How special is a dealer special? We've been touring in this well-specced Marquis Majestic 196 to find out if it really can accommodate six in comfort

Overview

Marquis Leisure’s Majestic range of dealer specials has been in its current guise since 2010, when Elddis took over from the now-mothballed Autocruise as the brand on which these motorhomes were based.

When the former Explorer Group, including Elddis, was sold to the Erwin Hymer Group in February last year, there was some question about whether dealer specials would continue – they’re rarer on the Continent.

So it was reassuring when Marquis announced not long after this that it had signed one of its biggest ever orders with Elddis, to ensure the continuation of the popular range for at least this season.

Now seems an appropriate time to reassess just what you get in these dealer specials, in this case, with the one ’van in the range that’s really designed for large families: the Majestic 196.

This is a six-berth with no fewer than six travel seats – and an MTPLM of 3500kg.

It costs £50,495, compared with £43,681 for a standard Elddis Autoquest 196, on which this Majestic is based.

Is it worth paying the higher price for the dealer-special model? Our testers spent time in it to find out.

Design

In terms of the external design, Marquis has left the Autoquest pretty much as it would be with Elddis.

You get a silver cab – which makes the vehicle look rather classy – and, of course, you get the Majestic branding, with its recognisable crown.

You also get a sunroof, something that isn’t included on the optional extras list with a standard Elddis. Marquis has added a roll-out awning, too.

The Marquis Majestic 196 is 7.34m long, so not hugely lengthy. But it does have a substantial overhang at the rear, so you might need to take care on steep ferry ramps – especially with a bike rack on the rear, which this ’van comes ready-primed for.

On the road

The Marquis Majestic sits on a Peugeot Boxer with a 2.0-litre Euro 6 turbodiesel engine beneath the bonnet.

One advantage you get in going for a Majestic 196, rather than the Elddis Autoquest equivalent, is apparent as soon as you put your foot on the gas pedal.

Marquis has selected the 160bhp engine over the standard 130bhp unit (Elddis doesn’t offer this upgrade as an option).

The 258lb ft of torque also helped us to drive out of a muddy Chilterns field without any difficulty.

When we were looking for an elusive Certificated Location down a number of single-track sunken lanes, the ’van coped admirably with every unexpected turn and bump.

And again – possibly thanks to that large engine – the long overhang didn’t seem to pose any problem when we were driving.

We certainly didn’t feel any buffeting at the rear of the ’van in crosswinds or at higher speeds.

At the back of the ’van, you’ll notice a camera. This is a dealer-fit rear-view unit, not just a reversing camera, so you can keep an eye on who is behind you even when you’re on the road.

The display is clipped to the rear-view mirror with plastic clasps. These felt a little flimsy to our testers, so you’d need to treat the clasps with a bit of care.

There are other goodies included in the standard Peugeot cab. You get air-con here, a passenger airbag and cruise control, all of which are part of a Lux pack that, on the standard Elddis, costs an extra £1218.

There are also cab blinds, for which Elddis charges a further £438. You get sat-nav, too.

Lounging & dining

In the lounge, the main difference from the standard Elddis Autoquest is the alternative upholstery.

It’s an Aquaclean fabric, designed so you only need to clean it with water. It’s also pet-friendly, with a tight thread that’s designed to withstand the worst damage your dog’s claws can inflict.

On standard Elddis motorhomes, this option is only offered in the luxury Encore range.

The colour scheme chosen by Marquis, with its crimson accents, looks rather more upmarket than the standard beige you tend to see in this price bracket.

Upholstery aside, the rest of the two lounge areas is fairly standard Elddis.

There’s a good-sized grabhandle to help you in through the habitation door, but taller people will need to be aware of the drop-down bed that is located above the front dinette and which makes this motorhome a six-berth. Because of it, headroom here is only 1.78m (5ft 10in).

However, the lounge doesn’t feel quite as dark as it does in the standard Autoquest 196, with that drop-down bed in place of any rooflight, because daylight streams in through the sunroof at the front of the ’van.

Night-time lighting is good, too, with three LED lights in an elegant panel underneath the bed, four spots and ambient light.

A mains socket (one of six in this ’van) is cleverly hidden high up, where it can also be used by whoever is occupying the bed.

The side sofa is a good size but, although you get four travel seats in the dinette, the clip-on table that fits here is quite small.

The swivelled passenger-side cab chair is a fair distance from the table, too. And there is no heating vent located under here, so it could be a little cool in winter.

Step back down through the central kitchen (where headroom rises to 2.06m) – past a useful mirror outside the washroom – and you reach the altogether better rear lounge (which has 1.97m of headroom available).

This area has a sizeable foldaway table that is easy to access.

The large windows on all three sides and the rooflight make it feel bright in here, and there is a well-placed heating vent to keep you cosy.

The TV sockets are up on one side, so any television that you might fit can only be comfortably viewed by those on the other side.

Kitchen

The kitchen is often where the extras you get in a dealer special come into play, and this Majestic is no exception.

A standard Autoquest only has a three-burner gas hob for chefs to make use of, but here you’ll find a dual-fuel four-burner hob and, up above, a microwave, which with Elddis is a £190 option.

You have plenty of work space to show off your culinary expertise, especially because you also get an extension flap that opens out by the door.

Two sockets nearby should be more than adequate for a kettle and any other gadget you might bring.

The space is also well lit, with lights above and below the lockers.

The only small negative is with the microwave: because of the surround that goes with it, it takes up what would otherwise have been two overhead cupboards, which would have been ideal for food storage.

With this arrangement you might have to resort to using one of the overhead lockers in the rear lounge for food – so it’s good that there are six of them.

Alternatively, you could use the four drawers that sit between the 85-litre three-way fridge and the oven, with its separate grill and integrated pan locker.

These all have characteristic Elddis dovetail jointing, but they aren’t particularly big. The locker at the bottom is also partly taken up by the wheelarch.

One final plus point is the Omnivent unit that you get in the roof over the aisle.

Sleeping

The two sofas in the rear lounge pull together, and you then only need one thin infill cushion (which is easily stored in the wardrobe) to make a flat, comfortable bed.

This area can also be separated off with two plastic concertina partitions.

You don’t need to remove any cushions from the lounge below before lowering the electrically operated drop-down bed.

It does mean that the bed itself is higher than you would find in some other ’vans, so you’ll need to use the supplied ladder to climb into it.

Once you’re up there, though, you’ll find this a comfortable space, with two lights available for night-time reading, and that socket.

The third double bed, in the front-lounge area, is a solid affair. You need to lower the dining table to make it, and you also require one large and one thin infill cushion.

But once it’s been made up you still get a little bit of extra space that someone can perch on while making tea in the morning, even if all three of the beds are being used.

Washroom

Our testers found the step at the entrance to the Marquis Majestic 196’s washroom area slightly irritating.

You don’t get a separate shower cubicle, either – just a curtain to contain the water from the showerhead located to the left of the basin.

However, the designers have been rather clever in positioning the basin over the wheelarch, so the latter doesn’t get in the way – in fact, it could serve as a useful footrest.

There are only two narrow cupboards available for storage, but you do get a heating vent in here to keep things warm, plus a toilet-roll holder, an LED light and even a small rooflight.

There is a large towel rail hidden behind the curtain, and there’s also a good-size mirror.

Storage

For what’s still technically an entry-level motorhome, it’s impressive that the 196 includes underseat slats that stay up on struts when you open them, and external access to some of the space beneath the sofas.

The underseat areas in the rear lounge are mostly clear, as is the area under the front side sofa.

In the dinette itself, the front underseat is taken up by the fuse box and other electrical systems.

The rear underseat area provides access to the water tanks, but is clear itself.

The central wardrobe is a reasonable size for the clothes of six people, although the TV aerial fitting takes up some of the space.

The four drawers and small locker at the base of the wardrobe are ideal for underwear or similar.

Just as good is the provision of overhead lockers: six in the back, three of which are shelved, and four smaller ones in the front (smaller because they need to drop down with the bed), which are not shelved.

There’s also a large shelf over the cab – which taller people will be reminded of if they aren’t careful when trying to climb in from the main part of the ’van.

Equipment

The extra equipment supplied here is towards the upper end of what you would expect in a dealer special.

On top of the standard Elddis spec, you get a roll-out awning, an external barbecue and shower point, alloy wheels (Elddis charges £650 for these) and a solar panel.

Some of these items are not included on Elddis’s list of optional extras.

Both underslung water tanks are insulated, but not heated. All of the electrical controls, meanwhile, are easily accessed on a panel by the door.

Technical specs

Sleeps6
Travel seats6
MTPLM3500kg
Payload508kg
Length7.34m24′1″
Width2.69m8′10″
Height2.82m9′3″
Engine (power)160
Engine (torque)258
Fresh/waste water100L / 70L
Leisure battery80 Ah
Gas tank size7kg
Number of gas tank compartments2

Verdict

When Elddis launched the Autoquest 196 in 2016, it moved into the market for larger-family motorhomes.

The Marquis Majestic does the same, with bells on, offering above-basic comfort and performance.

It’s a little tricky to determine whether you could get the same result by adding extras to a standard Elddis, because the Marquis additions aren’t always the same as you’d get with Elddis or any third-party supplier.

But, given what is included – particularly the engine upgrade – the price difference feels very justified.

If you want a British-made ’van for a large family, with a great spec and plenty of style, the Marquis Majestic 196 is one to consider.

Conclusion

Pros

  • You get a very desirable bundle of dealer-special extras
  • It has an MTPLM of 3500kg, so anyone with a licence can drive it
  • The rear lounge is excellent

Cons

  • There's no separate shower cubicle – and the washroom is quite cramped
  • Kids might prefer bunks to double beds
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