To give you a brief history, the UK-based manufacturer Auto-Trail Company started manufacturing motorhomes in 1982, after many years as a motor-caravan repair business. In 1984 they had a distributor established with Brownhills, a small retailer at the time but now one of the country’s biggest retailers. The ‘Navajo’ model with its squared Luton body and two-tone coloured exterior established the Auto-Trail motorhome brand in the UK. Design changes, new models and ranges over the next 25 years have seen Auto-Trail become one of the biggest UK motorhome manufacturers.

Nationwide RV is the New Zealand distributor for the Autotrail Range. The Tribute was introduced in 2015, aimed at purchasers looking for an entry-level new motorhome to start their RV lifestyle, and there’s a range of models that go up in quality, style, fixtures and fittings as the budget increases; models like the Imala, Tracker, Apache and Frontier. This is a similar way to that of Toyota with a Corolla model car in the lower price range, a Toyota RAV4 for other needs and budget, and then Toyota Lexus luxury top-of-the–line models, covering all budget price points.

The kitchen area has a compact L-shaped bench, three-burner gas hob and the round stainless steel sink – both with glass lids for preparation space. An under-bench combined gas oven/grill, and under-sink storage cupboard with slide-out utility draw inside

We whipped this two-berth Tribute F70 away down to the beach for a quick drive. So easy with the Ford Transit manual gearbox, which also comes in a 6-speed auto option. It drove really well, although the start stop technology, which you can turn off at the push of a button, is not for me but does have a practical purpose. When you halt at traffic lights and stop, the motor stops, put your foot on accelerator, it starts again and you move off. This is all about fuel efficiency. As well as that, there are lots of the latest technology in this 2020 model, including control paddles on the steering wheel for radio and phone system, monitored by the Zenec Xzent 9.5” LCD display touch-screen head unit.

All systems go into this unit – radio, rear view camera, Bluetooth, phone and even motorhome-specific satellite navigation. The very important cup holders, one on each side, are easily accessible; storage pockets in the front dash and each side. Another vital accessory nowadays in the middle: a USB charging port below that easy to use, and access to heater controls. The cab seats have armrests and swivel to the rear for extra seating.

Habitation entry door is on the left behind the passenger for kerb-side entry. Side wall lounge seating with plenty of room for the removable table to go in – the only internal step is the small one into the cab. Cab Captain’s seats that swivel and adjust for personal comfort adding more entertainment seating

The habitation entry door is on the passenger or kerb side of the vehicle, with an electric step on the outside. Stepping directly into the vehicle, the lounge area is to the left with a lounge seat along each wall through to the front cab area (there is a slight step into this cab area) and it has LED lighting inset for night-time as required. To the hard right of entry is the bathroom wall, opposite the kitchen and cooking space. Step past the kitchen to the rear bedroom area fitted with two permanent singles and header space between at the back. A step up at the bed base takes you high enough to get on the beds. This area can be expanded via pull-out slats and fitting the extra mattress squab to create one large bed area. This is then accessed via a small ladder kept in a cupboard. There’s an overhead locker for each bed head, two shelves in between these with LED strip lighting. LED spot reading lights each side. The windows are large enough to provide nice views from the bed.

The kitchen area is compact; an L-shaped bench with round stainless steel sink with glass lid, and three-burner gas hob, also with glass lid – these offer extra prep space when not in use. Nice splashback behind, opening windows with screens and blinds, power plus under the overhead cupboards – not airline lockers, these have normal cupboard doors. Below the bench is the cupboard with storage shelf and pull-out utility drawer inside it. Below the combined gas oven/grill is another storage space; 140L fridge with small freezer box inside beside this space, storage cupboard below it, monitors and heating controls above.

Bathroom with plenty of storage under the square vanity sink and above in open shelves and storage shelves behind the white door, good-sized mirror and full-height shower box to the right, with split folding acrylic doors

The middle bathroom door opens to reveal an electric 12V flush-pedestal cassette toilet to the left, storage cupboard with shelves above, open shelves for more storage and a good-sized mirror over the square plastic sink unit. Some shelving space around this unit, which is also useful, with more storage below the sink unit. A separate shower to the right, always nice when separate from the rest of the area. This shower has a bi-fold door that tucks back for entry, excellent LED lighting within, adjustable showerhead and fixed soap holder inside. Room enough to shower then step out and get dressed. A heating vent in this area is also great for warmth, drying towels and even a bit of washing now and then.

The main living area is wide and spacious in this two-berth model. The wall loungers face each other leaving the centre space to be either clear, or to accommodate the removable table for dining and socialising, the odd game of cards perhaps. Lots of seating space here, and the front Captain’s cab seats swivel for extra seating as required. The TV wiring position is on the left of entry, backing on to the bathroom wall, so multiple people can view it when needed.

Two single beds in the rear, with a mattress squab in between. Simply pull out the slats and put in the extra mattress squab and this area will expand this to a large double bed. This does cover the step-up area, so pull out the small ladder from the under-bed storage cupboard and position for getting up onto the bed

A large roof vent with blinds and screens above add lots of light to this space. If you wanted to take others with you, there are simple upgrade changes you can order to change the seating layout, by taking out one lounger and putting in two front-facing seats with factory-fitted seatbelts, and a dinette table. Above in the ceiling, an electric drop-down double bed can be ordered to easily make this a four-berth motorhome.

On the outside there is full-width storage in the rear, with doors on both sides for access, storage for one 9kg gas bottle, toilet cassette access, fitted bike rack on the rear. What more do you need?

Control panels above the fridge, the Whale underfloor and hot water system has it’s own control unit

This model and the four-berth upgrade are under the $150k mark, brand new models that might be just right for you. If not this one, I am sure the Auto-Trail brand will have a floor plan on different models through their extensive range that will tick all your boxes,.

This particular F70 model is at the Drury Nationwide RV site right now. Check the website for other models or to contact a branch near you in Ashburton, New Plymouth, Silverdale or Drury for further information.

Ford Transit Chassis Cab

Built on the purpose-built 2020 Ford Transit skeletal chassis cab, designed by Ford to offer motorhome builders a lower chassis height of 100mm compared to previous standard front-wheel-drive models. This offers easier step-through access to the rear of the vehicle, plus it reduces the overall chassis weight by 200kg. Aimed at the GVM 3500kg market for delivery vehicles and motorhome manufacturers, the other variant is the wide-track rear axle, another innovation for stability and handling on the road.

Read more about the Auto-Trail manufacturing journey here: www.auto-trail.co.uk/our-journey

Cube Construction

‘Cube’ construction involves building habitation units on air-suspended platforms separate to the chassis. This provides a structure that is rigid and can be lifted and fitted onto the chassis in one piece. All bonded composite wall and roof panels consist of a 35mm ‘Styrisol’ internal core, offering 12 per cent more thermal efficiency than standard expanded polystyrene. Acrylic capped ABS side skirts and rear bumper, high impact GRP scratch-resistant sidewalls. Double-glazed acrylic windows with fitted blinds and fly screens.

Tech Specs

Auto-Trail Tribute F70 2-berth $142,900 this model with 170bhp motor. Standard 130bhp motor $139,000

  • Ford Transit Euro 6D Chassis, 2000cc 97–126kW turbo-diesel engine with intercooler. Front-wheel drive, 6-speed manual gearbox, power-assisted steering, cruise control, anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD). The F70 with the 130bhp motor, 6-speed Automatic, 4 berth with café lounge including the 2 extra forward facing shoulder belts and electric drop down bed is $145,875. Wide rear axle, 235/65×16 tyres.

Dimensions (mm)

  • H 2880, L 7340, W 2350, Wheelbase 3950
  • GVM 3500kg, Tare 3000kg, Payload 500kg, 
Gross train weight 4450kg

Self-containment

  • 100Ah deep-cycle battery and a 100W solar panel on the roof
  • WHALE Gas 4.7kW under-floor heating and 2.85kW under-floor hot water system
  • Water: Fresh 100L, grey 80L
  • Gas bottle 1 x 9kg
  • Thetford 140L auto three-way fridge – internal freezer box
  • Gas oven/grill, 3-burner hob
  • Beds (mm)
  • Rear single beds 1890 x 670
  • Combined rear estimated 1890 x 2000
  • Optional drop-down cab ceiling bed size 1230 x 1930

Warranties

  • 2-year habitation warranty
  • 5-year body construction integrity warranty
  • 3-year mechanical
  • (T&C’s apply)