Sri Lanka is slowly catching on to the motorhome game. Every now and then you will see a glimpse of one of these accommodations-on-wheels passing by, or in a showroom waiting to be snapped up. The motorhomes we see are of the smaller variety as is popular in Europe and the United Kingdom, rather than the full-fat American RV that can rival a Ashok Leyland bus for size. As is usually done, the motorhome part is built by a dedicated company on a light truck or van chassis, as is the case with our Mercedes-Benz Gloucester motorhome built in the United Kingdom by the company Auto-Sleepers. Auto-Sleepers have been around since 1961 and build a variety of motorhomes on Mercedes and Peugeot chassis, to name a few. The vehicle was imported to Sri Lanka by Bavarian Motors who are no stranger to bringing down the unusual, interesting and exotic to our shores.
Mechanicals & Technology
Tried and tested internals power this beast along in the shape of Mercedes-Benz well-known 2.2 litre turbodiesel engine. Outputting 163bhp at 3,800rpm and a decent 360Nm of torque at a lowly 1,400rpm it pushes the Gloucester along nicely, through a five-speed automatic gearbox. Top speed is estimated to be 80mph (approx. 130km/h) but it is recommended to cruise at 65-70mph (105-110km/h) maximum on highways where this speed is permissible. Else, stick to the speed limits as the Gloucester is quite wide as well as tall and long. Braking is taken care of by discs all round with ABS, while steering is of the power assisted rack and pinion variety. The entire thing sits on a Mercedes-Benz LWB cab chassis making repairs and maintenance to the running gear relatively easy. The total user payload of the vehicle is rated at 485kg – this includes the mass of occupants, luggage and water carried in the water tanks too.
The Gloucester has a capacity of 91 litres fresh water storage, 76 litres for waste water and provision for two 13kg gas cylinders for cooking purposes. Cooking facilities include a full gas range and oven, as well as a microwave oven. A domestic 88-litre refrigerator is there to store your food.
The auxiliary battery has a capacity of 100Ah and there is an inverter on board for powering all your gizmos if your campsite does not have external power supply. Climate control is there to keep you and your passengers comfortable and there is the full AV system for keeping the kids as well as the adults occupied if the weather decides to turn nasty. A reverse camera display on the rear view mirror helps the driver back up the behemoth.
The camper sleeps four (one double bed in the rear and two couches in the front that can be folded down to create a second double bed). A toilet and shower is in the very back with heated washer, and the toilet is of the “cassette” type – where the waste tank can be removed and emptied. A retractable awning forms an extended roof on the left hand side of the vehicle allowing you to create your own ‘verandah’ just outside the door if you please.
Safety in a Motorhome is much more paramount because you have active sources of flames, more flammable materials, etc… To that effect, you get a smoke alarm, a fire alarm and a Carbon Monoxide alarm. In case of an emergency, the windows are large enough and can be fully opened to serve as emergency exits (one is the toilet window). RCCB (Residual Current Circuit Breakers) control the high-voltage electrical system and the battery-inverter interface has its own dedicated controller which will alert various situations such as vehicle batteries reaching a low level, power supply unit overheated condition, etc…