New-model caravans and fifth-wheelers are appearing weekly. While some are destined for new clients that have been waiting on their order, others are arriving in time for the upcoming Covi Motorhome Show in order to entice and delight those looking to purchase a new model RV.

Zion Motorhomes in Pokeno south of Auckland have an incredible amount of stock coming into the country every year now, with the McRent rental motorhome business located there as well as at UCC in Christchurch; Jonas Ng at Zion is the authorised distributor in New Zealand for some of the best quality German-built RV brands on the world market – Dethleffs motorhomes and caravans, Frankia, Niesmann+Bischoff and MORELO motorhomes.

You know it is big storage when the Rock can climb in and out

In mid-February the latest model integrated luxury Niesmann+Bischoff Arto motorhome arrived, so the Rock and I headed down to look it over. Upon arrival you could see immediately there was a new model on the yard: it had pops of lovely burnt-orange colour on the mirror backs, a decorative slash across the front bumper line and discrete lines down the skirt lines perking up the vehicle’s fun visuals. Other colour options to choose from include a lively green Elox and summery Miami blue colour. The driver’s mirrors look great in this colour; they are also electrically heated and fully adjustable at the push of a button by the driver.

Exterior

The Arto is based on the Fiat Ducato 50H powered by a four-cyclinder TD common rail direct Euro 6 engine offering 134kW (180bhp) and 400Nm. The chassis is an AL-KO low frame on three axles with a wheelbase of 4500mm + 800mm. It’s a big unit at 8763mm long, width is 2330mm and surprisingly the height is under 3m at 2950mm. Tare weight of this model is 4300kg, GVM is 5500kg so a nice 1200kg payload available, plus it will tow a small vehicle up to 1300kg. The front radiator grille is finished with chrome elements for flair, while chrome trim around the lights on the front and back of the unit add a touch of class.

Front mask, fenders, wheel cases and rear panel made of highly stable and corrosion-free glass-fibre composite material. Side skirts are smooth aluminium profiles

Exterior storage is plentiful, with a large two-bottle gas locker behind the driver’s side with a large pull-out storage drawer beside it. The entry steps are hidden behind a skirting panel that folds down at the touch of a button to reveal two steps for internal entry.

The toilet cassette locker is on the side as well – the cassette is on wheels – a little extra help for the customer with that job.

Passenger entry door, storage drawer, diesel filler, water and power on this side

To the rear there’s a really large boot storage area; on the driver’s side the entry hatch lifts on gas struts and offers a large entry port for possibly bikes or boats, and on the other side is a smaller hatch entry option. This boot area measures 2175x1400mm and the height is 1255mm. It has tie-downs, can be heated, has an external shower, power, lights and a non-slip floor as just some of its features. The maximum load weight in this area is 250kg. The Rock and I both jumped in to see how it was for size – plenty of room for the RocknRobyn – we decided an extra bed would fit in there if needed for stowaways.

On the passenger side are the power and water fittings, and (in their own hatch compartment) the controls to empty the waste products of the vehicle. This vehicle has two freshwater tanks, one 20L drinking water tank and a larger 200L main water tank; the grey tank is 150L.

The rear boot storage is accessible both sides, the floor is coated with highly wear-resistant dimpled membrane, has lighting, is heatable, and has four adjustable eyelets in each rail for tie downs. Size length 2175 x 1400mm width, 1255mm height

Windows are double-glazed plastic in outer aluminium frames with PU insulation, fitted with blinds and fly screens on the interior.

Interior

Stepping into the vehicle through the habitation door takes you into a luxury living space, with living and dining area to the right; front cab seats swivel to add to the number of seats available. The second bed is in the cab roof and is generously sized at 1910x1320mm with privacy curtains that can be pulled down. The L-shaped sofa is generous in size at 1625mm long and 1065mm on the return. The second bench seat is also generous at 1190mm long x 640mm deep.

Control centre for wastewater disposal – very fancy

In the main area is a floor hatch offering extra storage options for wine, shoes or whatever works for the owner.

To the direct left of entry as you step in, there’s a shoe storage locker under the leather-bound stair handle. This wall offers storage options, and a large TV is inset into a black framework. Behind this is the fridge and microwave tower with a full-height storage cupboard with shelves next to the bathroom entry. The TV is one I haven’t seen before; really clever technology here – you can open the doors from both the left and right sides, yes literally open it from one side or the other, very nice new feature.

Step into the cab from the left passenger side, or access on the right via the habitation door behind driver’s area. Seat belt-integrated driver and passenger seats are rotatable by 180 degrees, have armrests, and lateral parts are finished in real leather. Plenty of cubby storage in the door and front dash area plus the very necessary cup holders, entertainment system and digital screen display unit

Opposite entry and the utility tower is the L-shaped kitchen bench area, with lots of clever storage. Under the curved sink bench, a large cupboard has pull-out storage baskets, and there are three large drawers under the gas hob, the bottom one with dividers and a small rubbish receptacle. To the left is a full-height pull-out pantry to die for. Above the bench unit are storage hatches with shelving, a range-hood, lights and power plugs available. A small toggle switch below the bench top controls a locking mechanism for the area, securing the cupboards and drawers when in transit, a nice idea. The window in this area is large so great views while you prepare the food, and ample bench space to do so. The splashback is black and sparkly in this model, but customers can choose from a range of options to suit their personalities.

A step-up from kitchen to the bedroom and the combined bathroom area. The toilet door acts as a privacy door to shut off this area from the main living space.

Room to move with good floor space on offer

A full-size shower on the right, en suite toilet room on the left, an island bed (1900mm x 1400mm) with steps up either side for bed entry, lots of storage options with three drawers under the bed, storage hatches under the steps, overhead lockers, cubby holes and pouches will fulfil any customer’s needs. The bedroom TV looks cool with its black background, and even here there is a storage option underneath.

Convector heaters in the floor protect all the fittings from cold weather. The double floor also serves as a heat storage and gives off warmth to the floor in a manner similar to underfloor heating.

The warm air from the floor is also circulated through small air vents in the seat benches. It comes up again behind the furniture and is dispersed evenly throughout the entire room. This prevents localised build up of heat.

Creative storage room for precious items

All the key fittings and hinges in the Arto are made of metal, so they will close securely and never wear. Cupboards have push-to-open latches, and with the latest hydraulic lifting technology the upper cabinets open and close quietly and conveniently. Scratch-proof 3D leaf lends a high-quality wooden look to the furniture and cabinets. We enjoyed our time in this vehicle. There are so many extra features, fixtures and fittings in these models it is like a treasure hunt finding them, and the quality is certainly on show.

This model and others in the Zion Motorhomes range will be on display at the Covi Show, so if you are thinking of a getting a motorhome you can live in, one that you can up-spec with all sorts of smart technology, such as automatic levelling, I suggest you get along and check this brand out, or one of the other stunning German-built RVs that Jonas Ng at Zion in Pokeno offers to the New Zealand market.

The second berth is over the dining area and offers a large 1910x1320mm bed with lath frame, cold-foam mattress, easily pulled down from the ceiling, with privacy sides and a safety net in front

Body Construction

The company has been making panels from double-sided aluminium for more than 30 years. The structure is simple – two-sided aluminium sandwich construction with 30mm Styrofoam insulation in between. In this composition, the walls are virtually non-conductive, and to ensure all-round insulation, this method is used in the floor and in the exterior storage doors. The roof is the same sandwich construction (30mm), torsion-resistant Styrofoam insulation (RTM) with aluminium internally, and corrosion-free GRP High Strength X-treme outside including a gel coat ceiling. Ceiling-to-wall connections have highly compressed PU hard profiles that prevent cold bridges thanks to the double-sided aluminium construction.

The elaborate side skirts made of varnished aluminium profiles give the Arto a sporty look on the outside. They cover the chassis frame and the retractable outside step. Front mask, fenders, wheel cases and rear panel are of highly stable and corrosion-free glass-fibre composite material. All parts are manufactured from extremely wear- and scratch-resistant GRP. And the best thing of all about this material – small scratches can be polished away using gelcoat paste, while larger scratches can be taken care of with a special surfacer. So repairs and replacement parts are easier for customers in the future with no moulded plastic parts to source in years to come. The roof is strong enough to be walked on, and aluminium roof profiles have rainwater channels to reduce water run off on the vehicle sides.

Kitchen storage is ample, with pull-out rack storage under the sink, three drawers under the bench, excellent overhead cupboard storage with shelves, as well as a full-length pull-out pantry. These are all soft-close and there is a central locking pin

Chassis

AL-KO lightweight low-frame chassis, maximum frame lowering (220mm). Hot-dip galv. frame elements and wide chassis (1980mm). Chassis is braced lengthwise and crosswise with highly resistant hollow steel sections screwed to the Al-KO low frame. The water tanks are situated inside the double floor, based over the rear axles for stability and to assist the low centre of gravity of the vehicle, and being inside the double floor also prevents freezing of pipes or tanks in very cold conditions. For added driver and passenger safety the manufacturer has integrated a secure and certified crash box into the chassis design, unmodified.

The History

Back in 1955, couple Elfriede and Hugo Niesmann started selling caravans, and for many years they enjoyed sharing the RV lifestyle with customers all around the UK. Twenty-six years later, change was under way and the motorhome was becoming more and more popular as an RV option, so the company began development of their first motorhome designed for the UK market.

Shower tub made of wear-resistant GRP and comes with a shower grille made of real wood, acrylic glass door, a shower fitting with wall rail and height-adjustable shower head all making up to a great showering experience. An overhead roof-light and vent with screens is a good idea

In 1981 the company introduced the Alcove model Clou 570E, full of clever designs and new comforts and features to woo the public. This kicked off formation of the Niesmann+Bischoff-Clou Company in Germany. By the 1990s the company was well into design and intelligent advancements and had been nominated in the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In 1996 the company became a subsidiary of the Erwin Hymer Group, one of the largest manufacturers of motorhomes and caravans in Europe, and the next 10 years saw a plethora of new models coming out of the factory under the Niesmann+Bischoff brand. In 2008 a new emblem was designed to feature on the vehicles, the Polcher Lilie, an elegant, stylised lily representing the highest standards of luxury equipment, design and quality.

By 2012 Niesmann+Bischoff relied on individualised interior design as its niche in the market. With the new models in the Arto and Flair brands they offered more than 500 different style variations on four wheels. For Niesmann+Bischoff, design and individualisation is the top priority and goal for its customers.

Under-bed storage with three good size and depth drawers, LED lighting on stairs each side of the bed with storage under second step. The bed has a lath frame and comfortable cold-foam mattress

In 2018 Niesmann+Bischoff introduced the first and only luxury liner with integrated airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger. The unique chassis-hatch system integrated in the side skirts as well as central locking for the body door and all storage hatches characterise the high practical relevance of innovative Niesmann+Bischoff solutions.

Today Niesmann Bischoff’s headquarters and production site is located in Polch in Rhineland-Palatinate, in Germany with 240 employees. It produces around 650 high-quality, innovative and comfortable luxury motorhomes every year, that sell from between $200 and $300K each, to a worldwide market. In the last three years the company turnover has trebled.