Review: Benimar Tessoro T494

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer


Tessoro The four-berth Tessoro T494 Tessoro
table fold away Table folds neatly away table fold away
tessoro dinning Dining for two or four tessoro dinning
tessoro drawers Drawers open into common area tessoro drawers
bathroom split in two Bathroom is split in two bathroom split in two
tessoro usb Handy bedside USB charging tessoro usb

Benimar is a name that will appear on Kiwi roads with more frequency over the coming summer months.

Having quickly cemented itself in the local market, Spanish manufacturer Benimar’s motorhome line-up has turned plenty of Kiwi heads with a good mix of kit and comfort for sub-$150,000 prices.

The other through-line I’ve explored during the year with regard to Benimar’s output is its knack for fitting a lot into a little. The lion’s share of the Benimars we’ve covered in the pages of MCD up ‘til now have been small on dimensions, but big on standard spec.

This one bucks that trend slightly in that – with its overall length registering in at 7380mm – it’s technically the largest Benimar the local distributor, TrailLite, brings in at this point. With regard to standard spec though, it plays to type.

Know your Tessoro from your Mileo

Tessoro -vs -mileo

It really all comes down to the badge on the grille. If you’re swayed by a Benimar Tessoro layout, your motive power will come courtesy of Ford. If it’s a Benimar Mileo that ticks your motorhome ‘must have’ boxes, then your vehicle of choice will feature Fiat running gear.

Without wishing to fence-sit, they’re both good options. There are as-yet undiscovered tribes in the Amazonian rain forest who drive Fiat Ducatos, while Ford has been improving on its perennial Transit for enough decades now to know what works and what doesn’t.

A chocolate box assortment of ‘van of the year’ awards take up space in both of these manufacturers’ pool rooms, so TrailLite has backed a solid pair. The Ford engine is a bit smaller than that which powers the Fiat (2.0-litre turbo diesel versus 2.3-litre turbo diesel), but it actually offers up 20 more horsepower, so it’s a clever unit. Well utilised in our Tessoro T494 too, with its larger footprint.

Bed options

Bed -option

I hasten to mention that all this talk of extra inches shouldn’t lead you to assume every Tessoro is larger than its Mileo counterpart. Several of the latter are actually lineball on dimensions with their Tessoro cousins.

There are six Tessoro grades in all, with the shortest (the four-berth T481) measuring in at 5990mm in length and boasting a rather attractive $129,000 price sticker. All six models feature a GVM of 3500kg and sleeping for four, thanks to an assemblage of fixed- and overhead-bed options.

The Tessoro T494 probably has the least fussy layout in terms of pre-sleep prep. It’s the only model in the entire Benimar Mileo/Tessoro line-up to feature a full island bed at the rear. Other models arrive with east-west fixed beds, French bed arrangements or – in the case of this motorhome’s like-for-like sibling, the Tessoro T463 – twin singles.

Drop -down -bed

The extra storage space the island bed provides for is worth the price of admission alone. Not only is the bed framed by cabinetry, the bed base also features three deep drawers for other items. More room around the foot of the bed translates to airier opposing bathroom spaces too; angled screen doors provide access to the showerbox on one side, and a premium-look vanity and toilet on the other.

The raised rear bed also pays off in terms of underfloor storage, with the Tessoro T494 featuring commodious cargo-carrying options accessed from outside, even with the spare wheel sharing the same space.

Drawers

Upgraded for 2018

A number of new enhancements have been added to the Benimar Tessoro range as we head into the New Year. Our T494 tester features, among other updates, an external shower fixture, 22-amp battery charger, improved external lighting, new rear underbody stabilisers, removable carpet sections and the grade-dependent choice of either a 135L or 145L fridge.

For many, the living area entrance door switching over to the passenger side of the motorhome will be a big sell; especially for families with smaller children who tend to run first and look later. Sticking with the safety topic, all 2018 model year Tessoro motorhomes now also feature combination carbon dioxide and smoke alarms.

Kitchen

Kitchen -tessoro

The Benimar Tessoro T494’s kitchen is cosy, but functional. Best of all, the on-board chef doesn’t need to work with his or her back to guests. Rather than have pantry drawers opening out into the kitchen’s minimal standing space, the cabinetry has been turned 90 degrees, so drawers that might house meal-related items open into the general passage space. A simple, but clever touch.

The bench top is separated from the main seating area with a headboard to mitigate spills accidentally transferring onto upholstery. The removable dining table folds in half to allow for more room around it for two people, or extends out in order to feed four hungry souls.
The other nice feature inside this motorhome is its elegant use of LED lighting.

The aforementioned headboard behind the kitchen sink is framed with light, and the clever use of further LEDs and mirrors make the interior of the Tessoro T494 feel both brighter and more premium throughout.

Conclusion

With a full complement of updated Benimar models on offer in New Zealand now, this relative newcomer to the local market disproves the idea that shopping with a firm budget in mind effectively restricts your options.

There is plenty to choose from across the broader Benimar range. For my money, the Ford Transit-underpinned Tessoro models offer all the niceties of modern motorhome design, built on dependable underpinnings, and can be had at a fair price.

Pluses

  • Bigger footprint still doesn’t break the bank 
  • Ford power appeals
  • Best dedicated sleeping area options in the range

Minuses

  • Dropdown bed won’t appeal to everyone

Specifications for the Benimar Tessoro T494 

Vehicle Make/Model: Ford Transit
Engine: 2.0-litre Euro 6 turbo-diesel
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Berths: 4
Approx. overall length: 7390mm
Approx. overall width: 2300mm
Approx. overall height: 2890mm
Tanks: 120L fresh / 105L grey
Gas: 2 x 9kg 
GVM: 3500kg
Price as reviewed: $137,000

For further information phone 0800 872 455 or visit traillite.co.nz

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