Price from: £145,945 (as shown) Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Al-Ko Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 7.93m Width: 2.32m Height: 2.95m Gross weight: 4,500kg Payload: 800kg (before options)
It hardly seems possible that Niesmann+Bischoff introduced its bold exterior styling as long ago as 2013, but the company has not looked back since, becoming the brand by which others in its (exalted) class are judged.
Its A-classes – Arto (on Fiat) and Flair (on Iveco) – are the Erwin Hymer Group’s most prestigious offerings and these motorhomes are often seen as sitting in a category of their own between the top-end models of more mainstream marques (Carthago, Hymer, etc) and even more expensive liner-class vehicles from the likes of Concorde and Morelo.
In fact, Niesmann itself describes the Arto as ‘the compact liner’, although tag-axle models can be up to 8.76m long. This single-rear-axle version is more modest, at under 8m, while 7.24m is now the shortest overall length available.
The bold looks are a good starting point for Arto but there are clever details, too, such as the reversing camera hidden (and kept clean) under the N+B logo, which pops out when you select reverse. And you can personalise your Niesmann with a splash of colour, or keep things sober.
It’s Miami Blue here but there are green, orange and Champagne alternatives, as well as special paint finishes for even more colour. The beauty is more than skin deep, too, so there’s a hail-resistant GRP roof with an extra-high glass content, while the Arto’s rear garage has a generous internal height of 1.25m and lashing rails as standard.
A new option for 2020 is the Lithium Energy Package, which is claimed to offer around nine days of self-sufficiency with typical electrical consumption, as well as a five-fold increase in battery life expectancy and reduced battery weight. The pack includes two solar modules with 250W on the roof (upgradeable to 500W) and a MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) solar controller for optimal energy supply even when it’s cloudy. Thanks to an integrated aluminium panel, there’s 80% less weight than with conventional framed glass modules.
A 100A combi charger with inverter is also included in this option, as well as the three lithium batteries (285Ah usable capacity) and the pack comes with its own app, so all systems are controllable by Bluetooth.
Inside, all of the Arto’s key furniture fixings and hinges are metal and the galley’s drawers can be locked shut centrally. Cabinets can be ordered in the Modern Line finish of Verada Oak (as here) or darker Classic Line style of Mali Acacia, each with a scratch-resistant, glossy 3D film to give the look of high-quality wood.
Ceiling cupboards can be in matt white or high-gloss wood. The galley comes with a mineral worktop, while opposite, the use of a smaller fridge in this UK-spec kitchen allows the oven to be mounted at a more practical height and a microwave to be built-in above that.
The SKA captain’s chairs – superbly finished here in optional Temptation (an appropriate name) cream leather – combine with an L-shaped lounge, while other models in the range offer new face-to-face sofa floorplans. There’s a vast choice of upholsteries and interior styles to suit all tastes, all featuring a three-layer foam concept for comfort.
The spec of this example (one of the island bed layouts but fixed singles feature in the range, too) is very comprehensive, including the new nine-speed automatic gearbox, 178bhp engine, Alde heating with heat exchanger, 16in alloy wheels (18in also available), 5.5m awning, an external shower in the garage, two AGM leisure batteries, a ceramic toilet with SOG system, Alpine head unit with 9in screen and sat-nav, and plenty more.