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Is the latest Encore coachbuilt a crowd-pleaser? Nick Harding reports
Elddis’ upmarket, coachbuilt Encore range has been a popular sight on forecourts since 2015. Here we take a look at the latest addition, the 250, a four-berth with an extending island bed. Is this model from the County Durham-based outfit due a huge round of applause? Read on to find out…
While Elddis has traditionally used Peugeot’s Boxer as its chassis of choice, all Encores are actually based on the Fiat Ducato. Latest models are powered by the 140bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.
Going with Fiat in this case allows Elddis to offer automatic transmission as well as a more powerful 160bhp engine as options. That is the set-up we have here, along with enough extras to give it all a premium feel – 10in screen for the infotainment system, alloy wheels, reversing camera and Hypnos mattress.
All this increases the retail price from £80,000 to over £90,000 and the MRO to 3,154kg, which results in a payload of less than 350kg – that’s not a lot if there are four people on board.
The coachbuilding is excellent – the 250 is fully bonded, with one-piece aluminium sides, a GRP overcab section and a protective skin to the underside, also in GRP. Windows are semi-flush fitting and the Hartal one-piece habitation door boasts a fixed window. Other external fittings include a Thule awning, mounting points for a bike rack, as well as gas, TV and mains electricity outlets on the nearside.
As you’d expect, the 160bhp engine gives that bit more ‘zip’ compared to the standard 140bhp offering, and, if you can stretch to it financially, the slick, nine-speed automatic transmission makes the drive even more relaxing. The long rear overhang and the gas locker in the rear nearside corner could potentially affect handling, but I wasn’t able to put the miles in on this occasion to give related feedback.
Each settee base lifts up to reveal a fold-out three-point belted Aguti travel seat for use while on the move. They do take up a lot of storage space, however, and they’re quite narrow, making them better suited to children.
Step inside the Encore 250 and you’ll discover a spacious, open-plan layout. The inward-facing settees are different lengths but combine with the easily-swivelled cab seats to provide plenty of lounge space. On the bulkhead behind the driver are a pair of mains sockets, a 12V socket, a connection for the TV aerial and space for a flatscreen TV bracket.
A free-standing table, which has its own dedicated storage locker at the end of the kitchen, is plenty large enough for four place settings, while decent-sized side windows, a wind-up sunroof over the cab and a Midi Heki roof-light directly over the lounge ensure this is a light and airy space in which to relax and dine. Pull-down concertina blinds and flyscreens as well as lined curtains ensure it’s also a cosy space at night.
The programmable Alde central and water heating system is a star feature.
Great double at rear
and night-time set-up at front
In my opinion there’s no excuse for not enjoying a lovely, uninterrupted night’s sleep on the extra-cost Hypnos mattress, which tops the fixed rear island double. At 6ft 3in x 4ft 5in (1.9m x 1.35m) at its longest and widest, this bed is both retractable and set low for easy access, and can be angled so that you can sit fully upright for reading etc. At the foot end, another TV aerial socket allows you to catch up with your favourite drama.
The only compromise is the storage space in the bed base itself, but that is more than made up for by pretty sizeable wardrobes either side, with the one on the offside also benefitting from four drawers as well as a pair of high-level lockers. Strangely, there is no way of dividing this main bedroom from the rest of the living quarters – this could be addressed relatively easily.
The front sleeping area derived from the settees, however, does get a pleated divider. Making the double here involves some cushion rearranging (turn them over for a flatter surface), the result of which is a bed that’s 6ft 10in (2.08m) long by 4ft (1.24m) at its widest, but cuts back to 3ft 2in (0.96m) at the foot end.
Situated amidships on the nearside, the Encore 250 kitchen boasts a Thetford cooker with three gas rings and an electric hotplate, plus separate oven and grill. There’s a sliver of permanent worktop to its right – plus a lot more if you flip up the extension. Left of the hob is a circular sink with loose cover, served by a chrome swan-neck mixer tap. Also here is a splash panel and two mains sockets. A roof-light provides ventilation.
A Russell Hobbs microwave is set directly over the hob. Its height should be okay for most users, but a bit more thought is needed as to where to stow its glass plate for safe travel.
Storage includes three soft-closing drawers (the top one has a loose cutlery tray), two floor lockers and a double-doored, upper-level cupboard with shelved section and racks for plates and mugs. Across the corridor, the Dometic fridge is a slimline 10-series model with automatic energy selection and a 12-litre freezer section in its 139-litre capacity. It’s set off floor level for easier access, with lockers above and below – the top one has the controller for the Truma solar panel.
Directly across from the kitchen, a solid door offers access to a washroom boasting a counter-top basin with flick-flack plug, swivel-bowl cassette toilet and an Ecocamel Orbit showerhead on a riser bar. A shower curtain instead of a screen and the use of wallboard rather than plastic lining was a little disappointing. A heated towel rail (which seems to be set both too low and too close to the toilet), a towel/clothes hook, a toilet roll holder and a double-doored shelved locker above the toilet complete the picture here.
Practical touches include proper cab blinds, the leisure battery sensibly stored in the floor and the spare wheel tucked underneath at the back. There’s a Maxview Wi-Fi system, while other goodies include a Teleco Teleplus directional TV aerial on the roof and a wireless charger with two USB ports, handily located by the main bed.
A great bed, nicely-designed interior and reliable Fiat Ducato underpinnings combine to create an appealing motorhome – a few detail upgrades would make it an even more compelling package.