Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P

By: Lawrence Schäffler


Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P Motorhome review: CI Magis 85P

Manufactured in a country synonymous with style and distinctive design, Italy's new Magis 85P is a chic motorhome with an airy interior, cool light fittings, leather upholstery and masses of storage space. It also offers easy driving, making the most of the Fiat Ducato chassis.

The Magis 85P is one of an extensive line-up of motorhomes (36 models) built by Caravans International (CI), in San Gimignano, Tuscany. The company is one of Italy's largest motorhome manufacturers, producing more than 5500 a year. All the vehicles use either a Fiat or a Mercedes chassis.

CI's range is divided into five different groups – Magis, Riviera, Sinfonia, Mizar and Kyros – and each of these comprises models available in multiple sizes and versions. The Magis stable, for example, includes four low-profile models, three over-cab models and seven elevating bed models. Again, each of these offers various layouts.

The 85P

At only 6.88m overall (2.3m wide), the 85P is far from intimidating and sits midway in the Magis line-up. It's a four-berth motorhome and offers a choice in bed layout. This one's equipped with two single berths at the back and they convert into a truly massive king-sized bed. The alternative is a fixed double bed. In both cases, the dinette up front converts into the second double bed.

It's not hard to see the appeal of the 85P – and it's proven popular in New Zealand in a relatively short period. The distributor (Auckland's Walkabout Motorhome Sales) has sold seven since securing the agency some 18 months ago. The company also runs a rental fleet.

This 85P rides on a Fiat Ducato chassis and is equipped with the smallest of the available power plants – a four-cylinder, 2.3-litre, turbo-charged, 130hp engine. A 150hp or three-litre 180hp version are optional upgrades, but thanks to the motorhome's relatively modest weight (2845kg unladen, with a 655kg payload), the 130hp engine copes just fine. It's fitted with a six-speed Comfortmatic transmission – one of the Ducato's signature features.

That easy-drive characteristic is enhanced by the 85P's low-profile design – the smooth cab-body integration helps to reduce buffeting and enhances fuel consumption. It also restricts the motorhome's height to 2.75m, though that's without the Winegard dish.

CI_Magis _3

Standout features

For me, there are a couple of standout features about the 85P – and one niggle. I like the massive garage built into the rear (it measures 720mm by 1000mm and is accessible from both sides). It will easily accommodate a few bicycles, but if you want to use the space for something more important, you can stick the bikes on the bike rack at the back (it carries four).

I also like the volume of storage space inside the motorhome – lockers which have a clever, pragmatic design – as well as the built-in alarm that buzzes you if you start the engine without retracting that Winegard dish.

My favourite feature is the lighting – very stylish, dimmable LED fittings that cycle through different intensities with the touch of a finger. These fittings also cycle to a blue courtesy night light. Subdued and understated, it's a great feature that eliminates you having to stumble blindly to the loo at night.

My only niggle is with the main entrance on the driver's side. As is the case with many European-imported motorhomes, the door's set up for left-hand driving, with the main entrance on the far side. While the steering's switched for New Zealand, the entrance remains on our driver's side.

Interior

One of the 85P's most distinctive features is its interior styling – crisp, contemporary Euro styling. It presents a classy blend of smooth, white surfaces and ash-blonde cabinetry, complemented by Ivory leather upholstery for the dinette and cab seats.

The layout is fairly standard – the twin singles at the back, with the bathroom (separate shower) immediately forward on the nearside. Opposite is the kitchen, with the dinette just behind the cab. I like the dinette's design – a flexible arrangement with a swivel table.

When the cab seats are revolved to face the table, the dinette's transformed into a fairly generous lounge area. Lowering the table and rearranging the cushions creates a decent-sized double bed (2.160m by 1.180m). A full-length draw curtain across the vehicle (just behind the cab) guarantees your privacy at night.

An AvTec 18.5-inch TV with DVD and SKY decoder is mounted on the nearside bulkhead. On a swivel bracket, it's easily oriented for lounge viewing.

At first glance, the working surfaces in the kitchen appear a little limited, despite the hinged cover over the cooker. But the local agent has addressed this issue by adding a fold-out extension to the end of the bench top.

CI_Magis _5

The three-burner cooker and sink are formed from a single piece of stainless steel, so keeping the cooker clean is simple. An oven/grill sits under the bench top, and immediately alongside it is a three-way Thetford fridge (100 litres). All up – it's a compact but perfectly adequate kitchen for a touring couple or small family.

Similarly, the bathroom is fairly compact although the designers have managed to separate the swivel cassette toilet from the shower/vanity. These are divided by a fold-up acrylic door – and the shower cubicle has plenty of headroom. There's 100 litres of fresh water and the grey water tank holds 108-litres.

Standard 85Ps are equipped with a 4kW Truma gas heating system – the local agent has upgraded this to the 6kW system. It's reticulated throughout the vehicle and, coupled with the motorhome's high-tech ThermoPack insulation and double-glazed windows, winter touring won't pose any issues. The Truma heater also powers the 17-litre hot water cylinder.

Electronics fiends might want a bit more battery grunt – the motorhome is fitted with a 100-amp/hour AGM battery, and its conventional charging regime is supplemented by a 100-watt solar panel on the roof. That should be enough for most tourers, but if you want more there's enough space to fit a second 100-amp/hour battery (it will cost an extra $500).

The verdict

While the Fiat Ducato chassis is the common denominator across a great selection of motorhomes in New Zealand, the Magis 85P maintains an element of exclusivity thanks to its interior styling. It's very distinctive, very modern and very different.

You'll have to fit an awning if you want to enjoy al fresco dining and, when you do, ensure that your first meal includes a good bottle of Chianti to go with the fettuccine.
The Magis 85P – as reviewed – will lighten your wallet by $119,000.

For more information call Shane at Walkabout Motorhome Sales at (09) 810 8999.

Thumbs up

  • Styling – unmistakeable Italian chic
  • Dimmable LED lighting – very cool
  • Rear garage – versatile storage locker

Thumbs down

  • Driver-side main entrance might not appeal to everyone

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