RV review: Sunliner Twist

By: Lawrence Schäffler


RV review: Sunliner Twist RV review: Sunliner Twist
RV review: Sunliner Twist RV review: Sunliner Twist
RV review: Sunliner Twist RV review: Sunliner Twist
RV review: Sunliner Twist RV review: Sunliner Twist
RV review: Sunliner Twist RV review: Sunliner Twist
RV review: Sunliner Twist RV review: Sunliner Twist
RV review: Sunliner Twist RV review: Sunliner Twist

Enthusiasts of RWD motorhomes will be heartened by the range of Sunliners now being distributed by Auckland Motorhomes. Check out this review of one.

Auckland Motorhomes’ Sunliner dealership is very new – it kicked off at the Covi Show in March this year. But the vehicles have proved an instant hit with the show translating into four immediate sales. A number of factors underscore this performance.

For a start, the Sunliners meet an immediate need. Imported RWD motorhomes are fairly rare in New Zealand. Most new vans ride on the Ducato FWD chassis, which means anyone wanting a new RWD motorhome usually has to order one from one of the local builders, with an inevitable delay in delivery.

Furthermore, many of the Sunliner models are equipped with a slide-out, and, as anyone with one will tell you, a slide-out really adds plenty of room to your living area. And finally, coming from Australia where motorhome buyers think a lot like ours – the vehicles are designed and equipped for independent, off-the-beaten-track adventures.

The 7.8m Twist

Sunliner has seven different motorhome models, and between them they offer more than 35 optional layouts. They start with the compact 4.7m Rialta (pop-top roof) campervan, and max out with the 9.6m Monte Carlo. The larger models all ride on a RWD chassis with dual rear wheels – and buyers have a choice between three brands: Iveco, Renault and Mercedes-Benz.

Our test vehicle is the 7.8m Twist (3.25m-high and 2.47m-wide) and it sits near the larger end of the Sunliner range. This one rides on the popular Iveco 50C17 chassis and is powered by a 170hp, three-litre, turbo-charged diesel. It delivers heaps of grunt (400Nm) over a fairly flat torque, plenty for moving the Twist's 4495kg GVM at a nimble pace.

Perhaps most crucially though, the engine delivers its power to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox. A welcome change – a commercial RWD chassis tends to be fitted with a manual transmission. It's also equipped (standard) with ABS anti-lock braking, traction control and stability control.

I also like the cab's aesthetics. Commercial trucks are often equipped with a fairly utilitarian cab, devoid of any stylistic flair. The Iveco, I'm happy to say, isn't bad. It looks and feels good. All of which means the Twist's a very pleasant drive.

Sunliner _4

Accommodation

The Twist is designed for four, with sleeping accommodation split between the rear suite's east/west double bed, and a large overcab double bed. The bathroom is tucked right at the back, divided into a separate shower (a spacious, one-piece cubicle) and a swivel toilet with stylish vanity. Just forward is the bed.

It's a semi-island bed in that the main access is along one side – the other being too narrow to be of any practical use. But the best part of the bed is its backrest. At day the mattress is pushed back and, with its built-in "fold" the top third becomes elevated to form a cosy backrest for reading.

At night, when the mattress is fully deployed, the passageway between the bottom of the bed and the side of the motorhome is narrower, but still provides good space for a midnight visit to the loo. Even better, the bottom end of the bed hinges up, providing excellent access to the vast storage locker below. The main access to the locker is from outside.

The second double bed, above the cab, is even more spacious than the one at the back, and with good headroom you won't feel claustrophobic. Access is up a small, clip-on ladder, and in travel mode the bed tilts up, leaving good head room for the driver and passenger and unimpeded access from the cab to the rest of the motorhome.

Lounge/dinnette

My favourite feature of the Twist, however, is the slide-out. The entire lounge/dinette is built into the slide-out. The compartment is powered by an electric motor and with the push of a button is deployed in seconds. The passageway between the lounge and kitchen is perfectly adequate with the slide-out stowed for travel, but it's seriously spacious when it's extended.

The dinette is built for four. One disadvantage of having the dinette built into the slide-out is that the cab's swivel chairs can't be used to accommodate additional dinner guests (a common trick when the dinette's located just behind the cab). If you had to, though, you could use a few fold-up chairs to accommodate extra guests. For me, I like the Twist's arrangement as it stands.

The passageway created by the slide-out deployed is very generous – no need to squeeze past the chef. As suggested, the kitchen area is even more spacious with the slide-out extended. And because the 175-litre fridge/freezer is also built into the slide-out, there's plenty of room to open its doors fully for examining its contents. A very pragmatic layout.

It's three-burner cooker (two gas, one electric) and oven is complemented by a microwave oven above the fridge. The fold-down acrylic cover over the cooker creates a good area for food preparation, and there are plenty of drawers and lockers for crockery, pots and pans and supplies.

Sunliner _8

Extras

Adventurous tourers will be pleased by the Twist's standard inventory. It includes twin 100-amp-hour batteries with a 1000-watt inverter and a 135-watt solar panel. There’s a l00-litre fresh water tank and a 55-litre grey water tank. A satellite dish will keep you up to date with your favourite soaps, and the diesel heater will keep you toasty in cooler climates.

The roll-out Dometic awning demands outside dining, and the outside speakers will relay your favourite romantic melodies. I like the external BBQ point and, when you return from a long, dusty hike, there's an outside shower for rinsing the worst of the grime from you and your clothes.

The verdict

Based in Melbourne, Sunliner has been manufacturing its vehicles for 40 years and has moulded a product that will satisfy a broad cross-section of the motorhome fraternity's expectations. Solid workmanship with simple, effective design is a good combination.

If you want your RWD motorhome sooner rather than later, you might want to check out the Ozzie's options like this one.

For more information, call (09) 294 6500.

Pros

  • The slide-out – creates so much more space
  • The Iveco's auto transmission – easy driving
  • Twin 100ah batteries – more touring flexibility

Cons

  • Size – might be a little imposing for newbies

For the latest reviews, subscribe to Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine here.

Keep up to date with news by signing up to nzmcd.co.nz's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook