Skydancer makes holiday travel breezier with motorhome cabriolet
Back in 2014, we took a look at the Skydancer 7.5, a used Mercedes Atego converted into a motorhome with retractable driver-cab roof. It was an impressive project, but outside of spotting it here and there around the motorhome show circuit, we haven't heard much about it since, assuming it a prototype without much of a future. That changed at last week's CMT show, where Skydancer held the world premiere of its production camper-cabriolet. The all-new Apéro looks nothing like the Fiat Ducato that serves as its base, rolling highways as a comfy, bright-white motorhome with retractable roof and space for four people.
If you were expecting a motorhome cabriolet to have the sleek, curvy style of the typical two-seat convertible, you'll probably be rather disappointed with the Apéro. The original 7.5 prototype shared much of its styling with the base Atego, but the production version looks nothing like the Ducato deep down below. Ordinarily, we'd declare that a good thing, as the Ducato isn't exactly a looker, but Skydancer's bodywork is rather disjointed, particularly up front, where it looks like they stacked two completely separate front-ends atop one another.
But making the Apéro motorhome cabriolet was not so straightforward as turning sports coupe into roadster, and the awkward double-stacked front-end follows the dual-level frame below. This frame splits the interior into a four-seat upper deck below the retractable roof and a lower living area behind the front wheels.
The interior is very much what the Apéro is all about, and here the design shines. The highlight, of course, is the electrically operated retractable roof that can open during driving as well as at standstill, creating a breezy open-air sitting area to be enjoyed both on the highway and at camp. With its four seats and folding dining tables, the area is not only an airy driving cockpit, but an open-air dining deck, campground lounge and night-sky observatory. The driver and front passenger seats swivel around when the engine is off but automatically lock into forward-facing position when the ignition fires up.
From this upper driver deck, occupants walk down a short set of steps to the lower living area, also accessed via a side door. Skydancer admits that its 7.5 prototype consisted mostly of repurposed furniture bolted to the Atego interior, but with the Apéro, it's designed a stylishly modern and comfortable motorhome cabin.
The main 79 x 55-in (200 x 140-cm) bed is raised up at the rear and surrounded by windows on three sides. The centrally located bathroom includes a toilet, fold-down sink and shower, while the kitchen block between the doorway and bed houses the gas stove and sink. A tall 145-L fridge/freezer hangs opposite the main kitchen block. The driver-cab seating group converts to a second bed to bump total sleeping capacity up to four.
The Apéro comes standard with a gas Truma Combi heater/hot water boiler, 90-L fresh and waste water tanks, leather driver-area seating and trim, and a rear garage large enough to hold bicycles or scooters.
Built on a 3.5-tonne Ducato chassis, the Apéro weighs in at 6,790 lb (3,080 kg) when filled with water and gas, leaving 926 lb (420 kg) of payload. It measures 23 x 7.2 x 9.8 feet (7 x 2.2 x 3 m, L x W x H). The €128,520 (approx. US$146,000) base price includes Fiat's 148-hp 2.3-liter Multijet turbo-diesel engine, and Skydancer also hints at the possibility of a future electric version.