Motorhome test: Pilote P716 Essentiel
During the trip to the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, we had the opportunity to see for ourselves how the semi-integrated motorhome of the French brand Pilote, model P716, works. Below we present the first, but certainly not the last motorhome test that we will conduct for you.
We received the vehicle from the sole distributor of the Pilote brand in Poland - CarGO! Rent a Camp from Poznań . Our copy was built and registered in 2015, and at the beginning of the test its meter showed 30,000. km of mileage.
The route and burning of a motorhome
The crew of the motorhome consisted of two adults and a 10-month-old child. For 11 days we traveled the route Poznań -> Düsseldorf -> Amsterdam -> Hamburg -> Potsdam -> Poznań, driving a total of 2,100 km.
On highways, we usually traveled at a speed of 110-115 km / h, where fuel consumption was 11-11.5 l / 100 km. For faster driving (approx. 130 km / h) you need to assume the consumption of 13 l / 100 km.
The average fuel consumption of a motorhome from the entire route was 11.5 l / 100 km, which I consider a very good result, especially when we take into account that the weight of the vehicle with passengers, luggage, full water and fuel tanks was almost 3.5 tons.
Engine and driving characteristics
The motorhome we tested was built on the most popular motorhome chassis, the Fiat Ducato. The 130 HP 2.3 MultiJet engine performed very well throughout the test.
More power (150HP versions are available) could be useful only during typical mountain rides or when towing e.g. a trailer with a motorboat (you can pull trailers with a GVM of 2.5 tons). However, if you do not plan trips to the mountains, such power is enough.
The Pilote P716 also performed very well when cornering on smaller access roads, which was due to a very good weight distribution (thanks to the engineers from the Pilote factory).
Interior layout, comfort and equipment
Pilote motorhomes are considered premium vehicles, especially when it comes to interior trim. The entire development was made in such a way that even 30,000 km, you could not hear any crackling or knocking. Almost! If there was anything to stick to, it would be to the softly creaky system of the suspended bed. However, as we have already seen at Caravan Salon 2016 - this system has been changed in the new Pilote models, so the problem has probably been resolved.
All upper cabinets are made of polished wood, which confirms the high quality. The drawers, locks and furniture doors performed without any reservations and there was no need to close them several times. The interior of the motorhome is very well lit by a large roof window above the driver and two other tilt roof windows (one in the kitchen and one in the sleeping area). There is no need for any additional indoor lighting during the day.
A very efficient Dometic Fresh JET 1700 air conditioning system has been installed in the roof window located directly above the suspended bed, which can be used after connecting the vehicle to the electric network when parked. It came in very handy during the heat of Düsseldorf (35 degrees in the shade).
Unfortunately, its use requires the upper bed to be lowered by about 10 cm, which may slightly disturb taller people while walking on the vehicle, and if we plan to use the air conditioning while sleeping, it may be troublesome for people sleeping on this bed.
Both the roof and side windows have very nice, pleated blinds, allowing partial or complete covering of the windows. All windows are made of double acrylic, which is of great importance in terms of insulation.
The interior lighting is entirely made in LED technology. It has been arranged in such a way that the ideal power of light can be obtained exactly where we need it. And in the evening we can create a very pleasant atmosphere. Even in the wardrobe there is a small lamp that illuminates the interior properly - thanks to this, there is no need to turn on another light when you want to quickly reach for a piece of clothing.
The motorhome was equipped with swivel seats for the driver and passenger , thanks to which we could easily - depending on the needs - increase the number of comfortable seats at the table or increase the living space. When it comes to sitting at the table, we will spend time most comfortably in a group of up to four people, but up to six "revelers" can fit there.
When it comes to the comfort of people traveling in the rear part of the motorhome, I can definitely say that it is very comfortable. So much so that during the entire trip my wife came to me, only a few times and usually for a while. It was much more comfortable in the back.
We use a rearward-facing car seat on a daily basis (we wrote more about it here ). I was a bit afraid that I would not be able to install it in this way in a motorhome - but it did not cause any problems. The only inconvenience is the inability to attach additional straps to the floor, but even without that, the seat was very stable.
The car was additionally equipped with the ALDEN One Light 60 antenna with the option of automatic satellite search. Personally, I am not a fan of watching TV during caravanning trips, but after checking the device, I find that the system works very well and quickly catches the satellites needed for reception. All you need is a decoder of some operator and you can watch your favorite programs just like at home.
The control panel installed in the camper was just as easy to operate. I could easily check the filling level of all tanks, battery charge status or enable or program the Truma Combi 6 gas heater, which heats both the water in the boiler and the interior of the motorhome.
Solar panels with voltage regulator installed on the roof were also maintenance-free and recharged the parking batteries if necessary. The Thetfordo refrigerator with a capacity of 149 l (with a separate freezer) had adequate space to store food for the three of us, and after switching to automatic mode, it automatically selected the power source - gas when stationary, 12 V while driving and 230 V when connected to the mains.
The motorhome is equipped with two fixed 2-person beds and an additional 2-person bed, which requires unfolding and folding. At first we thought the baby would sleep alone in the rear bed and my wife and I on the pull-down bed in the front of the vehicle, but the three of us slept on the semi-French bed in the back without any problems. There are lockers for clothes above the bed, to which we had easy access, and the sunroof that opened allowed us to perfectly ventilate while sleeping.
The second fixed, but lowered bed is located in the middle of the vehicle. Lowering and lifting is very simple, using the remote control. In order to lower them, however, you need to put the backrests from the couch underneath it earlier. A huge plus is that even in the lowered position, the bed does not block access to the front door in any way.
The third, foldable and rather "occasional" bed is also located in the middle of the vehicle. To unfold them, you have to lower the table and "rebuild" the couch. Unfortunately, in order to make it a fully valuable bed, we should carry additional mattresses in the luggage compartment, which will take up a lot of space. This is especially important when we plan to travel with five people - and this is the number of seats equipped with belts in this motorhome.
The kitchen in the motorhome was arranged in the shape of the letter L, which I consider to be an ideal layout. The 3-burner stove and sink are covered with a glass top, so we have a lot of space to use when not cooking or washing.
The cupboards for dishes placed above the kitchen and the drawers under the worktop are of the right size and perfectly fulfill their functions. Because we love coffee, we take the coffee machine with us. Unfortunately, it needs 230 V to work, so we lacked a power inverter in the motorhome to use it on the go. Of course, however, both an inverter and a 12-volt coffee machine are devices that you can equip your camping vehicle with.
At first glance, the bathroom seems very small, but in practice it is quite sufficient. There is a baby bathtub in the shower, which was very important to us. Taking a shower by an adult is also not problematic. The bathroom is very well lit by a glass in the roof or - at night - by sufficiently bright LED lighting.
The clean (130 l) and dirty (95 l) water tank was enough for us for 2-3 days with a daily shower of two adults, bathing our little traveler and sparing washing dishes.
The Dometic cassette toilet did just as well, and emptying the cassette was not a problem. We used Dometic PowerCare tablets for the toilet, which I consider to be a much more convenient and cleaner solution than liquid chemicals.
Lockers and trunk
The motorhome has a lot of cabinets for clothes and necessary things. In some compartments, the manufacturer has used useful solutions, such as bottle holders or, for example, wine glasses. A shoe storage room is located at the entrance to the motorhome.
Unfortunately, the main trunk initially seemed a bit too small for our "stuff", and there were not enough of them: a bicycle trailer for a child, a playpen, a stroller, two large boxes (64 l) of various things, two camping chairs, a table and a gas grill. Well, the most important thing is that with the right arrangement, everything fits!
Summary of the test
After 11 days and nights in the Pilote P716 motorhome, I can honestly say that it is a very comfortable motorhome . I believe it may be the perfect motorhome for a family with two children, but four adults will also travel comfortably. The manufacturer paid a lot of attention to various details and small amenities that are very important in a motorhome. Actually, I can't wait to be able to travel in this manufacturer's motorhome again.
- high-quality interior trim,
- easy access to the trunk through the bed,
- automatically lowering / raising the bed,
- a large number of compartments,
- fully automatic control system for heating, electricity and water,
- very good insulation and soundproofing,
- automatically extendable footrest,
- lowered bed that does not block the entrance to the motorhome.
I would like it more if:
- the pleats on the windows worked a bit better (not always folded into a harmonica),
- the lamp under the awning had a power regulation (sometimes it seemed too strong),
- the equipment included a power inverter,
- you didn't have to leave your bed to use air conditioning,
- the trunk was a little bigger,
- the rear seat was equipped with ISOFIX for quick installation of a child seat,
- the keys and the registration certificate have been with me for a longer time.
We wrote more about the Pilote motorhomes of the Pacific series in this article: https://camprest.com/pl/blog/motoryzacja/pilote-pacific
The main driver, founder and the brain of CampRest. He is the one who runs the whole mechanism, implements new ideas faster than he is able to invent them. He used to be a professional driver and have run his own freight forward company - as you can see, he has always been drawn to sleep in the car;) He likes to drive large motorhomes and encourages you to get a C driving license and buy motorhomes over 3.5 tons.