Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P

By: Lawrence Schäffler

Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P
Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P Motorhome review: CI Magis 66P

Sporting snazzy 16-inch mag wheels, cool LED driving lights and an elegant two-tone paint job, the low-profile exterior of the new 7.43-metre Magis 66P motorhome is but a foretaste of the stylish and distinctive layout that awaits within.

Given the popularity of the Fiat Ducato chassis among European motorhome manufacturers, there is an inevitable similarity between the various brands, so you'd be forgiven for approaching the latest Magis 66P – built by Italy's Caravans International (CI) – with an element of 'been there, done that'.

But this one really is different, and differentiates itself particularly by what's inside – though the exterior does offer a few clues about what to expect.

It's not surprising that the Ducato chassis and its sculpted cab is the default choice for the majority of European motorhome builders. With its powerful range of engines and six-speed automatic transmission, it's exceptionally easy chassis to drive – many would argue that it's more like driving a car than any other motorhome.

To cement that popularity, Fiat has upgraded the latest models. The changes include a revamped cab interior – a restyled centre console and easier, more convenient steering-mounted controls. Outside, the headlights have an LED trim – driving lights that stay on permanently. They not only give the motorhome a racy image, they also make it more visible.

And in addition to standard safety features such as ABS braking and traction control, the Ducato now has hill hold (a useful feature when parked on awkward slopes). It has also been equipped with rain and dust sensors, technology that will automatically activate the wipers as needed.

CI has enhanced the Ducato cab/Magis body integration with a slick, two-tone paint job – the cab's gold paint job extends backwards in fine detail lines, contrasting nicely with the body's crisp white finish. The paint job accentuates the 66P's sleek profile and the entire package receives an added lift from those 16-inch mag wheels. Our model is powered by a 130hp engine (the 150hp and 180hp alternatives are optional upgrades).

Step inside

The main appeal of the 66P for me is its interior – specifically, the design of the rear bedroom. This Magis is designed for four – a rear main bedroom with a north/south island bed, and an east/west double bed further forward, created by rearranging the dinette's table and bench seat.

The rear bedroom's pièce de résistance is its centrally positioned vanity, and the way it separates the bedroom from the rest of the motorhome, providing much more privacy. It's a clever bit of design that creates two matching entrances to the bedroom and effectively splits the shower from the toilet on opposite sides of the motorhome.

Facing backwards, the vanity sports an acrylic bowl/basin, a stylish mixer and a large mirror, overhead LED lighting and discreet, floor-level blue LED lighting – together these provide a sense of 'theatre' to your ablutions.

While there are sliding doors that close the bedroom from the shower and toilet, I like the way the vanity and the toilet/shower cubicles create an open-plan space.

CI-Magis _3

The shower is on the driver's side and has folding acrylic doors. An infill section fits into the cubicle's recessed floor and has two functions: it extends the floor area of the passage to the bedroom, and also keeps those folded doors snugly in place, against the rattle-free shower walls when not in use. The infill's removed for showering, and the recess helps to keep the water in the shower rather than on the surrounding floor. On the opposite side the swivel toilet has a draw curtain for added privacy.

Measuring 1875 by 1390mm the island bed is accessed up steps on either side (the second bed – the converted dinette – measures 2160 by 1015mm). There are generous side tables built into the rear bedroom, and tall his and hers lockers. The smartest part of the bed, however, is its adjustability – it can be lowered or raised some 300mm, allowing you to set its height for optimum convenience.

That height adjustment has another practical benefit. The Magis 66P has a large rear garage, accessible from both sides. By raising the bed to its full height, the garage's volume is significantly increased, giving owners much more flexibility in the kind of toys they can accommodate.

Kitchen and dinette

Compact but well-designed, the L-shaped kitchen features a three-burner gas hob and sink on one side, with a 175-litre, three-way fridge/freezer opposite. A gas oven sits at eye-level, above the fridge. Everything is nicely positioned, within easy reach. To create more bench top space, use the infill for the sink or the fold-down glass cover over the cooker.

The Magis' eco-leather white upholstery looks elegant and feels even better. It helps to create an open, airy atmosphere, a feeling enhanced by the light and ventilation streaming in through the window directly above and the large sun roof over the cab. Swivel captain seats in the cab expand the seating options around the oval table.

You can watch TV in the bedroom – a 19-inch screen is mounted on the bulkhead, at the foot of the bed. For a larger group of viewers relaxing in the lounge, you'll need to mount a second TV on the shelf above the cab. The vehicle's fitted with a Sky decoder and Winegard aerial.

My only concern with the Magis is its single 100-amp-hour battery – it may restrict more adventurous travellers, though to be fair the 100-watt solar panel on the roof will help keep the battery perky. Those who venture out in winter will enjoy the 6kW Truma heating and hot water system.

If you're a fan of the Fiat Ducato's driveability but yearn for a motorhome that's little different, you might find a ready-made solution in the new Magis 66P. And at $137,000 (inc GST), it's pretty good value for money.

One more thing: the two-tone paint job looks pretty cool and it would be good to preserve it for as long as possible in New Zealand's harsh UV-intensive climate. To achieve that, you could consider having the entire vehicle (including the windows) coated with a layer of duraseal.

A clear application not only preserves the paint work but also reduces the amount of elbow grease needed to clean and polish the motorhome. The treatment costs around $850, a good investment, but for best value do it when your motorhome is brand new – not when it's 15 years-old with faded, crazed paint.

For more information call (09) 833 1163.

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