A SLIDE OF THE TIMES!
There’s spacious living aplenty in Wirraway’s capacious 260 SL...
by Malcolm Street
In the world of motorhome manufacturers there are a number of smaller builders who turn out a well designed boutique product, but prefer to keep their manufacturing output at a controlled and manageable level.
A good example is Wirraway Motorhomes, based in beautiful Mildura on the mighty Murray River, in the far northwestern corner of Victoria. Under the ownership of Rob Tonkin the company has found a successful niche in the motorhome market for which it mostly builds a small range of B-class motorhomes: the ‘260s’. For this review I am going to take a look at the 260 SL model: that being a 260 with a slide-out.
Like all the Wirraway range the 260 SL is based on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter 516 CDI cab-chassis, which comes with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 5250 kg. It should be noted that this is above the normal 5000 kg specification for a Benz and also, being above 4500 kg it requires an Light Rigid (LR) truck licence to drive it. A point of note is that the tare weight of 4230 kg gives the 260 SL a very good load capacity.
Construction wise, the 260 SL has a frame built from RHS aluminium that supports a 12 mm plywood floor. Composite styrofoam/fibreglass vacuum sealed panels form-up the wall structure, which includes Seitz double glazed hopper windows and a Dometic style door with opening top-half window. Also included, of course, is the slide-out that takes up more than two thirds of the offside wall. It's driven by a heavy-duty electric motor that can be overridden by manual operation if needed. Two-pack epoxy paint is used on the entire body structure.
A standout feature of any Wirraway motorhome is its external storage. Instead of being conventional bins, most are drawer based, with some having a dust sealing lid – and all can be locked and unlocked remotely!
The external bin setup is a little different to the usual arrangement, but does mean minimal bending over for everything, including the gas cylinder bin and the storage for the 2 kVA generator. A slight problem with the offside bins, except for the one immediately under the bed, is that they are not readily accessible with the slide-out open. Selective packing is clearly called for.
However, on the nearside it also means a convenient table top for the adjoining slide-out BBQ. The BBQ is in the rear bin, alongside an automatic hose rewinder with a food grade hose and pressure delivery that allows for washing the motorhome or pumping water to or from another source, even a river. One of the advantages of the BBQ’s location is that the top-hinged bin-lid prevents BBQ spatter and fumes from staining the side of the motorhome.
On the Road
Having driven the 516 with its 120 kW / 360 Nm turbo diesel motor, I have to say that it does not lack in the motive power department. Undoubtedly the feature that makes the Benz stand out amongst its competitors is the super smooth five speed auto gearbox that kicks up and down through the gears on demand. Given its length of 7.9 m/26 ft, the 260 SL isn't a particularly demanding vehicle to drive and certainly does not show any quirks when rolling along. For those who like a little more grunt underfoot the option is the 519 CDI, with its 140 kW V6 turbo diesel and seven speed auto.
For the fit out of the 260 SL, Tasmanian Myrtle timber or laminate is used for all the interior cabinetry work and the end result is very pleasing to the eye. Large roof hatches, generous window space and a glossy white ceiling all contribute to a light, bright interior.
That increases greatly, of course, when the slide-out is opened. Built into the slide-out from front to rear are a sideways facing lounge, fridge with microwave oven above and an east-west queen-sized bed. Across the rear of the motorhome is a full width bathroom and the kitchen fills the front nearside wall area. Both driver and passenger seats swivel around and together with a removable table and the side lounge, they form up a neat dining/lounging area.
Up front, it's quite easy getting in and out of the swivelled seats. Above the front seats the cab is fully opened up, but there are small cabinets on either side plus the trademark Wirraway clock in the middle. In conjunction with the sideways facing lounge, two tables are supplied: one square, for normal eating and the other, an hour glass shape for nibblies and drinks. Both tables can be stored behind the lounge seat. An additional feature behind the passenger seat is a small cabinet that can also be used for drinks or for a small laptop computer. For TV viewers, a flat screen TV is mounted on the mid nearside wall, thus able to be seen from either the seating area or the bed without too much difficulty
Time to Eat
Looking surprisingly small, but not really, is the kitchen bench. It comes with a Stoves-brand four burner cooktop, grill and oven, along with a stainless steel sink, sans drainer. Eight good sized drawers make up the storage, along with three overhead lockers. About the only thing not in abundance is much bench top area. A nice little addition in the adjoining overhead lockers in the bedroom area is the LED-lit wine glass storage. Apart from being practical it adds a touch of class. As noted previously, the fridge and microwave oven are located on the opposite side.
A fair bit of space is taken up by the bed, but it does have the full kit in terms of a bed head with overhead lockers, side wardrobes and bedside cabinets; nicely split to give a decent shelf area beside the bed. Two large drawers are fitted under the bed and that is in addition to the larger external drawer. In the nearside rear corner, a small cupboard fills a better function as a full length wall mirror. One of the assets of having the bed in the slide-out is that there is certainly plenty of walk around room.
Quite common in British/European caravans and motorhomes is the circular shower cubicle that is fitted into the nearside corner of the bathroom. A concertina curtain can be used for privacy to close off the bathroom from the rest of the motorhome. Fitting into the rest of the bathroom is a Thetford ceramic cassette toilet and a small vanity area that includes a very contemporary looking blue wash basin above the bench. Venting is carried out by the fan hatch above the shower but there isn't one above the loo; a large window in the rear wall helps in this regard. Mirrored doors are fitted to all the overhead lockers but they are all non-angled, which makes them awkward for shorter persons.
In motorhomes of the Wirraway’s calibre the electrics are always going to be quite sophisticated. A control panel is located above the entry door, along with the hot water switch and Winegard TV antenna controls. In addition, the timber panel beside the door has a few other essentials like the slide-out switch, electric awning switch and both a 240V and 12V socket.
All the lighting is energy efficient LEDs. Keeping the two 120 AH house batteries charged up are a 25 A smart charger, the vehicle alternator and 80 W solar panel. The latter might seem to have a low rating but the fridge is a three way unit and extra panels can be added. Controlling all those items – in addition to security lighting, event timing and automatic filling of the drinking water tank – is an EC325 control panel and accompanying power supply. Being microprocessor controlled, it’s a case of set and forget if desired, but tech heads can certainly have a fiddle!
The Bottom Line
As might be noticed, the Wirraway 260 SL is a motorhome packed with features. Given the large offside slide-out, the accent inside is very much on spacious living. That of course is accompanied by just about every feature available for comfortable and stylish motorhome travel, and there are few manufacturers with such a loyal and enthusiastic band of owners. That in itself should tell you everything.
- Spacious interior
- Mercedes Benz cab-chassis
- Well laid out front cab area when seats swivelled
- Different table combinations
- Bedroom cabinet layout
- Water tank/hose setup
- BBQ arrangement
- Storage bins under open slide-out
- Small water capacity
- Only one bathroom exhaust fan
- One external wall light
Click HERE to visit the Wirraway website.
Click below to download a PDF of the full test, including specifications, photos and contact details.