JUST IN THE NEXXO TIME
The clever Bürstner is truly in a class of its own...
By Malcolm Street
Bürstner are a well known German manufacturer of both caravans and motorhome. Part of the Hymer group, the manufacturer’s vehicles are quite common in Europe but have, until recently, had a minimal presence in New Zealand and even less in Australia. In the latter case, only Bürstner caravans were commercially (ie not privately) available.
However, in more recent times in New Zealand, a company by the name of Smart Motor Homes, under the direction of Terry Tuohy and Michael Becker, is importing a number of Bürstner motorhomes – and not only for private buyers: Anyone wishing to try before they buy can hire one from Wilderness Motorhomes.
When I contacted Terry Tuohy about a possible review he told me that a Nexxo t687 was readily available and since I have not really had a good look over a Bürstner motorhome at all it seemed like a good idea at the time. I only make that latter comment because I had limited days on which to take the Nexxo motorhome and of course, it was raining...
The first thing I noticed about my review Nexxo was the external colour – a very classy looking metallic gold, otherwise known as Champagne in Bürstner speak. I should note that for anyone who likes the traditional white, then that is also available.
The second thing I noticed was that the Nexxo is based on very familiar vehicle, a Fiat Ducato. Now before I go much further, there’s something else I should mention. In both Australia and New Zealand, motorhomes are loosely defined into three classes and I mean loosely. A-class refers to motorhomes that are fully built up from the chassis; ie the motorhome manufacturer uses the chassis only and fully builds the body. B-class refers to motorhomes that are built on a cab-chassis but don’t have a luton peak, ie nose cone that is large enough to accommodate a small double bed. C-class is simply a B-class with a luton peak. Savvy? If not don’t get stressed because as I said the definitions are quite loose.
However, just to complicate things, Bürstner don’t use that system at all. Instead, A-class are referred to as Integrated models, B-class as Semi-Integrated and C-class as Alcove. Then there are a couple of others as well – Grand Panorama which is an A-class but with a very large front window, plus an aptly named Compact, which is sort of a thinned down B-class, sorry Semi-Integrated. So the Nexxo t687 is a Semi-Integrated/B-class motorhome, but however it’s defined it’s a very stylish looking motorhome
As I mentioned the Nexxo is built on a Fiat Ducato, but in this case not with the 180 multijet, which is the most powerful (132 kW, 400 Nm) 3.0-litre turbo diesel in the Ducato range, but the smallest: the 130 multijet with 96 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque. It comes with a standard Fiat chassis and weighs in with a tare weight of 2850 kg and a GVM of 3650 kg, giving a more than reasonable load carrying capacity.
The sleek looking body structure is a mixture of fibreglass mouldings and aluminium walls and roof. According to Michael Becker, “The walls are vacuum composite with an outer skin of aluminium, foam in the middle and lined inside with ply. There is no framing in the walls apart from where required and these parts are then timber. Required means where, for example, internal furniture needs to fastened to. Furniture is light weight ply and the doors are honeycomb construction to keep them light.”
“The motorhomes stand up really well in the rental situation. They are light weight yet still very sturdy!”
The Bürstner’s windows are (mostly) large double glazed and tinted acrylic windows. All top hinged so they can be left open in the rain. Undoubtedly the odd feature about this motorhome at least as far as NZ is concerned, is that the door is on the “wrong” side. Although, it’s a right hand drive vehicle, apparently the British market (for which most of these motorhomes are destined) isn’t large enough to have its own nearside door production line. Bürstner aren’t the only European manufacturer in this category, I’ve been in several before and it’s not as difficult to get used to as it might sound and is certainly less annoying that a caravan with the door on the “wrong” side; mostly because a motorhome is more easily maneuverable.
One of the surprises in this Nexxo is that is has a large rear boot, accessible from both the rear and the offside – the nearside being used for a gas cylinder bin. Naturally any motorhome out of Europe comes with a heater (air conditioners are optional), in this case a Truma gas fired unit, which also heats the water.
On the Road
Well, the Fiat Ducato used as a base vehicle for any motorhome certainly handles very well and this one is no exception. The 2.3-litre engine is mated to Fiat’s six speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), which responds quite well, except as typical with many an AMT gearbox, sometimes being hesitant in the lower ranges. There’s no doubt that the 96 kW/320 Nm engine will move the Nexxo along but in the hills and dales of NZ, especially if a bit of load is being carried, I’d definitely prefer at least the mid range 150 mutijet 2.3 litre (109 kW/350 Nm) unit, if not the larger 3.0 litre/132 kW engine.
Stepping inside the Nexxo t687 reveals a compact but efficiently put together layout. The front area is devoted to relaxing and dining, the mid area is bathroom (nearside) and kitchen (offside to the rear of the entry door) with the rear area being the bedroom, complete with island bed. I have to say I like the interior décor colours, described as “Madeira” in the Bürstner catalogue, which results in a nice, bright interior. In the electric lighting department, the halogen light fittings look a bit like old fashioned track lighting but the individual light fittings are, in fact, cleverly designed to unclip and move around to where more lighting is needed.
Up front there is seating for five people, which sounds amazing in something this size and to be truthful, would be a tad cramped. However, the quite flexible layout has been achieved by having both driver’s cab seats swivel around, a two seat lounge behind the passenger seat with table in between and a fifth sideways-facing seat that sits between the driver’s seat and entry door. The other tricky little feature is the table, which can be removed if not needed, but also has a second table underneath that can be swivelled out and giving a moderate dining capacity for five people! A very neat idea I have to say and typically European in its use of space.
Time to Eat
Now it certainly depends on how you cook but if there’s a week point in this Nexxo, then it’s the typically small sized kitchen bench areas. Just long enough to have a three burner hob and round stainless steel sink sans drainer, it also has enough underbench area for the 104-litre three way fridge and three drawers. A microwave oven is an option and I am guessing fits into one of the two overhead lockers.
Given this is a 7 m / 23ft motorhome, one of the surprises is that a 1.95 m/6 ft 5 in island bed has been fitted in. It’s been done by the compromise of having a relatively small kitchen. Although the walk around space isn’t too squashy, the top of the wheel arches do intrude slightly. In addition to the bed head of overhead lockers and side wardrobes, the underbed area has been neatly compartmented up, so that the front part is accessible by roller shutter doors without lifting the bed and the rear area is accessible from the exterior bin doors.
In the bathroom is another surprise: When the bathroom door is opened, what is seen is a Thetford cassette toilet to the right and a well setup vanity unit to the left but no shower facilities. Don’t Germans shower when travelling? They certainly do! The curved rear wall of the vanity unit is hinged and when swung across, reveals and shower cubicle with both the vanity unit and cassette protected from shower water. A very clever space saving idea and much better than a plastic shower curtain, that’s for sure!
What we Think
It’s difficult not to be impressed by the Bürstner Nexxo t687, nor the price even if a larger motor is included. Typically European in design, there is a very effective use of interior space without a millimetre being wasted. Also typical are features like the smallish kitchen, which some cooks may have to learn to live with. Ditto the entry door on the driver’s side, which some might find awkward, but having tried out several motorhomes with doors on the “wrong side” I really didn’t find it a problem. I’d be suggesting though that if there’s any doubt, then try a week’s rental from Smart Wilderness Motorhomes to see how you like it.
PS: Any Australian looking at this and doing a little currency conversion might think the Nexxo looks a good deal, which it is. However, although Bürstner motorhomes are readily available in NZ, I’m not quite sure when that might happen across the Tasman. Compliance on several fronts is always an issue, although from what I understand, it’s not so much the motorhome components, as the Fiat Ducato. Apparently there’s a special manufacturing line in the Fiat factory just for Australia. Or something like that...
- External looks
- Bathroom design
- Large external storage bin, also accessible from inside
- Front dining/lounge layout
- Double layer swivelling table
- Island bed
- Internal lighting
- Entry door on the driver’s side
- Smallish kitchen
- Smallest and least powerful of the Ducato engine
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