Niall HamptonSee other motorhome reviews written by Niall Hampton
Packed with Brit-friendly kit and with a generous front lounge, is it a case of you get what you pay for with the Frankia F-Line I 640 SD? Read on!
Franco-German co-operation takes many forms, of course, but the one perhaps most relevant to our market is Frankia.
This successful Germany-based but French-owned enterprise is one of Europe’s many premium motorhome brands and straddles three core market segments – low-profile, overcab coachbuilt and A-class.
A member of Groupe Pilote, Frankia converts on Fiat Ducato and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter bases. With many of its buyers touring off grid, Frankia ’vans are highly customisable so buying one is like building your own bespoke vehicle from scratch.
The sole dealership entrusted with Frankia’s UK operation is SMC in Newark. As its biggest single export market, Frankia is well-focused on Blighty.
This translates into offering UK-friendly floor plans, as well as fitting domestic appliances that suit British tastes – multi-ring cookers above a separate oven and grill, for example.
One vehicle that should definitely find favour with domestic motorcaravanners is this, the F-Line I 640 SD, a 6.5m-long A-class with the comfort and refinement of an end washroom plus a stonking midships lounge that’ll be perfect to hide away in during bad weather.
As part of some portfolio housekeeping for the 2017 model year, ‘F-Line’ is a new designation and means the ’van is based on the Fiat Ducato (‘M-Line’ denotes a Mercedes base; ‘Selection’ is the entry-level offering).
Our test unit was supplied with the 2.3-litre, 150bhp Euro 6 turbodiesel (130bhp is the standard tune). The upgraded engine was part of the £2892 High Chassis Pack, which also includes cruise control, chrome instrument dials, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, and a 120-litre fuel tank.
The I 640 SD’s all-up weight is 3850kg, so buyers will need a driving licence with C1 entitlement (our test ’van had the £1783 Heavy chassis upgrade, to 4500kg).
A gold rendering of Frankia’s road-style motif on the white GRP-faced Thermoguard sidewalls adds a welcome touch of class, and the coach-style mirrors offer a clear rearwards view.
Lounging & dining
It’s more than two metres long and boasts a particularly clever feature: a large table that rides on longitudinal tracks.
This allows it to be shuttled between numerous positions, from between the cab seats or towards the kitchen.
Large side windows and an off-centre rooflight provide plenty of daytime illumination.
A large window is located in a splashback on the nearside of the vehicle.
Two extra berths can be fitted in the lounge as a £354 cost option.
The shower is located in the nearside rear corner, separated from the toilet by a handsome vanity unit that is the centrepiece of this opulent space.
There’s no rear garage, but a central compartment in the double floor under the lounge is accessible from hatches on both sides of the vehicle, so will swallow tall items with ease.
In addition, there’s a good complement of overhead lockers.
Numerous further options were fitted to our test ’van, including a four-metre canopy awning (£972), two travel seats in the lounge (£502), habitation carpets (£565), a pull-out double bed (£760), an external barbecue point (£206), a double DIN stereo and phone kit (£1433), a twin-lens reversing camera (£1120) and a flatscreen TV with a bracket (£663).
|Fresh/waste water||150L / 130L|
|Leisure battery||80 Ah|
|Gas tank size||11kg|
|Number of gas tank compartments||2|
As usual in this price segment, you get what you pay for.
Frankia is highly regarded for its innovation and build quality, and the large-lounged I 640 SD will clearly appeal to discerning buyers in the UK.
From front to back, it’s a superb piece of kit.
- It is a beautifully built ’van
- The lounge is large
- The washroom is well-appointed
- You get a generous payload as standard
- It is a manageable 6.46m long
- There's just one UK distributor
- You'll need C1 entitlement on your driving licence