Although this Tribute is entry-level, it offers most of the character of Auto-Trail’s more expensive ranges. This is the brand to go to if you want a British garage layout at this length. The choice of overcab style and lounge format also widens the appeal of the model. Lounge comfort was a bit disappointing due to over-soft seats and access to the rear bed could be easier. Remember to budget for the packs, which tips the cost over £50k.
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Price from: £47,131 Berths: 6 Travel seats: 4 Length: 7.25m Gross weight: 3,500kg
Tribute is Grimsby-based Auto-Trail’s entry-level range although it doesn’t really come across as a bare bones budget ’van. Auto-Trail’s unique character is very much here, too, and instantly recognisable by anyone who knows their motorhomes.
The new T-736 G covers a bit over seven metres of ground space, putting it squarely in the medium-to-large category. The layout is a classic: L-shaped lounge up front, central kitchen and washroom and, in the rear, a chunk of continental character, as a transverse double bed lives above a spacious garage.
Auto-Trail is known for providing some interesting options to suit as wide a range of buyers as possible. Here, you can choose a Hi-Line overcab with double bed or the Lo-Line version, which provides no overcab bed but extra locker space instead. This is a no-cost option, but a bit more cash can see a pullman dinette installed in place of the L-settee lounge – and thus six belted seats in a motorhome that offers up to six berths. This test motorhome sported the overcab bed, but not the pullman seating.
Decorated in neutral style, the Tribute’s interior is welcoming, with upholstery in tough-looking woven cloth that’s executed extremely well. Overall, the interior feels spacious and modern – quite cosy, in fact.
Fiat’s Ducato continues to be the number one base vehicle choice for motorhomes and all Auto-Trail models are based on the Italian chassis. Our trials of the T-736 G revealed acceptable handling and performance and I sailed along the motorway at the legal limit with plenty of oomph in reserve.
The cab is well equipped, as long as you order the Driver’s Pack. This provides air-conditioning, cruise control and a rear camera. In my book, however, the pack’s spare wheel and passenger airbag should really come as standard.
Something that could be considered continental in style is the L-shaped seating on the offside, including twin forward-facing seats with seatbelts.
Here, there’s also a shorter side-facing sofa, as well as the swivelling cab seats. But you will need to pay for the Driver’s Pack if you want the cab seats to swivel. We would recommend budgeting £1,500 for this to ensure you get all the things you would expect.
With seat swivels in place the lounge can fit up to eight. Lighting creates a good atmosphere, with reading lamps, under-cabinet strips and ambient illumination above.
The dining table is a free-stander that sets up in the middle of the lounge. Six people might dine here, as long as they’re good friends, while four residents will have no problem eating in comfort.
The galley-style kitchen is compact but well-equipped. A stove with oven and a microwave are all fitted into this bijou space, but the fridge is quite modest for family tours.
A bit of simple design sees the roomy sink mounted sideways, which allows for a reasonably sized slab of worktop between it and the cooker. Up above, one good-sized locker shares space with the 800W nuker that’s part of the Lux Pack. Two cupboards live below, one slim and shelved, the other wide, deep and tall enough to take cereal packets.
We did feel the cutlery drawer was small and is the only drawer in this galley; a drawer or two big enough for utensils and similar should still be possible. The kitchen lacks little else, lighting is courtesy of an LED strip above the sink and worktop, but there’s nothing above the cooker.
The washroom majors on practicality over aesthetics and is all the better for it.
All the essentials are here – a basin with countertop, enough floor space to use the swivel bowl loo, plus a practical separate shower compartment with rigid door, high-level drying rail and a wire shelf for gel and washcloth.
More artificial illumination wouldn’t go amiss, and the opening window lacks a flyscreen.
The Tribute is technically a four-person ’van, but in this guise it can actually do a bit more. Even though the optional pullman lounge (making the T-736G into a six-berth) wasn’t present, it’s still possible to make a lounge bed.
The overcab double has a sliding base that moves back to complete the bed. Headroom is okay with ventilation provided by a large opening sunroof directly above. The single-strip LED is mounted on one side and doesn’t really provide enough lighting.
To the rear, the over-garage double proved a delight to use, thanks to sensible design. The access step is a bit low for those less agile but once I was on the mattress, everything was pukka – individual reading lights, a wide shelf, plenty of space to sit up and a window and rooflight for ventilation. Add a second access step and this bedroom would be perfect.
Given that one sleeper will have to climb over the other to get in and out of the over-garage bed, there’s got to be a good reason to choose this layout. That reason is the large garage beneath the bed.
At over two metres long and approaching 1.30m wide, there’s plenty of storage space, including enough headroom to load full-sized bikes. Garage access is great, with a large door on the nearside, a smaller one opposite – plus, you can get in from the living area, via a pair of double doors.
Internal storage provides space under the lounge sofas, a total of five overhead lockers and a jacket-length, twin-door wardrobe.
There’s plenty of space but not a huge payload - a chassis upgrade to 3,650kg is offered (but make sure your licence allows you to drive that weight).
Unusual in a world that sees Truma’s Combi boiler dominating, the T-736 G is fitted with separate space and water heaters. Still made by Truma, both the water heater and convector fire can run on gas and/or mains electricity.
The heater does look a little outmoded but it can be used silently, which wins it a few brownie points if you’re not keen on the whirrings of a blown-air fan.
The GT Pack, which was once a £1,600 option, is now standard and includes alloy wheels and practical kit in the form of a barbecue point, solar panel and awning. It would be perfect if the Driver’s Pack and Lux Packs also become standard so you get everything included without the need to tick the options list.