Motorhome review: Burstner Nexxo 55 T685

By: Peta Stavelli

German motorhome manufacturer Bürstner celebrated its 55th anniversary recently with the release of some limited edition models, all sporting a host of free extras. Peta Stavelli took one of Burstner's birthday models – the Nexxo 55 T685 – for a Coromandel test drive and it came up trumps.


The opportunity to road test the Burstner Nexxo 55 T685 came after attending Smart Motorhomes' Oktoberfest at the Auckland Airport Oaks headquarters of both Smart RV and its sister company Wilderness Rentals. We spent a happy few hours there listening to the genuine German Oompah band and enjoying fresh, hand-made pretzels and German sausages served with mustard, on top of home-made German bread washed down with tap beer or wine.

I stuck to orange juice having already anticipated to be driving the new vehicle through pouring rain and early evening traffic. After two and a half years with MCD, I've driven a great number of motorhomes, yet I'm always a tad apprehensive when I get behind the wheel of something new.

And I loathe driving in the rain…

Hitting the road in the T685

The Nexxo is built on the Fiat Ducato chassis with a 130hp engine and six-speed automatic transmission. It comes with ABS braking; ESP (electronic stability programme) and ASR (traction control). I put the latter to the test when at one point on our narrow journey, I was forced on to the gravel to make room for an oncoming car driven by someone who – judging by the speed they were doing – clearly knew the roads better than I.

Dropping off the hard-top onto gravel when travelling at what had seemed to be a sensible speed (and then suddenly wasn't) used to spell certain disaster for motorhomes. I had an 'Oh, oh!' moment and then I was just as quickly back on the seal, as if the hand of an angel had guided me. God bless the magic combo of ESP and ASR.

Another feature of Bürstner vehicles is the recent addition of New Zealand-friendly speedometers, which apparently cost the dealer a fortune to changeover but are much appreciated by the driver. Being mathematically challenged, I find the constant conversion of speed limits excessively tiring and see this as a very Smart move (if you'll pardon the pun).

Since this vehicle came from the rental fleet it had another feature we also appreciated: despite the fact we had not asked for a sat-nav to be supplied, the Nexxo had an inbuilt GPS system. A charming female would politely tell us, "You are over the speed limit." Nice gal.

Not your typical motorhome

The T685 has no rear window and this can be disconcerting to those new to motorhoming. Be not afraid though: the electrically adjustable wing mirrors, reversing camera and LCD screen on the dashboard are excellent substitutes and you'll very quickly get the hang of it.

The Nexxo's main entrance is on the driver's side. I was recently asked by a reader how safe I felt about these European doors. Perfectly safe, I assured him. I see them as no more dangerous than a driver's door. Of course, as a caution I would not use the entrance door until I was parked off the road and in a position where it was safe to do so.

While we're on the subject of doors, the T685's is extra-wide and access to the motorhome is made easier by the low recessed step inside the door. I understand this coupe door is to be a feature in the majority of new Bürstner motohomes and it makes a good deal of sense.


Modern comforts

Our first night on the road in a new motorhome can be a bit hectic. We prefer to cook for ourselves when travelling and this can present a few challenges when preparing the first night's meal. First comes happy hour of course, and then comes getting used to the new kitchen. The first thing to be appreciated here though, was the intuitive latches which alleviate the need for double latching to make them road-safe.

Everything was on hand and within easy reach for cooking. We'd stocked the fridge with all the necessities before leaving Auckland, so whipping up our evening meal in the compact galley was no trouble. The only difficulty was in getting used to the small bench space for preparation.

The co-pilot had earlier noted that (with my short legs) I would struggle to get up on to the bed from the side closest to the shower. He was perhaps a little unwise in making that unflattering observation, as I commandeered his normal side of the bed and enjoyed an easy step up… and slept like a baby. In my opinion Bürstner does better beds than most other manufacturers.

The toilet with hand-basin is a relatively small but extremely functional space, with heaps of storage, good lighting and mirrors. The toilet also swivels to allow more room. We didn't use the shower as we made good use of the campground showers instead, so I cannot give you an honest opinion about that. However, I can testify to the overall ease of use we experienced in the Nexxo 55 T685.

The verdict

We loved the combo blinds with insect screens; the track lighting which was perfectly adjustable; the large fridge; the generous boot; the easy-to read panels; the multiple storage options and the separate boudoir with privacy curtains.

My only real grumble was a lack of lighting amidships which made the high oven even harder to operate, because your test driver (as was earlier pointed out) is a trifle vertically challenged.

The Nexxo is a pleasure to drive and it was well tested on the narrow, steep and winding Coromandel roads. What's more: it's incredibly economical. We could have done the entire return journey from Auckland to the Coromandel on a tank of diesel. Brilliant.

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