Hymer ML-T 4X4 review

By: Bill Savidan , Photography by: Bill Savidan

Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review
Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review
Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review
Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review
Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review
Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review
Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review
Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review
Hymer ML-T 4X4 review Hymer ML-T 4X4 review

MCD checks out the Hymer ML-T 4X4

Throughout Europe, Hymer is the aspirational brand many European motorhome owners aspire to own. It’s the brand they look up to. Although Hymer Group products—Bürstner, Dethleffs, Carado, and Sunlight—have been available in New Zealand for a few years now, the flagship brand, Hymer, has not been sold here previously. Local agents SmartRV waited until their sales and service infrastructure was robust enough to give the prestigious Hymer brand the support they felt it deserved before introducing it to New Zealanders. As well as being the first Hymer to be reviewed in MCD, the ML-T 580 4x4 is unique for another reason. It is the first factory-built four-wheel drive motorhome we’ve reviewed. So it’s a double first for the magazine.


In 1923, Erwin Hymer’s dad, Alfons, started a wheelwright and coach building business near Bad Waldsee, 165 km west of Munich. Erwin joined the family business in 1956. With another business colleague, Erich Bachem, Erwin started building caravans. Within two years, they began production of the iconic Eriba Touring caravan. The year 1972 saw them introduce the first fully integrated motorhome, the Hymermobil. Today, Hymer builds all styles and sizes of motorhome and caravan including the latest version of the original Eriba Touring series. Until just before his death four years ago, Erwin headed the Erwin Hymer Group. It remains the largest RV manufacturer in Europe.


The first thing you notice about the ML-T 580 is the extra ground clearance. According to the brochure, the four-wheel drive mode raises the vehicle level by about 85mm but it seems like more than that. With its black cab and white body mounted high above alloy wheels and knobbly ‘all terrain’ tyres, just standing still it looks ready for business.

The body style is low profile with a small Luton front overhanging the cab and a huge garage at the back with doors both sides of the vehicle. This is serious load space with 1210mm load height and 350kg weight capacity. At the kerbside, there are three other service hatches for the house batteries, toilet cassette, and 12-volt electrical management. Two other handy items are a shower point in the garage and an external LPG connection for the barbecue.


Inside, Hymer has appointed the ML-T 580 in their typically understated classic way that doesn’t date over the years. For me, the brown timber grain Palatino cabinetry with high gloss ivory hatches and Santorini upholstery fabrics in shades of brown and gold felt warm and cosy.


Up front is the dinette. A simple setup with two seats at the swivel leaf extension table plus two cab seats, creating a convivial space for four. Occupants get a good all round view outside through the side windows and windscreen. The optional panorama roof hatch above increases the light and feeling of space. After spending time peeking and prying, the less obvious details are revealed—shelves with stainless steel fiddle rails, lockers that close with a satisfying ‘thunk’, and the way everything fits properly. It is all so precise. It is not a large motorhome, only 2220mm overall width, but it feels bigger with plenty of room to move around and get through to the cab.


Mercedes keep the cab controls and switches to a minimum making it easier for newcomers to feel at home. The ignition key is magnetic and won’t come out until the gearshift is in park and the handbrake is on. The gearshift has four positions, with the option of a sideways move to change gears up or down. If you want to engage 4WD, press a button on the dashboard. After a few minutes, you feel like you’ve been driving a Merc for years. And in case you are wondering, it has got an aircon, an audio touch screen system, and a reversing camera.


There is no wasted space in the kitchen. Although fitting the Thetford oven (separate grill compartment included) under the bench means less drawer space, those remaining—a dedicated cutlery drawer another deep enough to store bottles upright, and a pots n’ pans drawer beneath the stove—are most useful.

The tall cupboard next to the 157-litre Thetford fridge/freezer at the end of the bench could serve as a pantry. Set into the bench top is a ‘3+1’ cooktop and a stainless steel sink. Both have covers to provide additional workspace and the extension flap at the end of the bench adds even more. Two overhead lockers—one above the bench and the other over the dinette—are beautifully finished inside with mid-shelves and vertical partitions that make the most of the available space. The powerful ceiling extractor fan should make short work of kitchen odours.


Although the bathroom is compact, it has a separate shower cubicle with a full-sized tray, standing space in front of the handbasin, and a bench style toilet against the end wall. The shower doors fold flat against the walls making the bathroom feel more spacious. A huge mirror above the toilet adds to the effect. You can shower with the doors left open if you need more room. You just have to clean up the mess afterwards. Personally, I’d shut them and keep the bathroom dry.

The elegant Cool Glass washbasin is new and different, being made from compressed glass powder. There is a generous amount of cupboard and shelf storage for toiletries as well as holders for shampoo and conditioner in the shower cubicle.


The rear bedroom has two single beds, each fitted with an exceptionally comfortable multi-zone, cold foam mattresses, and high-quality mattress toppers. These twins can be transformed into a large double using the cushions supplied. A lovely wooden ladder is provided to assist getting in and out of bed.

There are wardrobes at the foot of each single bed as well as the previously mentioned full-length wardrobe beside the fridge unless you’ve already earmarked that as a pantry. Each ‘under the bed wardrobe’ has its own door, and to make clothes selection easier, the separate mattress and slat base above the wardrobe lift out of the way. In twin bed mode, the flat space between the beds serves as a side table, and there are shelves in the cabinetry on the bedhead for keeping personal items handy but secure. Overhead, there are five separate lockers for clothes and other essentials.winter-friendly travel.


The ML-T 580 is well equipped for use in winter in the deep south of New Zealand. All tanks are insulated, the dashboard and exterior locker compartments are heated, and a warm air supply flows under the cab seats. A sturdy GRP underbody provides protection from weather and stone damage, keeping grit and dirt at bay.

The 6,000 W Truma Combi 6E heatercan maintain a cosy interior temperature even when it’s freezing outside. The Seitz S7 framed windows are fitted with acrylic double-glazing for optimal thermal insulation. The powder-coated aluminium frame is equipped with an insulating layer to protect against thermal bridging. And the ML-T 580 4x4 can tow up to 1680kg. Perfect if you need to take more ‘toys’ than you can fit inside.

LED lighting is used throughout cutting energy consumption by 75 percent, giving hours of extra battery life. A high-power LED awning light with rain deflector lights up a wide area outside the entrance door allowing safe entry after dark.


I wasn’t able to put the 4x4 function to the test, so before you buy the Hymer ML-T 580 4x4 you should satisfy yourself it will do what you need it to do. Being a Mercedes, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t.

According to the Hymer brochure, "Difficult conditions such as snow, ice, and loose gravel are no problem for the Hymer ML-T 4x4. The motorhome can be adapted for this purpose via a rocker switch on the dashboard, which activates the front-wheel drive. The engine power is then distributed between the front and rear axle at a ratio of 35:65.

"The four-wheel drive mode raises the vehicle level by approximately 8.5 cm, which increases the ramp and slope angle as well as the fording depth accordingly. Activating the four-wheel drive gives the Hymer ML-T more traction, directional control, and pulling power, giving it the same optimal performance as a regular SUV."

Hymer doesn’t just rely on long-standing tradition and experience to appeal to customers. Their design philosophy is to be the trendsetter in new ideas and developments. This philosophy culminates into the stylish design and comfortable interior that has made Hymer the brand buyers look up to.

The Hymer ML-T 580 4x4 as reviewed retails for $194,900 including GST and on-road charges.

For further information, visit smartrv.co.nz or call the SmartRV sales team on 0800 007 627 (Auckland) or 0800 007 628 (Christchurch).

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