Toolbox
words & photos - Malcolm Street
Ideal for one or two travellers, this Mercedes Sprinter van conversion is fully self-contained and comes with a fixed double bed



WE LIKED:
>> Kitchen bench with good storage
>> Insect screens
>> 240V and 12V sockets inside and out
>> Window behind kitchen bench

NOT SO MUCH:
>> outdated radio/CD player in the cab
>> limited storage
>> innerspring mattress a $700 option


Unlike the Australian caravan manufacturing industry which is predominantly situated around Melbourne, motorhome builders are far more scattered. That said, a fair few are in NSW, including Ballina-based Horizon Motorhomes.

Exploring the coastline between Ballina and Byron Bay is a pleasant way to spend a few days and that was my plan when I picked up an Horizon Grevillea motorhome.

Under the direction of Clayton Kearney Horizon has, for the last few years, concentrated on the large van conversion market including Mercedes Sprinter, VW Crafter and Fiat Ducato.

The Grevillea was built from a converted Sprinter van but it’s also available in the slightly cheaper, long wheelbase VW Crafter.

Driving the Benz-powered Grevillea is a breeze. Although the 2.2 litre, 120kW engine doesn’t have quite the grunt of the more powerful 140kW six-cylinder V6, it still delivers power smoothly through the five-speed auto gearbox without a problem and airbag suspension fitted to the rear wheels helps the ride quality.

Just under two metres wide, parking isn’t a problem but the optional reversing camera is definitely useful. My only quibble is that the standard Benz radio in the driver’s cab doesn’t have a 3.5mm socket/iPod connection.

One of the reasons for having a Mercedes Benz Sprinter-based motorhome is the five speed auto transmission. It’s a full auto torque converter, rather than the automated manual transmissions (AMT) that most other light commercial vehicle manufacturers use.

AMT gearboxes work okay and some are certainly better than others but for a smooth and quick response every time, the Sprinter auto is the way to go.

FITS THE BILL

Fitting the Grevillea out externally means adding Seitz hopper windows (on both sides), fridge vents, a hot water heater vent, external shower, gas cylinder bin, toilet cassette door and Fiamma F65 awning.

Like most van conversions, the Grevillea doesn’t have an external storage bin, just the internal under-bed area at the rear.

There’s the option on this model to have a standard motorhome door fitted instead of using the existing sliding door and there are advantages and disadvantages to that.

Another option is to have insect screens installed for both the sliding and the rear doors. Having tried these out – both come with zippered roll up ‘doors’ – I reckon they work a treat.

Inside, the Grevillea has a double bed in the rear-offside corner, a bathroom cubicle mid-offside and a kitchen bench along the nearside.

Up front, the dining area utilises the swivelled-cab seats, a table behind the driver’s seat, and a third seat on the other side of the table.

While the Seitz windows have integrated screens and blinds, the front and back windows have curtains. Although all Horizon motorhomes are pre-wired for roof air-conditioners, many leave the factory without them – apparently the majority of customers choose not to have them fitted.

All the cabinetry work is stained in a light hue, offset by sea-grey coloured doors and drawers. The Cabinetry is high-pressure laminated 13mm lightweight ply.

The drawers are also made of the same 13mm ply and have double ball bearing runners which prevent rattle and are designed to stop the drawers falling out if they come open.

The cupboards and overhead lockers all have horizontal handles for opening; and the upper ones can be pulled down to open and the lower ones lifted up.

SINGLES OR DOUBLE?

There are two options for the bedroom area in the Grevillea – the 2.04 x 1.4m (6ft 8in x 4ft 7in) innerspring mattress bed, which was fitted to our review motorhome, or two 1.93 x 0.70m (6ft 4in x 2ft 3in) single beds.

Many couples prefer the former but the singles are often more practical.

Instead of lifting the double bed by hand to access the under-bed storage area, an electric ram provides access and it can be easily reached by opening the rear doors.

In addition to the under bed area, there are also overhead lockers along the offside and the rear, plus a bedside cabinet with three drawers in the nearside corner.

The kitchen comes with a three-burner Dometic cooktop (no grill) and stainless steel sink with drainer. On the opposite side is a Waeco 136 litre fridge with Sharp Carousel microwave oven above.

Kitchen storage consists of multiple drawers – two for pots and pans, four of a conventional size and a cutlery drawer – and three cupboards, but there are no overhead lockers.

Benchtop area isn’t bad for a rig of this size and both the cooktop and sink have smoked glass lids.

The wall space above the kitchen window is occupied by the electrical controls and there’s a mounting point for a flatscreen TV which can be seen from both the bed and the front seats. Above the kitchen bench is a vent hatch.

Making full use of the swiveling cab seats (with optional leather upholstery) in this motorhome is a smart move – it means just about every valuable millimetre of space is used. Having the (good sized) table and seat behind the driver’s seat also creates a neat little dining area.

There are LED reading lights above both cab seats, along with a strip LED fitting above the table under the overhead lockers.

The bathroom has all the essentials – a Dometic cassette toilet, small corner wash basin with separate hot/cold water tap, a flexible hose shower, and a small wall mirror above the wash basin.

The cassette toilet comes fitted with a SOG toilet vent kit designed to vent the cassette. They claim chemicals are not needed but I don’t have enough user experience to verify or disprove that.

VERDICT

Over the past few years, RV manufacturers have, to some degree, adopted a policy of refinement and upgrade instead of constant change, and this is certainly the case with Horizon Motorhomes.

As I looked over the Grevillea, I could see several areas where little refinements have been made, both from a manufacturing and a user point of view, compared to the last time we looked at this model.

Just as importantly, this 7.4m (24ft) van gives travellers a reasonably comfortable living area as well as a vehicle that is easy to drive and manoeuvre in tight spaces.

HORIZON GREVILLEA

Base vehicle: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 316CDI  
Engine: 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel 
Gearbox: five-speed auto
Power/torque: 120kWat 3800rpm/ 360Nm at 1400-2400rpm 
Brakes: ABS disc
Tare weight: 3006kg 
GVM: 3880kg 
External length: 7.35m (24ft)
External width: 1.98m (6ft 6in)
External height: 2.74m (9ft)
Internal height: 1.93m (6ft 4in)
Cooktop: Dometic three-burner 
Fridge : Waeco 136 litre 
Microwave: Sharp Carousel 
Gas: 2 x 4kg 
Lighting: 12V LED
Toilet: Dometic cassette SOG
Shower: Fixed height, flex hose 
Hot water: Truma 14 litre 
Fresh water: 105 litre
Grey water: 95 litre 
Second stage compliance: Yes 
Price: $129,662 (NSW)
Supplied by: Ballina Campervan and Motorhome Centre, Ballina, NSW


 

To comment on this article click here Published : Thursday, 10 January 2013
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