Saturday, August 01, 2015

We ordered a Motorhome

Dethleffs T8 Introduction

Yes,  so the super big news  from Marcus and Agata is that we recently ordered a Motorhome, or in American parlance: an RV  - Recreational Vehicle.

This post will cover what we chose and why, and what other vehicles we thought about, and why they did not quite make the cut.

We chose a Dethleffs T8

A T8 from the back.  Actually one of the lowest coachbuilds around at only 2.62 metres.  Lower than some vans! Awing is an optional extra.

A radio is an optional extra.  Probably best since you can choose something fancy from eBay running Android Auto.   You can order a 4 camera surround system with a separate monitor mounted on top of the dashboard.

The T8 has a separate shower area.  Perfect for storing wetsuits and even a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) when not in use.

Separate bathroom sink and toilet.

You can order a small safe to keep your valuables safer. An iPad will just fit but nothing larger.

European models come with a 3 burner hob and no cooker .  Good!

European spec is a 140 litre fridge freezer and drawers below.  UK spec is a larger 190l fridge.  For our needs the smaller unit is a better bet.

Door contains useful pockets and a plastic waste bin

Flush windows are an optional extra.  The regular ones stick out a few centimetres which is annoying.

Why Choose a Dethleffs T8

+ Modest price compared with others contenders

+ Local Servicing in Vaud Switzerland
+ Decent Garage that will accommodate 2 road bicycles and other items like scooters in a separate storage area
+ Separate Shower and Toilet space
+ 2 belted seats so can carry total of 4 passengers
+ Sliding door that enables bedroom and living area separation
+ Moderate cost and large options list for customisation
+ Fantastically compact at 668cm long, 215cm wide and 262cm high
+ MIRO is a skinny 2804Kg, empty weight 2614Kg
+ Decent tanks: 114l water, 90l waste water, can have 2x95Ah house batteries
+ Winterisation possible, Truma Combi 6 can have Electric and Gas heating
+ 2 Gas bottle storage in Garage


- 180 BHP engine option nice but too expensive
- Fiat chassis, Mercedes would have been better!
- Robot Manual Gearbox inferior to Hymer DSG twin clutch gearbox
- Not full AL-KO chassis, meaning floor higher in some places
- They make an I8 (Integrated 8) model which is even more attractive but it's +10K CHF more expensive, 120Kg heavier  and that price is too much for us.

A modest start

Whilst Marcus and Agata are perfectionists, and we enjoy doing a lot of research we are also realists.  We speculate that actually owning a Motorhome and using it for long periods will gives us a greater insight into the realities of Motorhome living.

So this is order of the Dethleffs T8 is seen as a modest start.  It's not super expensive but it's a home that we think can be lived in for longer than a few days without getting claustrophobic.

Local Dealer 
Currently we are located in Lausanne Switzerland and the Dethleffs vehicle we have ordered will be Swiss registered and owned.  Of course we are likely to leave Switzerland but until then we think it's essential that we have good local dealer servicing.

So whilst we wanted to consider the Wingham City Suite, in fact since no local dealer exists no matter how great we found the vehicle we could not take this thru to an order.

If there are any teething troubles then local support will be essential.

Other Vehicles considered

Westfalia Columbus 601D

Westfalia Columbus  (apologies for 90 degrees rotation!)

  • Possibly the best ever Van Conversion
  • Quality of construction and Workmanship was excellent
  • Alde piped water heating
  • 6 metre van only for double bed  (6.4 metre has 2 singles)
  • Space behind the bed for 2 bicycles, well possibly


  • As a van conversion it is what it is.  By this I mean it's more suited to shorter trips and not weeks away
  • It would be squash to get 2 bicycles inside/ behind the bed.  Plus bicycles would be in the 'living area'
  • Quite pricey, well really pricey in fact!  It is the same price as the Dethleffs

Verdict: Not chosen because of high price and bicycle storage tight/ in living area.

 Fiat Cab base

Washroom is a wetroom with cupboards and place and drying rack upper left

Simple decent kitchen.  Classy and Elegant. Optionally fridge can be mounted at waist height with a cupboard underneath instead.

View to the back

Bed folds horizontally so you can never walk thru the van to the back. But with it folded you can sit on it like a big settee.

Unusually professional ALDE heating

Chic yet sophisticated electronics.  Can program heating time on and off

50 cms from panel to back of van.   Just wider than a single road race bicycle handlebars

78cms from base to bottom of bed.   Remove your seat and front bicycle wheel and maybe it is going to fit.  But really 2 bicycles?  Hmm, really not so sure.

With the bed in upright position from back of van

Hymer ML-T 560 video diary

  • Quality Mercedes Sprinter base
  • Options for 190 BHP, 4WD and 7 speed DSG gearbox
  • Fully winterised as standard including double glazing
  • Large garage would take 2 bicycles and lots of additional sports equipment
  • Inside there is masses of storage space both below kitchen, in two tall cabinets near bed, and in the front above living area.
  • The bathroom has a separate (no shower curtain) shower and a fixed sink and toilet (no movement needed for showering)
  • There are multiple options that must be selected (annoyingly) like satnav
  • There are multiple options that can be selected such as heated seats, uprated water and batteries and internal heating.   This can push the price from the standard 65K euro to well over 80K euro
  • Today there is an even better ML-I vehicle but that is even more expensive!!

  • Downsides

    • We originally thought this was 'only' 215cm wide, but that was an internal dimension.  actually it is  222cm wide which is not that thin, quote close to the 230cm norm
    • It is both long at 698cm and tall at 290cm so this is quite a lot larger than the Dethleffs T8 and still does not have separated washroom  (but more cupboard space)
    • Mass in Running Order (MIRO) is 2940Kg which is much heavier than the Dethleffs

    Carthago Compactline 138

    Carthago C138 walkaround
    • Only 212 cm wide only  (plus mirrors)
    • A trim 6.4 metres long
    • A class Integrated design i.e. Coach front with better visibility than a standard Dethleffs T8 for example 
    • AL-KO low frame, means flat floor throughout
    • Beautiful inside
    • Generous garage for 2 bicycles
    • Based on a Fiat chassis
    • 180 BHP motor is an option
    • 2645Kg light
    • The 138 has a double bed there are other members in the family e.g longer vehicle with 2 single beds etc.
    • Local servicing in Switzerland from B&W Sports
    • Carthago is expensive!
    • 2.9 metre height
    • 180 BHP Engine option is expensive
    • Integrated Model means 2 double beds and less storage

    Overall if cost was not a factor then the Carthago pretty much has it all  (save for the height and integrated bathroom) and would represent a great quality motorhome, but too pricey for us.

    Wingham City Suite

    Wingham City Suite

    This is a unique motorhome and may indeed have been our choice instead of Dethleffs but for the unavailability of local dealers in Switzerland.

    It's an extremely unusual Coachbuild monocoque motorhome designed with the smaller size and dimensions of a Van conversion.  Additionally there is a large area at the rear underneath the electrically movable bed that could be used to store bicycles.  Here is a quick summary

    + Very compact dimensions: 2.05m wide, 2.77m tall and 5.99 m long

    + Just to repeat, this is a 6metre Van sized vehicle with a lot in the inside. 
    + Monocque design
    + Room in back for 2 bicycles (though its space inside the van and not a separate garage of course)
    + Spacious inside because the bed drops down from the back not wasting space


    - Integrated washroom  (well this is a van!)

    - No Swiss dealer network we could find

    Verdict:  Probably our favourite small van like motorhome but we were not confident about local dealer support so discounted.


    Thinking about a Motorhome
    Hymer ML-T Overview
    Hymer ML-T 560 Layout
    Hymer 560 Special Equipment