If you’re new to motorhoming then there’s a strong chance some of the bigger vehicles available to Kiwi buyers might not be your cup of tea. Unless you and the family are going in boots-and-all and a full 7m-plus model is the only thing likely to accommodate you, these larger machines with their long rear overhangs can be a little intimidating at first.
The surprising thing (and there are a few surprises in store here) about the Benimar Mileo 202 is that it’s a four berth motorhome nestled within a 5.99m footprint. There is plenty of standard equipment on board, packed into a relatively small frame at a very attractive price.
SPANISH STUNNER, DOWNUNDER
If you’re not familiar with Benimar, the company has been manufacturing motorhomes in Europe since 1979, with the first series run of models beginning in 1986. The Spanish brand is a common sight on European roads, and is set to become a much more recognisable name in our part of the world too.
“TrailLite excels at modular build motorhomes with an extensive array of options designed to cover a whole host of buyer wants and needs,” says TrailLite’s product specialist Greg Campbell.
“But we recognise that – at different stages of a motorhome owner’s life – they might want different things out of their ideal vehicle. Their ideal vehicle could encompass two, three, even four different styles over time.
“Smaller motorhomes fulfil distinct duties for buyers, just as larger ones do. Whether someone is new to motorhoming and wants a vehicle with a compact wheelbase, or whether such a model is desired after the kids have left home and no longer venture out with their parents; having models that the likes of Benimar are experts at manufacturing is a key component of our model mix.”
Greg tells me that TrailLite provides full service back-up on the Benimar models they distribute in New Zealand too, so Benimar owners can expect the same level of customer service as the Pukekohe-headquartered company’s bespoke in-house brand clients can.
Step inside the Fiat Ducato-powered Mileo 202 and the living quarters feel modern and vibrant, with just the right mix of bright white surfaces and premium-look dark wood. Low energy LED lighting throughout adds a further touch of class, while the standard 19” flat panel TV is satellite ready and slides up and down on a rail allowing both those above and below to watch from bed.
Above and below? Yes, in order to ensure the motorhome can sleep four, it features a drop-down double bed that lowers to half way, with a short detachable ladder easing access at night. The lowering and raising action is fully automated, with a key needing to be inserted into the bed’s control panel before it will move out of its position above.
The flat floor manufacturing process (the Mileo 202 sits on an AL-KO chassis) means that even with the double bed in its overhead daytime position, headroom isn’t compromised too greatly.
It does feel cosy in the living quarters; even if there is only two or three of you, swivelling the driver and front passenger chairs to face the table will be an essential ingredient for relaxing after dinner. The dining table raises and lowers to accommodate the drop-down bed (or infill squabs on the couches to make up the second double bed area) and is easily accessible from each seating position.
The infill squabs are a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to put in place, but nothing a few nights on the road wouldn’t solve over a short period of time.
Interestingly, where the living space reveals the compact footprint of the Mileo 202, the motorhome’s kitchen area at the rear feels much more spacious, with plenty of cubby storage and workable bench space. There’s a full-size 150-litre fridge, microwave and three-burner hob/oven/grill with a glass lid in this very functional area.
What’s more, the bathroom measures in with dimensions akin to slightly larger models; the separate shower box is a nice bonus over and above what you might expect in other similarly-sized vehicles. There’s more storage above and below the bathroom vanity too.
Speaking of storage, there are plenty of nooks and crannies for all your holiday items, although the Mileo 202’s on-chassis construction does limit the amount of underfloor storage options to under the sofa and in recesses between fixed furniture items.
There is no large garage here, but then that would add multiple millimetres to the rear, negating the Mileo 202’s point-of-difference in the process. One nice feature is the main wardrobe which sits alongside the bathroom amidships is accessible from outside the vehicle too.
The motorhome features twin 9kg gas bottles as standard, a 127-litre fresh water tank and 105-litre grey water tank. A Thetford C260 cassette toilet with 18-litre holding tank is also standard on this model Mileo (there are seven in the range overall, measuring between 5.99m and 7.39m in length).
I’d put the Mileo 202 firmly in the ‘shorter trip’ category, although that will depend on where you’re heading and how far between dump stations your chosen route takes you. European-standard Grade III insulation means even if the weather turns brisk, you’ll be well catered for with Benimar’s standard ‘winter pack’ feature set, which includes a Truma Combi 6kW heating system, insulated tanks and pipes and other frost-friendly features.
The headline for me here really is the Benimar Mileo 202’s $136,000 price. It’s a remarkably economic entry point for a four berth vehicle. If you are prepared to compromise with an easily raised and lowered double bed arrangement over a more traditional permanently-sited one, this model gives you a lot of flexibility and a lot of standard specification.
What’s more, measuring in at a relatively compact 5.99 metres in length, it’s going to be easier to manoeuvre around the back roads of New Zealand, as well as store at your place when you’re busy working to save for your next adventure away.
“Perfecto”, as the Spanish say.
- Value-for-money and accessible entry price
- Compact design will suit city-dwelling motorhomers and those new to the pursuit
- High quality interior fabrics and surfaces; European Grade III insulation
- Drop-down double bed won’t appeal to everyone
- Arranging squabs for lower double bed arrangement will take some practice
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