HI HO PINTO!
There’s much to like in Sunliner’s surprising Pinto 3...
by Malcolm Street
Sunliner builds a wide range of motorhomes – something for everyone – but the Pinto 3 comes with a couple of features that might well attract several classes of buyers.
Built very much in the Sunliner style, the Pinto 3 is built on a Fiat Ducato cab with a Fiat chassis, not the Al-Ko chassis sometimes used to increase the load capacity, so its GVM comes in at 4005 kg. Having a tare weight of 3400 kg gives it plenty of storage capacity, however, even with the lower-rated chassis. Onto the Fiat chassis, Sunliner fit a welded steel sub-chassis; the idea being that there is then a better weight distribution to the main chassis.
Fibreglass composite panels which have a Poplar cross-ply/Duplo Foam core are used for the main body work, with fibreglass mouldings for the front nose cone and the mouldings at the rear. In both cases, although the front has a streamlining function, they are also decorative in taking away the boxy look that some motorhomes have. Apart from the offside bins for the gas cylinders and toilet cassette, the Pinto really only has one external bin – mid nearside – and it should hold all the essentials like hoses and power leads and maybe a couple of camping chairs
Like many a manufacturer, Sunliner fit Dometic Seitz hopper windows. Large and double glazed, they perform the multiple functions of keeping heat in or out depending on the season, as well as supplying plenty of natural light and fresh air.
On the Road
It’s been mentioned before in these pages, but for some reason Fiat has chosen to only supply motorhome manufacturers with the most powerful Ducato engine – the 3.0-litre 132 kW/400 Nm, turbo-diesel. In my view this is something of an advantage, particularly with larger motorhomes.
In the case of this Pinto, the 132 kW engine is well suited and powers the motorhome along quite well. Like most motorhomes these days, the Pinto comes with an auto gearbox, or more correctly, the Fiat six-speed automated manual transmission (AMT).
Like any motorhome, there are a few rattles when driving along but nothing out of the ordinary and nothing a towel in the right place wouldn’t fix. The cab is comfortable and nicely fitted out and the Fiat is always an enjoyable vehicle to drive.
Stepping inside the Pinto reveals quite an interesting and flexible layout. Centre stage, literally and figuratively, is the electric bed. I am never sure of the correct term for these because they are actually a double bed that can be raised and lowered electrically, but the shorthand version is just electric, which might be very confusing to a poor speaker of English. But I’ve digressed.
The bed is located directly behind the driver’s cab. Although the electrically operated bed has by now been used in quite a few motorhome designs, mostly it’s been at the rear, with a club lounge underneath.
This arrangement has a day set-up with two sideways facing lounges behind the driver’s cab. Both cabs seats swivel around, thus giving quite a spacious sort of lounge area. With the bed fully raised, the ceiling height is a respectable 1.87 m (6 ft 1.5 in) – a little lower than the rear area at 2.06 m (6 ft 9 in) but still functional. That height is achieved in part by have a slightly lower floor level under the bed area but I stumbled over the small step twice in my short time in residence and I wondered if a sloped floor was a possibility?
Between the sideways facing lounges, the moderately ed table is mounted on an every-which-way mounting; not the Rolls Royce of table mounts, a Zwaardvis, but still something that worked quite well.
By night, the 1.85 m x 1.37 m (6 ft 1 in x 4 ft 6 in) bed can be lowered into position with a flick of a switch. It lowers down to about seat cushion level but it’s major advantage, no doubt, is that is can be left made up, so there is no fiddling around when bed time comes. Bed reading lights always seem to be a bit of a challenge with electric beds – never quite sure why – and in this case there are ceiling mounted lights but centrally rather than to one side. Bed readers might like to consider taking an LED reading light with them or maybe a Kindle with reading light fitted or maybe, for the sophisticated, an iPad!
Time to Eat
The Pinto 3’s nearside kitchen bench gives the appearance of being quite small, but is actually larger than it looks. It does have a stainless steel sink and drainer, also a three burner cooktop and grill/oven. One thing that Sunliner has done to improve things is to fit four drawers instead of cupboards, plus a wire basket slide-out pantry. Normally there isn’t a drawer under the sink but what some clever person has done is fit a whole drawer frame but only have half a drawer for cutlery, thus ensuring it fits neatly under the sink unit. Also, all the drawers have full metal runners. Above the kitchen bench, the overhead lockers have the interesting feature of aluminium frames rather than the more usual timber.
On the opposite side of the Pinto 3 are a couple of other kitchen essentials, a 3-way 190-litre Dometic fridge, with a microwave oven above. In short, the kitchen area is quite compact, but still very functional.
Fitted into the rear offside corner, the bathroom is a bit like the kitchen: larger than it looks and with enough room for a circular shower, Thetford cassette toilet, small wash basin and both upper and lower cupboard space. Not quite enough room to swing a cat (kitten perhaps? - Ed), but still very usable. Ventilation is handled by both a ceiling hatch and a largish window in the rear wall. Not square or rectangular in shape, the bathroom is an interesting take on what can be achieved by stepping out of the box, so to speak!
Bits and Pieces
Internal storage is surprisingly good with a full height wardrobe next to the fridge and a multi-shelf cupboard filling the rear wall area not taken by the bathroom. That’s definitely a good idea because there are normally overhead lockers fitted above the lounge seats, which in this case really isn’t practical.
One area the Sunliner do very well usually is their electrical controls - in this case located above the doorway, along with the radio/CD player and easily reachable.
What we Think
Having a bed that can be raised and lowered (electrically) might not suit everybody, but I would have to say that this layout certainly ticks a few boxes for those who desire a permanent bed (one that does not have to be made up every night), but don’t necessarily want a large motorhome. The Pinto 3 certainly offers a different layout to what is most commonly available and is a nice step away from a full width rear bathroom, yet still offering all the essential features.
- Bed can be left made-up
- Good size bathroom
- Plenty of internal storage
- Window area on both sides of lounge area
- Plenty of 'day' living area
- Beige/brown colour scheme didn’t do a lot for me
- No bed reading lights
- Floor step just enough to trip over
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