When you talk about mobile homes, Malaysia’s not exactly the first country that comes to mind. It’s more commonly found in countries with a wider land area such as Australia and New Zealand but it’s less seen in Southeast I Asian countries.
I guess that’s why there were a lot of stares of bewilderment when locals saw us cruising down the roads in one.
We were invited by Luxe Motorhomes & Caravans, the sole distributor of the Benimar motorhome models in Malaysia, to test drive the Mileo 313.
It was quite an experience so here’s our review of the test drive and what it was like being in a motorhome.
The Exterior Of The Models
When we first stepped into the showroom, the impressed gasps we let out were almost simultaneous. It was definitely something we hadn’t really seen before.
It’s always featured in Western movies and dramas but actually seeing it right in front of your eyes is a different feeling. The model we were shown is called the Mileo 313 and it measures 2.3 m wide and 5.95 m long. The unladen weight comes to 2,940 kg and can hold up to a maximum of 3,500 kg.
The CEO of Luxe Motorhomes and Caravans, Haffnee, greeted us and shared a bit of info about this business. Luxe is owned by a company named WTA Ventures which is run by him and his team. The company has previous experience running this type of automotive business in New Zealand and Australia so they were inspired to bring that culture to Malaysia.
Besides the Mileo 313, there will be a total of 13 models made available to the Malaysian market, with prices ranging from an estimated RM609,000 to RM650,000.
Haffnee shared that for now, they’re focusing on sales and servicing but they do plan on forming partnerships with tourism groups and vehicle rental agencies for collaborations on renting the motorhomes out.
All models of the motorhomes are advertised as 99% wood-free construction, which means the interior floor structure is made of glass reinforced plastic and PVC. Air-conditioning comes courtesy of a rooftop unit, along with provision for an LED TV with DVD player and satellite tuner.
Besides that, there is a standard 150-watt roof-mounted solar panel as well as a manually-operated Fiamma awning.
The Interior Of The Models
We were left surprised seeing that the interior was more spacious than we had expected. Haffnee shared that the Mileo 313 contains 4 fixed beds/bunks in a vehicle and can sleep up to 6 people.
When you first step in, you’re greeted with a dining table that can fit 4 adults but there is an extension found underneath the table that can swivel out to accommodate 2 more people.
All the seats are covered with Bergen fabric with enough padding to make it comfortable. Heck, if your family’s full of small-sized people, then the extensions are not even needed as the sofas are particularly long.
Beside the dining table, there is a mini pantry/kitchen area that houses a few electronical appliances fit to do some light cooking. The drawers underneath are used to store utensils and the cabinets above would be good to store snacks and any boxed goods.
The Managing Director of Luxe Motorhomes, Nadiah, mentioned that cooking while the motorhome is moving is not recommended as it may prove to be hazardous. But once it is stationary, the kitchen is ideal for either heating up packed food or even starting dishes from scratch when taking a break.
I did appreciate that everything in the kitchen was well thought out in terms of safety. The sink had a lid on top to be closed whilst it is not being used and there are covers provided for the stove too.
All the furniture doors feature secure catches, with soft-closing hinges for the overhead curved doors. What this means is there won’t be any instances of doors slamming or items falling out from the compartments while the motorhome is moving.
Moving past the kitchen area is the bed layout. The 313 employs bunk beds in the form of a pair of single beds stacked double-decker at the back. There is also a bed above the driver cabin that can accommodate two adults.
That was one of the things we were excited to try out as the impression of sleeping in a mobile home is that it would be quite cramped. But surprisingly, though it took us a bit of an effort to get into the bed space, they were spacious enough. Even our colleague who’s about 6 feet tall could fit in with enough leg room to boot.
At the end of each side on the lower bunk, there are small windows which can be locked from the inside. When the beds are not used, the space can be used as a storage area which can then be accessed via those side windows. This would prove to be useful when the motorhome is parked and you need to access your luggage from the outside.
Besides the bunk beds, the dining area can actually be converted into a bed with extra cushioning for a small sized adult or children.
Near the sofa, there is a closet for clothes to be hanged. If more space is needed to store any other belongings, there are a few cabinets lined up above the dining table.
Okay, moving onto the bathroom area. It’s not huge, but it’s a very sizable space and doesn’t make you claustrophobic, like how an airplane toilet would. A cool fact that the team shared with us is that the toilet can be swivelled around to allow space for bigger-sized people. There’s a toilet bowl, sink, and even a shower area.
The door unfortunately can’t be locked so make sure to announce clearly to the others that the restroom is occupied. And be sure to leave that ventilation window open when doing any number twos.
I was very taken with the sun roofs on the ceilings above the beds as well as the general dining area. This is basically for ventilation purposes or to allow some light in and at night, it makes the perfect window to see the starlit sky.
On the side of the motorhome, there is an 18-litre wheeled holding tank which is where your waste goes to. You can pull it out to dump it away and water can be transferred into the water tank through a hose.
Time For The Test Drive
So now it’s time to hit the road.
We were initially concerned about the license needed to drive this motorhome but the Road Transport Department (JPJ) classifies motorhomes as MPVs, so they can be driven by anyone with a D license. The Benimar Mileo range of motorhomes are built in Spain on a Fiat Ducato chassis, and all are powered by a 2.3 litre turbodiesel engine.
There’s plenty of leg room in the driver’s cabin, which is good for the long-distance drives that this vehicle is geared for.
The front screen offers a retractable protective blind that can be locked and secured during the night whilst people are sleeping and the motorhome is on standby. The gear stick and steering wheel are encased in a leather finish, which I think gives that nice classy feel.
I mean, check out that leg room.
The motorhome operates on a manual and auto transmission and Luxe allows a free upgrade to auto gear. The mirrors around the vehicle were big enough to provide a good vision of how to properly maneuver the car. Our Managing Director, who volunteered as tribute to be the test driver of the day, has no previous experience with driving a motorhome but managed to do a three-point turn effortlessly.
The drive itself was smooth. As a passenger, I didn’t feel like it was bumpy sitting down but of course it’s a different case when standing up. Although the roads we cruised down were bumpy, the motorhome itself didn’t jerk much and the only loud noises made were from the utensils inside the oven.
According to our Director, the steering wheel handling was smooth and the control was assuring. Accelerating felt “heavy” because of the vehicle size and also because it’s a huge difference from her usual Proton Persona.
Driving around the city was a little worrying due to the traffic all around us, she felt like she had to go extra slow to avoid any jerkiness when stepping on the brakes. Other than that, we were getting plenty of stares from other drivers, probably because motorhomes are not a common sight on Malaysian roads. What more when there’s a petite sized girl at the wheel.
On a straight road, however, without the worry of traffic, she said it was truly a breeze to drive. Nadiah quipped that we had the first female representative to test drive the Mileo 313 in Malaysia since its launch!
This huge baby would set a buyer back RM609k, which is equivalent to buying a condo unit (albeit a fairly small one in the city).
It’s crazy to think that motorhomes could become a thing in Malaysia.
Haffnee shared that WTA Ventures is in talks with various state governments including Pahang and Johor for the creation of caravan park facilities. Currently there are two caravan parks—one each in Desaru and Pontian while developments in Gopeng and Cameron Highlands have been verbally agreed upon with the respective authorities.
If you’re interested to find out more information about the motorhomes, you can check the website here.
Thanks to Luxe Motorhomes & Caravans for inviting us to test drive this baby!