Sunlight, if you can excuse the terrible pun, has really stepped out of the shadows.
Just two years ago the German manufacturer was still having to share its launch with Dethleffs, the fellow Erwin Hymer Group subsidiary out of whom it had grown as a kind of entry-level alternative to the more luxurious models that Dethleffs was offering.
But now, following an office move away from Dethleffs’ base at Isny im Allgäu, and with a planned £20.5m investment at Erwin Hymer’s rapidly expanding Capron facility in the former East Germany, where Sunlights have hitherto been made, this season the company felt confident enough to have its own launch event in Munich.
It used the occasion to unveil a move in not one but two directions – not only turning its hand to van conversions, but A-classes, too.
The move into van conversions is perhaps the more interesting. The range comprises four models based on the medium-wheelbase, long-wheelbase and extra-long-wheelbase Fiat Ducato.
The range has an English name – Cliff – and is being launched with UK OTR prices ranging from £37,990 to £40,950, making it extremely competitive.
The A-class range is initially just two models. There is just the fixed-single-bed I 68 (£59,750 OTR) and the island-bed I 69 L (£59,490 OTR).
The two-to-three-berth Cliff 540 is the shortest ’van in the range with an overall length of 5.41m and a transverse double bed in the rear.
You’ll find a similar layout in the 5.99m-long Cliff 600, while the same length Cliff 601 comes with transverse double bunks and so could accommodate five, if you include the bed you can make up in the front dinette, that comes as an option on these models.
Finally, the longest model in the range, the 6.36m-long Cliff 640, has a transverse bed at the rear, that can be turned into a double.
All models come with a 2.0-litre 115bhp Euro 6 engine, and have daytime running lights and ESP fitted as standard.
Inside you will find two wardrobes in all except the 540, some of which are nearly full-height.
There is also Truma Combi 4 heating, a two-burner hob, a 90-litre fridge (except in the 540 which has a 65-litre version), and spotlights over the beds that can be moved according to which way you like to sleep.
Furniture inside all models is in a mid-tone wood known as Summer Wave, while the beige upholstery is called Gold Coast.
Optional packs available with the Sunlight Cliff range include a Basic Pack that will get you captain’s chairs and blinds in the cab, an external step, a door flyscreen, a table extension and a clothes rail in the bathroom.
The Chassis pack will add cab air conditioning, a passenger air bag, electric and heated wing mirrors, radio pre-wiring and an 120-litre diesel tank.
The Chassis Comfort Pack features a leather steering wheel and gear knob, LED daytime running lights, headlights in a black frame and a gloss-black radiator grille.
The van conversions are partly based on fellow Hymer brand Bürstner’s City Van range, and despite the expansion at Capron they will be manufactured at Erwin Hymer’s San Casciano facility in Tuscany, where Laika is also built.
Sunlight is hoping to market the Cliff range separately, with a dedicated dealer network. Although judging by dealer reaction at the launch, this could include some of Sunlight’s existing eight-strong UK dealer network.
The company has also chosen as its first brand ambassador – and he’s British! Surfer Alan Stokes may not be a household name, but he was the 2009 UK Pro Surf Tour champion.
The two A-classes are both based on a 2.3-litre Fiat Ducato. Both are 7.43m long with an MTPLM just within the licence limit of 3495kg.
Both have manual drop-down beds over the cab. Plus, they come with daytime running lights and a five-year water ingress warranty.
In other news
Sunlight’s existing coachbuilt motorhomes have not been entirely overlooked amid all the new departures.
For 2018, the nine low-profiles and three overcabs come with new decals, a new shape to the overhead lockers which now come with soft-close white doors and ambient lighting, new laminates, and a new brown and dark-grey Santa Cruz upholstery option.
The kitchen drawers are also now soft-close, while you’ll find two USB plugs in the lounge, a new external mains socket and exterior LED light, and a new LED light in the garage for those models that have them.
The T 66, T 67 and T 68 L now have overhead lockers over the complete vehicle width at the back, with shorter shelves.
The removal of a window in the A 68 and A 72 overcab models means they now come with a second locker in the garage.
Optional packs include a Basic Pack made up of a panoramic rooflight, a rooflight, captain’s chairs and a driver’s door in the cab, and a power outlet in the garage.
UK-bound coachbuilt models will have a Basic Pack with extras including a panoramic rooflight, a second rooflight, an extra power socket in the kitchen and in the garage, and a door on the passenger side of the cab, where you will also find captain’s seats with armrests.
They will also include the Chassis Pack, which gets you cab air conditioning, a passenger airbag and cruise control. All UK models will have an oven.
Two additional optional packs include the Chassis Comfort Pack, which gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, and chrome surrounds to the instrument panels on the dashboard.
The Sunlight Active Pack, meanwhile, includes silver sidewalls, special decals and a high-level rear light cluster.
2018-season Sunlight motorhomes at-a-glance
- Sunlight Cliff 540 – 2-3 berths, 4 travel seats, transverse rear bed, 5.41m long, £37,990 OTR
- Sunlight Cliff 600 – 2-3 berths, 4 travel seats, transverse rear bed, 5.99m long, £39,090 OTR
- Sunlight Cliff 601 – 4-5 berths, 4 travel seats, double transverse beds, 5.99m long, £39,550 OTR
- Sunlight Cliff 640 – 2-3 berths, 4 travel seats, transverse rear bed, 6.36m long, £40,950 OTR
- Sunlight T 58 – 2-3 berths, 4 travel seats, rear French bed and washroom, 5.98m long, £45,690 OTR
- Sunlight T 60 – 2-3 berths, 4 travel seats, rear transverse bed, 5.98m long, £44,790 OTR
- Sunlight T 64 – 2-5 berths, 4-5 travel seats, rear French bed and washroom, optional drop-down bed, 6.83m long, £49,190 OTR
- Sunlight T 65 – 2-5 berths, 4-5 travel seats, rear transverse bed, optional drop-down bed, 6.99m long, £49,190 OTR
- Sunlight T 66 – 2-3 berths, 4 travel seats, rear fixed single beds, 6.93m long, £49,450 OTR
- Sunlight T 67 – 2-5 berths, 4-5 travel seats, rear fixed single beds, optional drop-down bed, 7.38m long, £50,790 OTR
- Sunlight T 68 – 2-5 berths, 4-5 travel seats, rear fixed single beds, optional drop-down bed, 7.43m long, £50,790 OTR
- Sunlight T 69 S – 2-5 berths, 4 travel seats, island bed, optional drop-down bed, 6.99m long, £49,190 OTR
- Sunlight T 69 L – 2-5 berths, 4-5 travel seats, island bed, optional drop-down bed, 7.43m long, £50,550 OTR
- Sunlight A 68 – 6 berths, 4-6 travel seats, rear bunks, 6.63m long, £47,850 OTR
- Sunlight A 70 – 6 berths, 4-6 travel seats, rear transverse bed, 7.28m long, £50,090 OTR
- Sunlight A 72 – 6 berths, 4-6 travel seats, rear bunks, 7.23m long, £50,590 OTR
- Sunlight I 68 – 4-5 berths, 4-5 travel seats, fixed single beds, 7.43m long, £59,750 OTR
- Sunlight I 69 L – 4-5 berths, 4-5 travel seats, island bed, 7.43m long, £59,490 OTR
UK prices for the Cliff range go from £37,990 to £40,950, making it extremely competitive