It’s always a pleasure to catch up with the Coastal Motorhome’s team at shows and to see the changes that each year brings to the business run by this enterprising family. This time our meeting was tinged with sadness as we acknowledged the passing of the family matriarch, Gayle, who – with husband Mike – founded the Whakatane business in 2001.
But as always with this resilient family there is also much to celebrate, and on this occasion it was the launch of their latest custom-built motorhome, the 115th since their build-to-order side of the business began. As well, over the two decades since they embarked on this type of construction the company has used the same dedicated Taupō-based craftsman builder.
The finish of these Coastal custom builds has always been exceptional, as evidenced by the fact that loyal owners have formed a club. Their catch-ups are legendary. Quite by chance, one late November a few years back I booked in to Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park at the same time as the Coastal rally was getting underway. At check in, recognising the distinctive livery of one of the vehicles in the line-up, I spoke to the first of the happy owners and met many more during the next few days at lovely Ohiwa.
When it comes to ordering a custom build from a reputable supplier, the oft-repeated saying, ‘You get what you pays for’, is never more apt. In the case of a Coastal custom build, you ‘get’ a quality motorhome, built by a craftsman entirely to your specifications. The vehicle under review does not deviate from that well-worn path in any aspect, except that in this instance the owners left much of the interior design up to second-generation overseer Paul Farrell to complete.
From the outset Mike’s son Paul, who with his sister Toni is now integral to Coastal’s ongoing success, had a vision for state-of-the-art motorhomes that would not only reflect the company’s values, but also the colours of the New Zealand coast. It’s the first thing you notice when you climb into the imposing vehicle and cast your eyes over the light, fresh interior which is reminiscent of a high-end bach.
You will not be surprised to find that it is not only incredibly contemporary to look at, but the vehicle also sports an up-to-the-minute electronic package that includes a B-Tech lithium battery management system that can be run from your smart phone – lithium batteries are, of course, much lighter than their dinosaur-like predecessors. When this system is installed in your motorhome, you can simply download the app to your phone, and from this point, battery monitoring is at your fingertips – wherever you are.
This system is highly sophisticated and – to my knowledge – its installation in this Coastal build is a first for a New Zealand motorhome. So how is this combination an advantage to the consumer? Quite simply, by monitoring and optimising the cells of your battery under normal use, you can prevent and protect it from damage caused by overcharging, temperature or short-circuits.
I am no scientist and I had to look up the online brochure to find the correct way to convey this wizardry to you. But it seems to me that if the consumer was clever enough to understand the technology, they’d be smart enough to use it. That’s my theory anyway. And both Paul and Toni were kind enough to patiently show me how it worked by running a series of manoeuvres through their phones.
Even though I failed to see myself checking on the welfare of my battery cells on more than a daily basis, I deduced that it would be a highly desirable item for a techie-type to have in his or her motorhome. Nor does the new technology fun stop there, folks. Oh no. All electrics, including LED lights, also use a remote-management system, so when you tire of checking in with your battery cells, you could turn the lights on and off willy-nilly. This seemed to me to be a lot more fun and something I could really throw myself into.
The use of industry-leading installations by a small company like Coastal is impressive. It’s a strong indication that this is a family which will not be left behind when it comes to innovations. But nor will they sacrifice quality along the way. Everything inside this vehicle is evidence of its craftsman-like finish – from the rose-wood highlights, to the heritage stone-composite sink, to the contrasting stitched soft-fabric upholstery throughout. This is without question a quality build.
I particularly loved some of the small details like the recessed range-hood – rare in a motorhome these days – and the purpose-built glass holders in the wine cupboard. It’s the small things like the functional, ergonomic, but deliciously elegant entry-door wooden hand rail that set a vehicle apart.
The finish throughout this one is fantastic. I really loved the fit out of the ensuite bathroom, the memory foam mattress on the queen-sized bed, the galley as a whole and the absolute luxury of the lounge. All clearly high end, yet still warmly inviting. The whole of this classy custom build has that relaxed appeal you would hope to achieve in your bach; a place where guests could really put their feet up, while the owner revels in the secure knowledge that the integrity is there in the construction.
So, apart from the quality fittings and the use of excellent brands throughout, there is the all-important Mercedes-Benz base vehicle with a 142kW, 3-litre V6 engine under the bonnet. Apparently this is such a smooth ride that Paul and Mike fought over who was going to get to drive it to the Covi Supershow in Auckland.
In my dreams I would get to not only drive, but one day also own a custom-built vehicle not unlike this. Don’t forget to cross your fingers and toes for me.
Coastal Grandelier 2018 Custom Build – This model $282,000 with customisations.
- Vehicle: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 519 Seven-Speed Auto 142kW
- Berths: 4 – main is queen, guest is double
- Length: 8.2m
- Width: 2.35m
- Height: 3.2m
- Weight: 4250kg
- Payload: 1050kg
- Fresh Water: 235L
- Grey Water: 235L
- Black Tank: 120L
- Battery: Lithium 125Ah
- Solar: 450W
- Heating: Diesel 4kW