Two words neatly summarise Niesmann+Bischoff’s biggest news for the 2018 season: passive safety.
At its launch event near Boppard in Germany, the high-end manufacturer presented its new Flair portfolio as the first-ever crash-test-approved range of liners.
Elsewhere, there’s a new model and detail updates in the A-class Arto range, while 2017’s new star, the Smove, receives only light tweaks.
It might seem hard to believe that when you’re spending in excess of £70,000 on a motorhome, there is no guarantee that it has been fully crash tested, or that it’s fitted with an airbag.
Of course, buy a Fiat-, Peugeot- or Citroën-based ’van and an airbag will at least be available as an option, but that’s it.
While the Smove and Arto models ride on Ducato chassis, Niesmann+Bischoff’s most luxurious line-up, Flair, uses the Iveco Daily chassis.
So the manufacturer has teamed up with Iveco to develop and test safety systems for its Flair range, in an exclusive deal that means this tech will not be available to other marques.
Work began in August 2015, crash tests starting this February. This included the brand’s top-of-the-range models being subjected to 12 rather brutal misuse tests to reveal if the airbag fired correctly in certain situations.
Tests included heavy braking from 60km/h (37mph), taking ramps at 50km/h (31mph) and 90km/h (56mph), sled tests (with dummies), driving into a 120-tonne concrete wall at 32km/h (20mph) and crash-testing at an angle of 30 degrees, also at 32km/h.
Real-world simulations such as hitting pot holes and driving over cobblestones with a 1500kg load (500kg in the garage) were also conducted, to demonstrate that airbags fired as they should, and that the motorhomes could handle such conditions without being damaged.
Given that such assessment isn’t widespread in the industry, we’d be inclined to applaud it in the hope that it instigates a movement to ensure improved safety standards and industry-wide regulations for all motorcaravanners.
The result of these evaluations is a raft of changes to the Flair – so many that re-homologation was required.
Driver and passenger airbags are now standard on all Flair models, as are ESP and seat belt tensioners.
Also standard is a Pedal Release System which, in the event of a rear-impact crash, guarantees that the brake pedal folds away, reducing the potential for injury to the driver’s feet and legs.
Staying with Niesmann+Bischoff’s range-topping Flair portfolio, as well as the passive safety updates, a redesigned garage means this area now has an impressive 400kg payload.
Stepping inside the Flair range, the indirect lighting in the living room can now be dimmed and there are new shower doors that claim to be rattle-free.
Another addition is a new Thetford Topline hob with sensors in the covers, so if you close the glass cover when the hob is on, the flame will be extinguished automatically.
New options for the Flair portfolio include a 190-litre diesel tank, a leather, multi-function steering wheel, a 205hp engine (only with the automatic gearbox), improved central locking, dimmable LED awning lighting and Alde cab heating.
In the Arto A-class range, it’s out with the 76 E and in with the new, 10cm longer 77 E, this the only new-for-2018 floorplan.
The Arto 76 E was one of Niesmann+Bischoff’s best selling models, but its 77 E replacement means longer rear beds, which many buyers will appreciate.
There’s also a new sliding door between the rear bedroom and central washroom, which is a better use of space, helping accommodate those longer beds.
Last year’s Arto 79 F is now called 78 F, but as the floorplan is unchanged, this is not considered a new model.
Range-wide updates fitted as standard to all Arto ’vans include the aforementioned new Thetford Topline hob and shower doors (the latter when fitted with a shower from the Flair range). And, again, there’s new dimmable ambient lighting in the living area.
The electrics have been moved into the garage to make them more accessible (which has already been done on the brand’s other ranges), and you now get two spotlights and an LED strip under the front bed, instead of swaneck-style lights.
A redesigned fuel filler system is claimed to reduce forecourt spillages.
There are two new options for the rear bedroom on Arto models: the extra mattress between the fixed single beds (to make a double) now has more comfy Froli springing, and a second TV can be mounted here, too.
Other new options include an extra berth using the telescopic table and a mattress (not on the 66 L and 83 B), a 230V socket in the garage, improved central locking, Al-Ko hydraulic steadies with automatic levelling (€5590), an electrically operated 6m-long awning (85 and 88 models only), Alde cab heating and underfloor air conditioning, while the switch for the dimmable LED awning lighting is by the habitation door, rather than being remote-control.
As the Smove range was only released last year and, being a completely new line-up at a different price point from anything the company has sold before, it is still finding its feet, so changes for 2018 are limited to spec bumps.
Two notable standard-fit changes are that the toilet now slides out of view at the touch of a button, liberating more floorspace in the washroom, and the awnings are 25cm longer.
The additional Froli-sprung mattress to be used between the single beds option seen in other models also comes to the Smove range.
A handful of other new extras are available on Smove ’vans for the 2018 season, including an extendable table on the 6.9 Q and 7.4 E models, a ceramic bowl for the cassette toilet, Alde cab heating and shelved storage in the garage on 7.4 models (not with Alde heating).
In other news
Following Niesmann+Bischoff’s entry into the Japanese motorhome market last season, for 2018 the brand is launching in New Zealand.
Yet despite this, there are no plans to up its annual production limit of 650 ’vans.
This is an increase from around 370 a few years ago, following a change in the production line and an expansion of the workforce to meet demand.
However, although the capacity exists to grow production yet further, there are no plans to do this at present, to preserve the brand’s exclusivity.
2018 Niesmann+Bischoff motorhomes at a glance
- Niesmann+Bischoff Smove 6.9 Q – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 3500kg MTPLM, £72,500
- Niesmann+Bischoff Smove 6.9 B – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 3500kg MTPLM, £73,400
- Niesmann+Bischoff Smove 7.4 E – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 3500kg MTPLM, £76,000
- Niesmann+Bischoff Smove 7.4 B – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 3500kg MTPLM, £76,900
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 66 L – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 3500kg MTPLM, £82,010
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 72 L – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 4500kg MTPLM, £87,230
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 74 E – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 4500kg MTPLM, £88,970
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 76 L – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 4500kg MTPLM, £90,490
- NEW! Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 77 E – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 4500kg MTPLM, £90,750
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 78 F – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 4500kg MTPLM, £93,300
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 79 E – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 5000kg MTPLM, £95,860
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 79 R – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 5000kg MTPLM, £95,690
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 83 B – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 5000kg MTPLM, £98,420
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 85 E – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 5000kg MTPLM, £99,360
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 88 E – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 5000kg MTPLM, £101,980
- Niesmann+Bischoff Arto 88 EK/F – Fiat Ducato, 130hp, 5000kg MTPLM, £102,050
- Niesmann+Bischoff Flair 830 LE – Iveco Daily, 180hp, 7200kg MTPLM, £144,400
- Niesmann+Bischoff Flair 840 L/B – Iveco Daily, 180hp, 7200kg MTPLM, £145,200
- Niesmann+Bischoff Flair 880 LE – Iveco Daily, 180hp, 7200kg MTPLM, £147,800
- Niesmann+Bischoff Flair 880 BE – Iveco Daily, 180hp, 7200kg MTPLM, £147,900
- Niesmann+Bischoff Flair 920 BF/LS – Iveco Daily, 180hp, 7200kg MTPLM, £151,000
- Niesmann+Bischoff Flair 920 LF/LE – Iveco Daily, 180hp, 7200kg MTPLM, £150,900
All prices are for Euro 6, right-hand drive models and include 20% VAT, transport and OTR charges
The new Flair portfolio is the first-ever crash-test-approved range of liners