Test: Bürstner Nexxo 55

By: Lawrence Schäffler

Burstner Nexxo 55 Burstner Nexxo 55
Burstner Nexxo 55 Leather upholstery is practical and stylish. Burstner Nexxo 55
Burstner Nexxo 55 Driving is a pleasure. Burstner Nexxo 55
Burstner Nexxo 55 The limited edition models feature extras worth $15,000. Burstner Nexxo 55
Burstner Nexxo 55 Burstner Nexxo 55
Burstner Nexxo 55 Burstner Nexxo 55

German motorhome manufacturer Bürstner celebrated its 55th anniversary this year with the release of new, limited edition models that come with a host of free extras. The Nexxo 55 T685 is one of them — a plush, 6.98m vehicle designed for two.

Test: Bürstner Nexxo 55
Bürstner celebrates its birthday in champagne style.

Bürstner's celebratory motorhomes extend to five models in two ranges — the Nexxo (T685, T690 and T740), and the Ixeo Time It (710G and 726G). They're all built on the identical Fiat Ducato chassis powered by a 2.3-litre, 130hp engine (Euro 5), and all carry the same, snazzy colour scheme — a graphite cab and white body embellished with flowing decals. The variation is inside.

Of the five, our review model (the T685) has one of the nicer layouts. It has a semi-island (north-south) bed in the rear, with a shower alongside and, further forward on the opposite side, a separate toilet/vanity. Semi-island bed? It's slightly offset (to make space for the shower), but still allows entry from both sides — and it's easy to make up.

Like many European motorhomes adapted for New Zealand's right-hand drive system, the Nexxo's main entrance is on the (New Zealand) driver's side.

On the far side is a compact but well-designed kitchen and, immediately forward of it, a dinette fitted with a bench seat.

The dinette's table is a two-piece affair with an expandable bottom section. With this deployed and the two cab seats swiveled 180 degrees, the dinette easily accommodates two dinner guests. It also converts into a modestly-sized double bed (perfect for two children), making the T685 suitable for small families.

I like the palette used by the birthday models — cream leather upholstery offsetting the dark brown joinery and white lockers, all accentuated by recessed LEDs and subtle back-lighting. It looks and feels very sophisticated.

And that's obviously a popular perception. Bürstner's New Zealand agents — Auckland's Smart Motorhomes amd Wilderness Rentals — brought two T685s to the recent Christchurch show and promptly sold both. Six more are on order.

What about those extras?

The T685's price tag of $139,900 includes some $15,000 worth of birthday gifts. These range from a Zenec multimedia centre (with navigation) and reversing video camera, to an Omnistor side awning and a lower, wider main entry door. And don't forget those graphics — very distinctive.

That door is a smart feature. Getting in and out of motorhomes doesn't get any easier as the years roll by — particularly for senior tourers. The Nexxo has a very low, recessed step and its door is also quite a bit wider (700mm) than standard models. It's also fitted with a full height, pull-out flyscreen, so you won't have to keep the main door shut on steamy days to thwart attacks from squadrons of blood-thirsty mosquitoes.

Top features

In addition to the layout and the door, there are a couple of things I particularly like about the T685. One is its L-shaped kitchen. The oven is mounted above the 160-litre fridge/freezer. But all three — fridge, freezer and oven — are fitted with the same clean, sleek fascia. It presents as an all-in-one tower. Very classy.

It's a compact area, but perfectly adequate. The three-burner hob is equipped with a glass top (creating additional working space when not cooking) and there are plenty of drawers.

I also like the easy-access USB port built into the cabinet just behind the passenger seat — very easy for charging mobile phones, tablets, eBook readers and iPads. Many of the LEDs are mounted on tracks, allowing you to shape the lighting to your precise preferences.

The main TV lives in a dedicated cabinet between the kitchen and dinette. Mounted on a track, it pulls out and swivels to face the viewers in the lounge — discreet, secure, out of the way, and quick and easy to deploy. A second TV can be mounted in the bedroom (pre-wired).

A separate shower and toilet is always welcome and there are plenty of mirrors to ensure you look your best, including
a full-length model near the shower. But I have a small niggle about the size of the shower. Even with the bed slightly offset, the cubicle is a little tight — so no wild scrubbing — and if you drop the soap you might need some good limbo dancing skills to retrieve it.

The T685 carries 120 litres of freshwater, with a 90-litre wastewater tank. An electric element Truma Combi 4 heater not only provides hot water but also the heating (ducted throughout the motorhome). A 90 amp-hour battery is standard.

Drive time

Driving the Nexxo is, as with most motorhomes built on the Fiat Ducato chassis, a pleasure. Bürstner's birthday models aren't available with the bigger, more powerful engines (the 150hp and 180hp variants), but the 130hp model (with a six-speed automatic transmission) doesn't struggle with the T685's 2986kg unladen weight. The motorhome is rated for an 864kg payload.

In addition to ABS braking, the T685 comes with ESP (electronic stability programme) and ASR (traction control). Then there's the electrically-adjustable wing mirrors, air-conditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and cruise control. With the island bed there's no rear window, but the reversing camera and LCD screen on the dash are an excellent substitute when easing the motorhome into tight spots.

My favourite driving feature is the large, opening skylight in the cab roof. It accentuates the sense of open space and when necessary aids with ventilation, and it's nicely integrated into the bodywork.

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