Pilote’s Atlas is the company’s new venture with Ford, geared towards those of a slightly more adventurous bent and based on the new Trail Transit base vehicle.
The chassis is not strictly speaking all-wheel-drive, but it has limited slip differential, which sends power to the wheel with most traction. That should make navigating bumpier roads easier, especially with a 170bhp engine.
Pilote has brought out two models in the range, the transverse-bed A696G and now the A656D, a type of motorhome with four-berths, a drop-down bed and a rear washroom – similar to the P626D on a Fiat. We checked it out at the manufacturer’s 2024 season launch.
The vehicle certainly looks striking from the outside, just one of the features that we picked out when we shortlisted it for the best low-profile motorhome category at the Practical Motorhome Awards 2024. Those red and black decals have been designed to reflect the boxy shape of the luton, and the first thing that strikes you on climbing inside is the sporty interior.
Inside the Pilote Atlas A656D
You get black curtains, upholstery and cab seats with armrests, and a near-black floor.
The only significant touch of colour is the blue-grey of the panel by the door and on the kitchen drawers. However, I thought the woodgrain tabletop and kitchen work surface, and white locker doors, brighten the look.
The nearside settee turns into two travel seats – not the easiest to set up or the most comfortable that I’ve seen.
On site, with these converted back to a large settee facing the offside one across the foldout table, this becomes a pleasant lounge, with natural light beaming in through the sunroof and the big windows. You could easily seat seven in here. There are four LEDs in a panel under the bed, and USBs by the headrest for one of the travel seats.
Kitchen in the Pilote Atlas A656D
That headrest slots down to lessen any division between kitchen and lounge. The top could double up as a serving area. Actual workspace in the kitchen is limited, although it is well placed in front of the flush-fitting two-burner hob, by the rectangular sink.
The space is well lit, by a striplight and a large window surrounded by a splashback (black, again). There’s a sizeable fridge on the other side.
Beds in the Pilote Atlas A656D
The main double bed drops down easily, although it does obstruct the door when lowered. You get reading lights here, and it’s a good width for a compact motorhome, at 1.42m.
A second double can be made up by lowering the telescopic table and using the backrests and seat cushions.
The washroom in the Pilote Atlas A656D
The step up to the washroom at the back is at a slant to make the most of the space available. The shower cubicle on the nearside has two drain holes and is spacious, even with a bit of the wheel arch protruding.
Thanks to the slope of that step, the washroom is a good size, with a large basin built into a shelf, a lit mirror and a roof vent. The position of the toilet means the cassette hatch will almost certainly lie within an awning, but having both washing areas set forward allows the whole of the rear section to be given over to storage.
Storage in the Pilote Atlas A656D
On the inside, you get eight shelves spread across the back of the ’van, with two drawers below, ideal space for when you’re kitting out your motorhome. Four of the shelves have removable fabric baskets. To the left is a huge, well-lit hanging area, while to the right, you can lift a flap to reach a storage area that is partially accessible from the outside.
Below is the internal access to the garage, which has two external doors as well. Despite the gas bottle locker here, there is still room for a bike.
The drop-down bed makes storage more limited up front, with small overhead shelves and shelves over the cab. The area under the settee is mainly taken up by the water tank.
Kitchen storage is adequate, with two lockers and four drawers. One drawer houses a cutlery tray, another, a built-in bin. However, the locker set above the slimline fridge could
be a bit of a stretch for some. In the washroom, you get a small cupboard under the handbasin and a larger, shallower one next to the mirror.
The A656D doesn’t feel quite as comfortable or ergonomic as its cheaper Fiat-based cousin, the P626D, even though it is slightly longer, but that is possibly because of the need to accommodate a more robust chassis. However, this is a motorhome under 7m that will still provide a good ride for the more adventurous among you.
Technical spec of the Pilote Atlas A656D:
- Price: £84,500
- Sleeps: 4
- Belts: 4
- Base vehicle: Ford Trail Transit
- Engine: 2.0-litre 170bhp
- Length/width/height: 6.60/2.20/2.88m (21’7”/7’2”/9’4”)
- MTPLM: 3500kg
- MiRO: 3015kg
- Payload: 485kg
- Water (fresh/waste): 130 (20 for travel)/90 litres
- Leisure battery: 95Ah
- Gas: 2 x 13kg
Or you could try:
- Rapido C03: this three-berth provides both space and comfort.
- Campaway Casa: this eye-catching camper has plenty of packed in, including a toilet.
- Elddis Autoquest 115: excellent storage and a spacious lounge are just two of the appealing traits of the Autoquest 115.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, why not get the latest news, reviews and features delivered direct to your door or inbox every month. Take advantage of our brilliant Practical Motorhome magazine SUBSCRIBERS’ OFFER and SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER for regular weekly updates on all things motorhome related.
|Shipping Length||6.60 m|
|Engine Size||2000 cc|