee

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Check out the expert Pilote Référence G680 TP review, only on Practical Motorhome

Design

The appearance is simple and clean – clean lines, simple understated graphics and a pleasing ‘smile’ to the grill. It’s still a bit boxy-looking, but the ’van’s uncluttered look raises it above that. The side door is on the right-hand side of the ’van, and has a drop-down side step that folds away electronically. The fresh water filler is on the left-hand side and mounted at chest level.

On the road

Despite its size the Reference is as stable as the majority of coachbuilts. The aerodynamic styling of the Pilote reduced wind noise at motorway speeds. The huge windscreen and glass windows in the front doors afford excellent vision to the front and side, although some care is needed to correctly judge where the front of the motorhome lies because the windscreen is a fair distance from the driver’s seat.
The Peugeot Maxi’s 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine is standard on the Reference G680 and it powers you along to the national speed limit with ease. However, as soon as you encounter even a gentle hill you have to drop from top gear to fourth, or even third.
In the cab, the location of the handbrake was a bit irritating – when applying it you inevitably scrape your knuckles against the panel to the right of the Pilote’s badly-positioned lever.
The cab also has some nice features, though. We like the large roller-top storage cubby to the right of the driver’s seat, which is ideal for storing CD cases, bottles of water and sunglasses without them all becoming jumbled together.

Lounging & dining

Relaxing in the Pilote is easy, thanks to the well -padded sofas in the lounge. If you are entertaining guests then merely rotate the front captain’s chairs and you have enough room for six to rest.
The standard dining table is a little too small for six people to dine around, unless you attach the extension that is stored away in the wardrobe. However, those sitting on the sofa behind the driver’s seat may still find it a bit of a stretch to reach the table.
Some people in the lounge will find the television cabinet poorly placed because it sits inside a cupboard on the wall, just in front of the fridge freezer. Viewing the TV screen is easy enough if you are in a captain’s chair but it is a great deal trickier for those sitting on the sofa or dinette seats.
On the forward-facing seats on the left-hand side, a pair of three-point seat belts make it possible for a family of four to tour safely. The dinette seats and sofa convert into a generously sized double bed but we reckon it makes more of a guest bed.

Kitchen

The Reference’s kitchen seems to be built from reassuringly high-quality materials. Having the kitchen in the centre of the motorhome means you can chat to people in the lounge while preparing dinner. There’s also plenty of space for someone to be in the kitchen while someone else accesses the washroom. However, the G680’s oven and grill are too small to cater for six. The three-burner hob has sufficient space to accommodate large pots, so it’s a shame that the oven doesn’t offer a similar amount of room. Thankfully though, there is at least a reasonable amount of worktop space on which to prepare food.
Despite the kitchen not catering for six, it has nevertheless been lovingly designed by its French manufacturers. There’s a simple cutlery drawer on the curved side of the unit underneath the sink, and below this is a generously proportioned slide-out cupboard with internal mesh baskets that are ideal for storing tins and vegetables. Above the hob is an extractor fan with a strip light and a couple of 230V sockets. Above this are further lockers for food and crockery.
Hot water for the kitchen and washroom is provided by a Truma C6002 heater, which did a splendid job of blowing warm air around the interior during the chilly evenings.

Sleeping

The overcab bed drops down low and the stepladder attaches to the edge of the bed, making access safe and speedy. We found the overcab bed was just long enough to accommodate a 5ft 10in adult but anyone taller might struggle – they’re liable to bump their head or feet on the bed’s folding mechanism, which is hidden behind the curtains on all three sides of the overcab bed compartment.
Another slightly annoying oversight was the lack of reachable switches for the overcab spotlights. The lights are operated by a single switch sited on the left-hand overhead lounge locker, which involves a bit of a stretch to flick when you’re tucked up in bed.
Adults will find the fixed rear bed a more attractive option. It has a slatted base, thick mattress and plenty of space for two adults. There are a couple of corner shelves on which to store odds and ends, as well as three overhead lockers along the two exterior walls – although this does mean kneeling on the bed to access them during the daytime. There are also windows on the side walls and the rear wall around the fixed-bed area, providing a light, spacious, feel to this compartment. As with all of the Pilote’s windows, effective concertina blinds seal out light when they are closed.

Washroom

On the other side of the motorhome, at the rear, is the washroom which is not as generously sized as you might expect on a ‘van the size of this Reference G680. In here, you’ll find the Thetford electric flush cassette toilet and a deep sink with a mixer tap. Surrounding the sink is a slate-effect surface that lends the washroom an air of quality and class. This impression of excellence is reinforced by the large corner mirrors and tasteful wooden fittings.
However, it’s still hard to reconcile the slightly cramped washroom with the price of the G680. The shower cubicle is rectangular and narrow, leaving little room in which to bathe. At least the high lip along the front edge of the shower tray means that water will not spill over onto the rest of the washroom’s floor.
The lack of a proper window compounds the washroom’s cramped feeling. There is a skylight that lets in plenty of natural light and there are spotlights for the evenings, but the lack of a side window results in a claustrophobic sensation.
A cupboard under the sink and another above the toilet provide ample storage space in the washroom. There’s only a single towel hook, though, on the wall next to the door. This seems a little meagre from a motorhome with the potential to accommodate six.

Storage

Underneath the fixed rear bed is a massive locker that can also be accessed from the outside by a lift-up door. There is more than enough space in here to store picnic chairs, a table, an umbrella and other paraphernalia.
Just to the rear of the fresh water filler, there’s a locker that gives unhindered access to the Truma heater, making service work easy. Moving around to the right-hand side of the ‘van’s exterior, you find the gas locker below where the driver’s right elbow rests. There’s space in here for two 13kg bottles. To the rear of the gas locker is another hatch that accesses the space under the lounge’s right-hand sofa, while at the rear of the ’van is the large locker door that allows entry to the space beneath the rear bed.

Technical specs

Sleeps6
Travel seats4
MTPLM3850kg
Payload863kg
Length6.83m22′5″
Width2.29m7′6″
Height2.78m9′1″
Waste water90L
External Options
Aluminium sidewalls, Awning light, Electric step
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater, Truma Electric/Gas water heater

Verdict

There are a great many good things about the Reference but some minor points prevent it from being a class leader. There can be no doubt that the fit and finish are excellent and the fixed rear bed makes the G680 a serious proposition for year-round touring. Overall, the Pilote Reference G680 is a classy ‘van that looks good and is well constructed, justifying the price tag of almost £50,000.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Quality of the interior; looks; big, comfy lounge; decent kitchen worksurface

Cons

  • Small oven; view of TV from lounge seats; small washroom
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