Ah Siena. The medieval hill city, with its zebra-striped cathedral and vast scallop-shelled piazza, lies among the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany. Millions flock to this corner of Italy to taste la dolce vita – the sweet life.
Just out of town is the McLouis motorhome factory. If you’re wondering about the name, there’s nothing Scottish about it. The company founder was waiting for his flight at an airport when he spotted two neighbouring fast-food restaurants – McDonald’s and Louis. Bingo!, he thought, and the rest, as they say, is history (but perhaps not the finest Italian gastronomy).
TrailLite imports McLouis motorhomes, and this new range landed in New Zealand a week before this year’s Covi SuperShow in March, where they were on display.
Marketing manager Ashlee Rose says the five models in the Fusion family offer a wide range of floorplans to suit families, or for a couple or singles wanting to motorhome full-time.
All equipped to the same high specifications, the vehicles’ lengths vary from 5990mm to 7410mm and prices begin at $150,000 for the three-berth 331 to $162,000 for the four-berth 379.
We’ve mentioned it’s Italian so no prizes for guessing that the Fusion runs on the Fiat Ducato platform. That means front-wheel drive, 3500kg GVM in the 331 ‘Bambino’ and 3650kg GVM in its siblings, pulled along by a 160hp engine with 9 – count ‘em, 9-speed auto transmission. There’s an option to upgrade to the 4250GVM chassis.
Traditional black Fiat seats have been swapped out for a stylish cream leather-look with subtle grey armrests. The driver gets her or his hands on the reversing camera, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, central locking that takes care of the habitation door, cab air-conditioning, cruise control and safety features including passenger airbag, Traction Plus, and hill descent control.
That cool, creamy upholstery and white interior theme continues in the lounge. As Ashlee says, “The white-leather look makes it quite light and vibrant, and it’s easy to clean. We’ve put in New Zealand cushions and made it brighter.”
The table is a good size for family dining and rotates/slides in every direction.
With the cab seats swivelling around, the lounge can seat five to six and there’s good natural light from the large sunroof and artificial lighting from a virtually unrivalled selection of LED strips and spots.
For travel, the L-shaped settee includes two three-point belts, while the settee converts into a rear-facing seat with a lap belt. Good for the typical Kiwi family.
The over-cab area, housing a dropdown double bed, has cupboards at either side.
Everything feels built to last or, as Ashlee puts it, “It has that craftsmanship and attention to detail that Italian manufacturing is known for.”
Five floorplans in the Fusion range offer plenty of flexibility for would-be owners to choose the layout that best suits their lifestyle or holiday arrangements. The 331 is a three-berther with fixed transverse rear bed and a dropdown in the cab. The others are four-berth with differing configurations based around combinations of dropdown double, two singles, transverse bed or queen-size island bed.
Taller travellers will be pleased to hear that the transverse bed runs the full width of the vehicle, a whopping 2.20 metres. The dropdown double measures 1300x1100x1950mm.
The dropdowns are electrically operated, and settle clear of the kitchen and habitation door with no need to move cushions or clear the table before deploying it. ‘Upstairs’ are two individual spotlights and storage pockets. Headroom is 530mm.
“We’re noticing a lot of people like the idea of the island bed but they want their motorhome to be under 7 metres,” Ashlee says. “This model has that option. The layout with two single beds is a good one for families because mum and dad can sleep on the beds and the kids can sleep in the big bed at the back – you can have three kids in their sleeping bags!”
The 331 and 360 shower and toilet are in the same well-designed mid-cab area, with an opening window, plenty of room and decent worktop and storage.
In the other models there’s a separate toilet and shower, both spacious and well-organised, with a solid door that shuts off to create the front and rear bedroom spaces.
Smaller motorhomes often skimp on kitchen space, and they’re often an L-shape which isn’t to everyone’s liking, but the Fusion bucks both trends. You’ll get more glossy white bench space and a good-sized sink for washing the dishes.
There’s an oven, grill and three-burner hob. The 331 and 360 have a 142-litre fridge; in the other models, it’s 150 litres.
At first glance you might wonder about the drawer space: open the cupboard under the sink and there are two slide-out sections. Twin pull-out pantry units between the fridge and oven are ideal for bottles, tins and packets. Just open the cupboards and you can see the quality of the fittings.
It’s all white here – right down to the bumpers. The big Sky Dome window is a feature, as are the 16-inch alloy wheels.
For many Kiwis, a big selling point will be the garage, with large loading doors on either side, heating, lighting, four corner-mounted lashing points and a small hatch into the living area. It can carry up to 300kg; internal width is 1.09 metres and headroom is 1.2 metres, so there’s plenty of room for a couple of e-bikes. Just pop them in the boot, lock it up so they’re safe and sound, and you’re away.
Freedom campers will spot the generous fresh and grey water tanks, and there’s a fair belt of power too –180 watts of solar and 200 amp hours of battery. “That’s one of the best specifications for this price bracket,” Ashlee points out.
TrailLite puts the Fusion range on the highway with a number of standard features that would be costly optional extras in other brands. These include a full awning, two gas bottles, automatic satellite dish, a TV and five choices of floorplan across the range.
You can also talk to them about installing extra bits and pieces like another TV, 300w inverter, additional fresh and grey water tanks, an exterior shower and bike racks.
Continental style and comfort, space to entertain visitors, generous garage and a lengthy list of standard features – road-tripping families, full-timing singletons and couples should have the Fusion at McLouis range at or near the top of their shortlist.
McLouis Fusion 2020 range specifications
4-cylinder, 120kW/400Nm Euro 6D
331: 3 berths
360, 367, 373, 379: 4 berths
331: 5990mm; 360, 367: 6990m; 373, 379: 7410mm
2950mm inc TV aerial
360: 100 litres; Other models: 115 litres
331, 360, 367: 100 litres; 373, 379: 135 litres
2 x 100a/h batteries, 180w solar power
331: 3500kg; Other models: 3650kg
Price as reviewed: 331: $150,000; 360, 367: $158,000; 373, 379: $162,000
- Italian craftsmanship and attention to detail
- Five floorplans, plenty of flexibility to choose your layout
- Big 300kg payload garage with large doors on both sides
- None worth noting!
Find out more at traillite.co.nz