Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 88LF Review

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan / Zion Motorhomes


From the super-comfy lounge to the spacious bathroom and stylish décor, the Arto 88LF is one classy number, says Bill Savidan

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Big and bulky, yet understatedly elegant, the Arto 88LF is all class

If it’s luxury and tasteful design you’re after, then look no further than the Arto 88LF. Space and grace are beautifully blended together in this A-class motorhome from Niesmann+Bischoff. And while most large luxurious motorhomes with island beds have layouts similar to this one – bedroom at the back, lounge/dinette behind the cab at the front, kitchen and washroom in between – what sets this one apart is the attention to detail.

Lounge/dinette

The clever positioning of the settees, along the sides and face to face, allows easy access through to the cab and emphasise that feeling of spaciousness.

Niesmann+Bischoff make a fine dining table (not to be confused with a table for fine dining). It moves fore and aft as well as side-to-side and can be locked into position a long way off centre. You can extend it too – once you’ve learned the trick; you just pull the table ends outwards and the centre leaf springs up and into place. With the cab seats rotated, the table sits five, more at a squeeze.

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The dining table can seat six once its centre leaf is deployed

Decor

Buyers have endless options for interior colour schemes – two each for the cabinetry bodies/cabinet nishes/ oor coverings; 12 for backrest cushions; six for seat cushions; and four for door fronts.

The Arto model reviewed has cabinetry bodies of ‘Verade Oak’ combined with ‘Black Star’ cabinet nishes and slate coloured ‘Modern Line’ oor covering. ‘Verade #7’ fabric covers the backrest cushions and they are matched with ‘Anthracite’ leather seat cushions.

The door/drawer/locker fronts are high gloss ‘White’. The contrast between black and white adds to that feeling of spaciousness.

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Tucked away in the corner is the well-equipped kitchen

Kitchen

The kitchen is compact, but with all the fundamentals. Set into the bench is a three-hob cooktop and a generous sized sink. There’s plenty of storage for both food and equipment, with four large drawers below the bench and shelved overhead lockers above.

Made of a durable rock-hard material, the benchtop has channels recessed into it that allow dishes to drain. At the front of the bench is both a knob that opens/closes the sink plug and a switch that locks/ releases the drawers electronically, keeping the contents safely stowed while the Arto is underway.

Opposite is a Thetford fridge/freezer and above that, a Sphere microwave. The freezer section has a separate door. Both fridge and freezer doors have a slick mechanism that allows them to open to the right or to the left, whichever you prefer at the time. It is a great idea.

I wonder how long it will be before they are available on home fridges?

I liked the cast-iron pan holders tted to the hobs. They are much better than the rattling wire grates provided with most gas hobs. And when in place, the sink cover provides extra bench space. So too do the two glass lids over the hobs.

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Conveniently located opposite the shower, the full-height shelved cupboard can also be used as a hanging locker

Washroom

This consists of four separate spaces. On the driver’s side are the handbasin/vanity and shower stall. Kerbside are the toilet and wardrobe.

The handbasin is tucked into a corner beside the shower. There is a large drawer below the basin and a shelved medicine cabinet with mirrored doors above for toiletries and personal items.

Curved and corner-mounted, the shower stall glistens invitingly behind a pair of clear acrylic doors. Covering the oor is an imposing black ‘duckboard’ panel. A small soap and shampoo bottle shelf is mounted in the back corner.

With plenty of head and elbow room, it looks like an excellent shower, and it has a clever lever system for securing the doors while the motorhome is underway. Flip the lever in either handle then turn the handle 90 degrees; now push the lever back into the handle and the doors are shut tight.

Conveniently located opposite the shower, the full height shelved cupboard can also be used as a hanging locker, and there’s a mirror on the wall next to it.

Next to the mirror is the Jabsco toilet, in its own compartment behind a solid wooden door. Well-known in the marine industry, Jabsco toilets can discharge into ‘black water’ tanks (an optional 120-litre tank is available) or into a 19-litre cassette, as is the case here. It is a robust looking toilet that is both wall and oor-mounted, making it easy to keep clean.

Ensuite

Each component of the washroom is top quality. But close the sliding doors at each end of the space and the suite moves up a couple of notches to premier class. Now you have a totally private pampering area. Open the door to the bedroom and it becomes an ensuite. When guests are aboard, the double door arrangement means they can enjoy private use of the washroom as well.

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The super-comfy bed is surrounded by all manner of storage options

Bedroom

The centre-piece bed (wider than last year’s model) has a super-comfy memory foam mattress over a sprung slat base. Surrounding the bed are numerous storage options: six overhead lockers, three large drawers at the foot of the bed, spaces under the steps, under the bedside shelves and soft wall pockets for books and magazines.

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Two windows and a roof hatch make the bedroom a light, bright daytime space

There is a second TV mounting point at the foot of the bed for watching late night shows or early morning news. 

Two windows and a roof hatch make it a light, bright daytime space, with LED lighting providing moody ambience at night. Just as comfortable looking as the main bed, a pull-down bed over the cab is available for guests. Curtains cover the windows as the bed lowers and another can be pulled across to isolate it from the lounge. Easy to get into and out of, it is a very cosy arrangement.

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A strident beep warns the steps must be retracted before driving off

Entry

The Arto 88LF doesn’t have an internal step-well. Instead, it has two very substantial, electrically powered steps that emerge from the skirt below the doorway when summoned. They must be retracted before driving off, otherwise a strident beep will sound until they are. A second switch on the dashboard allows the driver to do this while remaining seated. And on the subject of steps, while there is no step from the cab to the lounge, there is an unobtrusive one from kitchen to bathroom.

Facing the lounge, the TV is wallmounted beside the entrance, where it offers excellent viewing from the rotated cab seats and the kerbside settee. Below the television, behind a ‘Black Star’ panel, is a handy locker for stowing shoes.

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The TV by the entrance faces the lounge; the fridge/freezer is opposite the kitchen

Cab

The Fiat dashboard has undergone minor modifications, but everything is in the same place, more or less, including the gear lever for the new nine-speed gearbox. To the right of the steering wheel is a bank of switches, including one for the entry steps.

Glass all around offers the driver an excellent view of the surroundings. But Niesmann+Bischo have made sure the occupants maintain their privacy at night. When fully lowered, a full width aluminium roller blind closes o the windscreen. Separate concertina blinds cover each side window so you have both privacy and sunlight control. Another benefit; when partly lowered during the day, the windscreen blind functions as a sun visor.

Heating

Cold climate motorhoming in the Arto 88LF is not an endurance test thanks to the latest Alde central heating system. Boiler-heated water circulating through radiator panels throughout the motorhome keeps the interior warm and dry. The same boiler heats the household water as well, so one piece of equipment does the job of two. And the whole system can be controlled either remotely using a phone app or in-house using buttons on the control panel.

Outside

Big and bulky it might be, but the Arto 88LF is also understatedly elegant. From the strong simple lines of the front grill to the curvaceous back panel, it is all class. It is also practical. The rear bumper section and the five panels that surround the grill, all moulded GRP, are separate and can be replaced a piece at a time if necessary.

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The wet locker has a moulded liner complete with plughole

There are just two outside storage lockers – a drawer bin in the skirt behind the passenger door and the enormous 1.25-metre high garage across the back of the vehicle. It is large enough to carry bicycles or a small motorbike standing upright. If you prefer an e-bike you can choose to fit an optional 230-volt outlet to charge its battery.

Mechanics

Mounted on an AL-KO tag-axle low chassis and with heavy items like the water tanks and house batteries tted as low as they can be, the Arto 88LF is very stable and easy to drive. Mating Fiat’s 180HP turbo diesel motor to a new nine-speed automatic gearbox has transformed its performance on the road. It is livelier and more responsive than previous models.

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Mating the 180HP turbo diesel motor with a 9-speed automatic gearbox has transformed the Ducato’s performance

Summary

This review covers the bare bones of what the Arto 88LF has to offer. Proprietor of Zion Motorhomes Jonas Ng has found that for most buyers, deciding to buy a Niesmann+Bischo is the easy part. Deciding which extras to include is the challenging bit. There are so many options. Like the latest, the Lithium Energy Package, that includes the batteries, solar panel(s), a charger/ inverter and more. All in all, it’s luxury on wheels.

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Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 88LF specifications

Chassis 

Fiat Ducato 

Engine 

2.3L turbo diesel Euro 6

Gearbox 

9-speed automatic gearbox

Berths 

Length 

8763mm

Width 

2320mm

Height 

2950mm

Fresh/grey water/hot water 

200L/ 150L/10L

Power 

180 BHP Euro 6

Payload 

952kg*

GVW 

4548kg

Tare 

5999mm 

*The weight of extras added should be added to the tare weight and deducted from the payload weight.

Price as reviewed: from $330,000 (includes GST and on-roads) 

Pros

  • The washroom has everything I’d need.

  • The lounge seating arrangement is comfortable and practical, for just two or half a dozen.

  • Love that nine-speed gearbox. It’s a deal-maker.

Cons

  • Nothing to report here. All good.

For more information, visit zionmotorhomes.co.nz.

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