Wheel estate: Carado Low Profile Model T448

By: Bill Savidan , Photography by: Jill Malcolm and Peta Stavelli

Carado Low Profile Model T448 Carado Low Profile Model T448
Carado Low Profile Model T448 New to New Zealand the family-friendly Carado Carado Low Profile Model T448
Carado Low Profile Model T448 The generous awning Carado Low Profile Model T448
Carado Low Profile Model T448 Room for four, complete with seatbelts Carado Low Profile Model T448
Carado Low Profile Model T448 Carado Low Profile Model T448
Carado Low Profile Model T448 Carado Low Profile Model T448
Carado Low Profile Model T448 Swivelling front seats complete the diner Carado Low Profile Model T448
Carado Low Profile Model T448 Carado Low Profile Model T448
Carado Low Profile Model T448 Carado Low Profile Model T448

Bill Savidan reviews the German-built Carado and finds it is very much a down-to-earth Kiwi.

The Carado T448 presents as a practical, down-to-earth motorhome. The guy who sells them is the same — a real Kiwi bloke with a good sense of humour. Except he's not Kiwi born. He's got an unusual surname — Zeltwanger. Rainer came from Germany eighteen years ago and is well settled here now, with his wife Edith, formerly from Switzerland, whom he met and married here in New Zealand. They have two Kiwi sons. Rainer and Edith began their RV retail careers selling Caravelair caravans and recently gained the German-built Carado motorhome agency. Carado is part of the Hymer Group, Germany's largest RV manufacturing group. Rainer sought out the Carado agency because he believed it would appeal to Kiwi buyers. As he says, "Carado offers good value for money. The workmanship is good, the interiors are stylish but not flashy and they offer practical family layouts." Rainer is very conscious of things like workmanship and quality. He qualified and worked as an auto-service mechanic back in Germany before he came to New Zealand and runs his own workshop in Massey, West Auckland, servicing European cars when he is not selling RVs.

Carado has a pragmatic approach to making and marketing RVs. Not for them the plethora of models with a multitude of profiles and layouts. Its 2013 range offers a choice of twelve motorhomes using a total of nine layouts, all on Fiat Ducato chassis. All units have a tare weight of 3495kg and GVWs of 3850kg, ranging from 5.98 to 7.43 metres long. There are two profiles — a Luton front with the bed over the cab and a low profile, like the T448 being reviewed. For bed arrangements you can choose double beds (corner, east/west, island or a double bed that lowers from the ceiling), twin beds, and bunk beds. Not bad for a 12-model range.

The layout of the T448 is 'pure Euro' with the habitation door amidships on the driver's side of the vehicle. Entering, the lounge is to the right, the kitchen opposite, the bathroom to the left and on through to the bedroom at the back.

This motorhome has three features that bear out Rainer's belief in the Carado brand — the drop-down bed in the lounge, the bathroom design and the vast storage provided by the garage under the rear bed.

The drop-down bed works very well. It's easy to lower — just unclip the restraining belt and it pulls down evenly with almost no effort. The mattress is an odd shape. It's 1400mm wide at waist level, 1200mm wide at the head and tapering to 1000mm at the foot. Practically, the bed seems to be of generous width and the tapered ends are barely noticeable. When lowered it provides more than sufficient room for reading in bed while sitting up. A ladder bridges the gap to the floor and, conveniently, the kitchen bench makes a handy first step when climbing down. The dinette bed can be occupied and you have full use of the kitchen when the overhead bed is lowered and occupied. It's a nice setup.

The T448 doesn't have a big bathroom, but the design of the shower stall makes it seem so. Big, I mean. The Thetford toilet sits rather awkwardly right in front of the stylish silver wall-mounted handbasin, so when you step past the toilet and stand in the shower stall, it appears the handbasin is too far away. However, if you rotate the toilet bowl and shuffle forward, the handbasin comes well within working range. It's a wee compromise but well worth it, because when you pull the circular shower screens into place at shower time, you realise just how big the shower stall is, providing plenty of wriggle room. And when you open the screens after your shower, the rest of the bathroom is dry as a bone, just as it should be. There are plenty of shelves and cabinets for toiletries, and hooks and rings for clothes and towels. I thought it was great.

Having a storage garage under the rear beds is not unique to Carado, but this one in the T448 ticks most of the boxes. It's big and not cluttered with the pumps, heaters and batteries the manufacturer couldn't fit inside the motorhome. Although it does not have direct access through to the interior, you can gain access by lifting the mattress/slat bedbase if necessary. In my experience the need doesn't often arise.

The twin-bed layout in the rear of the T448 is my preferred arrangement, so I am always curious to see how well it is done should one turn up for review. Here the thick foam mattresses are suitably comfortable, the infill double-bed conversion is a simple pull-out slat base with drop-in cushions that is easy to set up, and the access to the beds by way of steps and/or a ladder works well. After all, we are not climbing Mt Cook here. Three overhead lockers at the head of the bed and a shelf down each side takes care of small clothing items and personal possessions. There is a hanging locker (kerbside) and a large locker (driver's side) under the foot of each bed for longer and bulkier items. Directional overhead lights are well positioned for bedtime reading so I guess my fear is the lack a bedside shelf for my morning cuppa. Not to worry, I found one. Removing the cushion between the twin single beds reveals the shelf I was looking for.

Like all Euro RVs, the kitchen bench in the T448 is small when compared with locally-built RVs. Having said that, everything else you need for meal preparation is provided. In the case of the fridge/freezer it almost amounts to overkill, but it's worth it. The 164-litre Thetford model with a separate freezer compartment will cope with the efforts of the most ardent supermarket shopper. There are drawers below the bench for pots and pans and lockers above for crockery, glasses and foodstuffs, with more space above and below the fridge/freezer. A three-hob gas top with an overhead extractor fan and a small underbench oven/grill caters for cooked meals and a generously-sized round kitchen sink for that much-loved task of doing the dishes. Perhaps the European way of eating out while motorhoming has merit after all.

The interior, with cabinetry surfaced with a honey-coloured Canadian walnut laminate, and complimented with Savannah upholstery fabric in sand and dairy milk chocolate tones, has a light and airy feel. The styling is devoid of embellishment, except for the lower half of the overhead locker doors. These have a matte silver metallic surface, adding a chic, modern element to the overall effect. The lounge/dining area is designed efficiently so, that by including the rotated cab seats, there are five or six places available, depending on how many use the settee opposite the dinette. The table can be lowered as a bed-base should you need another bed. The shelf above the cab has a sensible upstand to keep items like cameras and phones safe while travelling and there are lockers in each corner ideal for storing jerseys or jackets. There is more storage under the settee, while the freshwater tank lurks under the dinette seat.

The interior fittings are all top quality, as we have come to expect from German-built RVs — double-glazed windows with screens and blinds, Truma Combi 6 combination water/space heater and a Thetford three-burner hob. And don't overlook the hailstorm-proof roof that comes with a five-year water-tightness warranty. Rainer chose the Carado motorhome range because he believed it would appeal to Kiwi buyers. I think he has a point.

For more information contact EuroRV Ltd on (09) 832 0064 or 0212 663 602.

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