For two people planning long-term touring, this New Generation C-line is hard to fault. It has space to spare in every zone bar the toilet and the Sky Dream Comfort option makes a real difference in the lounge area. It is, however, the bedroom and washroom aspects that impress the most.
Base vehicle: Mercedes Sprinter Price from: £128,220 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 8.78m Width: 2.27m Height: 2.95m Gross weight: 5,500kg Payload: 1,122kg
Words and photos: Peter Vaughan
It’s a sobering thought that the cost of the options on this Carthago would be enough to pay for a whole Auto-Trail Expedition campervan. But this is no ordinary motorhome and the prestige German brands price their vehicles this way, with an unrealistic base price and pages of extras for you to tailor your motorhome to exactly what you want.
Do that today and you’ll wait 12 months for a Mercedes-based model from Carthago (perhaps longer for a Fiat), although, at time of writing, dealers do still have some unsold 2022 models coming through. British buyers’ tastes dictate that these, too, will be very highly specified.
Consider this, then, to be a £174,025 A-class and we’ll not worry too much about the options. It certainly starts off on the right track, being built on a 5,500kg Mercedes Sprinter with Al-Ko tag-axle chassis, 170bhp motor and nine-speed automatic gearbox.
It looks the part, too, with the Silverline exterior. It’s clearly a Carthago, exhibiting typical brand DNA such as the way the roof and side walls join in a smooth curve. The toothy chromed grille (embellished as part of the Exterior Design Package) is another marque identifier, although this and the habitation door are features of this latest New Generation model. Another addition is the ‘Liner-style bonnet’ (again, part of the Exterior Design Package), which opens to reveal much better access compared to many A-classes to service points, such as the windscreen washer reservoir and AdBlue tank.
Starting at 6.85m and rising up through Superior models to a pair of XL derivatives at the top, the latest C-line range encompasses 13 models, or 23 if you count Merc and Fiat versions as separate vehicles.
This Mercedes I 6.2 XL QB, though, is the biggest – at 8.78m, it is longer than both its Ducato sister model and the equivalent single bed layout.
As this is the personal vehicle of Carthago’s UK agent, I pulled away from his house gingerly, not only aware of the value of the motorhome but also the fact that it is almost twice the length of the Vauxhall that I’d just stepped out of. However, I was soon going with the flow on the A64, heading for Scarborough.
For such a big beast, the C-line XL is so easy to drive. The automatic gearbox is a delight and the 170bhp motor feels more potent than its figures suggest. It stormed the steep Yorkshire hills with aplomb and the six-wheeler chassis ensure peerless stability, despite a long rear overhang.
Perhaps even more important is driver comfort and the high-backed Aguti captain’s chairs with height/tilt-adjustable squabs would be hard to fault. Even better is the visibility, long a forte of Carthago A-classes thanks to the steeply sloping dashboard design. Here, it can’t quite match the Fiat versions but it is much easier to position confidently on the road than most rivals.
The C-line reigns again when it rains because the wipers don’t leave as much of the screen unswept as in some A-classes. The twin-lens bus-style mirrors give a superb view along the sides, too, even if it was a tad disappointing to find the reversing camera’s display on an aftermarket screen by the driver’s right knee, rather than on Merc’s sharp MBUX touchscreen in the centre of the fascia.
It was also slightly galling to find the dashboard switch for the electric step still on the passenger’s side – though that would have mattered less if I’d had a passenger. Of course, the doors stay on the continental side, as in nearly all A-classes, but do make sure you opt for the step for the cab door, which automatically extends when you open it, making for considerably easier egress.
At least you don’t have to pay extra for central locking, although the really important aspects of the exterior are surely the double floor and huge garage. That basement storage – stretching right across the motorhome, under the lounge – can be reached through large openings on either side, each hatch supported by gas struts.
It can be loaded from inside, too, via trapdoors in the floor (hidden by surprisingly thin carpets), or by raising the seat bases. Depth varies from 700mm at the sides to around 200mm in the middle of the motorhome, while the double floor is also home to the 170-litre fresh and 140-litre waste water tanks. Even the waste drain is inside, revealed by lifting the trapdoor just inside the entrance.
The rear garage, meanwhile, boasts internal headroom of 1.11m and a width of 1.20m, as well as a maximum load capacity of 350kg. Even more impressive is the total payload. Despite those costly options adding up to over 450kg, a chassis upgrade to 5.5 tonnes means this model can still carry more than a tonne of people and paraphernalia. The pockets on the offside garage door and the straps to hold outdoor furniture in situ are welcome, but the essential chequerplate flooring costs extra.
Carthago doesn’t refer to décor or interior design in its motorhomes but talks instead of a ‘World of Style’ – this one being called Linea Progressiva. It’s one of four options available for the C-line, mated to £2,905-worth of Ivory leather, which was already showing the dirt on this 4,000-mile vehicle – other, more practical upholsteries in full or part-leather are offered.
The single most significant option fitted here, though, must be the Sky Dream Comfort driver’s cabin with two panoramic skylights (£1,810). This deletes the usual A-class drop-down bed and replaces it with cupboards around all three sides of the front lounge. Combined with the twin wind-up Heki sunroofs, it makes for a fabulously spacious feel as headroom of 1.92m continues right up to the dashboard. UK dealers have always been reticent to order this option but, if you see it (and don’t need the extra berths), you’ll want it.
The XL still comes with four travel seats, with the belts on the L-settee neatly hiding away when not in use. The backrest here is also ergonomically shaped to support your back but I found the fixed headrests too low, causing discomfort around my shoulder blades.
That was, perhaps, my only gripe in a lounge that benefits from a generous amount of space in which a couple can unwind, while no less than 22 downlights, as well as mood lighting above the top lockers, ensure there’s no shortage of illumination when the sun stops streaming in from above. There’s even a new swing-out shoe locker under the L-shaped sofa.
A lack of any steps in the floor until you get right back to the rear bedroom is another plus, while the sturdy, wobble-free table is a good size and can run lengthways or across the motorhome. But where the C-line really is bigger than big is with its TV – a 40in screen rising electrically from behind the offside sofa (as a £1,680 option).
The kitchen is more of a U-shape than the usual ‘L’, although, really, its curvy counter defies precise categorisation. Importantly, its Corian worktop includes a drip-catching lip – good thing too, as I spilt my coffee! That sadly didn’t come from the Nespresso machine that’s part of the pricey Kitchen/Coffee Package, although you do also get an inverter for your £1,540. A more essential option is the £835 Thetford Duplex oven and grill, which is now mounted conveniently just below the three-burner hob.
Standard spec includes a new raised serving shelf above the sink and a reversible chopping board sink cover that doubles up as extra shelf space. There’s a stylish glasses cabinet, too, containing Carthago-branded beakers and wine glasses, and down alongside the oven is a bottle rack for four of your favourite tipples. A quartet of large, soft-closing drawers ensure that you have plenty of stowage space and there’s a pair of small waste/recycling bins, too. Each of the drawers has to be secured individually for travel via a push-in catch, though.
Culinary odours can be evacuated via a fan in the ceiling and an unusual feature is the pull-out spray head for the sink’s tap. Garnering even more praise is the near-full-height slide-out pantry unit alongside the fridge, complete with five shelves for all your tinned and packet foods. And you’ll not want for space for fresh ingredients, either, as the fridge/
freezer boasts a 153-litre capacity, as well as automatic energy selection and doors that open from either side.
Further aft, this isn’t just an XL washroom but an XXXL washroom. It has a sliding door to separate it from the forward living area and twin sliding doors (with full-length mirrors) to close it off from the bedroom.
Importantly, the toilet door is just that, so the loo area always remains private (even when someone else is in the shower). You step up into this space – fitted with a SOG venting system and, here, upgraded with a ceramic bowl Dometic toilet – so headroom is only 1.83m and, compared with other super-sized aspects of the C-line, it does feel just a tad pokey.
You can’t level the same criticism at the rest of this palatial en suite. The large rectangular basin is backed by mirrored cupboards with Hollywood-style illumination and alongside that is a separate shower with rotating plastic doors. With its own roof vent (there are two more in the ablutions zone), a clothes drying rail, twin drains and shelves for shampoo, etc, it ticks all the right boxes and even the step in the shower tray doesn’t mar the experience.
Step out of the shower and it’s the huge central space for dressing and undressing that really impresses. Alongside the toilet cubicle you’ll also find a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe – which isn’t the only hanging space as, of course, there are the usual smaller wardrobes on either side at the head of the island bed.
Finally, at the stern, the bed itself looks high up, but access is easy enough as there’s firstly a step up into the bedroom, then a taller step on either side of the mattress. And what a bed it is – almost 2m in length, this seven-zone cold foam mattress sits on a Carawinx sprung base. You simply won’t beat it for sleeping comfort (even at home!) and, in the morning, you can tilt the bed head (individually, each side) for sitting up luxuriously under the duvet. And now is the time that you truly appreciate the sliding doors to the bedroom as not only do they ensure your privacy but, because of the unique way that Carthago mounts the bedroom telly (yes, another option) on the offside bedroom door, the TV sits centrally for viewing, rather than in one corner.
Other bedroom features include extra-large drawers and corner cupboards for folded clothes under the foot of the bed, while pigeonholes next to your pillows (one with a mains socket, the other with a USB) are convenient for night-time knick-knacks. Again, there’s an excellent array of lighting (none of it directionally adjustable – a theme throughout) and the new concave cupboards above the mirrored bed head add a bit of style.
Motorhome supplied by
Go European Motorhomes & Caravans
Tel: 01543 399599
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