Renault’s continued drive to become a mainstream player in Australia is proceeding at pace. The French marque’s car range has everything from low cost small hatchback, to family station wagons, with a delicious sprinkling of high-performance models from the RenaultSport division.

Then there are the Renault light commercials. Small vans to large ones and most recently the introduction of a Renault Master cab-chassis with rear-wheel drive that we previewed late last year.

Cab-chassis are imported only for one reason – to let Australian designers and engineers come up with a huge variety of bodies suited to very specific tasks. Indeed, as the local car industry moves away from large scale manufacturing it’s likely that many of the best people will move into designing and engineering vehicles based on cab-chassis, and others will manufacture them.

Renault Australia and Sunliner, the latter a long established Australian family company, have entered into a partnership to build the Sunliner 40th Anniversary Model motorhome.

We are delighted to report that French flair is very much part of the motorhome package; the bold frontal appearance of the Renault Master simply demands a futuristic looking motorhome.

Even better to our eyes, the interior of the Sunliner breaks completely away from interior design and materials tradition. More luxury apartment than any olde-style caravan, it works brilliantly to our eyes.

To quote the managing director of Sunliner, Nick Harding, “The interior is inspired by the design of super yachts and boasts the same sophisticated quality and style that people expect in a luxury product, including curved cabinets, leather and feature lighting.”

We were impressed not only with the quality of the materials, but also the way they have also been crafted by men and women used by Sunliner who obviously know their trades very well.

A slide-out wall not only increases Sunliners’ interior space, but also gives a feeling of extra room beyond that which actually exists. That’s clever.

An interesting feature is the use of a drop-down bed. This allows you to sleep on a conventional mattress rather than the usual converted seat-and-table that inevitably compromises comfort.

Swivelling front seats also improve interior space. Note that if you specify these the optional side airbags aren’t available. Front airbags are standard.

An interesting feature is the outside TV inside a slide-up panel on the left of the Sunliner 40th Anniversary. Power down the large external awning by remote control, power up the TV by its remote, pour your favourite drink (not yet offered by remote control, but maybe one day!) and sit back to enjoy the great Aussie outdoors anywhere your Sunliner / Renault takes you.

Renault Master is powered by a 2.3-litre turbo-diesel direct-injection four-cylinder engine, producing 110 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque, the latter between 1500 rpm and 2750 rpm. Whereas the front-drive models have the engine mounted east-west, the powerplant has been turned through 90 degrees to give it a conventional layout for the truck class.

The engine drives through a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automated ZF manual. It features electrically controlled clutch engagement / disengagement that makes it more precise at very low speeds than is usual is automated manuals.

Sunliner 40th Anniversary Model motorhome is priced at about $170,000 driveaway. Prices will very state to state due to differences in government and dealer charges. Contact your local Sunliner dealer for details.

At this stage we haven’t had a chance to road test, or bed or kitchen test, a Sunliner, all we have done is check it out in a stationary position. We hope to carry out a full review soon and will get back to you with a full report then.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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