Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

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Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by RustyLegs on Thu 12 Oct 2017 - 15:47

I have been caravanning for a number of years but the last three years have not been kind to me health wise, two back surgeries in the last year or so. I am therefore looking into trading in my caravan for a campervan probably early next year. This will also need to be my everyday transport and due to my driveway constraints, 5.7m is the maximum length that can be accommodated.
 
A Symbol seems to be the favourite on my shortlist of suitable campervans. I would need to buy the Fiat version with the Comfortmatic robotised gearbox though. Dealers only seem to have the Peugot version available in stock and available for test driving though. It’s too expensive a purchase to buy purely on spec so did any other members that bought van conversions manage to get a test drive of the Fiat version with the said gearbox please before parting with their money?
 
I have noticed that Auto-Sleepers have increased the price of the option of a Fiat Comfortmatic gearbox with the 150 bhp engine to £4000 from £2500 last year though they have added the option of the 130 bhp engine with the same gearbox at £2000. What are member’s views please of the Fiat 130 bhp engine giving decent performance on a campervan the size and weight of a Symbol?
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by AutoSleepyDon on Thu 12 Oct 2017 - 15:55

a) I would say 130hp is sufficient for a motorhome, but, if it is to be your everyday then I would get the most powerfull available.
b) Also I would only buy such a gearbox after a test drive as I don't know if it feels exactly the same as an regular torque converter automatic.

More knowledgable people with first hand experience of the "comfort matic" will be along shortly.
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by burlingtonboaby on Thu 12 Oct 2017 - 16:18

Hi and welcome to the forum from Bridlington 
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by -mojo- on Thu 12 Oct 2017 - 18:51

For some reason the forum search tool doesn't find the previous threads on this subject with the word "comfortmatic", but if you do a search for "comfort gearbox" they turn up - even though it's been spelled wrong in at least one of them! There is some pretty good feedback on this and the similar gearbox on the Transit in those theads.

I don't have any direct experience of the robotised 'boxes myself (other than in a Smart car, which I didn't enjoy), but currently use one with a VW dual-clutch type and it's very good indeed (but expensive, of course).
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by dbroada on Thu 12 Oct 2017 - 19:10

I like my Fiat (mostly).

People complain that the gear changes are slow, and maybe they are but I'm not in a hurry. I did get booted recently but I was always taught to make sure you don't drive in to the car in front rather than expect them to just disappear.

The one problem I have is hills. A proper auto box will hold still on a hill but the Fiat box doesn't, it needs revs before it moves so you either need to be quick with your feet, use the handbrake (which I find to be too far away) or try left foot braking.

I also drive a Smart with the same type of gearbox and that has a "sticky" brake that holds on for a few seconds so you don't have to be so quick with your feet. I think this is an option on the Fiat but I didn't specify it. Had I known it was an option I would have ordered it.

The Smart is a pain to reverse, again because of the need to rev the engine to get the clutch to bite. The Fiat doesn't have this problem, it will drive backwards on very little throttle.

I am more than happy with the power and it can punch uphill very nicely. It took us up some quite steep slopes in Norway this summer, especially with the hill assist selected. This just delays the gear changes. I haven't mastered coming down hill yet and did manage to cook the brakes on that trip. I think I must learn to use the box in manual mode. In auto it was changing up and I therefore braked.

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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by Greyhound on Fri 13 Oct 2017 - 11:45

I can't comment on the auto box, but can say my Symbol has more than enough power for our use.

It pulls away no problem and have been up some pretty steep hills in it that I would have been stressing over in my old Nuevo and the Symbol just cruised up them no problem.

The manual has hill assist though, so no bother with hill starts etc.  Works really well, but sounds like the auto could do with something similar.
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by GP1069 on Fri 13 Oct 2017 - 21:31

I did drive one with 130bhp comfortmatic back from Italy and wasn't impressed, it had a habit when going up hills of continually changing gear 4th then 5th then 4th then 3rd etc as it was in the wrong gear, in the end I took over making the decision on what gear it should be in. I maybe biased as I have a VW Passat with a DSG(double clutch and pre select) gearbox and have to say it's just perfect. I wish AS would use a VW base.

My advise is 100% drive one, even a secondhand one before ordering and if you decide it's ok then I would get the 150bhp the 130bhp I found to be a bit gutless and probably did not help with the hills. This is just my opinion and I'm sure there will be people on here who love it.

I now have Peugeot Boxer 150bhp Warwick XL and was put off the Fiat comfortmatic even though it was originally my first choice before buying. You will either love it or hate it but drive one first.


Look on auto trader there is 148 auto gearbox motorhomes between 40K and 55K, must be one somewhere near you.
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by RustyLegs on Sun 15 Oct 2017 - 11:27

Many thanks to all the members that replied to my post. It has given me some food for thought! up!
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by ki on Tue 17 Oct 2017 - 7:40

Hi RustyLegs

There is very little performance difference between the Multijet 130 and 150 engines with the Fiat Comfort-Matic gearbox, although the 130 is the more economical and either would be suitable for the Symbol. Criticism of the auto often comes from those not completely conversant with the advanced features that it offers.

When in AUTO mode the system will shift gear based on speed, rpm and accelerator pedal pressure. A gear shift may also be made without disengaging the AUTO mode and this temporary suspension is called ‘gear suggestion’. In addition to this the AUTO mode also features an UP function switch which is useful when overcoming steep gradients (both ascending and descending).

If you want to drive the vehicle in a more spritely way then it is easily toggled into MANUAL mode to take full advantage of the six speed gearbox.

It is also worth noting that Fiat Euro 6 engines do not require AdBlue consumables, unlike Peugeot,  and now that AS is part of the Trigano Group you would expect to see less involvement with Peugeot (and Merc’s) and more with Fiat as this is easily the most popular base vehicle.

My current van is a 2017 Globecar, made by Dethleffs, and fitted with the Comfort- Matic gearbox. It is a pleasure to drive and I would recommend it as an alternative to the manual only gearbox.


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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by RustyLegs on Tue 17 Oct 2017 - 9:36

Hi Keith,

Many thanks for your helpful comments on the Comformatic gearbox and engine selection. The points you have made are very useful to me.

Ian
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by AutoSleepyDon on Tue 17 Oct 2017 - 10:34

ki wrote:It is also worth noting that Fiat Euro 6 engines do not require AdBlue consumables, unlike Peugeot,  and now that AS is part of the Trigano Group you would expect to see less involvement with Peugeot (and Merc’s) and more with Fiat as this is easily the most popular base vehicle.

Keith

As a point of information, I believe AS ended it's association with Trigano in June 2009. It is now owned by 2 british guys Geoff Scott & Mike Crouch (50% each), borne out by wikipedia, AS web site and AS annual return at companies house.  http://www.auto-sleepers.com/auto-sleepers-group-ltd-return-to-british-ownership/
I think these 2 guys are the guys who started Marquis motorhomes and I know Marquis salesman like to say they own AS smile! .

PS If you have ever wondered if AS manage to make any money then the Profit and Loss accounts of "Auto-sleepers investments limited" are quite interesting. It made over £7.7 million pre tax profit in last filed accounts (2016).
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by PLOUGHLIN on Tue 17 Oct 2017 - 12:58

AutoSleepyDon wrote:
ki wrote:It is also worth noting that Fiat Euro 6 engines do not require AdBlue consumables, unlike Peugeot,  and now that AS is part of the Trigano Group you would expect to see less involvement with Peugeot (and Merc’s) and more with Fiat as this is easily the most popular base vehicle.

Keith

As a point of information, I believe AS ended it's association with Trigano in June 2009. It is now owned by 2 british guys Geoff Scott & Mike Crouch (50% each), borne out by wikipedia, AS web site and AS annual return at companies house.  http://www.auto-sleepers.com/auto-sleepers-group-ltd-return-to-british-ownership/
I think these 2 guys are the guys who started Marquis motorhomes and I know Marquis salesman like to say they own AS smile! .

PS If you have ever wondered if AS manage to make any money then the Profit and Loss accounts of "Auto-sleepers investments limited" are quite interesting. It made over £7.7 million pre tax profit in last filed accounts (2016).

That may be but old information. Trigano bought ASI in Jan 2017. https://www.practicalcaravan.com/news/42608-british-giant-marquis-leisure-bought-by-trigano#0FjhwyEeJ3LK8j6Q.99

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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by AutoSleepyDon on Tue 17 Oct 2017 - 13:43

PLOUGHLIN wrote:
That may be but old information. Trigano bought ASI in Jan 2017. https://www.practicalcaravan.com/news/42608-british-giant-marquis-leisure-bought-by-trigano#0FjhwyEeJ3LK8j6Q.99
ok, thanks, I missed that. It's not filed at companies house yet. They must have a paid a fortune for such a profitable company, and it is very profitable. content
Trigano always sounds like an Italian name to me but that article says Trigano is French. Peugeot is French. I am expecting AS to continue full steam with Peugeot.

I would not buy a comfortmatic Fiat without first giving it a good test drive unless I had absolutely no other choice.
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by ki on Wed 18 Oct 2017 - 7:55

The Trigano Group is made up of a large number of companies all of which use the Fiat chassis. I think it likely that AS will also eventually follow down this path as three out of every four new motorhomes sold in Europe are based on the X290 Fiat platform.

Why would AS continue with Peugeot for front wheel drive motorhomes when Fiat offers a more comprehensive range and with the added benefit of the increased buying power through the Group?

Given the interest shown at the recent Dusseldorf Caravan Salon it is likely that we will also soon see the Ducato 4X4 Expedition starting to appear on the market to add to the range.


As for the robotised transmission, you can either by a six speed manual or you can buy the Comfort Matic which gives you both manual and automatic options. It is easy to see why the latter option is so popular with motorhomers.
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Re: Interested in purchasing a new Symbol

Post by breakaleg Today at 13:51

Hi Rustylegs,
There is an alternative, have you heard of auto clutch, can be fitted to any vehicle, I have used one for 11 years now on two different vans, not as good as a full automatic but about £1600 fitted.
You still have to change gear but the clutch pedal dips at the touch of a button, it will creep along in heavy traffic.
you can switch it off and use the gearbox in the normal way, have to do this when the van is serviced as it confuses the life out of the mechanics. lol.
don't have to use your left leg again.
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