Review: Niesmann + Bischoff Arto 88F

By: Claire Smith, Photography by: Supplied


Niesmann + Bischoff has recently arrived on New Zealand shores with a motorhome that’s big on comfort, luxury, and style

I was lucky enough to be given a preview of the Niesmann + Bischoff Arto 88F at the Caravan Salon in Germany last year. In fact, it was the first motorhome I looked through when I walked into the hall of luxury vehicles, and it set the bar pretty high. I spent far too long just sitting and imagining myself touring New Zealand inside this A Class beauty. Upon my second viewing at Zion Motorhomes recently, I found myself still thoroughly enamoured.

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If you haven’t yet heard of the Niesmann + Bischoff name, you’re not alone, but it will be one you hear more of in the future. The luxury German brand (manufactured in Polch) is new to Kiwi shores, having recently arrived at Zion Motorhomes in Pokeno (formerly Acacia of East Tamaki), and UCC Motorhomes in Christchurch.

A subsidiary of the Erwin Hymer group, Niesmann + Bischoff began business as a caravan trading company back in 1955. Now a leading manufacturer of exclusive motorhomes, N+B builds around 600 luxury models each year in three different ranges: Smove, Flair, and Arto.

Alongside Zion’s new name and premises, the arrival of the N+B range completes in a trifecta of evolutionary advances for the business. "Our move to bigger premises in Pokeno is very exciting," Jonas says. "We’re just 30 minutes from the city centre, yet away from the Auckland traffic in custom-built premises that allows us to provide our customers with a better level of service. The addition of the N+B range to our new premises tops of a period of exciting growth for the business."

Owner Jonas Ng says the range is set to meet a growing demand in New Zealand from discerning motorhome owners seeking the next level of luxury travel. And luxury travel it certainly is.

Exterior

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Let’s start with the unmistakably handsome exterior. From its subtle chrome details to the 16-inch alloy rims and moulded wheel arches, sporty lines, and seamless front-rear connection, the Arto ticks the box for being good-looking. Dark A-pillars accent the classic white body in a statement of unfussy yet unmistakable luxury.

Both the front and rear sections are manufactured using tear and scratch-resistant glass fibre reinforced plastic (GRP). This, combined with extra high glass content and high strength seals, provides much-needed protection for the roof against tree branches, stone chips, and other possible projectiles and low-hanging obstacles one may encounter on the road.

Garage

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The generous rear garage offers 1.25 metres of height with a maximum weight load of 250kg and an optional 230-volt socket (ideal for charging e-bikes). And let’s not forget the handheld shower—just what you’ve always wanted for rinsing off sandy feet, giving the dog a quick wash, or cleaning down the bike before storing. In addition, large optional drawers behind the skirting panels are perfect for storing power cables, water hoses, and toolkits.

Driving comfort

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Niesmann + Bischoff has invested considerable time and engineering in the Arto’s drivability. Despite its 8.763mm of length, it promises superior road holding that apparently feels almost like a car. This is mainly thanks to the AL-KO low-frame chassis with its super-wide gauge and clever placement of the water tanks (a huge 200L by the way) and batteries, which combine to ensure a low centre of gravity.

Large wing mirrors, combined with an integrated reversing camera hidden in the N+B Polch Lily insignia badge at the rear, take the worry out of reversing such a big vehicle—a great example of N+B’s expertise in combining practicality with clever design.

Adding to the driving comfort are the SKA driver and passenger seats designed to adapt perfectly to the contours of your body. The seats can be tilted, extended, and raised or lowered by 120mm. What’s more, they can be rotated 180 degrees and fixed in place to meet with the sofa/bench seat, creating comfy recliners from which to enjoy a bit of TV or just relax with a good book.

Interior

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Stepping inside the Arto is almost guaranteed to give you one of those ‘wow’ moments. Space, comfort, and aesthetics come together in perfect harmony, with every detail suggesting quality and precision. If it’s one thing that N+B are renowned for, it’s clever design underscored with quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. This high standard of design saw the Arto awarded with an Honourable Mention for its "captivating design" in the coveted European Red Dot Award 2014.

Scratch-proof 3D leaf gives a high-quality wooden look to the furniture and cabinets. The flooring is also particularly robust, thanks to its vinyl coating with a wooden look and structure.

Kitchen

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The kitchen offers up 1.4 square metres of space with a 190-litre Tec tower fridge/freezer, above which sits the oven, paired with a three-burner hob on the kitchen bench opposite. There’s plenty of benchtop work space and the soft-close drawers and cupboards (including a full-length slide-out bottle/can storage unit) can be easily and quickly secured before travel.

Lounge

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The lounge area offers plenty of lounging space, with an L-shaped sofa (1625 x 1065mm), plus a seat bench (1190 x 640mm). And the three layers of foam and plush cushions make it so very comfortable. The tabletop can be extended, and, thanks to a clever gliding system, can be moved in every direction.

With 500 cushion and upholstery design combinations, there’s a look and feel for every Arto owner. For me, it’s the black leather upholstery with orange accents. The model reviewed was decked out with Grand Cru No 7 cloud backrests, black (Anthracite) fabric seat cushions, and white push-open cabinets.

Another clever feature in the lounge area is the retractable belt supports on the passenger back seat. This can be transformed into a comfortable living room sofa by removing the headrests and retracting the belt support. This also eliminates the need for a partition wall before the kitchen resulting in a more open, luxurious sense of space.

Bedroom

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In the bedroom, comfort and luxury abound with a 1900 x 1400mm queen bed with his and hers wardrobes and overhead cabinets and three large drawers at the bed foot. And for those extra bits and pieces, there is some cleverly appointed storage space under the bed’s side steps. And, of course, it wouldn’t be luxury if there wasn’t space for a 22-inch TV and some fancy LED lighting that allows you to choose your lighting colour to suit your mood. Up front, an overcab drop down double bed provides additional sleeping space.

Bathroom

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Amidships, the toilet sits passenger side, with a separate shower opposite, complete with a high-quality pressure pump ensuring a constant water pressure and a shower. And with glass-reinforced plastic for the shower tray, it’s extremely wear- and scratch-resistant. The toilet door closes across the aisle, and with a sliding door to the bedroom, these provide a private and spacious washroom.

Heating

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Travelling in the Arto during winter offers another level of luxury with N+B’s holistic heating concept that combines optimal heating installation, elimination of a cold bridge, and optimal air circulation. Convector heaters in the floor protect all fittings from cold weather.

The double floor provides heat storage, giving off warmth similar to underfloor heating. The warm air from the floor also circulates through small air vents in the seat benches, coming up again behind the furniture and dispersing evenly throughout the room to prevent hot/cold patches. In addition, double-glazed windows and double-sided aluminium with a Styrofoam centre in the side walls, floor and exterior storage doors keeps everything snug.

Extras

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In addition to the integrated reversing camera and Tec fridge, standard with the Arto 88F is a 400W solar panel, seven-inch display stereo with GPS, awning, 22-inch LED TV fully automatic satellite dish, second battery, and ORC plus 2000km RUC (total value $14,000).

Verdict

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The Arto 88F certainly ticks a lot of boxes for comfort, quality, and style. And so it should; it’s top of the line in both brand and budget. Does it leave other luxury motorhomes in the dust? I wouldn’t go that far. It will certainly appeal to a certain segment of the motorhome buying market, but it will be interesting to see just how many Kiwis will be prepared to spend the extra thousands over other luxury brands offering a much lower price point.

Niesmann + Bischoff Arto 88F specifications

Vehicle make/model Niesmann + Bischoff Arto: 88F

Engine: 2.3L Fiat Ducato, 180hp

Transmission: Six-speed auto

Berths: Four

Approx. overall length: 8763mm

Approx. overall width: 2320mm

Approx. overall height: 2950mm

Tanks: 200L fresh, 150L grey

Gas: 2 x 9kg

GVM: 5500kg

Niesmann + Bischoff Arto 88F Price (as reviewed): $289,000

Pluses

  • Where to start, where to finish? If luxury, comfort, and style are top of your wish list, you won’t be disappointed
  • The $14,000 of extras is very appealing
  • With 500 interior décor options, you can truly make this motorhome your own

Minuses

  • The Arto’s price tag is likely to put a few off
  • Yes, it’s got lots of features that make it more drivable, but the sheer size will require care and skill while driving

Take a virtual tour of the Niesmann + Bischoff Arto 88F

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