Wheel estate: Coastal custom build

By: Jill Malcolm, Photography by: Bill Savidan

Coastal custom build Coastal custom build
Coastal custom build Coastal custom build
Coastal custom build Coastal custom build
Coastal custom build Coastal custom build
Coastal custom build Coastal custom build
Coastal custom build Coastal custom build
Coastal custom build Coastal custom build

Jill Malcolm checks out the just-completed custom build from Coastal Motorhomes and finds it much to her liking.

Ever since I first reviewed one some six year ago, I have been an admirer of the motorhomes built by Coastal Motorhome and Caravans Ltd in Whakatane. Coastals are custom built one at a time, which means each product is carefully considered and individually appointed. At the Covi Motorhome and Caravan Show held in Auckland last month, the company presented a show pony, with a few higher specifications than the more standard versions and as such, gave me an indication of how its designers and builders are moving with the times.

The body has been extended 300 millimetres so that overall the motorhome measures eight metres. It is built on a Mercedes Benz 3LV6 diesel with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, dual rear-wheel drive, and reversing camera. But was the livery that first struck me — a sharp combination of champagne and bronze with elegantly-curved decals, which has moved well away from the standard white. The four-metre Fiamma awning was erected for display and the first thing I noticed was not the fact it was matched to the colours of the 'van but the LED lighting strip along its outer edge and another over the exterior door — a great idea. Inside the home, just above the door, is an awning light indicator so if you (like I often do) forget to turn the awning light off, you will be prompted to act.

It is the lighting system throughout the vehicle that is one of its most impressive innovations. LED strip lighting has been attached under the overhead lockers, the lip of bench and beneath the cupboards over the bed. These are controlled by a remote electronic fob, which offers several advantages. If I, for instance, was keeper of the fob and was returning to the van at night, I could turn the lights on before I got there. Even more appealing was the thought that, if I was tucked warmly abed, I could turn all the home lights off without moving more than a finger. This handy little fob also has a dimmer control, which lowers the lighting level if you happen to be in a mellow mood. Other lighting is provided by LED spot lights and ceiling down-lights that have a blue and white phase. Apparently blue light does not attract bugs.

In fact there was very little in the interior that bugged me. The wine and burgundy colours of the soft furnishings are in harmony with the timber-look vinyl flooring, and the textured Meltica walls and cupboards that are trimmed with rosewood. Combined with the mood-setting lighting the overall effect is warm and inviting.

It was no great surprise when I was told the Taupo builder of the motorhome, Brent Saunders, is an ex-boatbuilder. There is the stamp of a craftsman about the finish of the interior that somehow smacks of the sea.

The various spaces flow easily from one to another. The kitchen, opposite the home door, has a good-sized bench lined by a classy looking Perspex splashback and inset with a large sink and drainage tray made of slate-grey composite. Alongside is a four-hob cooktop over-set by a small rangehood. The oven and grill are separate. In this model there is no microwave. Opposite the stove is a three-way Dometic 190L fridge/ freezer with a black front panel. I have no grizzles about the cupboard space — there is plenty to satisfy me and I'm picky about that aspect of motorhomes. I liked the roomy pull-out pantry.

To the right of the kitchen is the bedroom area with a double east-west bed and an inner-sprung mattress. Gas struts give access to a sizeable storage under-bed area and there is also an under-bed drawer. A thoughtfully-placed alcove near the bed head is handy for books and cups of tea, and a reasonable size wardrobe and multiple drawers would accommodate as many get-ups and garbs as you are likely to use.

Behind this, stretching across the back end of the vehicle, is an extended bathroom enclosing a swivel cassette toilet with electric flush, built-in basin, plenty of cabinetry for storage, and heated towel rails. The larger-than-usual shower cabinet is separated by a roller screen and the whole room is well ventilated by a window as well as a roof-hatch.

On the left side of the kitchen is the lounge area, with two comfortable bench-style lounge seats against the walls, on either side of a table supported by two removable legs. Each seat is long enough to hold two people (three at a squeeze) and seating room is further extended by swivelling cab seats. With this set up, I liked the way that I was able to get a good view of the television from several comfortable positions. And speaking of comfort — in cooler climes the whole interior can be warmed by the Eberspacher diesel heater.

It's often the little things that count and throughout the interior of this motorhome attention to detail has been thoughtfully executed. Have a look at the chic plug and light switch surrounds, the pull-out bench extender and the concertina blinds over the passenger windows and front windscreen. Note the way the USB charger, sound system with Bluetooth, carbon monoxide detector and other electronic paraphernalia are neatly hidden from sight, and the way external audio speakers have been added to the outside of the van. There are no locks on the draws and cupboards because they are all automatically locked by the push of a button, which is located next to the stereo in the living area. Also, with the first turn of the ignition key the TV satellite dish and step are automatically retracted.

Back to the outside of the motorhome — there are many features worthy of mention apart from the colours and the awning. Paul Farrell, manager of Coastal Motorhome and Caravans Ltd, told me the wall construction is the vacuum-bonded foam sandwich type with aluminium exterior. The roof is the same, meaning it's strong enough to walk on if ever you want to clean it or do a Priscilla Queen of the Desert routine. The roof also supports a three-metre-long luggage rack and two 150W solar panels. It would not be wise to dance on those. No matter the reason, if you need to get up on the roof, a folding ladder is fixed to the rear of the vehicle for that purpose.

The walls, ceiling and floor are fully insulated and all the windows and roof hatches double-glazed. Because of the extended length of the vehicle there are manual rear jacks for stability when parked up for the night. Perhaps best of all, there are no less than five exterior lockers so storage is unlikely to pose a problem, unless you want to bring your horse along.

There were some features on this motorhome that are additions to the more standard specifications. As Paul says, they can be left out or included according clients' individual needs.

"Our way of working," he says, "is to find out from our clients what modifications, additions or changes they want and invite them to watch the progress during the build so they can feel confident everything's going to plan. That's the best way to ensure everybody ends up happy."

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