Review: Niesmann & Bischoff Smove 7.4E

By: John Bristow, Photography by: John Bristow


Like Bang & Olufsen, Rolls-Royce and Harman Kardon, a pedigree pairing in a company name is almost an assurance of excellence. Niesmann+Bischoff is no exception, says John Bristow.

Founded in 1955, Niesmann+Bischoff has a reputation for attention to detail and innovation, a manufacturer keen to share all that is great about motorhoming, often purely for the joy of it.

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And there are plenty of New Zealanders wanting in on the dream of a luxury lifestyle on wheels. Most would agree that Niesmann+Bischoff motorhomes are the type of which fantasies are made. Being exclusive has not stopped the vehicles from selling, however, suggesting that the distributor has a good grasp of the Kiwi buyer’s mindset.

So, when the opportunity arose to tap into a new market segment not yet realised by Niesmann+Bischoff, Jonas Ng, of distributor Zion Motorhomes, jumped  at it. He was excited to be able to offer low-profile motorhomes alongside the touring liners bearing the upmarket brand’s Polch Lily emblem.

Mechanicals

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Sleek, sporty and SMOVE

The SMOVE line of ‘sporty all-rounders’ is based on the Fiat Ducato chassis and, internationally, there are many options in terms of body layout and design. The New Zealand market is limited to the 7.4E model, as this fits well within the low-profile market segment but still carries the distinction of the Niesmann+Bischoff brand.

The 150hp Multijet engine is especially well suited New Zealand conditions thanks to its flexibility, power and design. The SMOVE 7.4E also runs on 18-inch tyres, which enhances the ride quality and accentuates the vehicle’s sporty look, even when it’s stationary.

The Ducato chassis underpins the body with what has been called the lowest drag coefficient in the market. And while economy is not usually high on the list of motorhome attributes, this is one of those surprise-and-delight features expected of a Niesmann+Bischoff lifestyle vehicle.

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Tidy tail. Can you find the camera?

The rear of the vehicle shows off some especially thoughtful features. A massive throughway luggage area is accessed via forward-sliding doors on either side. At the rear of the vehicle, that Niesmann+Bischoff badge is a cunningly designed flap that opens ‘à la James Bond’ to allow the rear-view camera to see what’s behind when reversing.

The badge is a dust and weather shield for the lens. And lastly, before we head inside, notice that roof design. As well as looking different from other low-profile or B-class motorhomes, it offers something completely new. Niesmann+Bischoff has come up with something spectacular for stargazers – a skylight that opens electrically.

Interior

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Distinction from the doorway

Niesmann+Bischoff has few rivals when it comes to liner-style motorhomes. And you might expect to find some of the upmarket Polch Lily design elements to carry across to a low-profile vehicle. But, in the SMOVE, you get so much more than elements.

An awning extends over the habitation door as you would expect and, yes, the step-up is electric. But have a look at the chrome grab-rail on your left. Notice that gentle illumination behind it? If it’s blue, you can change it to a colour more appropriate to your mood.

Behind the rail itself, there’s a familiar granite look to the storage drawers, neatly framed by the Scandinavian light-timber cabinetry found throughout the vehicle. First, notice the step-up to the living room and cabin from the vestibular entrance.

Naturally, there is track lighting to make this more evident, just as there is track lighting on your left to the raised sleeping area. Everything seems immediately logical and obvious, except for one apparent omission – the kitchen. 

Kitchen

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The kitchen is cleverly contained

The kitchen is cleverly contained within what appears to be a sideboard. Lift the two-door countertop, and there’s a sink complete with pop-up faucet. Alongside it is a two-burner hob. The grill is contained within the same sideboard, as are centrally locking drawers, for cutlery, a tidy bin and crockery.

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Quality fittings throughout

These features are impressive and demonstrate the level of interior-design thinking so elemental to a Niesmann+Bischoff build. But wait, there’s more….Move to the rear of the motorhome, and there’s a Thetford fridge on the left, but this is one with a difference.

It is a fridge/freezer combination, but there are two freezer units, one above one below, with enough space in the middle for a respectable number of chilled items. Alongside is a full-height wardrobe.

Open, and find more of that light-timber cabinetry with a thoughtful arrangement at the bottom, a stepped section that is designed to disguise the rear wheel arch. Still, it demonstrates that every inch of space has been carefully considered, and this includes access to the 200L water tank and 20kg gas tank through the floor panels of the vestibule.

Bathroom

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Adjustable shower, but what do the buttons do?

Directly opposite the fridge and wardrobe combination is the washroom, the SMOVE’s piece de resistance. The bathroom/shower/toilet is a one-room arrangement and resembles a Swedish sauna.

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Swivel-style shelving

It is exceptionally spacious because things that don’t need to be in the shower are not – apparently – there to take up space. The tower vanity arrangement, for example, tucks away neatly to become an integrated shower wall.

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Now you see it...

The toilet is to your right. Open that bi-folding door and press the buttons under the shower mixer. Don’t panic, that’s not a little robot rotating out of the cupboard, but a hydraulically integrated toilet. And it will revert at the push of a button. 

Bedroom

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Step up to bed, sleepyhead

There is dual step-up access from the main body to the ‘uni-twin’ sleeping area – with little tuckaways contained in each step, as well as in the cubbies beside them. Overhead storage encompasses the entire sleeping area and, naturally, you’ll find plenty of dimmable lighting here, too.

Additional privacy is ensured via a sliding concertina door, which folds in alongside the wardrobe. A thoughtful consideration. As to the bedroom itself, the upholstery and trim are as luxurious as one might expect of a brand known for its luxury appointment, but the bedroom area is eminently practical, too.

There is one concession to visual elegance over practicality – twin inlays inset into the walls. These match the inlay in the privacy door, which divides the sleeping/bathroom areas from the rest of the interior, and makes the entire space feel more connected.

Living space

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Tuned for comfort and sophistication

The SMOVE features a wider B-pillar than is expected in a low-profile design, integrating the driving cabin with the living spaces. This is further accentuated by the ‘V-design’ of the modular overhead stowage units, making the cabin space appear much larger and more inviting (and social) as a result. 

There is a sliding swivelling table with seating on either side for four, plus additional seating from the white leather captain’s chairs found in the cabin proper. And here, too, is one of those subtle elements that sets a quality finish apart; a slightly different wall fabric distinguishes the driving cabin from the living cabin. Your mind’s eye perceives it but doesn’t register it. This is artwork in interior cabin design.

Driving cabin

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At its heart, the SMOVE is the best Fiat has to offer in terms of cabin appointment. All controls are easy to access, and that includes audio and Bluetooth phone on the steering wheel, with cruise control underneath.

The steering wheel is also different from standard Ducato models. It is much more luxurious and in keeping with the extremely high level of sophistication found throughout the SMOVE.

In pride of place inset into the techno-dash is a massive touchscreen. The screen facilitates easy navigation and an expansive image of what’s behind thanks to that centrally mounted hidden camera.

Overall

The Niesmann+Bischoff SMOVE 7.4E looks set to challenge the status quo and set a new benchmark for low-profile motorhomes in ride quality, luxury appointment and innovation. It will also serve as a flagship model to expand the already sterling reputation Niesmann+Bischoff has established in New Zealand.

Niesmann & Bischoff Smove specifications

Model

SMOVE 7.4E
Engine Fiat 2.3 150hp
Power/torque 109/350
Gearbox 6-speed robotised 
Berths 2
Length 7430mm
Width 2245mm
Height 2770mm
Fresh water 1 x 200L
Grey water 1 x 130L
Gas 2 x 11kg
GVM 4500kg
Payload 1019kg

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