Benimar Mileo 294 Review

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer/supplied


Benimar Mileo 294 Review Benimar Mileo 294 Review
Benimar Mileo 294 Review Benimar Mileo 294 Review
Benimar Mileo 294 Review Benimar Mileo 294 Review
Benimar Mileo 294 Review Benimar Mileo 294 Review
Benimar Mileo 294 Review Benimar Mileo 294 Review
Benimar Mileo 294 Review Benimar Mileo 294 Review
Benimar Mileo 294 Review Benimar Mileo 294 Review

With plenty of upgrades on the way for Benimar, the Mileo 294 provides a bit of an entree to the similarly specificed Tessoro range

The next 12 months look set to be an important time for the Benimar brand, which is distributed in New Zealand by TrailLite. Across the board, this entry-level offering is receiving numerous upgrades for the 2017 model year. Also, we'll see the arrival of Benimar's Tessoro model range, which hasn't been available in New Zealand up until now.

TrailLite operations manager Adam Newman recently saw the incoming models in the UK and says he was blown away by the quality of the upgrades. These include new alloy wheel designs, LED daytime running lights and awning lights, new exterior graphics, soft-close runners and hinge systems on cabinets, 150w solar panels with regulators and more.

"The new 2017 Benimars really are a cut above anything else currently offered in the (local) market at this price point and represent even more value than ever before," he says.

Tessoro's turn

The Tessoro line-up of Benimar models is due to land in a few weeks (and no doubt we'll take a closer look at several of them when they get here).

The big difference for anyone used to the Benimar brand is that they're built on a Ford Transit base rather than the familiar Fiat Ducato.

The Ford engine might be smaller (a two-litre turbodiesel versus the 2.3-litre powerplant in the Fiat), but it actually offers up a bit more horsepower—170hp versus 150hp. Combined with the more compact design of the four-berth Tessoro range, on paper, at least, you have a great equation that should be well-suited to our back-country terrain.

There will be five Tessoro models on offer, all featuring drop-down double beds augmenting a mix of bunk, twin single, and rear-sited island bed arrangements. Despite being on the budget-friendly end of the spectrum, the Tessoro range promises a fair bit of standard kit, including 120 litres fresh and 105 litres grey water storage, low-consumption LED lighting throughout, a Kiwisat satellite dish, integrated flyscreen in the entrance door, Dometic deluxe windows, and a large skylight over the driver's cab (which is also where the second double bed drops down from).

Benimar -Mileo -294--2

Future echo

So, while the actual Benimar Tessoro models aren't here yet, we can grab a realistic preview of the range-leading Tessoro T494 by taking a close-up look at the Benimar Mileo 294—a model that is already available to Kiwis and features the same floorplan as the incoming new model.

Like other options in the existing Fiat Ducato-underpinned Benimar Mileo range, the Mileo 294 packs in a lot of stuff for a decent price. Whether downsizing is the aim or you're new to motorhoming and are looking for a short-stay solution without needing to add the bank manager to the Christmas card list permanently, the Mileo 294 is a great cost option.

TrailLite says the Benimar Mileo range (there are eight options in all) has proven a popular starting point for all sorts of customers. TrailLite provides a full-service back-up on the Benimar models they distribute in New Zealand too, so Benimar owners can expect the same level of customer service as the company's bespoke in-house brand clients receive.

Bed, bath, and beyond

The Mileo 294 features an interesting arrangement at the back, designed to offer occupants a true island bed set-up at night with an en-suite bathroom, which during daylight hours, partitions back to provide easy access to the main island bed and rear storage.

On one side a shower with a tasteful wooden floor insert features screens that fold back to allow access to the left side of the bed. On the opposite wall, a separate toilet and stylish vanity with glass basin continue the bathroom arrangements. Again, everything is designed to fit into the wall space available to allow access to the right-side of the double bed.

Pop your head around the entranceway into the bedroom and you'll see the wall is designed specially to accommodate a flatscreen TV.

The bathroom—much of the interior in fact—is finished in a tasteful mix of walnut and light wood trim, with premium-feel fabrics used throughout.

Benimar -Mileo -294--5

As with all but the smallest Benimar Mileo option, the 294 features a drop-down double bed up front that lowers to about half way, with a short detachable ladder easing access at night. The lowering and raising action is manual (although some models feature automatic deployment), so once you get your bedding onto the mattress, you'll need reasonable arm strength to deploy this. I'm six foot in height and I could stand under the raised bed base and not have my noggin bothering the ceiling, which is a bonus in a compact motorhome such as this.

Also, if there is just the two of you, think of the extra drop-down bed as an auxiliary sleeping option for stay-over guests or visiting family. It is not something that needs to be lowered every night, what with the main bed at the motorhome's rear.

Verdict

The Benimar Mileo 294 builds on the overarching brand theme of offering decent spec for a decent price. These aren't the most spacious motorhomes on offer.

But what they do extremely well is offer a European-spec quality fit-out with decent amounts of storage, a light, modern interior environment and Fiat's gutsy Ducato engine technology to get you where you want to go.

If there are just two of you, or a family of four looking to get away for short breaks out of town, then the Mileo 294 would be a fun vehicle to explore at the wheel of.
And, of course, the incoming Tessoro range will be worth a look when they arrive soon too.

Plus

  • Value for money and accessible entry price
  • Compact design will suit new motorhomers and those looking to downsize
  • Chic European design with plenty of head room despite drop-down bed up front

Minus

  • Drop-down bed won't appeal to everyone
  • Access through bathroom area to bedroom might take some pre-planning as part of occupants' morning/night routine

 

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