UH OH, THERE WE WERE again. Our favourite editor (Max) was wondering about articles for this fine magazine, Winnebago’s Max Mayo was on the phone wondering when we were going to review the new Longreach motorhome and I was wondering when I could snatch a few days on the NSW snowfields before the snow melts for another season.
Doesn’t take Einstein to figure it out, does it? With reassurances to my editor and a phone call to Danny Brian of Country Motor Company Winnebago to ensure that the coolant and Webasto heater were in order, I was soon heading south with the ski clobber safely stashed in one of the Longreach’s ample storage bins.
Winnebago’s Longreach is a replacement for the previous Alpine 30ft (9.1m) model, but is still built on an Isuzu cab chassis, in this case an NQR 450. Powered by a 5.2L, 139kW, 510Nm turbodiesel engine, the Isuzu came with the Premium Pack and included a six-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) gearbox.
At a length of 31ft 2in (9.5m), the Longreach isn’t small, which may bother some drivers. However, the reality is that on the open road the length isn’t much of a consideration, except when you’re overtaking. In town, it’s only when manoeuvring through tight corners or reversing that the length becomes something to keep in mind.
In most situations, including the mountain roads, the 5.2L turbodiesel delivers the goods as required. However, the AMT gearbox is a different story. Whether you like it or not will depend on your driving technique. If you’re happy to cruise along, then it’s fine. If you like precise gear changes, especially kickdowns to keep the revs up, then, like me, you’re going to resort to constant manual, clutchless gear shifting, which means a full manual may well be the gearbox of choice.
Our fuel consumption (at posted speeds) came in at 18.6L/100km on the highway and a somewhat higher 24.7L/100km on the Snowy Mountains roads. Filling the diesel tank was easy.
IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
It should be remembered that the Isuzu is a commercial vehicle, but it does come with items like power steering, windows and mirrors, cab air-conditioning, trimmed seats and a compartment between the seats for stashing items like wallets. It also has airbags for the driver and passenger and a rear-vision camera. To my surprise, the radio/CD multimedia unit includes an iPod connection (a big tick for this item) and satellite navigation.
Due to the Isuzu’s over-axle engine design, the Longreach doesn’t have a flat-floor connection between the cab and motorhome, but it isn’t difficult to get from one to the other.
Built in the usual Winnebago style, the Longreach has a laminated wall and roof structure, an aluminium frame and fibreglass skin for the wall and EPDM rubber for the roof. Along the lower sides, there is lots of external bin space long enough for snow skis!
ROOM TO MOVE
There’s plenty of internal living (and storage) space as well, especially when the two slide-outs are opened. The layout, with front door entry, consists of a rear bedroom with slide-out and full bathroom, nearside kitchen, a dinette and lounge (both of which are in the offside slide-out) and a second bed over the cab. A feature of this layout is that the motorhome can still be used without the lounge/dinette extended, for when the overnight parking area is limited. On our overnight sub-alpine stops I did just that, mainly so that the Webasto heater didn’t have to work quite as hard – not that it wasn’t capable of heating the entire living area.
In the catering department, the kitchen bench has a stainless steel sink with drainer set between a Spinflo cooktop/grill and a Dometic 186L fridge, with a microwave above. Like many larger motorhomes, the kitchen bench area is quite compact but the general storage area isn’t too bad with four drawers, two overhead lockers, several cupboards and an almost full-height, slide-out pantry. There’s no bending over for the fridge because it’s set well and truly off the floor with a large floor locker underneath. The latter contains a big-tick item: a garbage bin!
Opposite the kitchen, the slide-out contains a three-person lounge and a four-person dinette. There’s no doubt that the slide-out adds hugely to the internal space, both in perception and reality. The lounge also folds out to a bed. Above the driver’s cab is a double bed, which can be lifted out of the way if not used to provide extra storage room.
In front of the rear bedroom area is a split bathroom with a roomy shower cubicle on the offside, and a Dometic toilet and washbasin in the cubicle on the nearside. The door for the latter has been designed so that when swung open, it closes off the bathroom area from the rest of the motorhome.
The east-west bed is fitted into the rear nearside slide-out. When opened, the slide-out gives plenty of walk-around room at the foot of the bed and also access to the wardrobe, drawers and little dressing table fitted along the offside wall. With the slide-out closed up it’s still possible to use the bed, albeit with a little more difficulty.
Of course, this Longreach has the full kit in terms of technology: three 100Ah batteries, two solar panels, a 2000W inverter, 3.6kVA generator, ducted air-conditioning, a flatscreen TV, and a substantial 240/12V power system.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I enjoyed my sojourn to the high country in the Longreach. The motorhome is ready for self-contained living, provides very comfortable space for two but will easily accommodate up to five people if required. The option of leaving the offside slide-out closed only increases its versatility.
Base vehicle: Isuzu NH NQR 450 Premium
Engine: 5.2L turbodiesel
External length: 31ft 2in (9.5m)
External width: 8ft 2in (2.48m)
Internal height: 6ft 6in (2m)
Brakes: Front disc/rear drum ABS
Gearbox: Six speed AMT
Max power: 139kW@2600rpm
Max torque: 510Nm@2600rpm
Second stage compliance: Yes
Price: $229,950 plus on-road costs (alloy bullbar, add $2250)
Country Motor Company Winnebago, 314 Princes Highway, Bomaderry, NSW 2541, 1800 048 810, www.countrymotor.com.au.