Bürstner is a familiar name in the A-class market and this is its latest offering. The lounge offers sociable seating and a feeling of space, but it is more fiddly when you need to carry rear passengers. Like many, it can be ordered on a 3,500kg chassis, but only with limited payload. That’s just one aspect that sees the price rise from £70k to over £80k as tested, taking the Bürstner head-to-head with a lot of stiff competition.
Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 315kg
This Ixeo is a seven-and-a-half-metre, mid-range German A-class with front lounge, a drop-down bed in the cab, an amidships kitchen and an island bed in the rear, with attendant ablutions. All standard stuff but, instead of the usual half-dinette-based lounge, there’s a pair of inward-facing sofas here. The 736 (tested here) and its sibling, the Ixeo I 744, aim to bring more relaxing seating to A-class motorhomes – the 744 doing the job with a rear L-shaped lounge (as well a front half-dinette).
One of the main reasons for the popularity of half-dinette-based lounges is the fact that they provide a pair of instantly available forward-facing belted travel seats. However, the vast majority of side-facing sofa-based lounges come from UK manufacturers and many don’t offer any passenger-carrying potential, relegating them to pure two-berth status. However, there is now a trend towards parallel seating from European makers (led by Rapido) and these usually cunningly adapt to provide travel seats.
Back to those sofas, which are short and not very deep, so don’t expect laid-back lounging. However, their presence means folks can all sit facing each other in convivial fashion and there’s a much better feeling of space than with the usual half-dinette. The majority of continental manufacturers remain wedded to fixed tables, though. Like most, this one has a sliding top, which also folds in half (more unusual), so it doesn’t really get in the way.
In estate-agent-speak, the kitchen would be described as space-saving. The main unit is not expansive, but again, its reversed L-shape does help bring a feeling of roominess to the interior. As you may expect, there’s not a lot of counter space, but it is mitigated somewhat by a drop-in lid for the circular stainless-steel sink. The kitchen’s equipment count fares very well. A low-down oven/grill is welcome and is large enough to handle most dishes – maybe even a roast. Up top, the three in-line burners on the hob make it very easy to use, with access to all your pans. Across the aisle, the fridge boasts big capacity (146 litres), a removable freezer box (to increase chilled space at the cost of a home for frozen foods) and AES – automatic energy selection – gives turn-on-and-forget convenience.
Island beds are very popular because it’s easy for either sleeper to get in and out of bed. Centrally located, the double allows the inclusion of en suite washroom facilities in the 736. A separate shower is located on the offside, with the toilet/washroom opposite. As is usual with this design, the washroom door opens to rest across the aisle and close off the area, including the bedroom, from the rest of the interior.
The rest is good news, too – Bürstner is pretty adept at producing well-designed washrooms, so we get common sense, practical facilities with a big mirror, cupboards above and below, and a proper washbasin with wipe-clean counter. Across the way, the shower is roomy, has rigid doors and a roof vent. Good touches include a toilet roll system that stows the paper in the lower cupboard, emerging, nice and dry, through a slot in its door. The shower, meanwhile, boasts shelves and a swing-down hanging rail for wet coats, towels, etc.
Size matters, especially when it comes to island beds, as they are radiused at the foot to allow easy passage around the bedroom. This has the effect of reducing the usable length at each side. Because of this situation, width is important, too. Here, the length is an inch over six feet and the width is 4ft 9in, which is good but not class-leading. As always, try before you buy.