Review: custom built Paragon motorhome

By: Lawrence Schäffler


Custom built Paragon motorhome Custom built Paragon motorhome
Custom built Paragon motorhome Custom built Paragon motorhome
Custom built Paragon motorhome Custom built Paragon motorhome
Custom built Paragon motorhome Custom built Paragon motorhome
Custom built Paragon motorhome Custom built Paragon motorhome

Many examples of the sumptuous 8.15-metre custom-built tourer from Whakatane's Coastal Motorhomes can be found on New Zealand roads. But none are quite like the latest model, the Paragon.

Coastal Motorhomes has created an enduring recipe with its 8.15-metre, four-berth tourer. Most are built on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis, catering to those who lean towards luxury, space, and a rear-wheel drive train. Powered by a three-litre, turbo-charged V6, the engine's 190 horses are transferred to the rear axle (double wheels) via a silky, seven-speed automatic gearbox.

It's a smooth ride. While the vehicle's dimensions might seem a little imposing to those considering the motorhome way of life for the first time (gross vehicle mass is 5000kg), the Merc's ease of driving will help to steady the nerves.

Meeting the Paragon is – from the outside at least – like greeting an old friend. Like its predecessors it features a gleaming, two-tone paint job. The silvery-gold and brown scheme is distinctive and a welcome change from the ubiquitous 'motorhome white'.

Enhanced by snappy graphics, the colour scheme flows together nicely and helps to integrate the Merc's cab into the rest of the motorhome. It's also a paint job, I'd suggest, that won't display road grime quite as obviously. With stainless steel wheel rims offsetting the composition, the Paragon will draw admiring glances from motorcamp neighbours.

Cab dynamics

The Sprinter chassis is designed for commercial applications, so you'd be forgiven for expecting a fairly utilitarian cab. It's actually reasonably stylish. You'll appreciate the spaciousness and clean, easy-to-take-in-at-a-glance instrumentation, and I like the Bluetooth/radio/phone controls mounted on the wheel.

There's excellent visibility though the panoramic front window, and the large side mirrors provide a good view past the Paragon's body. The reversing camera's screen replaces the standard rear-view mirror.

There are plenty of lockers built into the sides of the motorhome, including one which houses a pull-out BBQ – great for al fresco dining under the four-metre pull-out awning. There's enough room in the gas locker for two 9kg bottles – comforting if you want to take off into remote parts of the country for weeks at a time.

The fold-down ladder on the back leads up to more storage (roof-racks) on top, and the tow-bar ensures you'll be able to take your favourite toys along – bicycles, boats or quad-bike.

But the key point of difference between the Paragon and the other Coastal 8.15-metre motorhomes is the interior layout. The introduction of the one-piece, rear bathroom is – to my mind at least – one of the nicest bits of variation from the manufacturer's design team. Paragon _3

Rear bathroom

Where her predecessors featured a rear bedroom suite (north/south island bed, with a separate toilet and shower further forward on either side), the Paragon tucks the full-width bathroom into the rear and moves the bed forward.

You enter the bathroom via a door discreetly incorporated into the cabinetry on the far side of the bed. This layout reinforces the sense of a real en suite bathroom. The shower provides enough elbow room for a vigorous scrubbing.

Access to the island bed is great from both sides. A 19-inch TV mounted against a bulkhead is for bedtime viewing, but integrated into base at foot of the bed is a second, 24-inch TV for watching from the lounge).

The TV's mounted upside-down on the inside of a locker door and can be turned into an entertainment centre for those seated in the lounge. When not in use, the TV remains out of sight – and rattle-free.

Kitchen/dinette

Immediately forward of the rear bedroom is the kitchen – well-designed and brimming with good design features. The chef's arsenal includes a four-burner gas hob (with oven below), a microwave above (mounted at eye-level) and opposite a 190-litre, three-way fridge/freezer.

I like the silky-smooth, soft-close drawers, as well as the pull-out section of bench-top – it substantially increases the work area for enthusiasts wanting to prepare a complicated meal. The aesthetics of the kitchen – with its coal-black surfaces, white cabinetry and solid rosewood trimming – are greatly enhanced by discreet LED lighting.

The dinette comprises two facing bench settees and will accommodate six with ease. If you include the cab's two swivel seats, there's enough room for eight. Sensible storage abounds – lots of it under the settees. Drawers are much nicer than generic lockers – they make things easier to pack/find.

To convert the dinette into the second double bed, remove the table and install two base supports (retrieved from under the settee cushions).

The verdict

The Paragon's ideal for extended freedom touring. It carries 200 litres of fresh water (with an identically sized grey water tank). Electricity's provided by a hefty 260 amp-hour battery (supported by two 150-watt solar panels on the roof). The two 9kg gas bottles will last for months and if you enjoy winter touring, the Eberspacher diesel heating system will keep things toasty.

My favourite bit of technology in the Paragon is its 'removable master lighting switch'. Mounted near the main door this lighting panel looks completely conventional. But it's easily unclipped and slipped into your pocket/handbag/backpack. More importantly, it's equipped with a wireless interface.

So when you return to a dark motorhome late at night and can't find your way, simply flick a switch on the panel and the motorhome's pre-configured light settings will come on – the Paragon will stand out like a beacon in the night. Very cool.

There is much to admire about the Paragon (did I mention its workmanship and the three-year warranty?) – but as with any Coastal Motorhomes commission, customisation is a major appeal. Buyers can tailor the interior layout (and the décor) to personal preferences.

Thumbs up

  • Second TV mounting – clever use of space
  • Wireless light switch panel – easy to find you motorhome in the dark
  • Build quality – solid and rattle-free

Thumbs down

  • Size – newbies might feel nervous about manoeuvring

For more information contact Coastal Motorhomes & Caravans on (07) 307 0503.

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