There have been a few recent overseas arrivals to the motorhome market in Australia and one of them is Auto-Trail. Auto-Trail is part of the European Trigano Group and the units are produced in north east Lincolnshire in the UK. Auto-Trail began building motorhomes in the 1980s.
CAB AND CHASSIS
The Scout SB is based on the revised 2015 Fiat Ducato XX LWB cab-chassis – in fact, all Auto-Trail motorhomes are built on the Ducato. The Ducato is powered by a 180hp (130kW) transverse four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and puts power to the ground via an automated six-speed manual transmission to the front wheels.
The nose has been revised for 2015 as has some of the interior. The audio system is new, and a lidded storage bin in the centre lower part of the dash has been replaced with an open tray. The matt silver finish of air vent surrounds has changed to a black plastic matching the rest of the dash.
The Fiat comes with a very good safety package. It has Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and a Rollover Mitigation System in conjunction with Load and Centre of Gravity Detection (LAC), Hill Holder, Anti-Slip (ASR) and Electronic Braking Assistance (EBA) systems. The Ducato can go for 48,000km between scheduled services.
ON THE ROAD
This is the second time we’ve sampled the 2015 Ducato, and like last time this vehicle was very new. Yet it seemed to be a little more responsive than the last one we drove (the Swift Escape 664). The engine doesn’t break new ground for diesel refinement or noise suppression but it does not intrude enough to become an annoyance. With the height-adjustable front seats (and tiltadjustable steering wheel) most will find a comfortable position.
The automated manual can be slow to engage gear and so manoeuvring at slow speeds can be awkward. You tend to not take smaller gaps at roundabouts, for example, because as you apply throttle the gearbox takes a few moments to respond. Once rolling, the long pause between gears can also be a distraction. Yet motorhomes are built for long- distance travel, so in the open road environment this gearbox is fine. You can drive it in manual mode, and doing this plus anticipating the gearshifts by easing off the throttle momentarily does improve shift speed and reduces that lurch between gears.
Often motorhomes have some creaking or other noise coming from the furniture, but in the Auto-Trail it was absent. A grill tray stored in the oven (by the manufacturer) did rattle but of course once fitted where it belongs this would not be a problem.
We incorrectly reported in the last motorhome review that the 2015 Ducato does not have cruise control – indeed it does; factory fitted and standard on all Australian-market Ducatos.
The Scout’s body comprises a laminated walls and floor construction – 40mm thick for the walls, and 45mm for the floor – while the roof is a 40mm partlaminate construction.
The side door has a flyscreen, blind and an integral waste bin is fitted to the interior moulding. There is also an umbrella holder recess and storage bin incorporated in this moulding.
The fold-down step is powered and there is also a recessed step to climb up onto the floor level of the motorhome. The layout incorporates a Luton peak for the single bed above the cab, and then along the nearside is the kitchen. Opposite the kitchen on the offside is the cafe dinette. Looking towards the rear of the interior from the doorway is a wall on the off-side (with a long mirror affixed to it) and then the door to the bathroom. Opposite the bathroom enclosure on the nearside is the Dometic fridge and then further back hanging wardrobe space. Then down the back is the lounge/sleeping quarters.
Large double-glazed hopper windows (with pleated flyscreens and blinds) are dotted around the motorhome. The corridor between the dinette/kitchen area and the rear lounge/sleeping quarters is a little gloomy, but the large wind-up panoramic roof above the Luton Peak bed and the skylight in the lounge area (both with pleated flyscreens and blinds) do let in a generous amount of natural light.
The interior feels spacious overall; only the captains’ seat area feels a little cramped when they are swivelled around to face the interior.
One of the compromises that most motorhomes suffer is adequate bench space in the kitchen. Here the Auto-Trail does better than most, with a small amount of bench area unfettered by any other requirement. Augmenting this is a removable cover that provides additional food prep space. This cover, which has a dedicated storage space in the cupboard when not on the sink, lifts off to reveal a stainless-steel single tub sink and drain recess. A domestic-type single mixer tap is used. Finally, the glass-top cooker provides additional bench space when the cooker is not in use. There are three gas burners plus one 800W electric hotplate. Beneath the cooktop is the gas grill and gas oven, while above it sits the range top with LED downlighting.
Lifting up the two strut-assisted locker doors above the kitchen reveals large storage compartments that would satisfy most needs. Below the kitchen are softclose drawers, a set of slide-out pantry drawers and a large corner cupboard.
An LED strip lights up the splashback and there is also LED strip lighting illuminating the below-bench area.
There are two sleeping quarters available in the Scout, with the main bedroom being at the back. Here you can convert the daytime lounge into either two singles or a spacious king-size bed. The double bed above the cab in the Luton Peak (which in the photos here is shown in its travel mode – it extends back to become a double) feels like an airy space and not as claustrophobic as they can be.
The bathroom is not large but gives you more room to move than most long-haul aircraft bathrooms – which can’t be said of all motorhomes. The separate shower recess, with its height-adjustable rose, is quite large for a motorhome. The curved bi-fold shower doors are a bit fiddly to operate but once familiar with the set-up they would be straightforward.
There is a small amount of bench space adjacent to the single sink bowl and mixer tap, while storage is covered off with a cupboard adjacent to the bathroom mirror and a cupboard underneath the sink. A glass holder sits to the left side above the sink.
LED lighting is used throughout the Scout. A deep-cycle, 100-amp, 12-volt battery is used, and sits in the storage locker on the offside of the motorhome. A variable rate transformer/charger keeps the voltage up to the battery and above the entry door a battery state-of-charge readout is fitted.
Aside from the large lockers, wardrobe and various cupboards inside, there is a rear tunnel boot with two locking access hatches. The spare wheel lives in the boot, as fitting to the rear external wall falls foul of class length constraints. You would need to be careful not to damage the heater piping in the boot when storing items in there, but at least there is a reasonably large volume of storage space. Complimenting this is a large locker on the off-side that provides ample room for gas bottles and a generator for example.
This is a spacious, well-finished motorhome. It has the ample sleeping quarters options and provides sufficient space for the living area and a good amount of storage space.
Tags: Review Ducato Auto Trail Motorhome UK Europe Diat Scout LAC ASR ESC EBA
Written: Fri 01 May 2015
Printed: May, 2015
Model Scout SB
Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
Tare weight 3424kg
Engine 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Power 132kW at 3500rpm
Torque 400Nm at 1400rpm
Gearbox Six-speed automated manual
Brakes ABS discs with ESP
External length 7.67m (25ft)
External width 2.35m (7ft 7in) (inc awning)
External height 3.10m (10ft)
Internal height 1.98m (6ft, 4in)
Rear bed size 2.08m x 1.86m (6ft, 8in x 6ft, 1in)
Cooktop Thetford Caprice MkIII gas/electric burners/grill/oven
Fridge Dometic fridge/freezer 190L
Microwave oven Daewoo 800W 20L
Batteries 100 a/h deep-cycle
Solar panels 100 watt
Air-conditioner Truma Aventa
Toilet Thetford cassette 12V electric flush
Shower Moulded one-piece
Hot water heater 4kW gas/electric
Space heater Gas/electric ducted
Water tank 135 litres
Grey tank 85 litres
Gas cylinders 2 x 9kg
$169,990 (drive-away, NSW)