Wakerley Motorhomes

By: David Linklater, Photography by: David Linklater


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The Sprinter-based Class 1 motorhome from Wakerley Motorhomes is small enough to drive on a Class 1 licence but has the same quality and construction as the brand’s much larger homes

Wakerley Motorhomes
Wakerley Motorhomes
  • High quality materials
  • Weight has been trimmed
  • Car-like driving character
  • Apartment-style decor
  • Custom-build process

The Sprinter-based Class 1 motorhome pictured here is brand new territory for Wakerley. Not only is the Mercedes-Benz platform a fresh approach for the company (Isuzu has been favoured), it also heralds a new generation of smaller, lighter motorhomes from the family business in Tauranga.

"It's true that we've gained a reputation for building bigger motorhomes - many of ours have been over eight metres long," says Brett Wakerly. 

"But the one segment of the market that we haven't been able to fulfil so far is that Class 1 driver's licence area."

Why not? Brett argues that the custom-built nature and quality of Wakerley's products have necessitated heavier construction, and that the truck base vehicles have in fact benefited from all that mass: "With truck-type vehicles, if you don't weigh them down the ride suffers and they tend to bounce around a lot."

But there have been two developments that have led Wakerley to explore the Class 1 arena. The first is the car-like driving character of the latest generation of smaller base vehicles like the Sprinter. The second is the range of lightweight cabin materials now available.

Brett says the basic structural elements of Wakerley's motorhomes haven't changed in the downsizing process. The frames are built from welded aluminium box section, then clad in a laminated fibreglass sheet and fibreglass mouldings. High density insulation is inserted in the walls and ceiling.

But major gains in the area of interior design and construction have trimmed a lot of excess weight.

A class act

Because the company is a true custom-builder, you can't really comment in singular terms. But the motorhome featured here is a good example of what can be achieved. 

"In fact, this motorhome was not specifically designed to meet Class 1 standards. It still does so, but only if the owner limits it to a 500kg payload.

"The next one to come out of the factory will be closer to 3700kg, which will allow for a more practical 800kg load."

The Wakerley knack for clever packaging and slick fit/finish are in evidence in our four-berth test vehicle. This particular vehicle is traditional by the company's overall standards, but the cool colours and tight panel gaps throughout are suggestive of the high-quality apartment-style interiors Wakerley has created for many of its other products.

"I think we do tend to attract a slightly younger clientele than the norm in this business," claims Brett. "That could be because of our positioning and price, the design-led nature of our motorhomes or even the fact that we're a bit younger ourselves."

Specifications

Price range From $220,000
Engine 3.0-litre turbo diesel
Transmission Five-speed manual
Power 135kW @ 3800rpm
Torque 400Nm @ 1600-2600rpm
Wheelbase 325mm
Brakes Four wheel discs, ABS
GVM 4490kg (est)

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