Review: Sunliner Switch S441

By: Claire Smith, Photography by: Malcolm Street


The Sunliner Switch S441 is positioned in the New Zealand marketplace as a mid-priced quality motorhome that teams Iveco rear wheel drive with solid construction and a modern well thought out interior

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The Sunliner range is distributed in New Zealand by Road Life RV in Tauranga

Sunliner motorhomes are distributed in New Zealand by Rhys and Michele Hunter who own Road Life RV, based in Tauranga. The brand was founded by the Hunter family in Australia over 40 years ago. So, there’s a strong connection between manufacturing and distributorship.

I took the opportunity to peruse the Sunliner Switch S441 at the recent Covi SuperShow in March, and it was certainly proving popular with show visitors. I overheard a couple who had taken a seat around the dining table, "It feels so nice and roomy," she said. "That bed is massive," he added. Indeed, it is, a king size in fact. But more on that later.

Certainly, ‘nice and roomy’ was my first thought when I stepped inside the Switch S441. The layout sees the lounge at the rear, the compact bathroom right up front (first door facing you as you walk in), central kitchen, and a truly ‘massive’ dropdown bed over the lounge area.

Bathroom

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The all-in-one bathroom

As noted above, the bathroom is directly opposite the entry door and is about as compact as they come, while remaining functional and providing adequate space and light. The slide-head shower is fixed to the back wall, with the toilet – which includes a small integrated sink/tap behind – to the right.

Two cupboards sit overhead with a towel rail opposite. With an all-in-one bathroom such as this, it is fairly tight space-wise, but a shower curtain pulls around to cover the toilet, basin and door interior, meaning you’ll only need to do a quick dry-down of the floor after a shower.

It contains everything you need, and for those planning to stay in campgrounds more than freedom camping, the compact bathroom will be worth the sacrifice given the spacious living area.

Kitchen

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The kitchen workspace 

Within the workspace of the kitchen area, the oven sits centrally between the sink and the bench/preparation area. The prep area is not huge, but both the sink and the stove-top include lids to provide extra workspace if needed.

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The 180L fridge/freezer, microwave and full-length pantry

The oven and stovetop are integrated and include three gas burners, an electric burner, and a grill/oven. A microwave oven is also housed above the 180L Dometic three-way fridge/freezer for those quick coffee heat ups or to warm up your scone.

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The cupboard beneath the sink is easily accessible and holds plenty

There’s a good amount of kitchen storage which includes a cupboard beneath the sink, a pull-out bottle/tin rack, an additional lower cupboard and drawer, twin overhead cabinets, a large full-length pantry opposite, and an additional overhead cabinet above the microwave. Pretty much the perfect amount of storage space for a couple to enjoy a week away.

Lounge & bedroom

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There’s plenty of seating in the lounge area

The Switch’s rear lounge includes twin face-to-face sofas along both side walls that each seat up to four, with a table in the centre. The lounge area feels roomy and luxurious and those lovely big Sunliner windows on each side mean that even when you’re inside, you still feel connected to the outdoors.

There’s an unobstructed flow between the kitchen and living area, in fact you’d barely have to move from your sofa to reach the biscuit tin from the bench. The 24-inch TV on the review model is mounted above the cab area, it’s a little distant from the living area, but I imagine it could be relocated fairly easily.

Sitting above the lounge is the 1830mm x 1830mm king-sized dropdown bed mentioned earlier. When not in use, it is hidden overhead and you’d barely know it was there. But at the end of the day, and at the flick of a switch, it can be electronically lowered to entirely cover the living area.

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The king-sized drop down bed

The windows are still unobstructed when the bed is lowered, which means you can look out at the stars as you drift off or be woken naturally to the light of day as the sun rises. If you’ve got kiddies on board, the sofas double as single beds and can be used at the same time as the drop down. I can imagine a couple of littlies tucking a sheet into the end of the dropdown and creating the best ‘fort’ ever. Lucky kids!

Décor & interior construction

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The interior decor is clean and modern

The décor of the Switch S441 is clean and contemporary, and available in a dark or light (pictured) colourway. Colour is highlighted throughout the light interior on selected panels and the upholstery and is offset with glossy white cabinetry and neutral wall finishes.

The flooring is covered with a single sheet of vinyl which is laid before the cabinetry is installed, then sealed around the edges ensuring accidental spills don’t make their way into cabinet materials.

Inside the lockers and cabinetry, the joinery consists of a ‘glue and screw’ method, which basically means the cabinets are very firmly adhered to the walls which in turn reduces rattles and noise as you drive.

Big windows make a big difference in a motorhome, and the Switch S441 is a good example. Sunliner always use big windows wherever they can, and it’s something that travellers will quickly appreciate when they park up alongside a beautiful lake or with a view of mountains or autumnal trees.

The windows all have polycarbonate double glazing to keep the warmth in during winter, and the heat out over summer. They’re all fully framed and designed to offer a good seal to keep out drafts, moisture and noise.

The windows are top-hung, which means you can keep them open even when it’s raining and not worry the interior getting wet, and each includes easy-to-use fly screens and blinds as standard.

Cab

The Switch S441 is built on an IVECO Daily 45C cab chassis, with a 3L turbo diesel engine, 8-speed auto transmission, and rear wheel drive with dual rear wheels. You’ve also got all the necessities such as a reversing camera, ABS brakes, airbags, cab air conditioning, cruise control, power steering, and stereo.

The cab area itself is standard fare, good cupholders for both passengers (a must!), and comfy enough seats. Sitting over the cab is a peak that feels like it should house a second bed. And in fact, if you want that option, it is available in the popular Sunliner Switch Sleeper Peak model. But in the Switch Low Peak under review, it serves as a very decent storage area. 

There’s quite a bit of space for stowing extra blankets, towels, bulky jackets and the like, plus ‘cubby’ spaces on each side can be used for tucking away bags and hats. Perhaps the addition of a stretchy mesh net would be a good option for holding even more. Just behind the cab area, above the habitation door, sits the control panels. At the touch of a button you can check the water and battery gauges, manage the power and solar.

Warmth, cooling and light

The Sunliner Switch S441 comes standard with a Webasto diesel heating unit for a warm and cosy retreat at the end of the cooler days to come. A coach air-conditioning unit is also an option.

LED lighting has been thoughtfully installed throughout the interior, with strips along the tops of cabinets and behind panels to provide good lighting where needed without being a whitewash of light.

Exterior

Outside, the Switch S441 entry door includes a security panel which means you can have the door open but keep a secure mesh door closed and locked – nice and secure while also letting fresh air into the motorhome.

Along the sides is a good selection of exterior storage including big storage lockers under each side of the lounge, and a gas bottle locker and two additional storage lockers for wet gear, cords and cables, and other outdoor essentials. There’s even an external shower for washing off sand and dirt before heading inside. Included as standard is a Dometic rollout awning to create a relaxing outdoor space.

There are even outdoor speakers on the motorhome exterior, so you can enjoy your favourite tracks while you turn the steaks and sip on a glass of wine or beer. The Switch S441 has an external gas connection for your barbecue, so it’s easy to bring along a portable unit and hook it up when you’re ready for dinner.

Construction

Sunliner design and build their own wall system which includes an exterior fiberglass panel. Beneath that is waterproof glued ply to give the wall strength and to allow internal cabinetry to be fixed directly into the structure.

In between the two is a layer of polystyrene insulation which is laminated to the plywood to further improve strength. Road Life keep the panels in stock, so it’s quick and easy to repair damage in the event of an accident.

At the rear of the motorhome, both the top and bottom are shielded by fiberglass bumpers which provide additional protection and can be easily replaced if needed. Sunliner use a full steel sub-chassis. This sits on top of the cab chassis and beneath the floor, creating a strong foundation for mounting walls, tanks, and bins, with less movement in the vehicle body.

Summary

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Floor plan

If you’re looking for a well-equipped motorhome to get you out on the road or to upgrade to an RV that offers a bit more comfort and convenience than many entry-level models the Switch S441 is a good option. It’s carefully designed to offer a spacious living area, a big bed, and all the creature comforts in between.

You’ve also got the added benefit of having Rhys and Michele on hand. The couple are continuously improving the design of the Sunliners they bring in to New Zealand in an effort to meet the market’s unique demands, and I think they’re doing a good job of it. 

Fast fact: Three-way fridges

A three-way fridge, also known as an absorption fridge, is the most common style of fridge used in RVs. It uses heat to provide energy needed to drive the cooling system. They usually have the option of running on 12V, 230V or LPG. Their design eliminates moving parts which means they’re not only resistant to wear and tear, but also silent (a big benefit in an RV!).

Pros

  • Lots of good extras as standard: 300w solar, 24-inch TV, rollout awning, external speakers, 2 x 110AH deep cycle house battery, and an external shower.
  • That ‘massive’ bed
  • Big windows that add to the spacious feel and beautiful decor

Cons

  • The bathroom is compact, although for those staying in campgrounds, no big deal
  • The TV is a long way from the lounge

Sunliner Switch S441 specifications

Chassis

IVECO Daily 45C

Engine

3L turbo diesel

Gearbox

8-speed auto

Berth 4
Length

7100 mm

Width 2450 mm
Height 3300 mm
Tanks 120L fresh, 120L grey
Gas 2 x 4.5kg
GVM 4495kg
Tare 3300kg (specifications dependent)
Payload 1195kg

Price as reviewed: $188,000

Find out more at roadlife.co.nz

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