CONCORDE. The mere mention of the name conjures up mouth-watering mental images of soft leather, rich cherry cabinetry and the sort of luxury that only this German über-brand can offer.
Mercedes, Iveco and MAN underpinnings fairly bristling with the very latest in motive power and chassis technology. Electric everything. Double floors. Insulation and heating that laugh in the face of sub-zero temperatures. Big, BIG money.
But now there’s a more affordable way into Concorde ownership: it’s called the Credo Emotion and comprises a three-strong range of ‘entry-level’ A-classes that slots just below the Iveco-based Passion and Action and takes (whisper it) the Fiat Ducato as the common platform.
We encircle the term ‘entry-level’ for good reason, however, for the model shown in our pictures will still set you back by a cool £105,995.
Why? Well, our test model sported the optional 3-litre 157bhp engine allied to the superb Comfort-Matic automatic transmission, together with an array of optional packs including the Chassis Package (wood-effect dashboard, cab air-con, manual rear steadies, cruise control, alloy wheels and an electric screen blind, among other things), the Kitchen Package (175-litre fridge/freezer, combined oven/grill, Corian worktops), the Electrical Package (twin 160Ah batteries, 1500W sine wave inverter), Concorde multi-media system (touch-screen sat-nav, radio/DVD/CD/MP3-player with extra speakers, hands-free Bluetooth phone system and twin reversing cameras) and a UK package which adds extra lights and sockets.
Oddly, though, only the driver is deemed worthy of protection by airbag. Entry-level, then, but all things are relative.
So, no complaints on the equipment front, but what of the rest of the motorhome?
Well, the model in our photos – the range-topping 763L – certainly looks the part. Indeed, only those in possession of the very latest edition of The Observer’s Book Of Motorhomes would ever be able to distinguish between it and dearer Iveco-based models.
It’s no poor relation in terms of build-quality, either, boasting as it does the same 32mm thick walls and general construction as its more expensive siblings.
The cost-saving measures are there to see if you look closely – the 334mm-high heated double-floor employed by the Passion and Action, for instance, has been replaced by a shallower 300mm affair in the Emotion, while the more commonplace twin-door garage is replaced by a single door example. But to be honest, you’d never spot these details unless you’re an existing Concorde owner.
Climb aboard, and the picture is extremely familiar: rich, dark cherry cabinetry garnished with weapons-grade catches and hinges, beautifully soft leather and lights seemingly everywhere you look.
Everything – every door, every switch, every catch – feels properly engineered within extremely tight tolerances and the general air is one of restrained, tasteful quality.
Up front, the lounge comprises the two high-backed Isri cab seats allied to an L-shaped settee on the nearside and a single seat on the offside. Naturally, the settee converts into a pair of rear travel seats and the glossy fixed table adjusts hither and yon with oiled precision, including forming the basis for the occasional forward bed.
Rather unusually for an A-class, there’s no drop-down bed over the cab (though it is an option). Instead, there’s a semi-circle of good-sized lockers which, together with the generous storage levels elsewhere in the motorhome, should be more than enough for a couple of winter months on the Costa Blanca.
The main bed, in fact, is in the longitudinal rear bedroom and consists of two singles that can be used as a double. It’s exceptionally well-lit both by day and night and sports a trio of roof lockers, one of which is mirror-fronted.
Galloping gourmets will love the nearside kitchen, which employs optional Corisan worktops (part of which comprise the moulded-in sink/drainer) into which are sunk a surface waste bin and three-burner hob. Opposite sits the AES Techno-Tower (big fridge/freezer and oven/grill), while high and low-level storage is generous to say the least.
As the final flourish, the washroom, which sits between the kitchen and bedroom, is split across the floor with the shower on the nearside and the washroom proper opposite.
The bench-type toilet looks a little incongruous, but the shower cubicle is enormous and is supplied with hot water via the superb Alde ‘wet’ central heating system which features radiators throughout the vehicle for the ultimate in all-season use.
A longer version of this review was published in the August 2010 issue of Which Motorhome magazine.