Life on the road: Meeting Meralee & Gordan and their Dethleffs Pulse GT A-class (i7051 EBL)

By: Jill Malcolm, Photography by: Jill Malcolm


In this monthly column, Jill Malcolm interviews the owners of RVs to learn how they made their decisions

When I met Meralee and Gordon Simpson, they had just returned from their first weekend away in their newest motorhome and were delighted with its performance. Their RV journey started 18 years ago. Before then, when they were living in Devonport, their recreational passion had been boating.

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Leisure time was spent either on their launch or at their seaside bach. When they retired, it was a significant change of direction to move out of Auckland and switch from boating to motor homing. They show no sign
of regret.

Tell us about your RV experience?

The first motorhome we bought in 2001 was a TrailLite cabover on a Mitsubishi chassis. Before the motorhome we now own (and it will be our last), we have had a Swift caravan, a KEA caravan, two Jayco motorhomes, a Dethleffs Trend B-class, and a Dethleffs Globebus GT A-Class. So, I guess you could say we’ve had quite a lot of experience.

What make and model is it?

A German-built, 7400mm, Dethleffs Pulse GT A-class (i7051 EBL). It is built on a Fiat Euro 6 and has an authorised total weight of 3850kg which means it requires a COF and can be driven on a car licence.

Why did you decide on the motorhome you now own?

We were very happy with the Globebus and had no intention of ever changing it until we came across the Dethleffs Pulse. The Pulse has several features that we felt would make travelling even more comfortable. Meralee’s mobility is compromised after an accident, and I have a dodgy back and, in several areas, accessibility in the Pulse is easier. We were also conscious that as we get older, some aspects of the Pulse were going to make life on the road more manageable.

What were the main features that swung the deal?

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The single beds with good head room were a deciding feature

If we were to spend more money and upgrade from the Globus, we had to have features that were worth the exercise. It was all about convenience. Most important was the accessibility. First of all, there were single beds, which are so much easier to get in and out of. Meralee, who is not a tall person, can reach all the cupboards and lockers.

Lifting our electric bikes onto the bike rack is made much easier with a hydraulic lift, and that saves my back. So does the gas locker, where the 9kg bottles are side by side. If one is behind the other, it is very hard on your back to get the rear one out. 

Are there other factors that you considered?

The aesthetic of the Pulse pleases us. It’s a looker, and because it’s an A-class, the external wall is identical throughout the length of the vehicle. People who have never driven an A-class sometimes express concern about the distance from the driver’s seat to the front window. For us, this is a positive because it means we have huge front windows, which give us a panoramic view.

What was the biggest challenge WHEN choosing the right RV?

The enormous range of choice in the 7400mm category. We wanted to own an A-class. The challenge was finding what we wanted in a price range that worked.

What were the non-negotiable aspects of your choice?

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Another attractive aspect was the good flow in the kitchen and lounge areas

The ease of movement through the motorhome. The space and height were important to us, and there is nothing claustrophobic about the interior. For ease of movement, it was also important to have an open dining/lounge area rather than an L-shaped dinette.

It has swivel front seats that fit into the settee on either side so we can sit upright but with our legs up. A separate, roomy shower and toilet were necessary and comfortable single beds were paramount.

Who did you buy it from, and how did you find the process?

Zion Motorhomes takes excellent care and justifiably has a great deal of pride in its wide range of products. We traded in the Trend and the Globebus with Zion and were very satisfied with the negotiations.

We believe the culture of an organisation is a reflection of its leadership and have immense respect for Zion’s owner and managing director, Jonas Ng. His values of honesty, integrity and customer service meet our requirements and define the way his company operates. If this sounds like an advert for Jonas, our only excuse is that it’s the truth.

Did you end up buying the RV you imagined owning?

This is the best RV we have ever had, and it’s a keeper. Unfortunately for Jonas, I don’t think he is going to be able to sell us another one, although we are always open to a silly offer.

Would you do anything differently?

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Meralee and Gordon Simpson are pleased with the convenience of their new Dethleff Pulse A-Class motorhome

No. We are very comfortable with what we have bought and the relationship with the company we bought it from. Even though all the appliances are fail-safe, we added a CO detector and an LPG detector, and despite the fact we store the Pulse undercover, we had it treated with Toughguard, which protects the paint.

What advice would you offer others?

Go into the buying process with your eyes wide open and take great care to check the various features of competing motorhomes to reassure yourself that the vehicle you think you prefer stacks up against other vehicles. Identify the must-haves and then make sure you are comparing apples with apples.

Ask what is included in the price and if there is anything you have to pay extra for. And you need to base a decision on the things that really matter, not on the ones that are nice to have but are not deciders. For instance, the lighting in the Pulse is unbelievable. It is magical at night, and we enjoy it, but it wasn’t a critical component in our decision.

What are your travel plans?

We will keep exploring all corners of New Zealand when we can. We are booked into the WOW festival in Wellington shortly, so plan a two-week holiday incorporating the show and exploring both east and west coasts. After the January school holidays finish, Northland beckons, and we will also spend time in the Hawke’s Bay. 

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