Dethleffs motorhomes, built in Germany, are part of Europe’s largest RV manufacturer, the Hymer Group. Dethleffs are well known for their quality and craftsmanship. The newest addition to their 2021 stable of products is the comprehensively equipped, attractively appointed Esprit range of A-Class motorhomes.
Available in four layouts, all are 7810mm long, 2330mm wide and 3040mm high, with a GVW of 4250kg. There are various layout choices: two single bed, two queen bed, and two seating arrangements. The Esprit i7150-2DBL reviewed here has an island bed, face-to-face lounge seating and a dropdown bed over the cab seats.
Built on a Fiat Ducato chassis, the Esprit is powered by a Euro 6D 180BHP, 2.3L turbo diesel motor, driving the front wheels through a ZF 9-speed automatic gearbox. Optional in place of the Comfort- Matic AMT gearbox (introduced 2007), this is the first torque converter automatic transmission option Fiat have offered in the Ducato. The ZF 9-speed has three modes: normal, eco, and power. Eco has a gear shift pattern that reduces fuel consumption; the power setting provides quicker shifting and a more energetic response. The revised Euro 6D motor features a standard ‘eco-pack’. This includes a stop-start system that reduces engine idle time, a ‘smart’ alternator, an eco mode that improves fuel efficiency, and a computer-controlled fuel pump for more efficient combustion.
Safety features strongly, too. Driver aids include all the standard safety components: ABS, ESP, ASR, Hill Holder and Hill Descent Control.
Esprit’s plain white body shell is distinguished by its striking graphics – a simple line from back to front, under the grill, and front to back on the other side. The imposing ‘Darth Vader’ black styling that surrounds the cab windows and windscreen is relieved by the smiling grill and headlights. The LED running lights improve visibility during daylight hours.
Kerbside there are five hatches and a passenger entry door. This door is a legacy of the Esprit starting life as a left-hand drive vehicle. Although Fiat offer the right-hand drive option used here, it wasn’t feasible for Dethleffs to move the door for the relatively small number of right-hand drive Esprits (under 1000). Of the five hatches, there’s one each for the toilet cassette, LPG bottle locker and the rear garage. A fourth beside the rear wheel accesses a tunnel locker through to the driver’s side. The fifth is for ‘amenities’: the grey-water dump valve, the water pump and fresh-water plumbing.
Driver’s side there are just two hatches, the garage and the tunnel, as well as the accommodation door. Looking down from above is the 5-metre Thule awning.
This is through either the kerbside passenger door or the driver’s side accommodation door. Wider than usual (650mm), the accommodation door has a retractable step and a robust handrail, making it a breeze to enter/exit. From inside, a door window allows you to see if anything is obstructing the door before it’s opened outwards. Cabinetry to the left houses the TV and at floor level there’s a drawer ideal for storing shoes. The battery and water tank monitors are housed in an array above the door, where they are easy to see. To the left are the controls for raising/ lowering the bed over the cab.
This bed is up there with the best of them – excellent size (2000 x 1500mm); it lowers (630mm above the settee, 1130mm above the floor) so it is easily accessed/exited by standing on the side settee; it has a memory foam mattress over sprung wooden slats for maximum comfort; and it doesn’t intrude into the lounge when in use. Privacy curtains on three sides lower with the bed.
Another pair close off the lounge. Electric motors make raising and lowering the bed child’s play. You just have to remember two things before lowering the bed: release the safety straps and flip the cab seat-backs forward. Of all the types of dropdown beds, this is my favourite.
Cab equipment and instrumentation is standard Ducato with extras. Like the windscreen blind, whose main purpose is to provide privacy at night. It also serves as a very effective back-up sun visor. And there is the Zenec navigator/entertainment system. If you enter your RV’s dimensions, it won’t route you down roads that are too small for your vehicle. Not forgetting the switch to retract the accommodation door’s steps. Driving off with the steps still out is a very noisy affair.
The cab seats are worth a mention. Very comfortable and upholstered with fabric matching the settees, they are adjustable vertically, rotationally, back and forth, and for tilt, as well as being aircushioned.
Note that the Ad-Blue fill point is beside the passenger door step, so the door must be opened to access it. Better than the previous location beside the diesel fill point – much less chance of getting Ad-Blue in the fuel or vice versa.
Twin settee lounge seating as in the Esprit has become popular with European manufacturers, and this face-to-face design by Dethleffs is excellent. A flat floor throughout, comfortable cab seats that rotate unhindered, and two surprisingly simple settees make the lounge an attractive place to entertain and dine. Something unexpected was the light weight of the settee cushions … literally light as a feather. Without a set of scales I couldn’t measure, but guessing I’d say a third to half the usual weight without any loss of support. The settees are upholstered with the same pale grey ‘slub-linen look’ synthetic fabric as the cab seats.
Occupying most of the benchtop space are a three-burner hob and a circular sink. Discreetly mounted above the hob, an extractor fan deals with steam and odour issues. Directly opposite the bench is the Thetford fridge-freezer – a tall, narrow, two-door model with a magic mechanism to open the doors from the left or the right, you choose. And above that, almost unnoticed, sits a small griller oven.
Below the bench are three good-sized drawers and a slide-out containing rubbish bins and room for tall bottles. Two lockers above the bench are shelved and partitioned to make the most of the space available. The kitchen has adequate storage for supermarket shopping, but work space is limited. The dining table will play a vital part when you’re serving up meals.
A two-piece affair, it has the shower driver’s side and the toilet/vanity kerbside. The shower is made up from an odd collection of angles, but they provide adequate washing space very well. A ‘duckboard’ and twin plug-holes are practical extras. For privacy when showering, the hinged toilet door closes off the kitchen and a sliding door, the bedroom.
The white handbasin and the black vanity top combine seamlessly, elegantly. Below is a useful cupboard and shelves for small items. Above, a medicine cabinet with mirror doors. The side-wall window has an opaque pane for privacy. Fittings include a towel rail, clothes hooks and 230-volt power point. And the Thetford toilet is positioned so there is room to use it comfortably.
Like the bed up front but 100mm wider, this one has a foam mattress over sprung wooden slats. A tried and true recipe for a good night’s sleep. There are two deep lockers over the bedhead, with just enough room to sit up below to read. Each side of the bed has its own reading light, shelf and hanging locker.
Two drawers at the foot of the bed provide more storage for folded clothes and personal items. Lifting the mattress and base (gas strut assisted) gains access to more storage under the bed.
LIGHTING AND DECOR
The LED lighting throughout the Esprit, both direct and indirect, is well executed. A good example is the lighting around the sculpted ceiling panel down the centre of the vehicle. Overall the lighting effect is aesthetically pleasing – it makes you feel good. And it enhances the pale Nordic timber decor theme: fresh, modern, with a hint of rustic home comfort.
When specifying the Esprit range the needs of freedom campers have been carefully considered. In the standard form as supplied by Zion Motorhomes, the Esprit has everything covered (see sidebar). In fact in every department the Esprit has been well thought through. With the Dethleffs Esprit i7150-2DBL, Zion Motorhomes have a winner on their hands.
EQUIPPED FOR FREEDOM CAMPING
- Significant payload: 735kg.
- Large (177L) fridge-freezer.
- Large water tank capacity. Fresh 166L, grey 156L.
- 2x95a/h house batteries with 18amp charger.
- 200watt solar panel with MPPT regulator.
- Double-insulated floor plus excellent wall/roof insulation.
- Truma Combi 6E 6Kw combined water/space heater.
- 19-inch Avtex LED TV plus KiwiSat auto satellite dish.
- Zenec navigation/entertainment centre.
- 5-metre Thule awning
- Kitchen compact but well equipped.
- Face-to-face lounge settees.
- Wide (630mm) entry door.
- 9-speed torque converter automatic gearbox is a winner.
- Simple but striking exterior graphics.
- None worth noting
DETHLEFFS ESPRIT i7150-2DBL Specifications
2.3L diesel Euro 6. 180bhp
9-speed torque converter gearbox
Price as reviewed: $229,000
For more information visit zionmotorhomes.co.nz