Review: Benimar Primero

By: Ewan McDonald, Photography by: Ewan McDonald and TrailLite


Fancy a fling with a cute little Spaniard? Many Kiwis do, writes Ewan McDonald

You might have one at home – I have – a cheeky little brother. Steve won’t mind me saying that while they can be irritating at times (like, the first 18 years), they’re a lot of fun to be around.

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The decor is light and contemporary

Which is probably why the new Benimar Primero range is pitched as "the cheeky little brother" of the TrailLite family of Kiwi-made and European-import motorhomes.

The Pukekohe company has been sole New Zealand distributor of the Spanish-based brand since October 2015. Marketing manager Ashlee Rose says the UK firm Marquise makes modifications at the factory (like putting the habitation door on the correct side) especially for the UK and New Zealand markets before TrailLite brings them Down Under.

There are four series. TrailLite debuted the Mileo and Tessoro, and is now introducing the compact Primero and Benivan models.

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The entry-level Primero has four floor-plans 

Kiwis are feeling the love. "There’s a huge demand for the product – one in every 10 motorhomes being sold in New Zealand right now is a Benimar. We’ve got a Benimar Owners’ Group who meet up and rave about their motorhomes," Ashlee says.

The entry-level Primero has four floor-plans – the three-berth 283; the four-berth, dropdown bed 202; and two Luton models, 301 and 331.

The 301 has a transverse double at the rear of the van; the 331 has a French bed at the rear.

One of the big attractions for the Primero range is that the tape measure runs out before it reaches six metres in length. Ashlee says the 202 floor-plan is unique in our market as a four-berth van of that size.

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Front seats swivel to meet the dinette

"People are really attracted to it. The dropdown bed means the whole living area is open-plan. You might be able to get five to six people in there for a wine
at the campground and be really comfortable sitting around the table.

"At night you press a button and voila! You can hop into a fully made-up bed without needing ladders and what not."

She should know: Ashlee and her husband took the 202 on a roadie, surfing and fishing along Taranaki’s Surf Coast Highway. "We absolutely loved it. We probably didn’t have a heap of space for our surfboards but it wasn’t an issue to have them underneath the bed when we slept and outside during the day."

Cab/body

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The Primero is built on a 130hp Fiat Ducato

Built on our old mate, the 130hp Fiat Ducato with its six-speed ‘comfort-matic’ gearbox, the body is 99 percent wood-free and insulated to top European standards.

Front seats swivel to meet the dining or occasional table (depending on floor-plan); there are two more belted passenger seats.

Exterior

As mentioned, it’s only six metres from the big black bumper to the taillights of this smart-looking van. The 2 series measure up at 2890mm in height before you pop the TV aerial; the 3 series, with the Luton, are a smidge over 3000mm.

Living areas

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The kitchen is well sized

In the 202, the cabin seats and sofas are ranged around the table; the kitchen and bathroom are at the rear. The 283 kitchen and bathroom are amidships, with the dining table at the rear, between sofas that fold down to the second double bed.

The 301 and 331 have a larger extendable table between the cabin seats, sofa and what your grandad might have called a jumpseat in his Model T.

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Comfort and practicality 

Kitchen and bathrooms are in the centre, with a transverse double bed (301) or French bed behind (331). Bonus: like the Luton, both these beds can be kept made up during the day. Another nice touch: a glasses cabinet and concealed bottle rack snuck into the lounge.

Kitchen

You get a good-sized and easy-to-work kitchen with combined oven and grill, two gas burners and an electric plate. You don’t get a microwave but you can pick one up these days for under $100, and the fridge is an 80-litre under-bench model, standard in vans of this size and spec.

Bedrooms

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So comfortable!

The Luton and dropdown are a generous 2.05 metres by 1.55 metres, and the upper space has lighting and a fair-sized opening window. Overheard cabinets and a wardrobe are arranged around the rear bedrooms.

Bathroom

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Small but perfectly formed

There’s a small but perfectly formed shower and toilet stall with large mirror and decent cupboard in all versions.

Power & water

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The 3+1 hob and sink

The Primero scores highly for 120 litres of fresh water and 105 litres of grey water – same as the bigger and more expensive Tessoro and Mileo ranges, better than others in its price bracket.

The rule of thumb for self-contained camping is 50 litres a day for a couple, so aim for three or four days travel without checking into civilisation. There’s a 100amp/hr battery, 150w solar panel, 4kW gas/electric heating, and two 9kg gas bottles.

Storage

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Handy cupboard space

While the cubic metres vary slightly between models, the 202 has an outside locker that’ll fit fishing rods, and the 331 has outdoor space accessed underneath the rear bed. You could easily chuck a couple of deckchairs, outdoor table and rods in there.

Options

The folk at TrailLite have been making motorhomes for 65 years and can add an awning, bike racks, and fit extra batteries. Chances are, if you want it, they’ve already thought of it.

To find out more, visit traillite.co.nz

Benimar Primero Specifications

Vehicle make/models: Benimar Primero series
Engine: Fiat Ducato 2.3L Euro 6 diesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Berths: 283 3-berth; 202, 301, 331 4-berth
Approx overall length: 283 5990mm; 202, 301, 331 5900mm
Approx overall width: 2300mm
Approx overall height: 202, 283, 2890mm; 301, 331 3050mm
Tanks: 120L fresh, 105L grey 
Gas:  2 x 9kg 
GVM:  3500kg

Price as reviewed: $129,000

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Good outdoor storage

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