Motorhome review: Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE

By: Lawrence Schäffler, Photography by: Lawrence Schäffler


Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE
Motorhome review: Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE Motorhome review: Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE
Motorhome review: Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE A 6kW Combi unit reticulates heat throughout the motorhome. Motorhome review: Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE
Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE The "wall/doors" - wraparound verticle louvres add to the modern design. Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE
Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE In driving mode, the bed's retracted up into the ceiling - you wouldn't know it was there. Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE
Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE A fixed island double bed lives in the rear main suite. Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE
Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE Dethleffs 7.35m Magic SE

Dethleffs' latest Magic Edition is a blend of its Low-Profile and A-Class siblings — a striking motorhome, sumptuously appointed and bristling with innovation.

Dethleff's Magic Edition range can be divided into three models: the Low-Profile, the A-Class, and now, with this Special Edition, a Low-Profile/A-Class blend.

All are built on the popular Fiat Ducato chassis. The Low-Profile models use Fiat's cab with a body tacked on behind — the A-Class models have custom-built, integrated cab/bodies.

The significance of this new 7.35m Magic is that it provides some of the features previously available only in the A-Class motorhomes — the key one being the second bed that retracts into the ceiling, but with a difference (more on this in a moment). Effectively though, you're getting A-Class features in a Low-Profile model — and it's a neat result.

Using the conventional Ducato chassis and cab for this motorhome has a particular significance for New Zealand buyers — it has a driver's door. Because they're geared to the European market, the standard coach-built, A-Class models have the steering/driver's door is on the left-hand side.

A-Class models imported into New Zealand have the steering switched to the right, but the original door configuration remains, leaving the driver without an entry/exit. Some Kiwi drivers might baulk at having to leave the cab via the passenger door.

Building the Special Edition on the conventional chassis-with-cab removes this irritation — though the main entrance to the motorhome is still on the driver's side — as per the European standard. Again, though unusual for New Zealand, it's not a big deal.

Driving it

One of the Low-Profile's major advantages over the bus-like A-Class is in the driving experience. Even though it's the same height as the A-Class (2.72m) it has a sleeker profile thanks to the way the Ducato cab is neatly integrated into the bodywork, a profile supported by flush-fitting windows.

It's impossible to prove without an actual comparison, but I'd wager that the Special Edition would return slightly better fuel consumption figures and handle more easily on windy days. It doesn't have the A-Class's majestic, panoramic windscreen, but it does have a large Heki window above the cab.

Dethleffs _Magic _SE_1

The new model is powered by the the 180hp, three-litre, turbocharged engine. It comes with the Comfortmatic (automatic) six-speed transmission. The AL-KO chassis provides safety and peace-of-mind benefits such as ABS/EBD braking, and electronic stability control.

I also like the features built onto the bodywork. Slip around behind the motorhome and you'll find a fold-down ladder attached to the back. It takes you up to the roof — fitted with a sturdy framework ideal for carrying must-have toys such as kayaks.

Designed for four

Though it will be much more comfortable for a couple, this Magic's designed for four — a fixed, island double (north-south) in the rear main suite, and a second double (east-west) just forward of centre that retracts up into the ceiling. This retractable bed is the Special's most unexpected feature.

Retractable beds are a feature of the A-Class motorhomes. They're located over the cab, which accounts for the vehicles' 'square' front-end – this is why they're not available in Low-Profile models. Dethleffs' designers have shifted the retractable bed further back.

In driving mode, the bed's retracted up into the ceiling, completely discreet — you wouldn't know it was there. Push the button on the electronic control and it descends smoothly to about chest height. At 150cm wide, it's a fairly generous berth for a couple.

It's equipped with a built-in, surround curtain/net for privacy/safety, and accessed via a ladder. As a permanent, separate fixture, it also means you won't have to re-arrange the dinette for creating another bed.

Storage space

Space can be fairly limited in a motorhome, but the Special proves to be an exception. Mainly because there genuinely is plenty of storage, but also because the designers have been clever in creating the illusion of space.

Dethleffs _Magic _SE_4

This is nowhere more evident than in the main suite, where bathroom facilities are divided between a shower cubicle on the far side and a separate toilet/vanity on the near side. What makes this arrangement particularly attractive are the 'wall/doors'.

Like the under-bed locker, the cubicles have curved, floor-to-ceiling 'wraparound' vertical louvres rather than doors. When you want to use the facilities you slide the louvres from their recesses. It's an effective, open-plan design — and when the louvres are retracted into their recesses it creates a sense of greater space in the rear bedroom.

Magic Edition kitchen

The Dethleffs Magic SE has a stylish kitchen – compact but functional – with benchtop space augmented by three glass covers over the cooker and sink. Separate glass covers provides good flexibility for allocating space during meal preparation and washing up.

There's an oven below the three-burner cooker, and opposite a 160-litre fridge with a separate, 35-litre freezer. The locker above the unit will take a decent-sized microwave oven. My favourite feature of the kitchen, though, is the curved, pull-out pantry below the sink — it not only softens the area (no sharp edges) but also provides excellent storage.

While the dinette is fixed — and very luxurious with its leather upholstery — there is good flexibility for arranging it around the number of guests. The table rests on a multi-axis mount, and is easily shifted into different configurations to accommodate more/fewer people. There is also a fill-in squab to extend the L-shape settee if things get a little crowded.

Heating/freedom camping

A six kilowatt Combi unit reticulates heat throughout the motorhome. In summer, there's plenty of ventilation from the opening windows — and they're all fitted with screens to keep the pests out.

Adventurers who favour escaping to remote locations for long periods will enjoy the Special's resources — two 95-amp-hour house batteries, a 190-watt solar panel (complete with MPPT charger), and an Apollo dish antenna on the roof servicing the 19-inch Avtex TV. The gas locker will accommodate twin nine kilogram bottles.

Dethleffs _Magic _SE_10

The verdict

I only have one grizzle/caution about the Special's interior — it has a split-level floor. I guess you'll get used to it, but be careful when stumbling around in the dark. There are discreetly-mounted LEDS at floor level.

As is standard with Dethleffs, you have a number of choices when specifying your Special — a key one is deciding between black and white. The black model comes with the leather upholstery (white Specials get fabric). You can opt for twin singles at the back rather than the island double, and you'll probably want to tick the box for a second TV in the rear suite.

With this equipment, as well as a seven-inch Phillips GPS/reversing camera and a 4.5-metre Thule awning, you'll have to hand over $178,000 for a Special. Selecting the black version, of course, provides an added benefit: you can be seen to be supporting your favourite rugby team even when you miles from the nearest stadium. 

For more information on the Magic Special Edition, contact Buy Campervan on 021 227 662.

Pros

  • The retractable bed – discreet, easy to deploy
  • Easy-drive – smooth, six-speed gearbox, 180hp grunt
  • Sliding bathroom walls/doors – uber smart

Cons

  • Split-level floor – take care in the dark

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