Brevio T600

By: Peta Stavelli

Brevio T600 Brevio T600
Brevio T600 Brevio T600
Brevio T600 Brevio T600
Brevio T600 Brevio T600
Brevio T600 Brevio T600

With some initial trepidation Peta Stavelli took New Zealand’s first Brevio T600 for a spin on its new home turf.

Brevio T600
Brevio T600

This is no place for bedroom jokes, so I won't tell you the one about the wife who decides at the worst possible moment to paint the bedroom ceiling beige... You get the drift.

There's nothing really wrong with beige but like any well-worn cliché, beige jokes arise because beige is – well – bland. That's exactly why you can't miss a Bu¨rstner on the road. Vehicles from this German manufacturer simply stand out from the crowd.

Call it silver, pewter, or platinum; invoke champagne or cappuccino to describe the sleek metallic finishes of the Bu¨rstner fleet — you'll never in a million years bring in beige as a descriptive. Inside or out, these vehicles are pure class. A cut above, without the price tag to match; innovative and exciting, without being alienating in any way.

During the Christmas break blatting around the South Island, we encountered a Bu¨rstner Ixeo. First at Lake Tekapo, and later again at Rakiaia Gorge. At the Gorge we introduced ourselves to a lovely young couple from Singapore enjoying a two-week Wilderness Rental — seeing the sights as well as skydiving and sailing.

Clearly well-heeled, they loved the countryside and were extremely pleased with their mobile home and, unprompted, commented on its "smart layout". They perfectly defined the Bu¨rstner/Wilderness/Smart motorhomes demographic: double income, no kids (DINKS). Even so, when Wilderness' marketing manager, Michael Becker, suggested this old woman took the brand new Brevio T600 for a two-day road trip, who was I to argue?

Did I mention it was brand new? I mean with only delivery miles on the clock: 254 of them, and not a blemish in sight. I was suddenly a little afraid of this sleek-looking suite on wheels, and momentarily regretted my eagerness. I needn't have worried. As Marcel Peifer took me through the check-in process, he didn't betray any concerns about my capabilities, although he did mention insurance coverage once or twice.

By the time I was ready to hit the road, I felt reasonably relaxed and this time — a first — I took a TomTom in-car navigator. Before I'd reached the second turn I was more afraid of Ms TomTom — who I quickly renamed Ms Dashboard Affirmative — than I was of the Brevio which drove like a capacious family car.

Ms DA and I did not get off to a good start when she suggested a right turn followed by a left turn where I expected another right turn. Nor did we look likely to remain on speaking terms when she ushered me into a cul-de-sac shortly thereafter. But when she talked me back on track and encouraged me onto the motorway minutes later, I realised that the error had been mine entirely. We settled into a pleasant routine and I began to appreciate her company.

Pre-occupied with coming to terms with Ms DA, I was beginning the climb up the Bombay Hills before I began to truly appreciate the agility of the Brevio which took on the plethora of fast-moving trucks on this long, slow, uphill slope. I even passed a fellow RV traveller, easily overtaking their (beige) vehicle. By the time I had slipped down the other side, noting the ease with which the engine auto-braked, I was feeling pretty chuffed with my temporary home.

The Coromandel Peninsula was my chosen destination. I reasoned that the narrow winding roads and hill climbs would give the Brevio a real road test — and a night at the beach wouldn't be bad either.

The Brevio chewed up the curves and gobbled up the hills. I had but one small concern on a steep hill climb when coming to a full stop to allow a family of cyclists to negotiate a hair-pin bend and the T600 seemed alarmingly slow to re-engage. When I raised this later with Michael Becker, he thoroughly explained the gearing system. I didn't understand a word of what he was saying, but felt reassured anyway. As it happened, I encountered not a single other concern during my round trip and put this particular issue down to a lack of familiarity with the vehicle and its state-of-the-art gearbox.

Safely at Matarangi and parked up on a vacant section adjacent to the holiday home of friends, I made up the bed and enjoyed a relaxed look over the facilities. We started this story with the bedroom and let's return there for a few moments, shall we?

The Brevio's fold-out bed is — in many ways — a summary of the clever design features that set this vehicle apart and afford it more room than the stated cubic metres might imply. In fact, shortly after its launch this vehicle won a 2012 European Innovation Award.

Made up, the extremely comfortable double bed sits across the rear of the vehicle and can be accessed from the fully-opening rear hatch (more on this later). I appreciated the excellent block-out blinds. I am sure the neighbours did as well. These are supplemented by insect blinds that click securely into place if the widows are open. When in motion, the bed folds easily away in just a few simple steps: fold the sectioned mattress, fold the wooden slats, slide away the bars, and snap the mattress into place so it stays put — it's as easy as that.

Nice touches include the slide out step to help you climb into bed and the reading lights above. Throughout the vehicle you'll find masses of storage and everything else you need for a comfortable stay, including an inverter, carefully tucked away. Wilderness Rentals specialises in the encouragement of the wilderness-camping experience and all their stock is certified for free camping.

The Brevio is particularly suited to wild-camping and is an ideal vehicle for the young (or young-at-heart) RVer who wants to get away from it all at short notice. This is a 'check the forecast and let's get on the road' type of vehicle; small enough to double as a city car. In fact, this is the inspiration behind the Brevio's design. It's a panel van by weekday and a weekend RV with full standing headroom and plenty of space for your surfboards and bikes.

The bathroom is compact but exceptionally well-designed, with a swivel toilet and hand basin so that showering in this small space is made easier. But the bathroom really comes into its own when used with the pull-out interior clothes line and floor heating vent which together convert it into a very effective drying room for wet clothes.

The galley is similarly well equipped with a good-sized Dometic refrigerator with small freezer, an oven, and gas burner. Good design carries through to the dining table which can be easily extended to seat extras. I particularly liked the dinky convertible foot stool/extra seat.

Now, back to the rear hatch we mentioned earlier. While immediately obvious this would be an asset when packing, or for creating a great rear awning when camped, I was initially disconcerted by the lack of rear window. I needn't have worried as the two side mirrors afforded brilliant rear vision. There is also a reversing sensor for extra peace of mind.

The electrics package is comprehensive and includes a TV that swivels so it can be seen from the bed if desired. The switchboard above the door is user-friendly and in addition to the aforementioned inverter, there are two batteries for peace of mind. If I have one small grumble it is that the inverter cannot be easily accessed when the bed is made up; however, the requirement to be extra-organised in compact spaces is not unexpected and I could easily have put my phone on charge before making up the bed.

Overall, the Brevio is an exceptionally well-designed mobile home: perfect for either an individual or an active couple who love to get away from it all at a moment's notice.

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