The upmarket German manufacturer's design team has clearly focused on feedback from customers in planning the latest additions to the range.

Customer feedback is quite clearly taken very seriously at Niesmann+Bischoff, because at least one of the two new layouts that it is offering this season is the result of direct feedback from last year's Caravan Salon.

The company, perhaps the most upmarket brand within the old Erwin Hymer Group, is also offering lithium batteries on all of its Flair, Arto and Smove models. It says the packs show significant lifetime cost savings over conventional AGM batteries, despite the initial extra cost.

Upgraded washroom

The first of the new layouts comes in Niesmann+Bischoff's flagship Flair range, based on an Iveco Daily.

The 920LW is based on the 920LS, but following customer feedback, now includes a longer handbasin in the central washroom, with enough space for two drawers underneath.

In addition, the extra capacity this provides has allowed the designers to introduce a second wardrobe with four drawers in its bottom half.

Otherwise, the Flair range stays the same, although the Flair 920EK now includes as an option a second 46-litre fridge, which fits in the sideboard.

The second new layout comes in the firm's Fiat-based Arto range, and is based on the Arto 77E, currently its best-selling model. The twin-axle Arto 82E adds half a metre of length to this layout, providing enough room, again, for a second wardrobe.

For 2020, all nine Arto models are also available, at no extra cost, with a fashionable face-to-face or parallel sofa layout, providing a straight line of vision behind the driver. The loss of the conventional L-shaped sofa does mean you lose one of the two forward-facing travel seats that are included here, but a travel seat is now available as an extra in the opposite side bench.

The future's lithium

For the 2020 season, the company is also offering customers a new Lithium Energy Pack for all of the models in its three ranges.

Niesmann+Bischoff says that such a pack, which is based on three Victron lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, can increase self-sufficiency on Flairs from 2.2 to nine days, and increase it six times on Arto models.

On the Flair, the pack has a total capacity of 400Ah, while on the Arto, the capacity is 300Ah.

A charging booster, battery monitor, battery managment display and high-performance combi-charger that provides 3000W of continuous output are included in the pack.

You also get two 125W solar panels on the roof; although as an option this can be upgraded to a total power output of 500W, or 375W on the Arto 77E and 78F.

The pack for Smove models includes just two batteries, with a total power of 200Ah, two 160W solar panels and a 1600W combi-charger.

Lithium batteries have in the past occasionally proved difficult to charge at low temperatures, so the pack also comes with a useful battery heater.

The company says that opting for the Lithium Energy Pack can increase capacity in an Arto by 100%, to 285Ah. This compares to 143Ah if you use conventional AGM batteries.

There is also a weight advantage, with the pack weighing 15kg compared to the AGM batteries at 27kg.

In addition, Niesmann+Bischoff claims that staying with AGM batteries could turn out to be twice as expensive over time, assuming that they have to be changed every three years.

Other changes

The TV provision in both the Arto and the Flair models has been improved, so that in the Arto, you get a 32in TV, and in the Flair, a 40in one.

In both cases, these are positioned in a dedicated storage point by the door, and can be swung out so that everyone in the lounge can see the set, without blocking access to the door or the rear bathroom.

The firm introduced its own safety features to Flair models back in 2018, including airbags, pedal release, ESP and belt pretensioners.

For 2020, these features have been augmented, with the option of a Flair Safety Pack. This includes emergency brake assist, adaptive cruise control, active lane assist with audio warning, ESP with crosswind assist, Traction Plus with a hill holder, and an active tyre-pressure control system.

The Iveco Daily steering wheel included in the 2020 Flair can also be adjusted to within a centimetre in height and tilt, and as an option, can have a leather cover. Iveco cabs now come with an electronic parking brake, so there is more room to swivel the cab seats.

Like many other manufacturers, Niesmann+Bischoff is offering Fiat's new nine-speed automatic gearbox as an option on all its Fiat-based Arto and Smove models. It says this can lead to a 16% increase in fuel savings. It has 140bhp as standard on Fiat's new Euro 6d-TEMP engines, although 16-bhp and 180bhp are options.

Our pick: Flair 920LW

If you have the money - say you've won the lottery or something similar - and the driving confidence, then the new Flair really is one to go for. Its huge washroom is a sight to behold. You might even start to think you would rather use this washroom than your bathroom at home!

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