RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight

By: Lawrence Schäffler


RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight
RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight RV review: Dethleffs Sunlight

With a price tag of $118,000, Dethleffs' new 6.9m Sunlight may be labelled a budget, entry-level motorhome, but I prefer to call it a mid-sized tourer designed specifically for couples.

There are two models in the Sunlight range – the T69S (small) with an overall length of 6.99 metres, and the slightly bigger sister, the T69L (large) at 7.4 metres-long. Our review vehicle is the smaller of the two.

Both ride on the identical Fiat Ducato chassis fitted with the Italian manufacturer's mid-sized engine (150hp, turbo-charged) and the standard, six-speed automatic Comfortmatic transmission.

As with all of the 2015 Dethleffs motorhomes, the Sunlight benefits from the recent facelift to the Ducato cabs (essentially a revamped dash/console area) as well as technology upgrades. Safety features such as ESP, ASR and hill hold have been added.

The Ducato's legendary drivability is further enhanced by the Sunlight's slippery contours – the low-profile cab will be kinder on fuel consumption and less affected by buffeting wind. The streamlined integration of the cab/body also improves the driving experience because it provides for a large sky window above – together with the large panoramic windscreen there's a sense of open, airy space and freedom.

And finally, driving and manoeuvring is much easier than many motorhomes thanks to the Sunlight's modest dimensions and weight. Its mass in running order is 2930kg and, with a payload of 565kg, it has a total weight of 3495kg.

Collectively, these attributes accentuate the car-like handling characteristics – a comfortable, easy, enjoyable drive, accentuated by the stylish upholstery on the cab's swivelling seats.

Rear bedroom

Designed for a couple, the Sunlight's accommodation is concentrated in a rear bedroom suite with a north/south island bed (190-by-150cm) and a separate toilet and shower on either side further forward. The dinette up front converts to a single bed, but I can't see it being used very often.

I like island bed layouts, but access to the far side of this bed isn't ideal. The gap between the foot of the bed and the toilet bulkhead is pretty tight. Those with very skinny legs will be able to squeeze through, but for most users access to the far side of the bed will probably require clambering over your partner when answering a call of nature at midnight. If you can live with this slight inconvenience, the layout's great.

Sunlight _4

I particularly like the design of the shower (near side). It has a false floor insert that keeps the folding acrylic doors snug and secure (open) when driving. This insert echoes the design of the surrounding floor and, as it's at the same level, it makes the passage between the shower and bed reasonably wide.

To use the shower, the insert is removed, revealing a timber duckboard in a fully contained shower recess. Because it's lower than the surrounding floor, the water is confined to the shower cubicle – it won't be dispersed across the bedroom floor.

On the opposite side, the toilet door is dual-purpose. Swung open, it closes off the bedroom from the rest of the motorhome. Alternatively, you can create bedroom privacy by drawing a curtain (it runs on a ceiling-mounted track) across the entrance.

Kitchen and dinette

Again, given the twosome design concept, the Sunlight's equipped with a compact, L-shaped kitchen, nicely presented and very functional. There's plenty of cooking space on the three-burner hob – and it's complemented by an oven/grill below.

Both the hob and the round sink alongside have fold-down covers to expand the workbench area. Overhead LEDs – as well as a large window behind the kitchen – provide excellent light for meal preparation. The 135-litre Thetford fridge/freezer on the opposite side should cater comfortably to a couple's supply needs for an extended tour.

I like the chest-high bulkhead between the kitchen and the dinette – it acts as a kind of barrier against flying or fatty cooking residue – and keeps to keep the two areas separate.

That said, serving meals requires nothing more than an easy stretch to the dinette table. And while the Sunlight's geared to a couple, it will easily accommodate three more dinner guests. The table has a forward-facing bench seat for two – with a single seat on the end and two swivel cab seats.

A 19-inch TV is mounted above the fridge, facing forward. It's mounted on a flexible bracket. This means it extends out into the centre of the aisle and will be viewed from the two cab seats (swiveled to face backwards).

Sunlight _5

Alternatively, you can swivel the TV 180 degrees on its bracket, and watch your favourite soapie from the comfort of your bed. The automatic satellite-locking dish on the roof will help in the quest for perfect reception.

Accessories

For me, one of the Sunlight's major attractions is its list of all-inclusive accessories packed with the $118,000 price tag. These include a 190-watt solar panel on the roof, a built-in awning, that automatic satellite-finding dish on the roof, the 19-inch TV. The solar panel will help to keep the single 95 amp-hour battery in top heart, but if you fancy extended travelling you might consider fitting an extra battery.

The seven-inch display unit in the dash is also part of the package. It serves as the screen for the reversing camera, the GPS (preloaded with New Zealand maps) as well as the radio and CD/DVD player.

The Sunlight is an attractive vehicle – well-built, well-equipped and nicely finished – fresh and sunny. It will appeal mainly to a relatively 'narrow' segment of buyers. Yes, you could label them budget buyers, but I prefer to think of them as couples who don't see any point in owning a larger, heavier, and more difficult-to-manoeuvre motorhome.

For more information, call Dethleffs on 0800 112 828.

Pros

  • Easy drivability, modest weight, low-profile cab
  • Shower design
  • Large, overhead sky window

Cons

  • Tight squeeze at the end of the bed – might require a diet

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