At this price point, you can expect the highest quality and the closest attention to detail. But does the Carthago deliver and offer true luxury living?
We were almost done with our test, and pulling out of the fuel station on the way home, when a car pulled in, just in front of us.
The driver got out, his engine still running, and came dashing towards us. "You've got a Liner-for-two!" he exclaimed.
Indeed we had. Carthago's Liner-for-two, one of the most luxurious two-berths currently on the market, happens to be our newest long-term-loan motorhome here at Practical Motorhome. We'll be featuring it more over the coming months.
But our new friend, who it turned out, already has one Carthago, couldn't wait that long: and nor, dear reader, might you. So here are our initial thoughts.
With an exterior that can often (as in our test model) be all-over silver (despite a completely timber-free construction), assertive branding emphasised by that famous red smudge, and a front grille that closely resembles the Cheshire cat's smile, this is a design that commands attention. No wonder Jamiroquai's Jay Kay is said to be a fan.
But then 'bling' is perhaps the wrong word, because that implies some degree of false merit - and there is nothing false about the quality on display here.
It's really great to have habitation doors that close perfectly with a reassuring thunk, and to be able to sit on upholstery that showed no sign of faulty stitching, no matter where we looked.
Attention to every detail is good, too. To give just one example, the Liner-for-two is equipped with a sizeable garage, which has equally large access doors. But Carthago has thoughtfully included a strap to help smaller people haul the door down from above.
If there is one fault, you could say this particular 'van seems just a little top-heavy. There is certainly a larger-than-usual amount of GRP above the windscreen. But that's partly because this motorhome includes elaborate drop-down beds at the front. It also has a large double floor, allowing a completely flat interior.
On the road
You get a good view of the surrounding road, not just from the rear-view camera, but also from the two coach-style side mirrors.
As well as coming in two slightly different lengths (7.83m or 8.53m), the Liner-for-two also offers a choice of base vehicles - the Fiat Ducato or the Iveco Daily (the latter has a significantly higher MTPLM).
Our test model was the shorter version on the Fiat Ducato, which has an MTPLM of 4500kg.
The Fiat engine is still only 2.3 litres, offering 130bhp. As such, we though it felt a touch underpowered (the Iveco engine on the same length is 3.0 litres and 150bhp), although the Comfort-Matic gearbox does allow a very smooth drive.
What we found really impressive was the noise - or rather the lack of it - behind the driver. There was not one rattle from inside the motorhome through all of our twists and turns. A real sign of quality German engineering.
One key locks everything in the 'van. And, should you set off again with any door even slightly open, the ear-splitting alarm will stop you going any further.
Our Carthago is right-hand drive, but only has one cab door, on the nearside.
Lounging & dining
Strictly speaking, this lounge is C-shaped, rather than U-shaped, because it extends around to provide the rearward facing sofa behind the kitchen bar.
With a headrest on the nearside end, this settee can also be electrically extended to form a seriously decadent reclining seat.
There's another headrest on the nearside of the rear sofa, so the two of you could easily all sit back, relax and watch the TV, which automatically slides out from behind a cupboard on the offside (another cost option).
That TV can be connected up to the speakers that you'll find immediately underneath the locker. If you prefer to have more of a surround sound experience.
A huge roof light and three large windows let daylight really flood in here, although the voile blinds in front of the windows diffuse it a bit and allow for privacy.
At night, you still get good illumination, provided by three LEDs contained within the housing for the roof light, six more under the lockers, and ambient lighting behind the lockers and housed in the two little shelves in the rear corners.
A row of LEDs also shine up from the floor at the entrance to the lounge.
There are no directional spotlights, however, and while there is a mains socket next to two USBs near the TV station, we found that it was located so close to the shelf underneath, that not every plug will fit here.
The swan-neck tap on the large sink can be extended into a hose, while the sink cover is neatly designed to divide into two - one half doubles up as a chopping board and can be stowed away in a slot under the bar.
The workspace is well lit, with two LED lights, and you get a paper-towel roll holder and another mains socket by the switches - although it was also rather close to the surface beneath.
There are two Posi-Lock overhead lockers, both with shelves. Should you want to go for the optional microwave, it would take up one of these.
However, the six large, slightly convex drawers underneath - which have to be locked when you are on the move - should still provide more than enough space for kitchenware. One of them has elegant internal trays for cutlery.
There are slide-out shelves on either side of the kitchen area. Slide-out the one on the left and two small waste bins are revealed.
The 160-litre AES fridge, located across the aisle, has a very small crisper tray, but does have a separate freezer.
Above this, there is a compact gas-powered combined oven and grill, but this is positioned quite high up - so shorter people might find that it is a bit problematic keeping a watch on what's grilling.
They can easily be merged into a double, too. Carthago has even included a hidden dead switch, which you can turn on to stop any children wearing down the battery by playing with the system.
You pull a set of steps out from the chest of drawers on the left to reach the beds. A partition can be pulled out to shut off the cab - perhaps too well: we found the seal on this partition was so effective, it was perfectly possible to go to sleep with the lights in the cab still blazing. In fact, trying to discover which light switch does what can be rather confusing in this area.
There are no windows up here, but there is a roof light. Our only dissatisfaction is that the shelves for storing glasses and books are tiny.
The large wardrobe and full chest of drawers on the right, and the parts of the chest on the left that are not taken up with the steps, provide more than enough storage space for what is a useful dressing area, too. In a neat design touch, there's a small cubbyhole in one of the steps.
As its name implies, this motorhome is designed for two. That said, there is an option to have the pedestal table in the lounge replaced with a telescopic variety that can be lowered to make a second double there. But would you really want to?
However, unlike some other A-classes, the space you are left with when you do this is still enormous.
In fact, even if you move the door over to shut off the nearside washroom on its own, there is still generous space to move about.
In here, you'll find lit mirrors all around, with three shelves contained within that above the basin, and a smaller set of shelves in the corner.
Two toothbrush mugs, a soap dispenser, two robe hooks, and a toilet brush and holder are also provided, and the (optional) inclusion of a SOC ventilation unit might be the deciding factor that finally convinces you that yes, this motorhome is just as good as a boutique hotel.
The shower across the way shouldn't disappoint, either, even if the yellow hue of its light felt a bit cheap in this 'van. You actually get a choice of two showers here - a rain shower coming down from the top, and a more conventional shower with a riser to the side.
That's a rare sight in any 'van. And you shouldn't ever need to worry about using up all of the water, in a motorhome that benefits from a 225-litre fresh-water tank.
The garage is heated and lit, and comes with a 12V mains socket. While it's not the tallest we have seen, you can lift up the offside sofa in the rear lounge and remove and open a compartment in the floor to provide enough space to fit a bicycle in there.
Further to the front, two doors either side give you access to a sizeable clear section of the double floor, where you could store bulky items such as skis. This is also accessible from a trapdoor in the washroom.
Another trapdoor by the habitation door opens up to reveal a huge boot locker. And that's before we have even mentioned the six overhead lockers in the rear lounge, and the shelved cupboard in front of the TV. There's no underseat storage here, however, because much of that area forms the top of the garage.
However, as is the case with many German models, much of the really exciting equipment is included in option packs, which will push the overall cost higher.
For example, central locking, cruise control and much of the interior finish in our test model is included in a Super Package, which will set you back a further £5975. The TV is part of a £3715 SAT and TV package, which doesn't even include the second TV that you can have in the bedroom - that's a further £1105.
If you want a Nespresso machine with associated voltage convertor, that's a further £1385, while a Climate Package, involving a cassette awning and air conditioning, is £2730. You really have to check what is included and what isn't.
|Fresh/waste water||225L / 180L|
|Leisure battery||80 Ah|
|Secondary leisure battery||80 Ah|
3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill, Extractor fan
Separate shower cubicle
Have you been lucky enough to receive a lump sum as part of your pension? Do the two of you have a yearning to head off into that motorhome sunset with your every need taken care of?
Then the Liner-for-two is certainly for you. It is a huge investment - and even more so when you add in the various options that are available.
But if you really are going to use it frequently, this 'van will doubtless give you many rewarding memories. There's even plenty of space for you to entertain family and friends.
Those with tighter budgets or plans for a more varied lifestyle might settle for something a bit less ambitious - but it's always nice to dream.
OUR TEST TEAM'S NOTES
CLAUDIA DOWELL: "Invite your non-touring friends along for dinner in this motorhome and they could very easily be converted. And with a luxury washroom that includes a SOG unit, what more could you ask for?"
SARAH WAKELY: "The idea of being able to kick off your shoes and indulge in some telly before you slip upstairs to bed is what really appeals in this motorhome. But my favourite aspect is the way that the cab is completely closed off when the bed is down - what a clever piece of design."
PETER BABER: "It may be a bit of a monster vehicle, but with its huge water tanks and ample batteries, this motorhome really lends itself to wild camping. Wherever you might stay, you really wouldn't want for anything."
- Attention to detail
- No internal rattles when driving
- Spacious rear lounge
- Very comfortable bed
- Seems a little top-heavy
- Dashboard looks cheap
- No directional spotlights
- Oven/grill positioned high up