FRANK BEETON reports on a very different type of “bus”...
What looks like a bus, but isn’t a bus? In most cases, it would most likely be a leisure vehicle, or known by its alternative name, a motor home. In America, the name Winnebago is synonymous with such vehicles, which range in size from compact models built on recognisable light-truck chassis/cabs, to vast vessels that at first sight could easily be mistaken for the largest luxury coaches.
At the Motorhome and Caravan Show held in London during October, German manufacturer Morelo introduced its new Empire Liner model, which was described as “the Lamborghini of the leisure vehicle world”, and, priced at £378 200 (or around R6,3 million), it surely warrants a closer look.
The frontal appearance of the launch vehicle is immediately familiar, so it comes as no surprise to find that it is based on a Mercedes-Benz Atego truck chassis, which provides the 7,7-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine developing 220 kW (299 hp), and a six-speed automatic transmission. The Empire Liner can also be built on an equivalent Iveco Eurocargo chassis, and is available with overall lengths ranging from 8,99 to 11,29 m.
The size indicates that some form of heavy-duty driving licence is required in most countries, but neither this restriction nor the price seem to have put off buyers, as no less than 18 firm orders were announced at the launch.
Features include a panoramic roof, spacious double bed, underfloor heating, shower, and a garage area that can store and carry a car the size of a Mini Cooper or Fiat 500!
The detail specification includes: a vibration-resistant drinks cabinet, hand-crafted leather upholstery, walnut wood finishing, six rear-view mirrors and a heated panoramic windscreen.
There is a full-size refrigerator with separate freezer, self-cleaning gas oven and hob, hidden recycling bins and a Nespresso machine. It also has heated lumbar-support leather chairs, four bed configurations, one guest bed stored above the driver’s cab, outside shower attachment and satellite television.
The Empire Liner is also equipped to spend up to six days away from the electricity grid without running out of hot water.
This type of vehicle is apparently popular with the Formula One set, and it is interesting to note there are more than one million leisure vehicles of all types and sizes in use in the United Kingdom alone, supporting more than 130 000 work opportunities.
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