Motorhome review: Benimar Mileo 202

By: Bill Savidan

Benimar Mileo 202 The Mileo 202 externally is not large at just under 6m long and 2.5m wide. Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 Built on a Fiat chassis, the Mileo 202 handles like a big car and is satisfying to drive. Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 It is easy to park and can be driven on a car licence. Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 The interior feels far bigger than the exterior suggests. Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 The bathroom is definitely compact, but everything functions as it should. Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 This fully-made-up queen-size bed descends from the ceiling at the turn of a key and the push of a button. Benimar Mileo 202
Benimar Mileo 202 The kitchen has good, usable bench space. Benimar Mileo 202

After doing his homework, Bill Savidan is intrigued to find the compact Benimar Mileo 202 offers so much more than expected.

The Benimar Mileo 202 has seatbelts for four, dining for six, and beds for four. That is pretty impressive in a vehicle that is just 5.99 metres long, 2.3 metres wide and 2.89 metres high. It has a tare weight of 2934 kilograms and GVW of 3500 kilograms.

Driving the Mileo 202 

Built on a Fiat chassis, the Mileo handles like a big car and is satisfying to drive. The 150bhp motor and Fiat six-speed automated manual transmission are quite happy working all day at motorway speeds and coped with the rolling countryside around South Auckland in workman-like fashion — it’s not a rocket ship but suitable for the task.

The Mileo's small size means it's easy to park and easy to store at home. It can be driven on a car licence and only requires a money-saving Warrant of Fitness, rather than the more expensive Certificate of Fitness.

Freedom camping

Just because the Mileo is small it doesn't mean it can't do what the 'big boys' do. It has all the bases covered, with a 122-litre freshwater tank, 105-litre greywater tank, and the Thetford 150-litre separate compartment fridge/freezer, usually reserved for much larger more expensive RVs.

Meanwhile, on the roof is a 100-watt solar panel and under the cab seat are two 117-amp-hour house batteries. There are two externally-accessed storage lockers for the barbecue and outdoor furniture.

Stepping inside through the Kiwi-kerbside door, my first impression was like stepping into the Tardis: this was definitely bigger on the inside than it appeared from the outside. The eating, lounging, and entertaining area will indeed accommodate six diners. In fact, at a pinch, I reckon it could accommodate seven.

The forward-facing dinette seats are the two extra belted seats. The dining table is an all-purpose singing and dancing affair that slides fore and aft, side-to-side, as well as rotating and can be locked in almost any position you desire. It also lowers on its air-cushioned centre pedestal to form the bed base when the dinette is converted for sleeping.

Sleeping arrangements

The Mileo can also sleep four. I could see the dinette would make up into a bed for two but that option has always struck me as a compromise, especially if I was the one sleeping there. If this was my RV, where would I sleep?

Mileo _202_8

Problem solved. With the turn of a key and the press of an adjacent button, the ceiling descends to reveal a fully made-up queen-sized bed. The bed's electric mechanism lowers the bed on hanging straps, similar to seatbelt straps, which support the bed in the lowered position. The system is quick and easy to use and the bed can be put away made up, ready for the next night's use.

Bathroom and kitchen

Tucked into the driver's side rear corner, the bathroom has a familiar arrangement, a centrally-positioned hand basin with toilet on the left and shower stall on the right. There is no doubt it is compact but everything functions as it should.

The Thetford toilet swivels, allowing one adequate knee room in front of the handbasin. The basin is a good water-saving shape and positioned so you can get your head over it for a good old-fashioned face, neck, and arms wash. The shower stall is round at the bottom but oval-shaped at shoulder height, providing wing room for washing yourself, and there are spaces for shampoo and soap.

The kitchen is as good as any I've seen in an imported RV under eight metres long. It has good usable bench space, tucked away in a quiet corner as it is. There is useful locker space, a big 150-litre fridge/freezer, a full oven with separate grill, and a cooktop with three LPG hobs plus an electric hob.

Mod cons

With hatches in the lounge and kitchen and the panoramic sky-view hatch over the cab, as well as opening windows in the kitchen and lounge it should be an easy RV to keep warm or cool as the seasons demand. For really cold days there is an efficient 3.5-kilowatt diesel heater to call on.

Like most RV manufacturers, Benimar has also embraced LED lighting technology and there is a generous sprinkling of LED lights throughout the Mileo. Continued use of these lights during periods when the vehicle is inactive (a week in a DOC camp, say) can make the vehicle driver nervous about whether there will be enough 'juice' left in the battery to start the vehicle when the time comes.

Mileo _202_2A

The verdict

The Benimar Mileo 202 is a remarkable motorhome. However, those who prefer the more conventional fixed rear queen bed should consider the Mileo 201. It has similar facilities to the Mileo 202, re-arranged to accommodate the fixed rear bed.

Smaller motorhomes like the Mileo 201/202 will become more and more popular as vehicle running costs rise, parking availability at tourist destinations and campground space diminishes, and home storage for large vehicles dwindles. The Mileo is in the right place at the right time to capitalise on these trends.

The Benimar Mileo 202 is currently on offer from Auckland Motorhomes for $135,000, including LCD TV with satellite aerial fitted and all on-road costs.

For more information contact Dan Monk in the North Island on (09) 294 6500, or Neil and Kate Withear at Freedom RV in the South Island, on 0800 526 625.

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