Liverpool Daily Post Nov 2007 IN times of financial uncertainty, one thing is constant, the phenomenal rise of the motorhome. Once seen as a plaything of the wealthy, the motorhome, in all its guises, is gaining wider appeal. From the 'empty nesters,' people who have had their families and now have disposable income to the younger families who see the motorised home as a more practical alternative to the caravan. So marked has the boom been there has been almost uninterrupted growth in the market since 1995. A good test of the motorhome practicality is on the challenging highways and byways of the Emerald Isle. Ireland's roads are a mixture of the very good new highways and the older tracks masquerading as roads. The problem with Ireland's transport infrastructure is that it has not quite kept pace with the booming Emerald Tiger economy. Therefore the jewel in the country's crown, the west coast, is not only a favourite destination for tourists, it is now the target for development. This means a lethal cocktail of cars, articulated lorries, caravans and motorhomes clogging the narrow byways of that beautiful part of the country. Fortunately, I have been there before and knew what to expect, so navigating the huge 23ft Pilote Galaxy Aventura proved ultimately a doddle. The unit is based on Peugeot's excellent Boxer 335 L3 120 long wheelbase van. This means good power, enough to tackle the steepest inclines, together with pretty decent economy. The 2.2HDI diesel unit delivers 120bhp and plenty of pulling power. Nearly 1,000 miles were covered and the Pilote averaged nearly 27mpg, extremely good when you consider the weight, 3.5 tonnes, unladen, and aerodynamics, or lack of them. The Pilote Aventura 710 is a lavishly equipped piece of kit. Motorhomes generally come in a number of styles, from the micro and low-profile, through the traditional folding top camper van to the top end coachbuilt and A-class, our test vehicle. They offer a number of engines and chassis from manufacturers such as Renault, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Ford and Peugeot. It is designed to sleep four people, though five could be squeezed in at a push, but living together would be snug to say the least. The main double bed is permanently situated at the rear, raised above the cavernous 'garage', the main storage area that will house a couple of bicycles. The down side is this space is not available during the day, but the upside is the bed does not have to be prepared every day. A clever touch is allowing access to the garage directly from inside the cabin, which means wet shoes and clothes can be stored easily and accessed easily The lavish equipment, fridge-freezer, full-sized cooker and oven and a bathroom and shower that you can actually fit into, means some living space is sacrificed, but you soon adapt to surroundings. One feature that puzzled was the dining/ breakfast table. Unusually this is fixed in place, but can be folded in half and slid up and down. But again this limits space. My preference would be for a table that can be folded away. In common with most motorhomes, virtually everything is multi-purpose. The driver and passengers seats are "captain's chairs" which means they can swivel 360 degrees and make for comfortable armchairs, but the fixed table makes access to the passenger seat tight. The Aventura is also lavishly equipped. Central heating, numerous mains power slots, TV cupboard with aerial, numerous storage cupboards and cubbyholes, plus several individual lights make the living experience extremely agreeable. In addition to the main bed, another double bed, suspended above the driver and passenger seat can be lowered into place. Many may scoff at the idea of swapping their sunshine break for the joys of camping, but it really is worth a go, with the unconvinced, like myself, gradually becoming a convert. With prices starting from around £19,000, while not cheap, the motorhome is not quite the daunting financial commitment it used to be. They can be rented for the same price or less than a static caravan, or even a holiday apartment. But the bigger ones will cost more. The test model costs £44,000 new, but used vehicles can be a real bargain as they tend to be well looked after and with relatively low mileage.