The Le Voyageur look, inside and out, is sufficiently different to its Teutonic rivals to stand out, while the anniversary edition gives you all the spec you could ever want at a price that seems very competitive. The LV leaves you in no doubt that it is a premium product and impresses especially in its washroom and bedroom areas. Only the LHD windscreen wipers on a RHD vehicle disappoint.
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Al-Ko Price from: £137,750 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 8.55m Width: 2.24m Height: 2.95m Gross weight: 5,000kg
Words and photos: Peter Vaughan
There are brands with longer histories than Le Voyageur, but few that have competed for four decades in the upper echelons of the A-class market. So, it seems apt for the company to celebrate.
You can have your 40th Anniversary edition in 7.85m or 8.55m lengths and with either an island bed ‘CF’ layout or this ‘GJF’ version with twin singles, but this isn’t just a case of embroidered logos on the seats and celebratory graphics; there’s over £25k-worth of extra kit on these vehicles.
Everything from the top-spec Fiat engine and automatic gearbox to a satellite dish and HD TV is included. For once, you won’t get RSI ticking options boxes!
The longer LV8.5 models are built on a tag-axle Al-Ko chassis with six 16in alloy wheels. The styling is distinctive, with a rounded nose that incorporates the original Ducato headlights, but the real beauty of the Le Voyageur body is less obvious – a 13-degree dome to the roof that prevents water pooling on top, while the roof cap also overlaps the side walls as a further protection against water ingress.
The body construction also features aluminium inserts, which connect floor, walls and roof and it was noticeable on our test drive that there was an absence of the creaking and ratting that can afflict some A-classes. The skirts are also in aluminium, so they are less prone to damage.
On the road, the ultimate Ducato power unit’s impressive 450Nm of torque ensured that this big motorhome was soon up to cruising speed, albeit with more intrusive engine noise than I’d expected.
These tag-axle chassis vehicles always feel incredibly stable on the road. but here there is the benefit of Al-Ko Air Premium air suspension on the rear, too, so the LV handles exceptionally well. Its spec goes on to include an idMedia touchscreen display of a size and clarity to match Merc’s MBUX unit and incorporating Bluetooth, DAB radio and sat-nav.
Of course, this is a big vehicle, so the bus-type mirrors and multi-view reversing camera (with a rather incongruous separate display rather than one integrated into the multimedia) are more than welcome.
The driver’s vision forward is better than some rivals as well, with its maker stating that a 60cm tall object can be seen just 2.09m in front. I didn’t try to prove that, but found the French motorhome less daunting than some of its ilk.
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However, I was glad that it stayed dry because the left-hand drive layout windscreen wipers leave quite a large unswept area of glass.
That oversight is a shame, because there’s much to applaud here. The double-floor storage can be reached from either side, just behind the cab, and has a 250mm height – not as much as some, but then this model isn’t as lofty-looking, either.
An even better feature is the pair of service hatches, one on each flank – electrics on the offside, heating and water on the nearside. The former includes the 210Ah lithium iron phosphate battery, the RCD, fuses and the mains lead on a reel – extending through a slot in the floor to avoid cold spots.
The offside hatch reveals the Alde heating unit and fresh water filler – not just a cap to unscrew but a built-in hose, once again on a reel, with an alternative filler if you need to top up without getting close to a tap.
Fresh water capacity is generous, too, at 200 litres, while waste is a little more modest, at 120 litres, and the tanks are fitted above the rear axle for optimum weight distribution. The grey water is emptied via an electric valve and a large-bore outlet, while independence from site facilities is also boosted by a spare cassette for the toilet.
Of course, there’s a huge garage for bikes, etc, and – when sitting outside – owners will be shaded by the electric roll-out awning with its full-length LED strip light.
Garage dimensions are just over 1.10m in height and almost as much in width, while 12V and 230V sockets feature here and there are tie-downs at floor level and above.
There’s an exterior shower, too, while two alternative (fixed) garage heights are available as a factory order.
All the outside hatches seem impressively well sealed and come with twist locks that clearly show whether they are secured and locked.
The anniversary editions come with Dune furniture and Prestige leather upholstery, the first giving the Le Voyageur a refreshingly alternative appearance to most of its opposition, while the seats are beautifully finished with high-quality hide and double stitching. You’re left in no doubt that this is a very high-end motorhome.
New details include the use of black for the contrasting seat boxes, kitchen tap and splashback, TV surround, etc. With the optional high-gloss top cupboard, there’s a homely but contemporary vibe, while the soft-touch ceiling (and even an upholstered table leg) speaks volumes about the detailing.
The long side settees are especially comfortable and the Aguti captain’s chairs spin right round, allowing feet-up relaxing while watching the 22in full-HD TV (not the biggest but adequate and well-placed). And when it comes to dinner time, the table unfolds to a banquet-sized 1.20m by 0.82m – room for six diners.
The primary audience might be couples taking an extended tour, but the LV also caters for families, with fold-away Aguti seats hidden under each of the benches. They are a practical solution, but the bulky settee cushions have to be relocated when the travel seats are used.
A deep kitchen counter (up to 780mm) ensures that the chef has preparation space without recourse to folding flaps. You may be surprised to see just a two-burner hob but Le Voyageur’s southern dealer, Pullingers, had spec’d this example with the Duplex oven/grill. That’s so much more convenient than the oft-seen Tec-Tower and is included without decimating storage.
There’s a large cutlery drawer and a super-deep, pull-out unit that includes two bins and space for eight wine bottles. These have central locking, via a key, and a warning buzzer if you forget to lock them before driving, but they don’t glide smoothly shut as you might hope.
However, the LV fights back with two pull-out pantry units (upper and lower, including space for four more bottles!) as well as top cupboards with upstands to keep their contents from tumbling out.
Opposite, the fridge is, of course, the latest Dometic type with doors that can be opened from either side. Automatic energy selection can be taken for granted at this price level.
Sliding partitions fore and aft close off the washroom area from both the bedroom and the forward living area – there are no clever dual-purpose doors here – and the design is all the better because the toilet compartment always stays private.
There’s plenty of space in the littlest room, so it’s a shame that the ceramic-bowl toilet is mounted too high for all but the very tallest humans to sit comfortably.
The shower is domestic-sized and has not one but two drying rails, as well as its own roof vent and a shelf for shampoo, etc. Alongside, the bowl-on-a-plinth basin is backed by a Hollywood starlet’s illuminated mirror and there’s plenty of storage and worktop.
Again, the top locker includes upstands to stop an avalanche of toiletries when you open the door after a drive.
Finally, the washroom area includes twin wardrobes, one above the other, each fitted with a choice of hanging rail or shelf. Or you can even remove the divide between them to hang that essential ballgown!
Truly, this is a motorhome washroom par excellence.
Can’t decide whether to go for single beds or a double? Well, perhaps Le Voyageur has the answer – have both.
Marketed as a twin bed layout, all seems conventional here (if pretty impressive) at first. However, press what look like light switches (either above the head of the bed or on the washroom wall) and electric motors move each of the beds towards the centre of the motorhome until they meet in the middle.
Now, of course, the wide, illuminated central step that makes access to the twin beds so easy is covered, so you’ll have to employ a ladder (or launch yourself into bed, if you’re feeling very athletic), but this feature does add an unusual touch of flexibility to the layout, without the need to carry extra cushions.
The beds are each a generous 2m in length and the bedroom is illuminated in fine style, as well as featuring his and hers shelves over the side windows, each with twin USBs to charge your devices as you recharge your personal batteries.
Importantly, too, come morning, breakfast in bed is a luxurious possibility as the head of each mattress can be raised on ratcheted supports. For once you can sit up without risk of banging your head on overhead lockers.
A bedroom TV is not included in the spec, but power and aerial sockets are fitted, as are Jehnert speakers and an amplifier.
Rather than underbed wardrobes, Le Voyageur provides cupboard space under the offside bed that’s also accessible through the garage and beneath the other bed is a pair of super-sized drawers that will be perfect for folded clothes. These also shut with the smoothness that we’d anticipated in the galley.
As a four-berth, the LV also has a drop-down bed in the cab, of course. But this isn’t just another A-class berth. For a start, it’s electric (the switch is sited above the door, alongside the touchscreen for everything from heating to the electric windscreen blind), while, more importantly, it is king-sized.
Having fully lowered the bed, the fascia can be simply pulled to extend the slatted bed base rearwards to turn a 1.85m by 1.36m transverse double into a vast 1.98m by 1.85m lengthways bed with the addition of two extra mattress sections.
As a lengthways bed, of course, access is super-easy (the ladder isn’t really necessary as it’s just step up via the sofas). There are reading lights in the ceiling on either side and, above the windscreen, there’s a shelf with 12V and USB sockets.
Most models in this sector, except for Frankia’s Titan and Platin ranges, require buyers to carefully analyse their priorities and dig deep to fund £20k-worth, or more, of options.
Here, though, Le Voyageur’s anniversary models include pretty much everything buyers would want, leaving the oven as the only essential add-on.
As well as features already mentioned, the spec includes a 1,800W inverter, solar panel, heat exchanger for the Alde heating and an alarm system. And, as a final touch, a gift box containing black towels and a Champagne cooler is included.
Let’s hope that Le Voyageur continues to offer such a high-spec vehicle after the sound of Moët bottles popping has died down.