BUYERS GUIDE - MOTORHOMES
Suncamper’s Sherwood looks like a cross between a slide-on camper and a motorhome, but it’s a proper C-class motorhome, albeit a compact one. Our colleagues at iMotorhome took one on a bush excursion.
There is no stand-out base vehicle for a compact four-wheel-drive motorhome in the Australian RV industry, because popular utes have relatively short wheelbases and restricted gross mass (GVM) ratings; Japanese forward-control light trucks are rough-riding and lack single tyre options, and the European cab/chassis choices have poor bush-dealer support.
The most popular ute choices among motorhome builders are the Toyota HiLux 4WD and Ford Ranger 4WD cab-chassis, but both need GVM enhancement, to ensure there’s enough payload capacity after conversion.
This is what Suncamper has done with the latest generation of its Sherwood 4×4 range – the S Series – offering the option of the HiLux’s GVM being increased from 3000kg to 3450kg.
The Sherwood S Series has a tare weight of 2680kg, making the standard 3000kg GVM practical – just – but the GVM upgrade is a wise move.
Toyota’s HiLux is certainly a popular vehicle in this genre of motorhome, although hundreds of well-publicised service issues with the post-2017 model’s diesel particulate filter threaten to ruin the HiLux’s ‘unbreakable’ reputation, if Toyota doesn’t get off its bum and fix the problem.
Our test vehicle was an SR short-cab, powered by a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel that claims a maximum power of 130kW and a healthy 450Nm of torque. It was fitted with a six-speed auto gearbox, but a manual shifter is available. Our review vehicle came with a few extras, including Clearview mirrors, tow bar,
aluminium wheels and Falken tyres.
Variations of Suncamper’s popular
Sherwood have been available for years, but the new S Series had some differences from the usual layout.
There were no changes in the body construction that consisted of fibreglass composite panels with corner mouldings on the rear wall, to take away the ‘square’ look. Enhancing off-road ‘cred’ was an obligatory strip of aluminium chequer plate on the lower body walls.
All windows were quite large and were the familiar double-glazed, acrylic awning style.
Helpfully, the door came with its own security screen and electric steps, which were handy, given the height of the door off the ground. A weakness often with this style of motorhome is the lack of external storage, but this one scored well with a tunnel boot at the rear.
Only a single 4.5kg gas cylinder was supplied, but there was a spare mounting bracket for a second. In our book, two gas cylinders means not running out of gas at inappropriate moments.
Powering the 12V electrics was a 120 Ah gel-cell battery. There was an option for a second battery and also a 200W solar panel, which was fitted to this motorhome to be taken in not exceeding individual axle capacity or GVM.
Within the restricted 5.8-metre length of this motorhome, layout variations aren’t numerous and some items are fixed in position: the bed over the cab and the bathroom cubicle behind the cab.
A spacious kitchen bench filled the kerbside wall and that left room for a decent sized lounge/dinette seat around the driver’s-side rear corner, plus a small cabinet by the rear-set entry door.
All the cabinetry was built using lightweight plywood and the large window area and a high degree of finish resulted in a bright and airy interior.
An over-cab bed defined this unit as a C-class motorhome and the bed could be used as a transverse double measuring 1.94m x 1.75m, or two singles, with the kerbside one having a length of 2.13m and the other being a shorter 1.75m. It’s an interesting idea that only works if one of you is short enough, but it’s good to be given the choice.
Above the bed the ceiling height was 0.8m and for getting into the double a small step – complete with a hinged lid for storage -was fitted against the kitchen bench. Reading lights were provided at both ends of the bed and between the bathroom and the bed was a half-height wardrobe whose top offered some bedside shelf space.
Fitted into the galley bench-top was a Thetford three-burner hob with a stainless steel combo sink. There was adequate bench top working space, especially as the microwave was fitted in the cupboard area.
Two large drawers, two cupboards, two overhead lockers and one wire basket provided kitchen storage.
Of interest was a Thetford 141-litre, three way fridge that’s one of the new slimline designs that have become increasingly popular in New Zealand motorhomes, but which have just arrived here.
A cupboard under the fridge contained the battery charger, 12V fuse panel and 240V circuit breakers.
In a motorhome this size the bathroom is always going to be fairly small as there’s really only room enough for the essentials: flexible-hose shower, Thetford cassette toilet and small vanity wash basin. In addition, there was a good-sized wall mirror, collapsible towel rail and fan hatch.
Both the side and rear seats
had large-sized windows behind them, for a good view of the outside world. A Lagun mount was used for the table: located so that it swivelled effectively and was reasonably stable when leant on – not always the case!
By the door, a half-height cabinet was a neat multi-purpose item that doubled as a switch panel, device charging panel and shelf space. The wall area above was used for the flat-screen TV mounting point.
The Sherwood had a small interior compared with the average motorhome’s interior, yet it also meant it was well-sized for 4WD travel. Short and narrow enough for open country off-road exploring, it also had living space adequate for two, without being squeezy.
With pricing around the 145-grand mark Suncamper has done well with this latest design and it will undoubtedly contribute to this popular model’s longevity.