Sunliner Monte Carlo

Sunliner Monte Carlo

Published 16 February 2013 |

MONTE CARLO MUSINGS

Sunliner’s range-topping Monte Carlo offers a wide range of choices for the well heeled buyer... 


by Malcolm Street.

Within the motorhome range of Melbourne-based manufacturer Sunliner there is a considerable variety of motorhome layouts and designs; everything from the Toyota Hilux-based PRV to the range-topping luxury Monte Carlo. And even the latter offers a choice of base vehicles and slide-out positions, plus some have drop-down electrically-operated beds. 

The Vehicle

For Monte Carlo motorhomes there are three base vehicle choices: Isuzu, Mitsubishi Fuso and Iveco Daily. Our review Monte Carlo, the M71 variant, came with an Iveco Daily 70C17 cab chassis. From a motorhome point of view the Iveco comes with an advantage the other two do not – a flat floor design, which means that driver’s cab swivelling seat feature can be utilised. 

Built using Sunliner’s fibreglass composite “Thermo Tough” structure with nicely moulded front and rear ends, this motorhome offer a single slide-out behind the driver’s cab. Of interest are the roof mounted side bars, presumably included for aesthetic reasons. Seitz double glazed acrylic windows are fitted all round, including an opening one above the driver’s cab: good for both natural light and a bit of air flow when driving

With alfresco living very much in mind, one of the Monte Carlo’s many deluxe features is a fully equipped outdoor slide-out kitchen. Done camper trailer style, it includes a two-burner cooktop, sink with hot and cold water and a small wine bottle fridge – all the essentials for relaxing under the awning on a warm balmy night.

In addition to the external kitchen bins there is plenty of other external storage, even though some bins are dedicated to a pair of 150 amp hour house batteries, 3 gas cylinders of 4 kg capacity each, the Thetford cassette toilet and a 2.3 kVA generator. With the slide out extended the gas cylinders and generator bins do require some crouching down to get to. Although there are plenty of storage bins, none are large enough for something like golf clubs. On weighty matters, this motorhome has a load capacity of 1500 kg which is extremely generous but could lead to the temptation of carrying too much unnecessary gear.

On the Road

At nearly 9.5 m (31 ft) the Monte Carlo M71 is indeed a long vehicle, but certainly not a difficult one to drive. Remembering the length when going around corners and overtaking is definitely essential, but the Iveco-powered motorhome is quite a pleasure to navigate across country, thanks to its 3.0-litre 130 kW turbo-diesel motor. Useful are both the large rear view mirrors and the reversing camera, which is built into the non-Iveco radio/CD player. 

Driving along, the Iveco’s six-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) feels smoother than the same transmission in other Iveco-based motorhomes and I think it’s because of the Monte Carlo’s extra weight. Speaking of that very matter, the M71 has a tare weight of nearly 5495 kg and a GVM of 7000 kg, putting it into the Light Rigid truck category of driver’s licence. Some potential owners get into a bit of a tail spin about that but obtaining an LR licence isn’t that traumatic or difficult and does mean a greater choice in motorhome layouts. 

Living Inside

Stepping inside the Monte Carlo reveals considerable space that is effectively divided in two: the front being living/dining and the rear being living/sleeping/bathroom. I can’t say that the interior colour scheme did a great deal for me – there was a bit too much beige and the overall effect of the internal décor was a bit retro, but to each their own.

In some ways the M71 layout looks familiar. In the front area the kitchen bench fills the nearside wall, next to the entry door. On the opposite side the slide-out has both an L-shaped lounge and the 215-litre fridge. In the cab area, both seats swivel and the area above the cab has been nicely opened up with alcoves on either side and the roof window. Back in the rear, the drop-down bed occupies centre stage, with a TV viewing area underneath, whilst a full width bathroom entered from the offside sits across the back of the vehicle.  

LED lights are used throughout the Monte Carlo and are generally well placed, except for the drop-down bed where there are no reading lights and just recessed lights on either side, mid bed. All the 12V switches, along with a radio/CD player, are located on a panel above the entry door. Other essentials like the solar panel regulator, generator controls and 240 volt mains circuit breakers are fitted into an overhead locker above the kitchen bench. This leaves items like the awning and slide-out switches, Webasto space heater and Truma hot water controls handily located on the wall beside the entry door.

Lounging Around

Having a drop down bed in a largish motorhome is certainly a bit of thinking outside the square, because they are mostly used for space conservation in smaller motorhomes. In this case it gives two quite separate lounge areas and a considerable amount of sitting-around area. 

Opposite the kitchen, the L-shaped dinette offers a good size table, which can be moved backwards and forwards for ease of access. The dinette orientation is an interesting compromise: It’s okay for easy access to the adjoining fridge and for viewing one of the two flat-screen TVs (mounted on the bedroom wall). However, it doesn’t work so well with the swivelling cab seats (particularly the driver’s) should visitors come by, when the whole seating arrangement becomes a bit awkward. 

For television viewing in the rear (beneath the bed when it’s raised) there’s a comfortable two person lounge facing an 81 cm (32 in) wall-mounted flat screen TV in an area set up to be a small home theatre, right down to the cupboard under the TV for the DVD collection!

Time to Eat

In just about all the Monte Carlo designs the same L-shaped kitchen design is used. It looks relatively small but really isn’t. Like a few other things in the Monte Carlo it too has a little surprise. Standard are the Thetford three-burner cooktop and grill/oven, stainless steel sink, two overhead lockers and three drawers of different sizes. Located in the overhead locker area above the sink, the microwave oven is set quite high at 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in) and is a tad awkward to get at. 

Below bench level, what appears to be a cupboard isn't. Instead, the cupboard door opens to reveal three wire basket drawers, but push the button tucked into the corner and the entire end of the bench facing the entry door slides out to reveal two large wire basket shelves! It’s a novel idea and the locking mechanism is somewhat like that of bonnet catch of a car. I’d suggest the wire baskets would have to be packed quite tightly or with a few towels to avoid anything rattling around too much. A full height pantry sits at the rear end of the kitchen bench and offers plentiful space for a few week’s worth of supplies.

Not exactly a kitchen item and more usually found in an RV bathroom is the Lemair top-loading washing machine, hidden in the waist-high cabinet between the living and bedroom areas. 

After Hours

Having a drop down bed changes the bedroom area from the more normal arrangement. Measuring 1.9 m x 1.37 m (6 ft 3 in x 4 ft 6 in), the bed is set in a north-south arrangement with walkways on either side. It can be lowered by the flick of a switch but only down to a height that still requires a small jump to get into. There are no bedside shelves or alcoves of any sort, however between the rear bedroom wall and the bathroom, there’s a small multi-shelved area squeezed into the nearside space and a full height cupboard on the opposite side. A neat little idea is the strip lighting used in the aforementioned rear corner multi-shelved area, which saves peering into dark corners.

Being slightly narrower than usual, the bathroom does look a bit squeezed, but the shower cubicle is quite spacious and there is certainly room for the cassette toilet, wash basin, a full-height bank of shelves and a multi-shelved cupboard in the offside corner: the door of the latter doubling as a bathroom door if required.

What we Think

Sunliner’s Monte Carlo range is certainly very well appointed, if the M71 model I looked at is any guide. It doesn’t want for much in the luxury department and the slide-out offers generous living space in the front area. I’d have say that this particular layout, with the drop down bed/home theatre set up, would not be my first choice, but for anyone looking for a layout that is a bit different then the M71 is certainly it!

Pros

  • Relatively easy driving despite length
  • Well set-up electrical system
  • Classy looking exterior
  • Generous window space
  • Kitchen cabinet trickery
  • Interior usable with slide-out closed

Cons

  • Microwave in very high position
  • External bin size not particularly large
  • Internal colour scheme
  • Swivelling driver’s seat a bit of a fiddle


Click HERE to visit the Sunliner website.

Click below to download a PDF of the full test, including specifications, photos and contact details.

iMotorhome Roadtest - Sunliner Monte Carlo - 2013 iMotorhome Roadtest - Sunliner Monte Carlo - 2013 (1866 KB)
Sampling Sunliner's most expensive real estate...



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