"DRIVE CAREFULLY, IT'S A long vehicle," Australian Motorhomes' Bert Van Leeuwarden warned me as I drove out of his sales yard. I was at the wheel of a Sunliner motorhome not long off the delivery truck. At nearly 9.5m (31ft), the Monte Carlo M72 is indeed a long vehicle, but not as difficult a vehicle to drive as one might expect.
Remembering the length around corners is essential, but with its 3L, 130kW turbodiesel engine, the Iveco-powered motorhome was quite a pleasure to navigate across country. The large rear-view mirrors and reversing camera proved especially useful.
It also felt to me that, like its Italian cousin, the Fiat Ducato, the six-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) runs smoother with a heavier vehicle. Speaking of weight, the M72 has a Tare of nearly 6000kg and a GVM of 6500kg, putting it into the Light Rigid truck category for licensing. But don't let that put you off - this is a motorhome with several interesting features.
This double slide-out motorhome is built using Sunliner's fibreglass composite 'Thermo Tough' structure, with nicely moulded front and rear ends. There is a slide-out on either side; however, the nearside unit directly behind the driver's cab reduces the potential space under the awning. That said, there is still enough undercover area for a couple of camp chairs, a table and the fully-equipped slide-out kitchen.
Almost like a camper trailer in its equipment, the slide-out kitchen includes two-burner cooktop, sink with hot and cold water, and a small wine fridge. All the essentials for al fresco living are covered here.
In addition to the external kitchen bins, there is space dedicated to two 150Ah house batteries, three 4kg gas cylinders, Thetford cassette toilet and 2.3kVA generator, with plenty of room left for external storage.
I mention the batteries and generator because this motorhome is very sophisticated in terms of electrics. A switch panel inside the door controls the step, awning, slide-out, lighting and diesel-fired Webasto heater.
Once inside, there is plenty of space. I can't honestly say the colour scheme did much for me, but it did look very contemporary and it's really a matter of personal choice, anyway.
The front nearside slide-out contains a sideways-facing lounge, while the rear offside slide-out acts as the head for an east-west bed. Effectively split into three areas, the Monte Carlo has a front lounge/dining area, mid kitchen, and full-width rear bathroom, with the bed in between. The Luton bed, measuring 1.83x1.36m (6ft x 4ft 6in) is available in case you have a guest, but it can be lifted out of the way if not needed.
Up front, the living area consists of a two-person dinette (four at a squeeze), the aforementioned lounge, and swivelling passenger seats. Everything is upholstered in white leather and there are two seatbelts fitted to the lounge, but I would have preferred them on the forward-facing dinette seat for better travelling comfort.
Between the driver's seat and the front dinette you will find a large, apparently functionless, box - but press a button and a 32in flatscreen TV elevates into view. The same arrangement applies for a smaller TV in the bedroom, but a disadvantage of both is that 240V is required to operate the lift mechanism. This is fine if you are hooked up to mains power, but firing up the generator at night to raise/lower the TV might not be popular with the neighbours when you're out bush camping.
The Monte Carlo's L-shaped kitchen includes a Thetford three-burner cooktop and grill/oven, stainless steel sink, two overhead lockers and three drawers as standard. A cupboard door opens to reveal three wire basket drawers, and herein lies the kitchen surprise: push the button tucked into the corner, and the entire end of the bench slides out to reveal two larger wire basket shelves. It's a novel idea and the locking mechanism resembles a bonnet catch in a car.
A third pantry is located between the front lounge and the entry door.
A Waeco Coolmatic fridge, with microwave above, sits opposite this clever kitchen. The microwave sits particularly high at 1.65m (5ft 5in) off the floor, and a height-challenged person might struggle.
The 1.95x1.55m (6ft 5in x 5ft 1in) bed sits snuggly in the slide-out, but there are (sadly) no shelves or bedside tables on either side. Contrary to the usual, the main bedroom cabinetry is at the base of the bed on the nearside wall. The space contains full-height cupboards on either side and a waist-height cupboard, complete with elevating TV in the middle.
The TV blocks the view through the window, which isn't a problem when a program is being watched, but at other times I suspect most people would prefer it lowered. Both sides of the bedroom can be closed off with concertina curtains for privacy.
There are no surprises in the bathroom - nearside shower cubicle, mid-station china bowl cassette toilet, and offside washbasin are all there, along with a top-loading Lemair washing machine hiding in a corner cupboard.
To keep the house batteries charged, two 135W solar panels are mounted on the roof and a mains-supplied 30A charger is fitted. LEDs illuminate the rig throughout and there are three LED control panels - one above the door, one beside the door, and one in the lockers above the kitchen bench. A 3000W inverter can also be used for low-load 240V devices.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There's no doubt this 9.45m (31ft) Monte Carlo motorhome is a very luxurious motorhome, fully fitted-out for travel.
One possible consideration might be getting into caravan parks, but given the Monte Carlo has everything needed for independent camping, perhaps that's not a huge issue.
WORDS AND PICS Malcolm Street
Source: Caravan World Jun 2012.