Read Practical Motorhome's review of the 2006, Fiat Ducato based Knaus Sunliner 658LG, which has an L-shaped lounge and dining area

Design

The coachbuilt body effectively hides the Fiat base vehicle and lends a more bespoke feel. The sense of individual styling remains high, despite having an overcab double bed. As a result, you would feel justifiably proud pulling into a campsite at the helm of this ’van.
The large rear garage is a welcome boost to practicality and storage. The Knaus has a low rear garage sill and there’s no lip to its bottom edge, so it is easy to load a scooter or bicycles into the rear of the Sunliner.
There’s no electric side step in our test vehicle, but it is part of the 2006 specification of this model.
Radiant materials and a straight corridor make the Sunliner easy to navigate inside. However, there are a couple of rough edges to the Knaus’ finish, which we didn’t expect from this manufacturer.
The habitation area door is on the driver’s side, revealing the ’van’s Continental origins.

On the road

The Sunliner uses the Fiat Ducato base with a 2.8-litre JTD turbo-diesel engine. It’s linked to a five-speed manual gearbox with the gear stick positioned high on the dashboard, close to the steering wheels. This makes it easy to reach, although changing gears can be a stiff task. As is common with all Ducato-based vehicles, it takes care to avoid first gear when aiming for third.
The driving position is comfortable, but the steering wheel does not have sufficient adjustment to cater for all drivers. There’s excellent forward and side vision, thanks to the vast windscreen and large side windows.
A handbrake mounted to the right of the driver’s seat makes it easier to walk through from the cab to the living quarters. However, the aisle between the front seats is not as wide as the size of the coachbuilt bodies might suggest.
Rather handily, the dashboard has a 12V socket for charging mobile phones, as well as a storage cubby under the central console and easy to read instruments. There’s also the usual clipboard holder in the centre of the dashboard for aiding map reading.
The Knaus features a pop-up hatch, which can house the optional flat screen television, and a door on the passenger’s side for easy access to the front cabin.

Lounging & dining

The Knaus has an L-shaped lounge and dining area. However, the space in the corner of the ‘L’ is wasted as there’s only enough room on the bench for three people to sit comfortably. The front seats swivel round and the Knaus’ dining table slides out and rotates to offer a variety of eating positions. This feature also makes it easy for those around the table to stand up and sit back down. A lounge window lets in plenty of natural light.
We enjoyed spending time in the lounge area of the Knaus. Watching television is especially simple if you choose the flat screen TV option. It glides satisfyingly out of its slot next to the driver’s seat, and this neat arrangement also keeps the TV safely out of sight when not in use.

Kitchen

Knaus provides kitchen worktop space alongside the hob and sink, but it is rather limited. You’ll have to use the dining table as a preparation area.
Once you have prepared the food though, there’s a three-ring hob with plenty of space for pots and pans. In addition, the sink is deep enough to make the post-dinner washing up a simple task.
To help keep the kitchen clean, there’s a hob cover that folds up to act as a splash guard. A slide-out kitchen cupboard augments the upper lockers for storage.

Sleeping

Transverse rear beds have the advantage of providing great comfort and ease, as you don’t have to make up a bed every evening and pack it away again in the morning. A transverse rear bed also makes the ’van seem more homely, as it gives the rear cabins a feeling of distinct, individual sections.
The Knaus’ rear bed is especially good, as the rear bed seems more like a bedroom than in some other ’vans. Little touches – such as cushions hanging from a rail that form a sort of headboard – and the layout of the lockers give a snug, cossetting sensation. The mattress is comfortable, too.
There are reading lights and a skylight in the rear bed compartment, but just one window. This doesn’t detract from the Knaus’ appeal, though.
There are fixed steps to ease access to the rear bed, which are easy to use.
The drop-down overcab bed requires the front cab’s seats to be tilted forward, which allows the beds to extend fully into position. The Knaus has a latch system, which requires a very solid tug to unclip the bed and it comes away with quite a thud. It’s also difficult to push up and out of the way.

Washroom

In the shower, you get a circular shower door made from plastic that swings round to enclose the shower cubicle, separating it from the rest of the washroom.
For washroom storage, there’s a profusion of cupboards and shelves to keep all your bathroom bottles from rattling around. It also has a large washroom mirror, with a big overhead light.

Storage

The large rear garage is big enough to accommodate a scooter, or pair of bicycles, with ease. There’s also a further slot inside its garage that runs under the floor, which can even store something as large as a garden table umbrella.
The garage also has a low load sill, which makes it easy to load heavy goods. There’s a rail on the front wall, with a useful securing hook, too.
Inside the ’van, there’s a large wardrobe and storage in the lounge and dining area is generous. It’s easy to find places to keep your maps and holiday reading, too.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM4000kg
Payload860kg
Length6.83m22′5″
Width2.3m7′7″
Height2.99m9′10″
Waste water100L
External Options
GRP sidewalls
Kitchen Equipment
Dometic Fridge, 3-burner gas hob, Combined Oven/Grill
Washroom
Thetford C-250 toilet, Separate shower cubicle
Heating
Truma Electric/Gas Blown air heater

Verdict

This motorhome is very easy to use and live with on extended trips. The sumptuous sleeping compartment is fantastic.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Cosy rear sleeping compartment
  • It has a massive, easy-to-use rear garage

Cons

  • The rear passageway leading to the transverse fixed-bed is too narrow
  • There are a few minor quality concerns
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