From any angle Paradise’s Inspiration Ultra inspires...
by Malcolm Street
If you visit Gold Coast-based Paradise Motor Homes you should never go there with your brain in neutral. Because if you happen to talk to proprietor Colin MacLean or his sons Ben and Michael whilst looking over the motorhomes, chances are you’ll leave with your head spinning.
There are several reasons for that – not only because of the feature packed Paradise range but also because the Paradise team are always keen to point out the items that cannot always be seen – and there are quite a few of those. There are ‘big things’ like the composite body panels that are built with a high tensile alloy rollover frame; slide-outs integrated into the body structure and crash test simulations for the body construction, cabinetry work and appliance anchoring. There are also ‘little things’ like the cabinetry work that has dovetailed interlocking construction, as well as the patented automatic locking cabinets and the optimised weight distribution that spreads the load evenly over the axles and keeps heavy loads low.
A Slide of the Times
Visually, one of the hallmarks of the Paradise range are the aforementioned slide-outs, which add considerable living space to the motorhome without increasing the external on-road size. The Inspiration Ultra comes with a double slide-out arrangement that has the interior space of something like a 12-metre A-class motorhome, but at under 8-metres it’s considerably easier to drive, manoeuvre and park.
The Mercedes Benz Sprinter the Inspiration Ultra rides on comes with a 3.0-litre, 140 kW turbo-diesel that drives through a 7-speed full automatic gearbox, making it a very smooth performer indeed. Of course, it comes with all the usual Benz safety features like ABS brakes and both driver and passenger air bags. Instead of the radio/GPS unit that has been seen in Paradise motorhomes to date, there is now a touch screen iPad – nothing like mod cons! Other noticeable cab features are the “timber” inserts on the dashboard and doors.
It should be noted the Paradise-converted Sprinter 519 CDI comes with a 5500 kg gross vehicle mass (GVM) that not only gives extra load capacity, it requires a Light Rigid truck licence. Don’t let that put you off getting one though – it’s not a difficult drive at all.
The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel is the most expensive in the Sprinter range but it makes life very easy on the road, with plenty of power under the right foot when needed. I always think a larger motor working easily is a much better drive, as well as being more economical than a less powerful one working at the top of its range (only to a point - Ed).
As mentioned previously the Ultra body is fully built using composite fibreglass walls that are built to a Paradise specification. Both the roof and floor are one piece items, adding strength and water proofing capabilities.
A downside to the twin slide-out design (if there is one) is that the Ultra, viewed from the rear, tends to have a somewhat boxy look. However, this is more for aerodynamics than aesthetics and it’s offset to a great degree by the two-pak, two-tone paint job that looks very impressive.
For external bin space the Ultra certainly does not have a problem; there are a considerable number of them and all use swing away doors that are fully sealed against dust intrusion. Those under the slide-outs do require a bit of pre-thought about usage and are certainly easier to get at with the slide-outs closed. All have internal lights for night time use.
After parking, setting up the Ultra requires minimal time. Basically, it involves operating two switches to open the slide-outs (after remembering to turn on the master switch!), spinning the driver and passenger seats around and opening the windows. I should mention the slide-out operation: it’s not particularly fast but it’s very smooth and quiet! I’ve opened a few slide-outs in my time and some have been very clunky in their operation, but not these. One point of care is with the nearside slide-out and the entry door. It’s possible with the door fully open to get it caught in the closing slide-out. Nothing happens, the slide-out just stops, but it’s confusing the first time you forget!
One of the great features about the Ultra is that all the essential electrical controls are either right by the entry door or directly above: all very handy. Outside, the middle nearside bin contains both a slide-out BBQ and a flat screen TV. Of course the latter isn’t mounted on any old swivelling arm, but a Paradise one, which is not only strong but operates very smoothly indeed.
On the subject of electrics, much of the technological sophistication of the Ultra is hidden behind the panels, but the 2 x 100 AH deep cycle batteries are backed up by a 30 A smart charger and two 150 W solar panels. A 1000 W sinewave inverter is also standard and a 2.3 kVA generator is an option, while 240 V power points are fitted in all the appropriate places and protected by an earth leakage circuit breaker. Two roof mounted Truma Aventa air conditioners keep things cool and on colder winter nights, the Eberspacher diesel-powered ducted heating system can be fired up.
It’s after the slide-outs are open that their full effect is appreciated. Inside, space is the operative word. Like many a Paradise motorhome, the front area with the swivelled seats works in conjunction with a fold out table and third matching seat to make up the dining area. Add in the sideways-facing lounge in the front part of the offside slide-out and a roomy lounge area is created. Nice touches are the wine glasses and bottle holders fitted under the table behind the passenger’s seat.
Split between the slide-outs, the main kitchen bench is on the offside but the fridge is fitted into the forward section of the nearside slide-out. That leaves space in the mid rear area for the bedroom with the expanded full width bathroom across the rear.
Whilst much of the Paradise engineering is in the hands of Colin and his sons, he wisely leaves the majority the internal design and décor to his wife, Libby, and it shows.
A very light and bright interior that really doesn’t need any space perception aids is the result of light hues and tones and plenty of window area. I particularly like the rolled timber edges on all the bench tops and overhead locker doors, as well as little touches like the partition at the rear end of the kitchen bench that reduces water splash on to the adjoining bed.
Night time really isn’t a problem either with LED fittings; both recessed and reading style abounding. All the windows are Seitz items that have integrated blinds and screens, while a recent development is the integrated concertina style blinds used around the cab, instead of stick-on screens used in previous models.
For catering, the kitchen looks deceptively small but there is, of course, a Paradise innovation to change that perception. Naturally there’s a four burner cooktop and grill, along with a stainless steel sink and drainer, while both fresh and drinking water are supplied. Instead of a conventional microwave oven, a convection oven combo is fitted underneath the grill.
Drawer space abounds with five in all, along with wire baskets in the adjoining cupboard, while in the overhead lockers specially fitted holders ensure the plates don’t rattle. Adjoining the kitchen bench, the two seat lounge back can be removed and by lifting out the panel behind, a considerably enhanced bench top area is achieved.
In a conventional motorhome, a 1.85 m x 1.5 m (6 ft 1 in x 4 ft 11 in) bed might appear to take up most of the bedroom space, but not of course here, where walk-by space is considerable even if the 150 mm (6 in) extension bolster is used. Additional to the storage space underneath the bed (which is also accessible from outside), there are small bedside cabinets, along with the usual overhead lockers.
General storage in the bedroom isn’t a problem either, with the opposite side having a huge wardrobe set into the slide-out. Having too much gear being carried might be a problem, however, I would think!
Across the rear, the bathroom has the vanity cabinet included in the nearside slide-out, which leaves space for the shower cubicle on the opposite side and the cassette toilet sitting on its own in the middle. Not only does the vanity cabinet include the usual items like wash basin, lower cupboard and mirror-door shaving cabinet, it also includes a top-loading washing machine.
Windows and a fan hatch provide ventilation, as does the toilet cassette ventilation system. Shower cubicles aren’t exactly a subject for major discussion, but Colin MacLean told me this one has been an evolving improvement over a three year period. In many ways this typifies the Paradise approach: sure there are new ideas being tested, but at the same time older designs are constantly being improved.
A sliding door with a mirror finish can close the bathroom off if required. The bathroom wall is also the mounting point for the 81 cm (32 in) flat screen TV, which can be seen easily from both the bed and the front lounge area.
The Final Word
It’s very hard not to be impressed by something like Paradise’s Inspiration Ultra. It comes with literally everything that opens and shuts, including the double slide-outs that so add to the interior living space. Naturally it all comes at a price, but if living on the road in Style is your thing – that’s style with a capital S – then to use a pun from our esteemed publisher, it’s Ultra difficult to walk past one!
- Well engineered
- Verrry spacious
- Smooth slide-outs
- Comfortable lounge
- Generous external storage
- Good kitchen drawer space
- Easy opening overhead lockers
- Very effective LED lighting
- Entry door/slide-out conflict
- Bathroom access requires slide-out extended
- I don’t own one!
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