Not too big, not too small, the Bürstner Lyseo TD690G is just right for reviewer Paul Owen.
Size matters when it comes to motorhomes, and your ‘Goldilocks’ preference of what’s just right will depend upon what best suits you. If there are just two people to accommodate, going smaller brings plenty of other advantages besides a more accessible price tag. You’ll get cheaper ferry crossings, drive and park up more easily, and be able to venture further into the wilderness. If you wish to maintain a high level of comfort as well, a motorhome of slightly less than seven metres long probably hits the ‘sweet spot’ in the two-berth market.
That’s especially true when said motorhome comes from a well-regarded and simply clever manufacturer like Bürstner. The German-manufactured brand has been in the mobile lifestyle business since 1961, the year that the company fully ramped up its caravan production having been started as a furniture maker by founder, Jakob Bürstner, back in 1924. This new Bürstner Lyseo TD690G instantly shows how heritage and experience can result in space-saving design. At 6.999 metres in length, the $179,900 Lyseo is one of Bürstner’s smaller offerings, yet it offers what feels like the space of a large A-class motorhome inside.
There’s a dining setting that can seat six, an L-shaped kitchen that’s cook-friendly, a bathroom you can dance in, and a garage that’ll stow a couple of bicycles, a paddleboard and have room for an inflatable boat and an outboard motor as well. How did Bürstner achieve this Tardis-like trick of making what appears to be a compact motorhome on the outside feel so big on the inside?
Enter via the big door
The right-side entry door for the Lyseo is probably as wide as Doctor Who’s space/time-travelling phone box. At 700mm wide it’s possibly big enough to get a wheelchair through it with the occupant still in situ, and if that capacity is surplus to requirements; the generous width will still be appreciated when bringing bigger items inside the Lyseo like a full laundry basket or a bag of groceries in each hand. The side door is connected to the central locking and has an insect screen and wastebin on its inner side.
You climb into the Lyseo via a power-operated Thule step followed by a couple of internal steps with a nickel-plated grabrail alongside. To the left are a cluster of large switches to operate various LED lights, and some handy lockers for electronic devices with attendant charge ports inside. Overhead is the Bürstner tank/battery monitoring panel along with a control for the Truma water and cabin heating. The former looks like something out of a set for Star Trek with two semi-circular LED displays orbited by an array of nickel-chrome pushbuttons. Some will call it old-school in these days of TFT touch screens, but many will view it as a soulful piece of design.
Double floor cuts road noise
Unlike many motorhomes that are a hybrid of the front end of a van with a new chassis and bodywork attached, the Lyseo has a completely flat floor from end to end. That’s created by Bürstner installing two fiberglass-reinforced plywood (GRP) floors instead of one on top of the AL-KO aluminium chassis, with a 41mm thick layer of insulation between them. There’s no tripping on little steps when moving into the cab inside this motorhome, and the double-floor absorbs road noise when on the move, as well as creating the opportunity for Bürstner to provide a couple of in-floor cubby holes.
The sidewalls of the Lyseo are a foam sandwich with an aluminium skin for more insulation, while the roof is also made of GRP with similar insulation to the floor. With aluminium-framed double-glazed windows all round, complete with concertina-style blinds and screens, the 6kW gas/electric Truma heater fitted to the Lyseo should easily keep this well-insulated cabin warm in winter. Being Fiat Ducato-based, the Bürstner also enjoys the convenient concertina windscreen blinds that attach magnetically to each other when pulled together from their storage slots in the van’s A-pillars.
Cue the quality
There’s plenty of wow factor inside the Lyseo as your eyes take in the well-crafted upholstery and cabinetry that old Jakob would probably be proud to call his own. The lounge area seats six once the van seats are rotated 180 degrees, and the table can be expanded towards those who got the shorter straws and got the bench seating nearest the door. The latter is without seat belts so it’s off-limits when on the move, leaving the ability to cart four passengers.
The chrome accessories abound in the form of drawer and locker handles, LED light modules that can be moved to other locations when required, the sink tap, and the oven handle and hob knobs of the Thetford cooker. It’s a cabin that doesn’t lack light with plenty of overhead skylights, and LED strip lighting placed in strategic positions. The cream-coloured leatherette material covering the seats in this Lyseo adds to the impression of spaciousness.
Here’s where Bürstner earns the ‘simply clever’ label I gave the brand earlier – with the way you can quickly adjust the cabinetry to suit the occasion. We’ll start with the hinged sink cover which doubles as proper extra bench space when you slide it out – far better than the plastic sink covers/chopping boards that lesser motorhomes provide. Those tend to fly around all over the place like frisbees when on the move.
But it’s with the adaptable design of the bathroom and the bedroom that the Lyseo hits its space-saving targets. The smallest room of the motorhome isn’t all that small, and it can be quickly divided to create a dedicated shower area by undoing a catch and rotating the entire wash basin, lower cabinet, and large mirror by ninety degrees to establish a new wall.
Shower over, simply rotate it all back again – an easy task that takes less than a second – to create more space to dry off in.
In the bedroom, the default layout is two 1.99-metre-long single beds located longitudinally, separated by a staircase that consists of two stepped storage areas. When you slide in the lower of these, you can then open the two large storage areas beneath the beds, giving access to either a set of drawers on one side or a proper wardrobe on the other.
Want more adaptability? The two single beds are easily converted into a King-size double, with access provided by a small ladder as the bed base is located above navel height so that the Lyseo can have such a roomy garage.
Thetford provide the cooking and refrigeration hardware. The former consists of three gas hobs with electric ignition with an oven/grill below and an extractor fan above. The 3-way fridge offers 145 litres of space along with a 15-litre freezer, and automatically selects its source of energy according to how the vehicle is being used. When driving the fridge runs on motor-generated power, and when parked off-grid it draws from one of the two 9kg bottles located in the gas compartment of the Lyseo. Plugging the vehicle into the mains lets the fridge run in 240-volt mode.
The stove is well integrated with the kitchen bench thanks to a flush-fitting hob cover and the relatively large sink is made of stainless steel. There’s plenty of lockers above the cooking area, and the fridge is also mounted on a further drawer. But the real showpiece of the kitchen is the set of three large drawers mounted below the chopping bench. These open smoothly on their metal runners and close themselves after a modest push. At the end of their motion, there’s a little ‘click’ that tells you that they’re going to stay closed when the motorhome is mobile again. Nice and pleasing, that ‘click’.
With 120 litres of fresh water capacity, two 9kg gas bottles, and two 95 Ah leisure batteries and a 150-watt solar panel to feed them, the Lyseo is well set up to camp independently for a while. The most likely limitation on the duration of that stay will be the 90-litre capacity of the grey water tank. Freshwater is relatively easy to find near a freedom camping site compared to finding a place to dump sink and shower waste.
New Zealand-bound Lyseo models enjoy a generous 1030kg payload and you can stash plenty of that in the huge garage located in the rear overhang of the motorhome body. This measures 218cm x 120cm x 82 cm and can be accessed via large doors located on either side.
This model’s garage had load security rails with movable eye hooks, strategically located lights, and gave easy access to the motorhome’s fuse box. It also had a large scissor jack capable of lifting up one end of the 3220kg Bürstner. Spare wheels are not provided – Wilderness encourage this to be done by a professional rather than roadside by the driver. They do however provide a Fix&Go puncture repair kit which is designed to allow the motorhome to drive a further 1000km (at 90km).
The Fiat Ducato was a late-comer to the ZF nine-speed automatic gearbox party, the transmission having been utilised by various Jeep and Land Rover models since 2014. The Ducato range only got to receive it last year, and it’s light years better than the automated manual six-speed transmission that it replaced, offering smoother take-offs, quicker gear shifts, and improved fuel economy.
The ZF is also a big step forward in reliability. It had a few software issues at first, but they are now well behind it, having been fixed back in 2016. This is a proven transmission that is now fitted to almost one million new motor vehicles annually. Meanwhile, the defunct
six-speed won’t be missed, especially for the way it burned through clutches, resulting in expensive repairs.
There’s now a more refined driving experience to be found in any new Ducato-based motorhome, and the Bürstner builds on that with its extra road noise suppression and the increased ride quality of the beefed-up suspension and chassis of the New Zealand model.
There are cheaper 6.9-metre motorhomes around, many in the $150K-$160K bracket, but the Bürstner Lyseo TD690G is definitely worth paying an extra $20K for.
- Well-crafted, quality interior fittings
- Adaptive design is a real highlight
- Huge garage ready for toys
- 2-year Fiat warranty
- Four-day freedom camping window
Bürstner Lyseo TD690G Specifications
|Make & Model||
Bürstner Lyseo TD690G
Fiat Ducato-based cab/chassis, front wheel drive
2.3L turbo-diesel, 140bhp
Price for 2022 model: $229,900
Find out more at Wilderness Motorhome Sales.
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