One of Paradise Motor Homes’ claims to fame is that slide-out layouts for its motorhomes are its speciality. Another is that a considerable amount of careful engineering from a practical and safety point of view goes into its designs. There are a number of models and layouts available from Paradise but we decided to have a look at the Inspiration Ultra, a Mercedes-Benz (M-B) Sprinter-based motorhome with slide-outs on either side.
CAB AND CHASSIS
The Sprinter’s 3.0-litre, 140kW turbo-diesel motor drives through the full auto seven-speed gearbox making it a very smooth performer indeed. It has all the usual safety features that M-B pioneered such as ABS brakes and driver and passenger airbags. Instead of the radio/GPS unit previously seen in Paradise models there is now an iPad. The ‘timber’ inserts on the dashboard and doors are a striking feature of the cab design.
It should be noted that the Paradise-converted Sprinter 519 CDI has a 5500kg GVM. While that provides extra load capacity it also requires a Light Rigid (LR) driving licence. Don’t let that put you off, though – it’s not a difficult drive and I always reckon that manufacturers in trying to slip under the 4.5 tonne limit often introduce compromises.
Above the chassis, the Inspiration Ultra body comprises full composite fibreglass walls built to a Paradise specification. The roof and floor are one-piece items to provide strength and waterproofing properties. Out of sight (or previously performed) are the composite body panels that are built with a high-tensile alloy rollover frame, integrated slide-outs in the body structure and the crash test simulation for the body construction, cabinetry and appliance anchoring.
The Ultra doesn’t lack external bin space – there’s a considerable amount, all using swing-away doors and fully sealed against dust ingress.
Those under the slide-outs require a bit of prior consideration as to their use, though, and are easier to access with the slide-outs closed.
All have internal lights for night-time use. The mid nearside bin contains a slide-out barbecue and a flat-screen TV. Of course, the latter isn’t mounted on just any swivelling arm but a purpose-built Paradise unit.
ON THE ROAD
Despite the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel being the most expensive in the Sprinter range it makes life very easy on the road, with plenty of power on tap as required. I always think that a larger motor working easily is a much better drive – as well as being more economical – than a less powerful donk constantly operating at full capacity. There’s also no doubt that the seven-speed auto is the slickest in the (Light Commercial) business and that this combination is unbeatable.
On the safety front, the Benz is up there with the best of them and includes driver and passenger airbags, ABS brakes and the Electronic Stability Program (ESP). The ESP is interesting if you have the chance to try it on a closed test ground.
Paradise has added the reversing camera and the multimedia unit is instrumental for playing music and avoiding matrimonial arguments by\ handling the weighty matter of navigation.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Setting up the Inspiration Ultra requires a little more time than a motorhome sans slide-outs, but not much. Basically, it involves operating two switches to open the slide-out, spinning the driver and passenger seats around and opening the windows. The slide-out operation is not particularly fast but it’s very smooth and quiet. You need to take care with the nearside slide-out and the entry door. With the door fully open it’s possible to get it caught in the closing slide-out. The operation simply stops until the door is closed.
From outside, the slide-outs might look small but inside it’s a different matter, with space being the operative word. Like many Paradise motorhomes, the front area with the swivelled seats works in conjunction with a fold-out table and third matching seat to make up the dining area. Add in the sideways-facing lounge in the front part of the offside slideout and it creates a roomy lounge area. Convenient wine glass and bottle holders fitted under the table behind the driver’s seat are practical as well as enjoyable.
Split between the slide-outs, the main kitchen bench is on the offside but the fridge is fitted into the forward section of the nearside slide-out. That leaves space in the mid rear area for the bedroom with the expanded full-width bathroom accommodated across the rear.
As a result of Paradise employing suitable hues and tones and plenty of window area the very light and bright interior does not need any space perception aids. Rolled timber edges on all the benchtops and overhead locker doors look good, as do little touches like the partition at the rear end of the kitchen bench that also reduces water splash onto the adjoining bed.
The integrated concertina-style blinds are recent developments and are used all around the cab. The removal of the fiddly, stick-on screens used in previous models is a good decision.
In some ways, the kitchen looks deceptively small but there is of, course, a little Paradise innovation to change that perception. Naturally, there’s a four-burner cooktop and grill, along with a stainless-steel sink and drainer – both fresh and drinking water supplied.
Instead of a conventional microwave oven, a convection oven combo is fitted underneath the grill. Drawer space abounds with five in all, along with wire baskets in the adjoining cupboard. Specially fitted holders ensure the plates don’t rattle around in the overhead lockers. Adjoining the kitchen bench, the two-seat lounge can be used as intended but by removing the seat back and lifting out the panel behind, a considerably enhanced benchtop area is available.
Night time visibility isn’t a problem with plentiful LED fittings, both recessed and reading lights. In a conventional motorhome, a 1.85m (6ft) x 1.5m (5ft) bed might appear to take up most of the bedroom area but not here – the walk-by space is considerable even if the 150mm/6in extension bolster is used.
In addition to the storage space underneath the bed, which is also accessible from outside and also has the dining table mounted under the bed, there are small bedside cabinets on both sides, along with the usual overhead lockers.
General storage in the bedroom area isn’t minimal either, with the opposite side having a huge wardrobe area set into the slide-out. All this might lead to a temptation to carry excessive gear.
Across the rear, the bathroom has the vanity cabinet included in the nearside slide-out which leaves space for the shower cubicle on the opposite side and the cassette toilet sitting on its own in the middle. Not only does the vanity cabinet include the usual items like wash basin, lower cupboard and mirror-door shaving cabinet but also a top-loading washing machine.
Windows and a fan hatch provide ventilation, as does the toilet cassette ventilation system. It might not look it but the shower cubicle is a new design, mainly to improve its strength factor.
A sliding door with a mirrored finish can be used to close off the bathroom and part of the bathroom wall doubles as a mounting point for the 32-inch flat-screen TV. Its central location means it can be seen easily from the bed and the front lounge area.
Much of the technological sophistication of the Inspiration Ultra is hidden behind the panels. The 200A/H deep-cycle batteries are backed up by a 30 amp smart charger and two 150W solar panels.
A 1000W sine-wave inverter is also standard but a 2.3KVA generator is an option. The 240V power points are fitted in all the appropriate places and protected by an earth leakage circuit breaker. I’m fairly sure they’ll be on the way soon but a couple of 5V USB wall chargers would be good. Not one but two roofmounted Truma Aventa air conditioners keep things cool and on colder winter nights, the Eberspacher gas-driven ducted heating system can be fired up.
There’s no doubt that the Inspiration Ultra has an impressive price but at the same time, it’s a very impressive motorhome. Space and luxury are certainly the buzzwords especially with the double slide-out arrangement which gives the interior space of something like a 12m A Class motorhome in just under 8m in length. That makes it considerably easier to drive, manoeuvre and park.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
Tags: Review Paradise Motorhome Merecedes Benz Sprinter Diesel
Written: Sat 01 Feb 2014
Printed: February, 2014
Malcolm Street N26735
Manufacturer Paradise Motor Homes
Model Inspiration Ultra
Base Vehicle Mercedes-Benz 519 CDI
Tare weight 4370kg
Licence Light Rigid
Engine 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
Gearbox Seven-speed auto
Brakes ABS disc with ESP
External length 7.9m (25ft 11in)
External width (inc awning) 2.48m (8ft 2in)
External height 3.15m (10ft 3in)
Internal height 3.23m (10ft 7in)
Rear bed size 2.00m x 1.5m (6ft 6in x 5ft extended)
Cooktop Dometic 4-burner and grill
Fridge Waeco RPD 215 litre
Microwave oven LG convection
Lighting 12V LED
Batteries 200 amp hour
Solar panels 2 x 150W
Air conditioner Truma Aventa
Heater Eberspacher diesel
Shower Separate 900mm x 700mm cubicle
Hot water heater Truma 14 litre
Water tank 127 litres
Grey tank 100 litres
Gas cylinders 2 x 4kg
Price $309,518 (plus on roads)