In late May, which unexpectedly proved to be the last week of New Zealand’s summer of 2016, my wife Jill and I arrived at the RV Super Centre in Christchurch. After greeting us warmly, sales manager Tony Sutton introduced us to our home for the week, a 2015 Roller Team Rambler.
The Rambler motorhome accommodates six occupants. It has four belted dinette seats and two in the cab with two fixed double beds; one in the rear corner, one over the cab and a dinette that converts to a double bed. This dinette is opposite the entry door; the kitchen bench alongside the entry door; and the bathroom tucked into the rear corner beside the rear bed.
Because it has so many sleeping options, this layout is a popular choice for families and rental operators. And although it is hard to believe considering its pristine appearance, this Rambler has done two short periods of service as a rental vehicle.
Rambling down the road
We left Christchurch heading south on SH1 and once over the Rakaia River, turned west onto Thompsons Track towards Mt Somers. The day was fine with a stiff nor-wester crosswind. ‘The Track’ climbed steadily providing a good test of the Fiat’s 130kw/96hp/six-speed ATM transmission power train.
The Rambler isn’t a rocket ship, but rather an honest toiler that winds up to the desired speed and once there is happy enough to carry on in top (sixth) gear. Fiat Ducatos are effortless to drive and all the buttons and switches come to hand so easily you can get by without reading a handbook for all but the most obscure functions.
The Rambler is a shade under seven metres long so it will fit into many regular kerbside parking spaces, a task that is made a lot easier with the assistance of the reversing sensors and colour reversing camera/monitor that are part of the standard Rambler kit.
All the usual external facilities, fresh water fill point, 240v inlet plug, waste tank outlet, LPG locker for two 9kg bottles, and rear storage locker are located where expected and at the back is nice bonus in the form of a four-cycle bike rack.
The rear locker is a large one, 1300mm deep, 1280mm wide and 550mm high, filling the space under the rear double bed. The access hatch is a generous 950 by 400mm and easily accommodated both of our large suitcases with room to spare.
The interior decor is the current ‘Euro-standard’ medium dark timber veneer patterned melamine finish cabinetry with contrasting white lacquer overhead locker doors, white bench tops and two-tone off-white faux leather upholstered dinette cushions. It is a smart, stylish presentation.
Functional is the word that springs to mind when reviewing the kitchen. The main bench, with its three LPG hob cooktop and sensibly sized sink, still provides enough room for meal preparation and draining dishes. Additional bench space is available on the dining table and on top of the cabinet behind the passenger seat.
The large drawer below the oven houses a full set of pots and pans while the appliances; a toaster, an electric jug, a kettle, and a coffee bodum occupy half of the two lockers over sink bench. That meant that when we returned with the supermarket shopping there was room to store items away.
Altogether the kitchen is an easy space to work in as long as you allow for the ‘squeeze point’ between the rear dinette seat and the fridge. A polite “excuse me” did the trick most times.
Rear double bed
We were both surprised how well we managed in the rear double bed. At 1250mm wide it is a lot narrower than our king-size at home but we both slept well, had sufficient room, and its 1950mm length was more than we needed. We found the foam mattress over sprung wooden slats deceptively comfortable.
A side window and ceiling hatch meant the ventilation was adequate and a powerful LED ceiling light backed up by two adjustable reading lights gave us a range of lighting options. I used the two sidewall overhead lockers for my folding clothes and personal items and we didn’t need to use the rear wall lockers.
The Truma hot water service provides generous quantities of really hot water and delivers it within 20 minutes of start-up. We used the shower daily, finding it delivered a strong, steady flow. So much in fact that if water were at a premium you would need to monitor shower usage carefully. We didn’t have that problem and enjoyed our showers immensely.
With the Rambler being certified self-contained and us being NZMCA members meant we were able to stay overnight at NZMCA parks and park-over properties, which we did for the eight nights we were on the road. We travelled at least 100 kilometres each day in sunshine, showers and, for two days, continuous rain. But each evening, thanks to the combination of a 120-watt solar panel and engine alternator charging, the battery monitor indicated our house battery was topped up.
We found we could last three days from empty toilet cassette and full fresh water tank (100 litres) before we needed to empty the cassette and the grey water tank (100 litres) and refill with fresh water. As mentioned above, the LPG bottle ran out on the seventh night, but I suspect it was not full when we set out.
We enjoyed our time in the Rambler, finding it very comfortable and practical with a good range of sensible accessories fitted as standard that are additional to the asking price in many motorhomes currently on the market.
For further information call 0800 520 055.
Read the full review in issue #143 of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations magazine. Subscribe here.