313cdi, 2.2 TD engine, Sprintshift gearbox.
Background: When looking for our
ideal motorhome we had 5 priorities in mind.
- It had to have a fixed bed for my partner, Liz, who due to disability
has days when bed is the most beneficial place for her.
- We needed access/storage for Liz’s mobility scooter.
- Due to my height, it had to have a interior headroom not less than 6ft
- It had to be an A class or based on a Mercedes, for no other reason,
than the fact that on the standard Peugeot/Fiat cabs, in the driving
position my eye level is directly into the sun visor. The Merc windscreen
is slightly higher, so I can see without adopting the quasimodo position.-
Similarly, large A class windscreens are ok.
- The main priority, from bitter experience, was the monthly repayment
figure, rather than actual purchase price.
With such a vast choice we narrowed the field first by price, then
That soon narrowed it down and with only half a dozen or so left with fixed
beds, it was just a case of which one can I stand up straight in, and does
it come with a windscreen I can see out of. With the models available at the
time, 2 in the Mclouis range met our criteria. The 700G and the 801. Never
having been a fan of luton-bed ‘lumps’ over the cab we went for the 801.
Merc based, lowline, 2 berth, (possibility for 3), fixed, rear bed over a
Merc base: It’s a Sprinter 313cdi with the 2.2 turbo’d and
intercooled engine, coupled up to a sprintshift 6-speed gearbox. The
sprintshift gearbox takes a little bit of getting used to, with its option
of clutchless manual change, or automatic. Now I’ve experienced sprintshift
I wouldn’t want to go back to a ‘normal’ manual box, or ‘normal’ automatic.
Power wise, it is not a slouch from a standing start, nor is it a racing car
unless driven hard. Once its moving, and in the 1600 – 2400 rev high torque
range it has the power to glide up hills in 6th, passing all the Fiats and
Peugeots, and getting around 26 –30 mpg depending on journey type; Mountains
On the road: From the day we took delivery of our previous,
almost ‘double the price’ A class Pilote, it clunked, creaked and groaned.
Our ‘Macci’ impressed us by its silence; No furniture creaking, no wind
noise, no ‘thudding’ over manhole covers and other bumps. Compared to a
similar style Peugeot based vehicle, cab noise levels from the engine are
quieter, as is transmitted road noise. Whether this is due to Mercs
soundproofing, or Mclouis’s, I don’t know. I don’t know whether it’s the
Vanco made tyres, or the body shape/weight distribution, but the ‘Macci’ is
very sure footed with a lot less body roll on cornering. Rear vision is
restricted to the wing mirrors. There is no ‘thru’ vision due to the high
fixed bed, and off-centre rear window.
The cab heater is adequate to warm the whole interior living space when
Mercedes have kept to rear wheel drive, and we seem to be able to get out of
situations that cause trouble for front wheel drives, such as pulling away
on damp steep hills and muddy rally fields.
Exterior: ‘Macci is very plain looking, very basic decals,
nothing frilly. The Mercedes white paint on the cab is not the same shade of
white as the fibreglass body, but some folks say that improves its looks
rather than distracts. Tail lights are basic, standard commercial light
units, so cheaper to replace than some of the more ‘upmarket’ marques. The
high level brake light is high level – roof height! The plastic trim around
the lower body is functional, but cheap and brittle, and screwed on with
self-tapping screws that show. In my mind it’s the only thing that makes the
vehicle look cheap. The front and rear sections of side trim on our vehicle
are not even put on in line, but I can live with it. There is a large garage
locker door and a loo cassette access door on one side, and a large garage
locker door and gas locker door on the other. (Gas locker big enough for 2 x
15 kg bottles). Although there is no double floor, no heating ducts or water
pipes, except to the waste tank are external, so we’ve had no trouble in
cold weather. There are 2 continental style steady legs at the rear, but
we’ve never used them.
Dimensions: Length 6.4 mtrs; Width ; Height 2.92 mtrs.
Cavernous full width rear garage, 5ft long and 4ft high.
Services and access: The fresh water tank (100 ltrs) is
under the nearside dinette bench, in front of the rear axle. The tank drain
down valve is hidden from eyesight, and a fiddly thing to get at by feel.
The gas bottles are on the offside just in front/over the rear axle. The
spare wheel is easy to get at, on the front wall of the garage, alongside
the leisure battery, just behind the rear axle on the nearside. The truma
combi boiler is located in the garage on the off side, just behind the rear
axle. There was a blown air vent in the garage, but the heat from the boiler
itself was enough to warm it, so we diverted the vent into the living area.
The mains hook up point is at head height on the offside, easy for
connecting too, but the dangling cable could be a temptation for youngsters
to pull on. Fresh water filler is just above waist height on the nearside.
The waste tank (120ltrs) is under the floor, behind the rear axle with a
sluice valve operated by an extended handle jutting out under the offside
garage door. The first time I loaded my wife’s mobility scooter I broke the
plastic ‘T’ handle off the extended handle! – I redesigned and repositioned
it out of harms way.
Interior - Cab: Standard Merc cab with no added frills. The
first aid box, torch, and warning triangle supplied by Merc were still in
position. Our Pilote was Merc based, but these items had been removed by the
body builder – and probably available as optional extras! Both cab seats
swivel 180 degrees, but drivers chair catches on hand brake lever during
swivelling. Cab was supplied with internal silver screens. We have now DIY
fitted floor length insulated curtains.
Sitting/Lounging: Lounge area made up of swivelled cab seats
and forward facing ‘half dinette’ bench (fitted with 2x 3point seat belts
for travelling passengers.)
With just the 4 seats it’s not the greatest layout for entertaining on
The manufactures had spent a lot of time designing a freestanding table,
which was very heavy and wouldn’t fit through the door without risk of
damage or injury to eat outside. We unscrewed the supplied leg contraption,
and replaced it with the adjustable legs from our picnic table. Now we have
a lighter, less bulky table to use inside or out. The dedicated TV locker is
fine for storing the TV, but not in the best position to watch it. We tend
to use the swivelled cab seats as armchairs, and have constructed a DIY
shelf for TV viewing that clips onto the dinette seat headrest.
Lighting/ Electrics Only 12v., no mains lighting. Good, bright ceiling
light. Reading light next to dinette, (we repositioned it!). Good Kitchen
area illumination. No lights in rear of vehicle, (fixed bed area) except his
and hers reading lights. There are two 240v mains sockets, one in kitchen
area at head height, and one under the table at ankle height, next to zig
unit and battery charger cupboard. Fuses/Trips are easily accessible.
Omni-vent fan skylight over kitchen area.
Gas: Truma combi boiler providing hot water and blown air
heating by gas only – No mains electric facility. The blown air heating
keeps the mid section of the vehicle warmer than the front or back. 3-ring
hob and grill by Smev. 3-way fridge with very small freezer
compartment by Dometic.
Windows: All living area windows have blinds, fly screens
Flooring: Imitation wood cushion floor/lino with removable
Finish: Furniture and fittings are fine and comparable in
quality to more expensive makes. The people that actually made the walls and
ceiling could have been a bit more careful with the glue gun and sealant
Night time: The double bed over the garage is 5ft wide and
full width of vehicle, so plenty of room for a lanky so and so like me to
stretch out – but they put a full size window at the foot of the bed, level
with the mattress – ideal to get ripped blinds and broken windows from a
restless sleeper. We swapped the supplied sponge mattress with a standard
double bed size orthopaedic mattress – much more snug and comfy.
There is a window on the rear wall, next to your pillow, again at mattress
level and liable to damage by a restless sleeper. Its position means it is
no good for rear view vision by the driver, so why bother putting it there.
There is just enough headroom to sit up in bed for that morning cup of tea,
and a shelf for books, clock, spectacles, etc., and his and hers reading
lights. There is a skylight above the bed for ventilation – so why the
windows? If we must have one, just a small one would do, just to see what
the weather is doing, and whether it is worth getting up or not! There is a
possibility of extending the dinette seat into a short single bed, but
personally I don’t think it would be very comfy.
Bathroom: It is light and airy, fabricated totally in
fibreglass and plastic in white and blue, with plenty of room to swing a cat
– if you really wanted too! – Swivelling cassette loo with electric flush,
supplied from fresh water tank. Large mirrors round the washbasin lend to
the spaciousness, and there are various handy storage spaces. There is a
window, but we had a ‘mushroom roof vent’ retro fitted. The shower area is
part of the bathroom, with the fibreglass walls made in one piece, so there
are no joins for water and steam to leak through. A plastic curtain prevents
the whole bathroom getting soaked.
Our personal opinion: Although there are 4 seats with seat
belts, this is definitely only a 2 berth as far as sleeping is concerned,
and the seating arrangements are not ideal for those who do a lot of
entertaining. We are more than happy with our Mclouis, although like any
vehicle, there is always that little something you would design differently
to suit your own needs. If we knew then, what we know now, we would never
have bought the Pilote. £1 per £1 on purchase price, the Mclouis is far
better value. The Mclouis had less teething problems, showing that higher
prices don’t always mean higher quality. The Mclouis dealer has been more
helpful than the Pilote dealer. We still look at expensive RV’s and
motorhomes when visiting shows, but all in all we are quite happy with our ‘Macci’.
These reviews are all presented as long pages but at least you
can read or print the entire article without having to follow several
Coach-built; a 'caravan' style body added to a light commercial chassis
with original cab. Often has an over-cab bed or store commonly known
as a 'Luton' in the UK. The version without the Luton, as here, is
called a 'low-profile'.
Sprintshift; a Mercedes proprietary auto-clutch gearchange. True
automatic gearboxes are really quite rare on commercial vehicles - the
basis of most motorhomes.
Permanent bed; traditionally motorcaravans had beds that were
multi-purpose often doubling as seating groups. Many owners have found the daily
conversion and bed making something of a chore so permanent beds are
becoming more popular. They often have considerable storage underneath
Oven as extras; few continental motorhomes come with ovens and grills
3-way fridge; one that works on 230v 'mains' when 'hooked up', on lpg
gas when no mains is available and on 12v from the 'van while travelling.
To access the
McLouis website click here.