In the oh-so-crowded market for 7.5-metre island bed low-profile motorhomes, this new Dethleffs stands out with its contemporary style, plethora of interior lights and top-notch build quality. Its comfortable bedroom and, especially, the very practical washroom are highlights, too, while the increased specification of UK models makes the Pulse look surprisingly good value.
Berths: 3 (4 with optional drop-down bed) Travel seats: 4 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 460kg
Dethleffs’ line-up of motorhomes is one of the most expansive – and, possibly, confusing – of them all. It encompasses nine ranges (not including sister budget brand, Sunlight) and no less than 56 models. And, for 2019, there’s a brand-new name in its portfolio – Pulse.
Effectively, the Pulse replaces the Advantage (which left the UK, except as a Lowdhams’ dealer special, at the end of the 2017 season). It, therefore, sits above the entry-level Trend (and the slimline Globebus), but below the Magic Edition and Al-Ko chassis’d Esprit (now marketed as the Esprit Eighty Eight). As with all of its sister ranges, it is offered in low-profile or A-class form, and with a choice of layouts including single and island bed arrangements, but this is also as high up the Dethleffs family tree as you can venture if you want a 3.5-tonne motorhome.
The example we tested is the longer of two island bed low-profiles, measuring 7.41m overall. There’s also a single bed model of similar length, or you can have either sleeping format in a 6.99m body. And all these layouts are also available in A-class form for £8,000 more.
Almost a dozen years after the X2/50-generation Ducato first appeared, the latest version looks little different inside from the first and, it has to be said, it’s showing its age. But as a basis for motorhomes of this size and price there are few alternatives and at least the standard spec here – greatly enhanced for the UK – is as generous as they come. Not only are cruise control, passenger airbag, chrome-ringed dials and a leather steering wheel part of the package, but you get LED daytime running lights and automatic air-conditioning.
Despite the almost £3,000 extra cost, we’d also be surprised to see many Pulses sold here without the Gran Turismo package. Recognised by GT logos and a lipstick red skidplate, this also adds flush-fitting habitation windows (much neater looking), 16in alloy wheels, cab running boards and the option of a silver or black base vehicle. Driving licence permitting, there’s the option to upgrade to a 3,850kg chassis.
If you’re looking for an island bed motorhome, you’ll have seen it all before – the lengthways rear bedroom, split washroom facilities, central galley and half-dinette lounge are all pretty much exactly as you’d expect.
It’s pleasing to see that Isofix child seat fittings are available as an option but less impressive to find that the usual inward-facing seat on the offside has been reduced to child-size dimensions. It doesn’t even serve as somewhere to rest your feet. Equally, the L-shaped section of the half-dinette is no more than somewhere to stretch out, being too slim to act as a proper seat. The forward-facing rear bench, however, is much more ergonomic than most.
The galley resists the conventional ‘L’ format and is a deeper unit than most, with a consequent benefit in terms of worktop space, which is especially generous with the sink cover in situ. It’s pleasing, too, to find that this lid not only has a chopping board on its reverse but is safely stowed for travel on the kitchen cupboard door. In the same location you’ll find a waste bin but, if you need to reach something from the back of this locker, you’ll require very long arms – that’s the less appealing aspect of the deeper unit.
The rear bedroom and en suite are up a 125mm step from the kitchen but headroom here is still at least 1.88m. More importantly, the bed itself is as wide as we’ve seen in this class of ’van. That’s been made possible by bedside wardrobes that narrow towards the base – not a new idea but one that’s accentuated by the angular design. The bed length is variable – not by a sophisticated base that slides back to create a lounger, but simply with a long sausage of an infill cushion that slots it at the head of the bed. Without this extra piece in place it measures 1.81m, with it you can add 10cm but room to walk around the foot of the bed is, of course, reduced.
The bedroom can be separated from the rest of the ’van via a series of sliding doors, though space to get around the (extended) bed with these closed is minimal. Then, in the usual fashion, the toilet room door creates a full-width washroom closed off from the lounge and galley. More unusual is the shower, which has a grey tambour door rather than the usual clear screens – unusual for a German design! Shower space is unaffected and the drying rail, twin drain holes, duckboard and basket for shampoo are all great features. Over in the loo department, the practicality is every bit as impressive. From plentiful cupboard and worktop space to good shoulder and legroom on the throne and a trio of robe hooks, the ablutions area is hard to fault.
Pity the same cannot be said of the lounge bed. Requiring three large infill cushions (stored in the garage) and a lot of juggling of the seats, it is one of the most complicated make-ups I’ve seen, albeit resulting in a good flat bed that would actually serve a child or small adult well. If you need more than two berths, you’ll be better served by the optional electric drop-down bed – or better still by the A-class Pulse.
Large loading doors (each with a central handle operating two-point locking) on either side of the Pulse hint at the space within but, with the island bed in its lowest position, interior height is only 0.89m, which won’t be enough for standard pushbikes. The garage comes with tie-down points (adjustable on a rail), blown-air heating and almost full-width LED lighting.