Sunliner’s snappy Holiday G53 is stylish C-Class motorhome ideal for roaming…
By Richard Robertson
In October last year Malcolm Street reviewed a Sunliner Holiday G53 on an Iveco chassis and came away a little underwhelmed. He summed up by saying, “In a way the Sunliner Holiday looks a little downmarket from the usual Sunliner products.”
Sunliner’s Holiday range comes in 11 base layouts and more than 100 floorplan options. Lengths range from 7.3 to 8.2 m and depending on your choice a range of base vehicles are offered (although not every vehicle for every layout): Ford’s Transit, Fiat’s Ducato, Iveco’s Daily and Mercedes’ Sprinter.
Two finish levels are also offered – Classic and Modern – with the latter being the finish of Malcolm’s test vehicle. Modern equates to cool and minimalist and is aimed at a younger market, while Classic is warmer, more ‘traditional’ and suits most of us oldies better. But wait, there’s more! Both Classic and Modern finishes are offered with an optional First Class pack that adds a range of options like leather upholstery, designer fabrics and much more. On top of that you can also choose three equipment specification levels for each vehicle. Confused? You’re not alone…
As near as I can make out the subject of this review is a Classic-finished, specification-three, Holiday G53 on Fiat’s popular Ducato cab-chassis. It’s 7.3 m long, 3.4 m tall and in may ways appears chalk-and-cheese with Malcolm’s test vehicle. Apart from looking better from the outside (in my opinion), it looked and felt quite plush inside, with curved overhead cabinetry and warm timber tones.
The Specification Three pack ads niceties like cabin floor carpet, an upgraded 56 cm (22 in) LED TV/DVD, a second 100-amp house battery, 135 watt solar panel, ceramic Thetford toilet, Truma gas/electric hot water system, upgraded Air Command Ibis airconditioner, 1000 watt sine-wave inverter, diesel heater, electric awning (although not in this case), electric step, 9 kg gas bottles, external speakers and an illuminated entry door grab handle.
The Ducato is purpose built as a motorhome base vehicle and is available as a complete Factory cab-chassis (as used here) or a cab-only, to which an aftermarket ALKO chassis is bolted on. Each has its advantages and the most noticeable difference is a lower floor and entry step height for the ALKO option, but it’s dearer (I believe). The Fiat Factory cab-chassis requires fitment of an under-body entry step but helps keep the price down, and both benefit from the Ducato’s wider track and significantly greater standard fuel capacity, compared to its rivals.
The test G53 featured Fiat’s 180 Multijet engine, which is a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel that produces 115 kW (180 hp) and 400 Nm. It drives the front wheels through 6-speed automated manual transmission (AMT), which is essentially a manual gearbox with an external computer control module that handles the clutch and gear changes for you. In Fiat speak it’s called “Comfort-Matic” and is marketed by motorhome manufacturers as an automatic.
Front suspension is independent while at the rear conventional leaf springs and a simple beam axle take care of the load. Being front-wheel drive there is no long driveshaft or big/heavy rear differential, so this not only makes the vehicle lighter, it helps keep the Factory chassis height as low as possible and prides extra room for motorhome manufactures to fit water tanks and other under-floor items.
Inside, the Ducato is very much a drivers’ machine and the cab styling and ergonomics are a far cry from some of its competitors. Remote central locking, power steering, electric windows and side mirrors, a trip computer, cab airconditioning, cruise control and a sophisticated sound system with integrated Bluetooth are all standard – along with a removable TomTom satnav system. On the safety front dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and range of other electric aides are all on hand to look after you.
Depending on your driving style and touring speeds you could realistically expect to see 10-12 L/100 km (28-23 mpg) fuel consumption for the Holiday G53 – not bad for a motorhome with a gross weight of 4490 kg. With a standard 120 L fuel tank it makes for easy long distance cruising, with the added ability of often being able to wait for better fuel prices in cities or larger towns.
As expected the Ducato/Holiday combination drives nicely, with plenty of power from the biggest engine in the Fiat range and easy, confident handling. Visibility is good, the vehicle rides well and interior noise levels are low, especially when cruising, thanks to the Ducato’s top gear that sees the engine turning about 2000 rpm at freeway speeds.
Rather than reinvent the wheel I’ve mostly borrowed from Malcolm’s test for this section: For the body, Sunliner use one-piece walls and a roof that uses a bonded Duplo foam-core structure that is designed to give insulation and strength, whilst keeping weight in check. Those familiar with Sunliner motorhomes will immediately recognise the characteristic fibreglass mouldings at the rear, as well as the driver’s cab side-steps.
Sunliner uses Seitz hopper windows to full advantage, whilst staying with the convenience of a Camec triple-lock security door. An item of interest here is the door and forward window. Given their proximity, it’s not possible to have both the door and window fully open at the same time, but what Sunliner has done is fitted a simple hook-and-eye, such that the door is held open at 90 degrees to the motorhome body. Now this might sound like the bleeding obvious, but it’s surprising the number of Recreational Vehicle manufacturers that don’t provide this simple arrangement!
External body fittings consist of the nearside-wall-fitted Dometic wind-out awning and external wall light above the door, whilst the roof features a few items like a windup TV antenna and airconditioner. External storage, apart from the Thetford toilet cassette compartment and the gas cylinder bin, consists of the under-bed area that can be accessed from both the offside door and from the inside, by lifting the bed. It’s certainly a convenient arrangement, but can be a problem in very dusty conditions. Hoses and the like should certainly be kept in drip-proof containers, while under the bed are the batteries, battery charger, inverter and hot water system, all of which are really only accessible from inside.
Out of sight under the rear are corner stabilisers which are a standard Sunliner feature. Whilst most caravans have them, most motorhomes do not. They’re not essential, but it’s surprising how much rock n’ roll a heavy footed person going out the door can create, not to mention anything else!
All that built into the Holiday gives it a tare weight of 3640 kg. Given the Holiday’s gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4490 kg, it certainly leaves a more-than-adequate payload capacity.
The Holiday G53 is a four seat/four berth motorhome probably best suited to couples and maybe an occasional grandchild (or two). The entry door is about halfway along the kerb side of the vehicle and when you step inside the kitchen is immediately to your left, while opposite is the dinette. Up front, both cab seats swivel and there is a secondary bed in the smallish over-cab roof moulding.
Turning right from the entry door a tall central unit houses the fridge and microwave and serves as something of a divider for the main bedroom, which has an east-west bed mounted off the driver’s side wall and a walk-around space at the foot that leads to the full-width rear bathroom.
All main switches and electrical controls are grouped above the entry door, along with the standard Radio/CD sound system (and TV aerial winder in the ceiling). Whilst this is certainly convenient it can be a stretch for shorter people, especially the TV aerial winder. LED lighting seems to be the predominant lighting type.
Wedged between the entry door and front cab is the main part of the rather compact kitchen. Well equipped, it lacks any bench space other than glass lid over the cooker or the sink’s draining board. Fortunately, the dinette is immediately behind you when working in the kitchen and it would need to be used for any substantial food preparation. The fridge and microwave are also across the aisle, between the dinette and bedroom.
Standard appliances comprise a Thetford 3-burner gas cooker with grill and oven, rangehood, single-bowl stainless steel sink with drainer and flick-mixer tap, two-door 175 L fridge/freezer and a microwave. There’s decent kitchen storage space, with three drawers beneath the sink and one below the cooker, plus the usual run of overhead cupboards.
Of particular interest to Mrs iMotorhome was the cooker’s large wok burner. Located by itself on the left side of the cooktop, it’s a nice inclusion for those fond of fast-and-furious Asian-style cooking.
Drinks and Dinner
Sundowners for six is certainly doable, but with four people sitting at the cafe-style dinette and two in the swivelled cab seats, the arrangement would be a bit awkward. Still, the dinette has seat belts for two, and four people travelling together could spread themselves out a bit, especially as the cab seats make comfortable after-hours reading chairs.
The dinette itself is quite spacious and the table is a good size, while right beside it is a large picture window for making the most of the view. Indeed, the whole vehicle has a spacious and airy feel thanks largely to generous window sizing. Storage space is good too, with space under the seats as well as three overhead cupboards.
One part of the Holiday G53’s open and airy feel is no doubt due to the unusual bathroom design. Situated full-width across the rear, the bathroom has a novel/unusual/interesting two-panel “moving wall” arrangement instead of a normal door. Let me explain (or just look at the photos)…
The sizeable shower cubicle is in the driver’s side rear corner of the Holiday and between it and the bedroom is a fixed timber-finish panel. Beside it is a sliding door the same size and finish that can be left retracted for maximum ‘openness,’ which allows you to look out the window in the bathroom’s rear wall, or slid shut to close off two thirds of the bathroom. The final piece of the puzzle is a concertina fabric door that extends from a kerbside-wall recess and joins up with the sliding solid panel, to provide total privacy.
The trouble is I’m not sure it’s all more than a rather complex gimmick. You see the toilet pedestal is in the opposite corner to the shower cubicle, and in full view when any of the doors are open. So to use the loo you need to close everything up. Which could get a bit tedious on a regular basis. On the other hand, it does open up the vehicle during the day and certainly ads to a feeing of spaciousness. Horses for courses, I guess.
Otherwise, the bathroom is nicely appointed, with a small hand basin and cupboard unit beneath the bathroom window and a mirrored medicine cabinet above it. The shower cubicle has a three-panel sliding glass door, while inside is a height-adjustable domestic style chrome shower and tap unit. There is also a cup and toothbrush holder above the sink, between the window and shower door, and a large wall mirror above the toilet cistern.
Let me quote Malcolm again. “In the rear the east-west bed, with its head against the offside wall, takes up a fair bit of space. Featuring a posture slat bed-base with inner spring mattress, the bed measures 1.75 m x 1.37 m (5 ft 9 in x 4 ft 6 in) unextended and 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in) extended. Although the longer length will be adequate for most people, it does cut down the walkway space considerably, while large windows on both sides ensure good cross flow ventilation.”
“Up front ,the Luton bed, measuring 1.93 m x 0.97 m (6 ft 4 in x 3 ft 2 in) is certainly only for smaller couples or a single sleeper as it’s not particularly wide, but does offer a large general storage area. To give easier internal access to and from the front seats, the Luton bed can be lifted up out of the way if not needed.”
The main bed lifts to access storage, as mentioned earlier, while above the main bed head is a pair cupboards above the window, and unlike Malcolm’s test vehicle from last year, this one has bed reading lights (as well as dinette reading lights). Between the entry door and the foot of the main bed is a tall wardrobe unit that helps provide a modicum of privacy from guests prying eyes. The wardrobe has a swivel TV mount on it and television viewing appears best done from bed, although it could be seen from the dinette as well. Unfortunately, no TV was fitted to the test vehicle, so I couldn’t check it out.
Our test vehicle had a bare mattress and we took our Duvalay’s along to show how it would look made up. The trouble was the mattress sat on a metal base, which it dutifully slide off at every corner and other opportunity.
Mrs iMotorhome and I found the Sunliner Holiday G53 quite appealing. It’s a modern, good looking motorhome that provides decent living space, and in Specification Level Three comes with most of the goodies you could ask for.
The bed is best suited to shorter folks who could leave it unextended, but I’d just leave it fully made up and squeeze past as required. The bathroom wall/door arrangement is a matter for personal taste, but overall this is a well appointed motorhome that could certainly keep a couple happily touring for years.
Finish aside, I think Fiat’s Ducato is a better choice than the Iveco for most people as it’s more car like, comfortable and just plain nicer to drive. Fancy a roamin’ Holiday? Best check it out…
- Easy driving
- Car licence
- Well equipped
- Nice finish
- Spacious feel
- Looks good
- Small kitchen
- Bed extension fiddly
- Limited external storage
Click HERE to visit the Sunliner website.
Click below to download a PDF of the full test, including specifications, photos and contact details.