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At Christmas we wanted to spend a relaxing time together as a family. My wife Caroline and I planned to whisk her parents away to the Cotswolds for some quality time with little Harriett.
It was going to be idyllic but it quickly became apparent that transporting five people with copious amounts of luggage in comfort was going to be difficult. And then try booking accommodation over this period. If you could find any it was very costly.
And so it was that a family of five spent Christmas together under one roof in the Marquis Majestic 180 six-berth motorhome. It was like a Famous Five adventure. What’s more we all got on without any arguments. This was a family first.
This behemoth of a vehicle, based on the Peugeot Boxer 2.2-litre diesel van, easily swallowed all our luggage including Christmas presents while also providing a comfortable environment for the five of us to safely travel in. Harriett’s car seat fitted without issue. Few vehicles on the roads today could actually provide such room without requiring an HGV licence.
Probably the most striking aspect of the 180 was its sheer size and at first it could appear quite daunting to the driver and indeed their front passenger. However, once inside its size was quickly forgotten as the gutsy diesel engine made light work of the journey. The test took place during countless severe weather warnings across storm-battered Britain. Despite its six-foot plus height the 180 felt stable as it ploughed through treacherous floods and high winds without complaint. On the motorway sixth gear and cruise control maintained a steady 70mph while it returned over 30mpg. More challenging hills, and there were plenty of them in the Cotswolds, required third or even second gear on occasions. The engine became gradually more raucous under pressure but that was to be expected with its sheer weight.
Driving such a sizeable beast forced the driver to think ahead and perhaps the biggest challenge was parking. It wasn’t simply a matter of finding a space and parking in it as you might a small hatchback. Even if there was a large enough space the driver needed to anticipate how they would safely manoeuvre both in and out. For instance, on one occasion I reversed into a sizeable space in a car park. On exiting, if I was in any other vehicle I would simply have swung the steering wheel to the right and safely made my exit. If I did this in the 180 I would have taken the car to my right with me. It was therefore necessary to drive to my left into the far corner of the car park and carefully reverse far enough back to allow me to safely turn right and leave. It was helpful that there was a rear window (many motorhomes do not have them). Still, I heavily relied on the wing mirrors for reversing. I recommend ensuring that a reversing camera is fitted for an easier life. We spied a suitable parking space by the side of the road in picturesque Stow-on-the-Wold and promptly squeezed in without issue.
You would think that to exit would simply be a matter of manoeuvring, indicating and leaving. But I was surprised at the number of pedestrians walking round the rear of the motorhome seemingly oblivious to the fact that I was trying to reverse to avoid clipping the car in front. The same occurred when Christmas lights clumsily fitted above a one-way street had fallen down making passage even by the smallest cars nigh on impossible without scraping them. I didn’t realise this until they were in my line of vision and so had to perform a u-turn, which was fine as there was plenty of room. The problem was that no cars or indeed pedestrians behind were prepared to wait for me to make this move. We got there in the end - a little while later the police closed the road. While driving, it was not unusual for other motorists to simply pull out in front of the 180, probably for fear of being stuck behind. This was of course completely unjustified as it would keep up with the best of them, if necessary.
The well appointed motorhome enabled us to be masters and mistresses of our own destiny. No motorway services for us thank you very much. We enjoyed a civilised lunch in a scenic location whenever we wished.
“It’s fitted with two propane gas bottles,” explained Ed Stoop, an extremely helpful and enthusiastic salesman at Marquis Motorhomes. “Propane gas doesn’t freeze and so it is perfect for camping in cold weather.” You can watch Ed showing me round the vehicle in the videos at testdrives.biz.
That gas was well used because it kept the motorhome toasty warm when parked while also heating water for the shower and providing fuel for cooking.
Overall it is always a great privilege to drive a Marquis Motorhome and the 180 is the biggest and best of them. It is a house on wheels and it is an incredible feat of engineering.
My mother-in-law sums up the experience: “Excellent, comfy seats and beds, good size fridge and an easy to use cooker. At my time of life I like my creature comforts when travelling and it’s so handy to have your own toilet and not have to use those dreadful public conveniences.”