Nick’s News – Nick Harding is an expert in all things motorhomes, caravans and camping. Each week, Nick explores products, locations, holiday ideas and essential community information on our behalf – It’s a Hard-ing Life for Nick, but here is what he found this week.
A quieter week this week, although there’s a definite highlight on the leisure vehicle front. I’m due to go and review the Chausson Combo X550 motorhome at the Highbridge Caravans dealership in Somerset.
While it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, this latest Chausson from a company that’s never afraid to try something different, really does promise to be a bit special. It’s a compact, slimline model with what is starting to become the usual, space-efficient drop-down double bed and more.
In the news
New trailer limits mean a weighty towing issue
The idea that tests for those who are considering towing larger outfits are to be dropped does not seem like a good one to me. Surely overall road safety is paramount?
It’s all down to the lack of commercial drivers (lorries, primarily) and the prospect of a “quick fix”. However, a loophole has been created whereby if you passed your full driving test before January 1st 1997, you will be able to tow trailers up to 3,500kg laden. That’s far more than any typical touring caravan here in the UK.
This represents a step change from the current situation whereby that critical date meant newer drivers could only tow with a maximum total outfit limit of 3,500kg. That’s a car or caravan to you or me.
You can get more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All I can say is, at a time when the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is reporting up to one in six caravans stopped on our roads had a serious safety issue, the last thing fellow road users need is inexperienced drivers heading out with hefty outfits.
New model news – coming in dribs and drabs
I’m expecting news of the latest motorhome models to trickle out for the season ahead, with fanfare launches being kept to a minimum. That’s because manufacturers are still wary of getting the parts they want when they need them, as well as difficulties recruiting production staff.
I can tell you about some interesting stuff in the pipeline, though. First, look to Chausson, which is planning to announce a couple of lower-priced Ford Transit-based low-profiles under the name S. They’ll be slim on width too, at 2.10m.
The same company is also set to unveil a new Combo model. The X660 will complement the X550 which debuted in the 2021 season and promises something really different.
Also, there’s a third Benivan from Benimar in the offing. The 124 will replicate the 122 floorplan, but with the addition of an elevating roof on its high-top, thus offering two more sleeping berths.
Route to go – enter CCR200
Those of you who’ve seen or even heard of the popularity of Scotland’s North Coast 500 (NC500) driving and camping route might be interested to hear about a Cumbrian equivalent that’s surfaced.
It’s called the Cumbrian Coast 200 (CCR200) and as the name suggests, it features some 200 miles of often rugged roads. It’s an attempt to show us more of Cumbria and take some of the pressure off the Lake District hotspots.
The route is broken down into five sections: Morecambe Bay; Furness peninsula and island hopping; Haverigg to Seascale; Seascale to Maryport; and Maryport to Carlisle.
It seems the authorities have learnt a bit from some of the tribulations of the NC500, which has proved too popular and attracted some rather appalling behaviour. An accompanying CCR200 Motor Caravanner’s Code has been published that we’re all asked to abide by. Check it out here.
Motorhome for me?
Pilote P626D Évidence – all clues point to a bargain
You need to keep your eyes open if you want a real bargain in the motorhome market, but every now and again an imported marque unleashes some really attractive limited edition runs. And that’s the case for the Évidence line-up of four coachbuilts and one A-class from Pilote.
Pick of the quartet, for me, is the P626, a low-profile two-berth (four optional), Fiat-based, it comes with the 140bhp engine and automatic transmission as standard (and that isn’t cheap at the moment).
It has a slightly strange 6.20m overall length, but it’s a particularly space-efficient floorplan, thanks to some clever thinking with the washroom and kitchen towards the back end, a very useful garage and a 2.20m long drop-down bed over the lounge at the front.
It’s not just clever, as an Évidence it’s absolutely packed with kit grabbed from the normal options list. And that’s why I say it’s a bargain. Check it all out for yourselves, but do make time to understand what is a very practical floorplan before falling for the added attractions of all the goodies.
Guess the all-in price? It currently scrapes in just under £58,000. No doubt that will rise next season, as indeed it will for all other new motorhomes.
Three good: Manageable size with 3,500kg chassis, stunning standard kit and generous sized washroom/kitchen/lounge/bed
Two bad: Limited availability and the kitchen only gets a two-ring hob
Perfect for… Get-about-ability
Also consider: Adria Axess 590 ST and Chausson 650 Titanium Premium