HiHo Pinto - Away!
With an electric bed the lifts out of the way Sunliner’s Pinto 1 packs a lot in its compact body…
by Malcolm Street
Sunliner manufacturer a wide range of motorhomes and although it's in their larger rigs that many of the more interesting features appear, smaller motorhomes like the Pinto 1 have some innovative and worthwhile features too. For starters, our review Pinto is based on a Iveco Daily cab-chassis. Motorhomes 7 m (23 ft) and under are usually based on Iveco's Italian stable mate the front-wheel drive Fiat Ducato, but in this case the Pinto is also available on the rear-wheel drive Iveco (good if you want to tow - Ed).
On the driving front there isn't much difference between the vehicles, although the Daily is more truck-like in its interior and overall driving experience. Both come with 3.0-litre turbo diesels, the Ducato's having a slightly higher maximum output at 132 kW compared to the Daily's 125 kW, but both deliver a grunty 400 Nm of torque. Both come with six-speed automated manual transmissions (AMT) that exhibit the same performance, no matter which vehicle it's in.
On the road the Iveco Daily powered Pinto 1 gets along very nicely and being under 7 m (23 ft) long isn't a difficult motorhome to manoeuvre. For this weight motorhome the 125 kW engine isn't struggling and there are only the usual low rev hesitations from the otherwise smooth AMT gearbox. An appreciated feature was the interior rear view mirror fitted with a reversing camera display. Although these are sometimes a bit hard to see properly, I prefer them to one mounted above the dashboard. Only the standard Iveco radio is fitted, so anyone desiring more features and/or sound quality will need to upgrade.
Like most of the Sunliner range the Pinto 1 body is a mixture of moulded panels – mostly front and rear – and composite fibreglass for the flat walls and roof. Large Seitz-brand acrylic double-glazed windows are used and the entry door is a familiar Camec security item. The door has the usual problem of not being able to be opened too far, otherwise it catches on the opened window (or it prevents it from being opened).
External storage space is limited and apart from the gas cylinder locker there is just one bin – albeit a good size one – just aft of the passenger door. A feature that is fitted to many Sunliner motorhomes, but not by many other manufacturers, is the rear corner stabilisers. These are not a bad idea if parked up for a while, just remember not to drive off with them down! Spare wheels are sometimes located in awkward-to-get-at positions, but this one is between the corner stabilisers and isn't too bad.
Layout and Design
A feature that has been included in quite a few motorhomes of late is the elevating bed. This is where the main bed can be electrically raised/lowered and it usually has a lounge of some description underneath. Most layouts with this feature have the elevating bed in the rear, but this design has it as an east-west bed directly behind the driver's cab. That gives a very practical advantage: it can be made up from both sides, with one person standing in the cab and the other in the kitchen area. There is also another advantage here because the swivelled cab seats integrate quite easily with the sideways facing seats underneath.
The Pinto 1’s mid entry door brings you inside just to the rear of the lounge/bedroom. That leaves space for the kitchen on both sides of the centre of the motorhome and a full-width rear bathroom. It's all done in a beige and brown colour scheme that results in bright interior, but one which is a little too ‘beige-ish' for my taste.
One of the results of this elevating bed layout is that quite a spacious lounge has been achieved. With the bed raised headroom is a very respectable 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in), achieved in part by a sunken floor with steps at either end. Lighting (or lack thereof) is sometimes an issue, but a couple of new style low profile LED ceiling lights have been fitted under the bed.
Setting up the lounge is just a matter of swivelling the seats, but there's the usual fiddling around with the driver's seat due to the handbrake – a feature the Fiat Ducato does much better. There’s storage under both seats, but the kerb-side seat area is mostly taken by the external bin while the driver’s-side seat, which does offer more space, still has the house battery and the gas cylinder bin. Fitted on a Zwaardvis every-which-way-mount, the table is slightly offset to the kerb side and can be pushed out of the way if desired.
Lowering the bed is easily done by the flick of a switch, but if a lower height is preferred there's going to be a bit of fiddling around with seat backs and the table. For some reason, only a ceiling light is there for illumination and no reading lights are fitted.
In front of the bathroom the kitchen area is a bit of a mixture, with much of it devoted to cupboard space – either pantry, wardrobe, drawer or overhead lockers – so storage isn't much of an issue. There are of course a few other essentials like a Thetford Triplex cooktop/grill/oven and stainless steel sink built into the kitchen bench and on the opposite side, a Dometic 184 litre fridge with microwave oven above. While the kitchen bench does have is plenty of drawers, what is doesn't have is any bench top area.
Beside the entry door, a three quarter height cupboard does offer some useful shelf space and it also makes reaching for the various items, including the radio/CD player and the control panel above the door quite easy. Nothing quite like centrally located and easy to get at electrics.
In the rear the bathroom has the reverse of what many an RV layout offers, with the shower cubicle in the driver’s side corner and the Thetford cassette toilet in the opposite corner. That leaves room for a centrally located vanity cabinet with wash basin plus upper and lower cupboards. The rear wall window provides light and ventilation, which means the kerb-side wall above the loo is where you’ll find the mirror.
What I Think
In many ways an elevating bed replaces the over-cab (Luton) bed of traditional C-class motorhome designs. A disadvantage of the Luton bed that many struggle with is clambering up and down via a narrow and often wobbly ladder.
The elevating bed in the Pinto 1 solves that problem and also ends up providing a good sized lounge/dinette area. But given the full sized rear bathroom there are a few compromises in the kitchen department. If happy with that it might be time to take a punt on a Pinto!
- Spacious front lounge area
- Easy bed access
- Motorhome (not cab) sound system
- Rear view camera
- Easy reach electrical control panel
- Bland interior colours
- No bed reading lights
- Limited under-seat storage
- Minimal kitchen bench top
Australian Motor Homes
31 Pacific Highway
Bennetts Green NSW 2290
Ph: (02) 4948 0433
Click HERE to visit the Sunliner website.
Click below to download a PDF of the full test, including specifications, photos and contact details.
Sunliner Pinto 1 (1276 KB)
Sunliner Pinto 1 (1276 KB)