NZMCD ACM Platinum Elite

ACM Platinum Elite Review

Paul Owen has some strong words to say about this New Zealand-made luxury motorhome that you can customise to your own specifications — and then never want to leave.

Let’s not mince words. The ACM Platinum Elite is the finest motorhome made in New Zealand and is potentially a good contender for the title of ‘finest motorhome in the world’. 

When its creator, Chris Cunard, started with a clean sheet of paper for the Elite, he drew on all his boat-building experience to design a “superyacht on wheels”. It’s an apt description for the end result. The interior of this “tad under $400,000” motorhome resembles that of a multimillion-dollar floating gin palace, with its beautifully-crafted teak hardwood floors, hand-stitched leather upholstery and expensive Italian taps and other luxury accoutrements, while the curved cabinetry is definitely more boat-inspired, minimising sharp edges and reducing the number of joins.

A further superyacht similarity is that the customer gets to decide what layout best suits their needs, and determine what materials and components are used. Pricing naturally varies according to what the customer orders. How many TVs would you like? Lighting? Door width? Size of benches? Audio system that can resurrect Sweetwaters? The leather from Amsterdam? Piano? Wheelchair lift? Mirror ball? If you want it… you get it. 

“Custom really does mean custom with us,” says Chris. “It takes around 2000 hours to build a motorhome like this one, as everything you see here started out as just a bit of plywood, or perhaps a bit of plumbing at some stage.”

While Chris says that no two ACM Platinum Elite motorhomes are made the same, this particular one Chris built for himself and his wife, Jasmine. It has become the inspiration for other ACM Platinum Elite buyers to order theirs, using this as a model. “We’ve made 13 that are like this one — it’s proved to be a good showcase of what ACM can offer as we take it around the country.”

This Elite hasn’t just been a regular visitor to motorhome shows either; Chris and Jasmine are keen motorhome travellers, and their rig always makes an impact whenever they pull up at their chosen campsite.

“We once pulled up at Tauranga Bay in Northland, and there was already a guy wanting to see inside as soon as we parked! I told him to come back in the morning after we had relaxed for the night.

“The next day, there were around ten people waiting to see a bit more of the motorhome, so I gave them the full tour. One of them ended up placing an order, so it was well worth giving up a bit of our ‘holiday time’ to show them around.”

ACM Platinum Elite
The curved edgings reveal Chris’ boatbuilding expertise
ACM Platinum Elite
Even the outdoor drinks table oozes class and attention to detail

Iveco starting point

The Iveco Daily isn’t the only platform from which ACM builds their motorhomes, but Chris reckons it’s perfect for a motorhome that’s between seven and nine metres in length (the Platinum Elite is 8.3 metres in length). 

“The standard chassis suits the build as you get a full truck chassis made of thick steel girders with a long wheelbase, rear-wheel-drive with dual wheels, diff-lock, and air suspension — it all adds up to a huge Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) rating.”

The GVM for the Platinum Elite is 5995kg, and with the tare weight of the vehicle coming in at five tonnes, that leaves a payload of 995kg. Up to 250kg of that payload can be placed on the towbar, which is rated to pull braked trailers weighing up to 2500kg. Even with the trailer weight at its maximum, there’s still 750kg of payload capacity left for passengers and luggage. 

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That generous GVM enables ACM to really go to town on the build of the Platinum Elite. No MDF is used in the construction of the vehicle’s body, with heavier, more durable plywood used throughout. The floor coverings and overhead light modules are made of teak hardwood strips, while the floor itself is made of rolled steel. The latter has a fibreglass undertray beneath it, with an 80mm thick insulation layer filling in the gap between the two. Walls and roof are equally well insulated, giving the 4kW Eberspächer diesel heater an easy time of warming the cabin.

A twin-turbo 3.0 litre diesel and eight-speed automatic gearbox make light work of motivating a motorhome of this size and mass, with the engine generating an impressive power peak of 210bhp. However, it’s the equipment level of the Daily that seals it as Chris’ pick of the motorhome platforms, along with the high GVM rating. 

“You get adaptive cruise control and GPS navigation, and the van seats have their own suspension for extra comfort on the move,” says Chris. “The Iveco feels and drives more like a high-end product than the alternative from Mercedes-Benz.”


Entry level elegance

The fine detailing starts as soon as you enter the Elite through the 700mm wide door, where you’re greeted by a couple of handy storage areas. One is a step in the stairs that can do double duty as a repository for footwear, while to the left is a handy closet for outdoor jackets, umbrellas, and maybe a couple of sets of gumboots for when the weather is in full Footrot Flats mode.

ACM Platinum Elite
Even the entry stairs sport extra storage room

Limousine-style luxury

High-end car marques such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley consider cabin space and simple control layouts to be the luxuries that help define their brands. The Platinum Elite gives off a similar vibe to their limousines as soon as you reach the top of the entry stairs. It feels as spacious as an apartment, with around two-thirds of the length of the body dedicated to the areas where you’ll spend the most time — the comfy U-shaped lounge at the rear and the generously-sized kitchen that faces the door and a multi-purpose bench/set of drawers. The latter has a powered lifting bracket where it meets the lounge, so that a TV can rise up out of its storage slot at the push of the appropriate button.

Speaking of control buttons, there are few to be seen, as many are hidden, or their functions are in the hands of the trick C-zone control and monitoring system that can integrate with the Platinum Elite owner’s cellphone. The system offers several modes, including one for nighttime that illuminates the relevant parts of the motorhome’s interior, should anyone need to access the bathroom or the kitchen while others are resting. It certainly reduces any impression of clutter inside the ACM, and although there are plenty of 240v power sockets dotted around the cabin, they are placed so discreetly, you hardly notice them.

ACM Platinum Elite
A beautifully spacious living area adds to the feeling of luxury in this bespoke motorhome

On the benches

The benchtops of the kitchen and the set of drawers opposite it are made of Corian, an expensive solid material made by Dupont out of natural materials and acrylic resin. Chris says that these add around $20,000 to the price of any Platinum Elite fitted with them, and they certainly add to the robust feeling of quality when you enter the ACM with their curved corners and generous thickness. Skillful use of a router can be seen in the way drain channels have been carved into the solid Corian of the sink bench, and the ACM branding on the side of the opposite Corian bench-top near the entry stairs. On the other side of the entry steps is another Corian carving: a wine rack, with storage slots for the bottles cut into it with a bandsaw. 

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Bathroom bliss

This ACM is the first motorhome I’ve seen with a rain head shower, no doubt a feature that has been enabled by the generous water tank capacities of the Platinum Elite. There’s another detachable shower as well in the 900mm wide shower room, which is fully tiled and has heated towel rails. 

The brushed steel toilet/washroom on the other side is equally well detailed, with the flush button installed in the wall, and the attendance of a toilet roll holder that is shaped so that you can rest a cellphone on top of it (Chris is obviously a man who likes to multi-task). There’s a sliding door on either side of the bathroom sector of the motorhome so that it can be sealed off from the kitchen/lounge to the rear, or the bedroom to the front.

ACM Platinum Elite
How many brushed steel bathrooms come with a rest space for your cellphone?
ACM Platinum Elite
The only time you want to see rain indoors: the ACM’s shower is roomy and elegant

Perfect privacy

According to Chris, the double doors enable Jasmine “to go to bed early while I’m out the back, living it up” and the bedroom, located in the Luton part of the motorhome, is designed for peace and privacy. The queen-size double bed can be flipped up on its hydraulic struts to make internal access to the Iveco’s cab easier. 

The aisle leading to the driving area has a large wardrobe on one side and a chest of drawers on the other. Curled around and over each of these are two sets of steps that make access and egress to and from the bed easy. Once tucked up, there’s a large skylight to enable stargazing, and the bookcase behind the head of the bed is within easy reach. 

ACM Platinum Elite
Maximum privacy and minimum effort is required when going to bed; watch the stars as you drift away
ACM Platinum Elite
Easy access to the bed is enhanced with more clever and elegant storage

Find your freedom

Such is the onboard generation capacity of the Platinum Elite’s electrical system that Chris hardly ever needs to plug the motorhome into mains power. The solar panels atop the ACM can generate 1000 watts of power, while an 800Ah Mastervolt marine-grade lithium battery stores it. A 3000-watt inverter sends 240v power to every plug, including a plug in the rear garage that’s handy for charging e-bikes.

With the fresh- and grey-water tanks holding 350 litres each, this motorhome can park up for quite a while. And you don’t even have to look for a level spot: the automatic self-levelling system, equipped with four hydraulic rams capable of lifting 10 tonnes each, level out the ACM within seconds at the push of a button.

Summary 

There’s a lot to like about this ACM Platinum Elite, which comes from a New Zealand motorhome builder that can make dreams a reality. Just be sure to bring a large pot of money.

ACM Platinum Elite floor plan_
ACM Platinum Elite floor plan (click to expand)

ACM Platinum Elite Specifications

Chassis

Iveco Daily-based cab/chassis, rear wheel drive

Engine

3.0 litre twin-turbo-diesel, 210bhp

Gearbox

eight-speed automatic

Berths

2

Length/Height

8300mm/3100mm

Water: Fresh/Grey

fresh 350L/ grey 350L

GVW

5995kg

Payload 995kg

Price as reviewed: ‘A tad under $400,000’

*Note: Two-year waiting list

For more information, visit acmmotorhomes.co.nz.

Looking for motorhomes or caravans for sale in NZ? Browse our latest listings here

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