Sunliner Sunrise

By: Bill Savidan

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The practical and comfortable Sunliner Sunrise

Sunliner Sunrise
Sunliner Sunrise

Neil Withear’s greeting to me at Barrons South Island’s Cromwell Easter Rally stand was a warm one. "Get yourself a cold one out of the fridge and I’ll be with you in a minute." Before he could change his mind I climbed into the new Sunliner Sunrise and opened the fridge door. Not a beer in sight!

"Not that fridge," he called, "the beer fridge outside." Back out the door I went, and there, right beside the entrance was a well-stocked Waeco drawer fridge. Ideally positioned for ‘al fresco’ entertaining, it also provides a back-up for the main fridge and a place to store potentially smelly items like fish bait. This practical idea is well suited to the Aussie and Kiwi outdoor lifestyle.

There are many more instances of this practical approach in the Australian manufactured Sunliner Sunrise. The far-flung destinations in Australia can be remote, hot and dusty with lots of flies, and Sunliner RVs are built to cope with these conditions, as well as the snow, wind and rain that also occur.

My first impression of the Sunrise was that although large, it is not bulky. The side body panels were flat, smooth and ripple free. This ‘timeless’ and efficient construction method can look boringly plain. The use of coloured feature mouldings on the cab-over section and the rear corners and panels cleverly avoid this problem. This Sunrise was tastefully trimmed in dark grey over white body panels, producing an understated, elegant looking motorhome.

The coach-built body of the model tested was mounted on an Iveco Daily 65 C18 cab and chassis. Fabrizio Guigario of Italdesign, a design studio that has previously designed for Porsche, Suzuki and Ford Mustang, has designed the stylish new Iveco cab. Inside, both drivers and passenger seats swivel to face the adjoining lounge dining area, providing comfortable seating for six. Amidships, the kitchen is on the driver’s side with the bathroom area opposite, and the permanent island double bed is at the rear of the vehicle. The cab-over is storage space. The bathroom has a separate shower. This is a well-tested layout and as executed in the Sunrise, it provides space and comfort suitable for long-term living.

As I acquainted myself with the Sunrise, I realised the designers had given a lot of thought deciding what should go into it and where it should go. Starting outside, these are features that caught my eye…

Sunliner has added an extra, rubber-treaded entry step to provide easier access to the cab for those of us with short legs. The fresh water hose is housed in a recess, which includes a mains pressure water connection, and the water hose is on a reel. No more ratting through lockers looking for the hose!

The 230-volt inlet point is a regular male three-pin domestic plug, recessed and contained behind a lifting hatch. It meets electrical WOF requirements, and in practice is more likely to pull apart without damage in the event of the vehicle being driven off with the power cord still attached.

There is a fan that blows air into the huge rear locker; pressurising it and assisting the locker door rubber seals to keep out dust and moisture. The two house batteries sit in a vented, slide-out battery compartment below the beer fridge, making battery servicing a breeze.

Careful attention has been paid to the exterior lighting. In addition to the normal complement of lights required for COF, the Sunrise has three marker lights mounted each side at skirt height, dash operated reversing lights mounted behind each rear wheel arch positioned to shine to the side as well as the rear, an extra set of high-mounted rear indicator lights, two awning lights, two front marker lights mounted (one each side above the windscreen), and an internally lighted doorhandle.

Outdoor living is well catered for and was road-tested many times during the course of the rally. The beer fridge is complemented by a slide-out stainless steel BBQ that has a novel stainless steel cooking plate with handles. The rear locker easily swallowed the folding tables and chairs. A Dometic-powered awning with sturdy braced arms to cope with strong New Zealand winds provides cover from sun and rain. Music is provided through twin speakers mounted below the awning and connected to the entertainment centre.

There are surprises inside, too. The electrical control unit is a seriously powerful Victron "Phoenix Multi-plus". This is rated at 12-volt, 3000VA, 120-amp and described as a "transfer switch, battery charger, sine-wave inverter" which is "parallel connectable, three-phase connectable" and can accept 230-volt input of variable quality from either a generator or the main grid. While the finer points of this specification elude me, it allows all the electrical equipment to operate flawlessly and keeps the house batteries healthy.

The Conia 52cm LCD TV is mounted in the cab-over storage area and harnessed to a TEAC DVD player providing audio though four speakers in the lounge. These speakers also connect to a separate house radio. To provide local communication there are four two-way radio units that are housed in an ‘Audiovox’ charger conveniently positioned above the access doorway.

The Spinflo three-burner hob has a ‘Hob blanket’, which prevents rattles when fitted over the hobs before lowering the glass lid. There is a large floor to ceiling pantry that has ‘fiddle railed’ shelves to hold the contents
in place.

If the old adage "good bathrooms sell motorhomes" is true, I predict a rosy future for Sunrise sales. The bathroom is attractive, spacious and works well.

The ‘Granite’ vanity top is eye-catching. The separate shower cubicle with its own fan vent, light, and sliding door is roomy and functional. You can stand in front of the large mirror, which sits above a long shelf (with fiddle rail) and sensibly sized basin, without intrusion from the toilet. Further fixtures include a towel rail and towel ring, a toilet brush in a holder, a glass in a holder, a soap tray, two 230-volt plugs and a 12-volt plug, a fluorescent light and two halogen lights. Above the door is a vent, which is, quite unexpectedly, fashioned from solid timber. Features like this wooden vent illustrate the quality workmanship that has been built into the Sunrise.

The windowsill behind the head of the bed is just high enough that pillows can be raised against it for reading in bed, with a well-positioned light each side for night-time use. The island double bed can be extended in length by pulling it forwards, combining easy access during the day with comfortable sleeping. The swivel cab seats are covered with the same leather used on the twin settees in the lounge. The dining table can be extended to allow for larger groups of diners.

I did not get the opportunity to drive the Sunrise, so am unable to report on its performance. However, Neil’s wife Kate was enthusiastic about this Iveco powered Sunrise. "I prefer it to the other vehicles we currently have in stock," she said. "It has more pep and power than the others and is easy to drive."

The Sunrise is also available on Mercedes Sprinter or Isuzu chassis and alternative interior layouts including twin single bed options. Prices for Sunrise models start from $225,280 inc GST.

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