MCD reviewer Paul Owen is familiar with most brands and technology when it comes to the motorhome industry, so he knows exactly what features contribute to comfort and reliability when on the road. The Jacyo Conquest proved a pleasant surprise.
The name Conquest seems a strange choice for Jayco’s range of eight-metre-long Luton-bodied motorhomes. Do they climb Mount Everest? Establish Empires? Perhaps the branding refers to the model’s growing popularity in this market and the way they conquer Kiwi buyer resistance, for we appear to be magnetically attracted to its value, build quality, and robust engineering and design.
Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations last featured a Jayco Conquest three years ago when Bill Savidan reviewed the FA 25-3 model. This time around, it’s the turn of the FA 25-2 variant, which is also based on a Fiat Ducato, but a much improved one: the new Series 8 version.
The ‘25’ in the model nomenclature simply refers to the length of both motorhomes in old-school feet, and they basically share the same layout, with the ‘3’ being officially identified as being
two-berth, as that’s the number of seatbelt-equipped seats available, while the 25-2 has four seatbelts mounted in the dinette and is a fully capable six-berth.
The other major difference between this 25-2 and the 25-3 is the size of the slideout on the driver’s side of the van. Press the appropriate activating button inside this one and the main double bed, window, and portions of the surrounding wall and ceiling dance a slow whirr-accompanied waltz away from the rest of the motorhome.
In the 25-3, the front dinette extends as well, with the extension creating even more floor space. Both slideouts feature a fabric covering that automatically rolls out at the top to better proof the ceiling-topped extension from the weather.
Both the 25-2 and 25-3 list for $209,990. The ‘2’ gets a bigger dinette, seating four people face-to-face, whereas the ‘3’ has a more compact L-shaped dinette that’s a bit tighter on seating space and available foot room. The larger dinette of the 25-2 can be converted into a child-sized double bed, whereas the one in the 25-3 can’t.
The Luton compartments above the cab of both models have a foam mattress base, along with an easy-to-install part-time ladder and windows on either side. By my bed count, there’s sleeping room for four adults inside the 25-3, although, two of those occupants will have to travel independently to the campsite de nuit.
The 25-2 can legally transport six – four adults and two children – to the campsite, making it the more versatile of the two Conquest models.
Greatest Ducato of them all
The GOAT of all Fiat Ducatos can be instantly recognised with a quick glance at the middle of the grille. If you see four large silver letters spelling ‘FIAT’ instead of a small red badge identifying the name of the same manufacturer, you know for certain that this is the new Series 8 generation of the ‘world’s most popular motorhome platform’.
Consider the initial sight of those four silver letters a signal that you’ve struck motorhome platform gold. Series 8 represents the biggest step forward in Fiat Ducato history since the first generation made its debut way back in 1981. In comes a lighter, totally redesigned 2.2-litre engine called the Multijet 3, which develops a healthy 430Nm of driving force despite the minor reduction in cee-cees when compared with the now obsolete 2.3-litre Multijet 2.
The new 2.2 is also 10% lighter than the old donk, reducing weight in a critical part of the chassis, and helping the new powertrain achieve a seven percent fuel saving when hooked up to the German-made ZF nine-speed automatic gearbox. This makes the Conquest capable of sipping diesel at a rate of less than eight litres per 100km when driven smoothly and efficiently on the open road.
Also helping reduce CO2 and toxic NOx outputs is the stop-start system that’s part of the huge electronic upgrade in the Series 8. The engine is possibly a tad too quick to shut down when stopped at a traffic light, but the way it fires up again with similar urgency as soon as brake pedal pressure is released will cancel any cause for complaint. A button on the dashboard also defeats the stop-start system in situations when it’s no longer saving fuel, such as when caught in the stuttering traffic flow of a congested motorway lane.
There are multiple mini-computers wired into the new CAN bus (Controller Area Network) architecture of the Series 8, enabling Fiat to equip the latest Ducatos with more driving aids and better infotainment interfaces.
Motorhome manufacturers can pick and choose as many of these features as they think will suit a particular model and brand. In the Jayco Conquest FA 25-2, the latest-generation Ducato comes with a multi-function steering wheel, the smaller seven-inch touchscreen instead of the 10.1-inch alternative, GPS navigation, cell phone mirroring (Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), hill start assist, active braking assist, active lane keeping assist (handy in gusty crosswinds), voice recognition, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, high beam assist, frontal impact airbags, electronic parking brake, adaptive stability control, and a twin-lens reversing camera. In short, everything you didn’t know that a motorhome needed, although, that larger touchscreen would have been nice to have.
The headline improvement though is the Multijet 3 engine. It’s so much quieter and smoother in operation than the Multijet 2, not to mention the rival turbodiesel engines from Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Iveco, and Ford. With the ZF auto-transferring the outputs to the front wheels in a similarly civilised manner, the Ducato now sets the standard when it comes to powertrain refinement.
Ticking the boxes
There’s a lot of good motorhome stuff that comes as standard equipment on the Conquest FA 25-2, notably the Project power step, the 120Ah lithium house battery, the 200-watt solar panel, twin 9kg gas bottles, the DC/DC charger, Nautilus hot water service, 24-inch LED TV, Furrion entertainment system with external and internal speakers, the tablet-like controller, and the power-operated 17-foot pole-less awning that automatically safely retracts itself should wind speeds increase to potentially damaging levels. The latter fully earns its brand name: Carefree Altitude.
This particular 25-2 also benefitted from a bit of judicious shopping through the list of the available options. Additions included the $2550 diesel heater, the $2600 gloss black alloy wheels, the $280 fold-out picnic table fitted to the awning side wall, and the beautifully-crafted diamond-stitched beige leather upholstery that’s worth every cent of the $3800 that Jayco asks for it. Add these to the $209,990 base price and you get an as-reviewed figure of $219,220.
The long wheelbase of the chassis allows freedom of design for the dinette and the kitchen, and locating the main bed slideout above one of the rear wheels is a clever way to maximise available floor space.
On the other side of this is a long narrow shelf, a window, an upper mount for the portable TV for in-bed viewing, and some cupboards beneath that hide the adjacent arch of the other rear wheel. This reserves lots of room in the rear overhang for a useful bathroom/shower area, where all the space can be used because there’s no intrusion from the rear wheelset.
With a shower at one end, the toilet in the other, and a home-sized wash basin and cupboards in between, there are few spatial compromises made in the design of this bathroom, especially as Jayco has deleted the power-hungry washing machine fitted to the Australian version of the 25-2 to create more storage space in models destined for export to New Zealand.
As a motorhome designed for Australian preferences, the eight-metre-long Conquest possesses a compartment with a slideout shelf for a generator, which Kiwis will find handy as a place to put the BBQ. There’s a bayonet gas hookup on the outside, along with the plumbing connections for an external shower, and rows of small lockers located all along the lower sides of the mostly GRP/aluminium body to take advantage of the double floor. I’d be tempted to put labels on the insides of the doors of these to help keep track of what things are usually stowed in each.
There’s plenty of scope for carting stuff on board the FA 25-2 as the allowable payload for one without any options fitted is 925kg. Unladen, the basic model tips the scales at 3570kg, and the GVM is 4495kg. But don’t sweat that these figures inhabit the light truck territory. You can legally drive the Conquest on a passenger car licence, and its wealth of steering lock and electronically enhanced levels of visibility make it operator-friendly. Also, nice to have is Jayco’s five-year/200,000km warranty, the first three years coming with roadside assistance.
The Conquest 25-2 might sleep four according to the brochure, but the kitchen is certainly capable of serving up a complex meal for six at times when the double mattress in the Luton area is also claimed for the night.
There’s a two-burner gas hob (a four-burner hob is an option), an oven, and a separate grill compartment below it, with plenty of bench space on either side. Placing the cover over the large square sink will increase the available preparation space.
Above the cooking/preparation area, there’s a microwave flanked by some large spacious cupboards. These face the huge 171-litre Thetford 4175 fridge that can be opened with either hand and runs on 230 volts, 12 volts, or gas. There’s a range hood and a ventilation fan fitted above the stove, and if the chef du jour needs some cooling air on a hot summer’s evening and the Conquest is plugged in to mains power, the standard air conditioning system is located immediately above their head.
When serving six, four can sit at the dinette, while the shelter of the awning and sitting at the fold-down picnic table on outdoor chairs will become a more romantic setting for the final pair of diners.
As it comes, the 25-2 is already set up for extended periods of independent camping with large reserves of 12-volt power and gas bottle storage. The freshwater tank holds 80 litres, while used water is collected by an 80-litre grey tank.
The 200-watt solar panel on the roof trickles free energy into the 120Ah lithium battery, which can discharge to a lower percentage than AGM batteries, enabling the 12-volt system of the motorhome to keep supplying domestic power for longer. When the voltage falls away to that level, the system automatically shuts down to prevent any damage to the battery. It can all be easily monitored using the Intelli-Jay monitoring system that Projecta has designed exclusively for Jayco. At the hub of the system is the electronic array installed beneath the lift-up main bed, which controls and monitors the batteries, the solar input, and the levels of the tank.
The info is displayed on a touchscreen above the fridge but can also be accessed via an app on your phone using Bluetooth.
It’s a great final touch to the Conquest – a robust, spacious, and easy-to-own-and-operate motorhome that sticks to first principles and is all the better for it.
|Make & model||JAYCO CONQUEST FA 25-2|
|Chassis||Fiat Ducato/AL-KO chassis, front wheel drive|
|Engine||2.2L turbo diesel, 430Nm|
|Fresh/Grey water||Fresh 80L/Grey 80L|
|Unladed mass (tare)||3570kg|
|Price||$209,990, as reviewed: $219,220|