This Sunlight Cliff is a very practical campervan with loads of storage, good payload, a great kitchen and a cosy ambience, all in under six metres and at a competitive price. Great execution of a conventional layout means that success should be assured.
Price from: £37,899 Berths: 2 Travel seats: 4 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Length: 5.99m Gross weight: 3,300kg Payload: 665kg
Sunlight models are made by the German company, Dethleffs, a brand of the Erwin Hymer Group.
And, to make matters more confusing, Sunlight Cliffs are built at the Laika factory in Italy, sharing the production facility with near-identical Carado models, which are to Hymer as Sunlight is to Dethleffs.
So, what is Sunlight’s demographic aim? Apparently, relative youngsters, who are more cash-strapped than the usual, more mature, motorhome-owning fraternity, and this is reflected in Sunlight’s starting prices. One hesitates to call Sunlights entry-level; they can be as well-equipped (subject to payment for the myriad options available) as any other motorhome, and they’re well-finished and robust. It’s more a lightness of trim and woodwork that differentiates Sunlights from the more mainstream ambience of Carados, in theory. But, aside from personal taste, which marque you choose is probably determined by accessibility of a local dealership as there’s no real difference in design or price between them.
The Cliff family (comprising four models: a medium-wheelbase tiddler, the 540, the four-berth 610, the two-berth 600, and finally the 640 with longitudinal singles/double bed) were new for 2018 and were very well received.
Just a year later, several important changes in design make it worthy of revisiting, hence this test of the 2019 Sunlight Cliff 600 (for which the Carado Vlow 600 is doppelgänger).
The Cliff 600, like many similar campervans, has the perennially popular transverse rear bed layout and is based on a six-metre Fiat Ducato. It offers enormous practicality within a very compact package, with a large bed for two, and reasonable travelling comfort for four. However, with so many competitors, the Sunlight Cliff needs to be outstanding if it is to impress.
The Cliff 600’s theoretical basic cost is a temptingly low £37,899. However, that’s unrealistically spartan and most buyers would probably, at least, choose the Basic and Chassis Packs, raising the price to around £40,500. The test ’van was fully loaded for show purposes and costs just over £45k, but even that is very competitive.
Externally, some might think the Cliff, with minimal decal decoration and dark-tinted windows, rather nondescript. Others may consider it understated, sufficiently enlivened by the alloys. The offside habitation door has an automatically retracting step and a full-sized mosquito screen (part of the Basic Pack), so you can enjoy the great outdoors without suffering pesky gatecrashers!
The lounge is situated on a plinth, so all seats are at the same height to match the table, though the plinth has been sculpted away a bit too much by the driver’s seat foot-space. There’s a medium-sized Heki above the lounge (Basic Pack – see what we mean about this pack being essential) but otherwise illumination is scant, with one ceiling fitting and one reading light. However, the reading lamp slides along a rail below the overhead locker, clips in and out of the rail, and could easily be reinforced with another clip-in light. It’s a shame there are no reading lights for the cab seats.
Any TV would be wall-mounted above the travel seats, and therefore viewable from the cab seats.
The kitchen design for 2019 is much more open and visually appealing, with a long work surface, including the combi sink/hob and a deep, practical sink with internal tap and twin glass lids.
Behind the sink and hob, a slim recess can carry unglamorous essentials like washing-up liquid and, above, there’s a rail with slideable hooks for your tea towel and Marigolds. A small upstand protects the bed from sink splashes, there’s strip lighting beneath the overhead cupboards and it’s all thoroughly practical and well-designed. Kitchen storage is really good with a very large overhead cupboard, and as the unit lacks an oven or grill, there’s a big drawer and two good shelved cupboards. Where’s the fridge? Handily placed in the front end of the unit, facing into the doorway. It’s a 90-litre compressor type with freezer compartment.
The washroom has a complete redesign for 2019, releasing wall space by replacing the tambour door with a hinged version. Though compact, it’s ergonomically greatly improved, with a swivel loo under the opening window (with blind). There’s good high-level storage and a large basin with a swivelling tap doubling as the shower head.
The Cliff’s transverse bed design is long and wide enough to make a proper double even within the confines of a panel van. You can hop up into it easily, via a cut-out step in the removable under-bed end panel.
The mattress is thick, the centre section resting on two slatted bases, and its three-way split doesn’t adversely affect comfort. There’s a central Heki and the offside wall has a sliding window (required because the side door would collide with a top-hinged version) and another ‘light-rail’ above with two sliding reading lights. This means you’re expected to sleep with head to the window, whereas we’d prefer the window at the bed foot – but having another rail wired for lights under the nearside overhead cupboard shouldn’t be difficult.
The top-hinged windows in the rear doors have blinds and insect screens, like all the other windows, and also single safety bars. We thought two moulded pockets in the rear doors, above the windows, might prove handy, but they’ll only take specs and the like (not even a paperback).
There’s a large storage space under the bed. Then you have an aisle capable of taking kayaks, bikes, or usable as a furniture removal van. Moreover, four floor tying-points are sensibly provided.
Above the bed are four good cupboards and there are two more stores in the nearside bed base – shame they’re only accessible by removing the mattress – a ‘front’ door opening into the aisle beneath would be really handy. Between the washroom and rear seats, there’s a useful low-level wardrobe with 74cm hanging drop and the lounge has a good high-level cupboard opposite the door, the usual slim overcab shelf and two useful cubbies in the floor plinth.
UK Cliffs come with a dual-fuel Truma Combi 4kW boiler/heater located beneath the rear travel seats, with five blown-air outlets throughout the ’van. Fresh water is stored inboard, in the offside bed base; the tank carries 100 litres but payload is calculated carrying 20 litres. The underslung waste tank holds 90 litres and occupies the space for a spare wheel, whilst the gas locker at the nearside rear is big enough for two 11kg cylinders.
If you enjoyed this review, you can read the full version and more in the February 2019 issue of MMM magazine.
You can get a digital version of this latest issue of MMM magazine here.