Though its name may be familiar, this luxury diesel pusher from Newmar Corporation is a completely new model for 2015.
By Mark Quasius, F333630
Newmar has been a well-respected manufacturer of quality motorhomes for decades. The recent popularity of 600-horsepower motorhomes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price in the $600,000 range prompted the company to fill that gap in its product line with a new model: the 2015 London Aire.
The London Aire once was known as Newmar’s flagship motorhome, until production ceased after 2007. The recently revived name is the only feature to be carried over from that previous era. The new London Aire sports a totally fresh design, and it is available in five 45-foot floor plans for 2015.
I recently reviewed the 4553, featuring a bath-and-a-half design with a full-wall slideout. Like traditional Newmar motorhomes, its interior décor is attractive, yet it differs from the company’s other units. It also manages to impart a high-end feeling without exhibiting over-the-top glitz.
London Aire Chassis
The London Aire is built on a Freightliner SL series chassis built specifically for Newmar, which comes with a side radiator, a tag axle, and front disc and rear drum air brakes. The chassis is powered by a 15-liter Cummins ISX engine rated at 600 horsepower and 1,950 foot-pounds of torque. An Allison 4000 series six-speed automatic transmission transfers that power to the ground. The chassis features ZF independent front suspension, a 52-degree wheel cut, and a 20,000-pound front gross axle weight rating (GAWR). The 20,000-pound-rated drive axle and 13,000-pound-rated tag axle are equipped with Michelin XZA series 315/80R 22.5 load range L tires, while the front axle is shod with 365/70R 22.5 tires. The chassis has a 150-gallon fuel tank and a 13-gallon DEF tank.
The London Aire is equipped with HWH hydraulic leveling jacks and Newmar’s Comfort Drive Steering. The coach has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 53,000 pounds and a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 68,000 pounds. It comes with a 15,000-pound trailer hitch.
We ran the coach across Cat scales to establish a realistic cargo-carrying capacity. With full fuel, full fresh water, and a 170-pound driver aboard, the total weight was 45,600 pounds, and the front axle carried only 16,800 pounds. So, there easily was room for another 7,400 pounds of cargo without any weight or axle overloading concerns.
London Aire Construction
Newmar designers employ the hung sidewall construction method — a departure from the typical vacuum-laminated wall construction used by most RV manufacturers. The hung sidewall method allows the coach to be built much like a wood-framed house. The aluminum stud framework is welded together, the interior wall surface is affixed, and insulation is added prior to hanging the fiberglass sidewalls on the exterior. It is a more time-consuming method of construction but is said to offer numerous advantages over a preformed vacuum-laminated wall panel. The interior panels on the sidewalls and the ceiling are laminated to a 5/8-inch foam insulation board, which is attached to the aluminum studs or ceiling joists. Polar Pak batten insulation is then placed between the studs in the full width of the wall and the ceiling cavity.
The roof is composed of one-piece formed fiberglass bonded to plywood and features an integrated gutter rail. The air conditioners utilize ducts in the center of the ceiling that allow the air to quietly enter the coach through three large wooden interior louvers.
Newmar’s proprietary slideout mechanism incorporates a powerful, quiet spur gear and chain mechanism. A company-designed slideout locking mechanism automatically secures the slides when traveling.
London Aire Exterior
The London Aire features BASF paint, which is applied using Newmar’s patented Masterpiece paint finish system. Four color schemes are available; my test unit was finished in the Commonwealth design.
Diamond Shield Nano-Fusion Paint Protection is applied to the front cap to protect it from stone chip damage. The large one-piece windshield is bonded, automotive-style, to the molded front fiberglass cap. Chrome mirrors are equipped with side cameras, which are auto-sequenced to the rear camera color monitor in the dash.
The basement storage bays sport side-hinged compartment doors. Keyless locks on these doors, and the entry door, can be controlled by a keypad or remote key fobs. The entry door is recessed into the sidewall opening, resulting in a more aerodynamic design and less wind noise. Frameless, flush-mounted windows are deeply tinted to minimize heat intrusion on hot, sunny days.
For outside entertaining, an optional 40-inch Sony LED TV is available, situated in an enclosure for viewing from the patio area. An optional 3.77-cubic-foot freezer, mounted on a basement slide-out tray, keeps beverages cool and accessible from the patio side of the coach. Two Girard power awnings equipped with LED lighting are built into the roof fascia. The awnings and fascia surround the roof area, hiding the air conditioners and other rooftop-mounted equipment from view.
A spoiler helps to direct airflow to minimize dust buildup on the rear of the coach during travel. This area includes attractive chrome inserts that are placed in the engine access cover, and Euro-style taillights, each with red LEDs behind a clear lens.
My test coach was equipped with the optional Girard awning package, which included the two side awnings, an entry door awning, enclosed slideout toppers, and power window awnings. Power basement cargo slide trays were fitted into the tall pass-through storage bays.
My test coach featured Citadel interior décor, one of four available choices for 2015. Its woodwork and cabinets were finished with optional Carmel Glazed Cherry.
As noted, the London Aire’s interior is a departure from the norm. One noteworthy feature is the slideout end caps. Normally, Newmar designers use a wood trim piece with a backlit translucent bezel for accent lighting. The London Aire breaks from that tradition, incorporating a carved log that is hollowed out on the back side and equipped with backlighting that shines through carved slots in the log. This style, combined with the cherry wood selection, prompted me to equate my test unit with the grand old lodges of U.S. national parks. Decorative emblems are placed in the wood crown molding throughout the coach, which further emphasizes this “parkitechture” look. The overall appearance is attractive and upscale. Newmar really hit the mark with this interior, in my opinion.
The 4553 floor plan includes a full-wall slideout on the street side, which contains the 84-inch couch, as well as the dinette, refrigerator, pantry, and part of the bedroom. Polished ceramic tile covers the floor throughout the coach, augmented by optional dual-zone-electric heat in my test coach. Solid-surface countertops appear throughout. The woodwork and cabinetry are produced and finished to perfection by Amish craftsmen in Newmar’s cabinet shop. Windowsills and valances are hardwood, as are the ceiling treatments; the latter are hinged to facilitate access to the air-conditioning filters for cleaning.
The cockpit instrument panel was one of the best I’ve seen. The instrument cluster is in the usual position, but the park brake is placed in the dash, to the left. This makes it easy for the driver to reach, yet it can’t be released accidentally by pets, which can happen when the brake is mounted vertically on the side console. All rocker switches controlling driver-related accessories are located on the left-side console, within easy access from the pilot’s seat. House-related accessory switches, such as fans, step covers, shades, and lighting, are placed to the right of the wheel, where they can be reached by either the copilot or the pilot. They also are easily accessible when the coach is parked.
The rearview monitor, optional GPS navigation system, and entertainment system are located to the right of the driver and set high enough to make them easy to glance at while driving. A rotary knob to control the level of assist provided by the Comfort Drive System is also in this panel, easy for the driver to reach. The six-way power cockpit seats are heated, and the oversized copilot’s seat is equipped with a power footrest.
The 4553 contained optional Villa-brand seating in the cockpit and living area. An optional 40-inch Sony LED TV was situated in the front overhead cabinetry, and a 48-inch Sony LED TV was placed on a Televator lift behind the 68-inch sofa in the front curbside slideout. An overhead cabinet housed a Blu-ray player, surround-sound system, and space for a satellite receiver or DVR.
Other options included a Winegard Trav’ler automatic satellite dish, a KVH in-motion satellite dome, and a Winegard digital power-lift TV antenna. The antenna provided an impressively strong off-air signal feed, even when not extended.
The curbside slideout also contains the galley, which features a large dual-basin stainless-steel sink with a high-rise faucet and a removable sprayer head. An optional electric induction cooktop in my test coach was flush-mounted to the solid-surface countertop. An extendable work area can be pulled out to provide additional space as needed. The cabinets are equipped with pull-out storage drawers, and a convection-microwave oven is ensconced in the overhead cabinetry. A ceramic tile backsplash with inlaid glass accent tiles surrounds the cooking area and facilitates cleanup. An optional Fisher-Paykel DishDrawer dishwasher can be added to finish off the galley.
On the driver’s side, the 84-inch Ultraleather sofa bed is adjacent to the Euro booth dinette. The dinette comes with two additional folding chairs and a table extension for feeding larger crowds. This slideout also contains the refrigerator — an optional all-electric residential model in my test coach, which was trimmed in stainless steel to match the other galley appliances. Immediately adjacent to the fridge is a large pantry with plenty of wide, height-adjustable, pull-out drawers.
Next to the curbside galley is the guest bath. In order to offer easier access to this bath when the full-wall slideout is retracted for travel, Newmar designers fashioned a center pivot door. This door pivots on the center axis, rather than on one edge; it opens partially into the hall and partially into the bathroom when the slide is retracted and a narrow hallway exists. A port for the optional central vacuum is also in this area.
The bedroom is equipped with a Sleep Number king-size bed with separate controls for each side. (My test coach was outfitted with an optional Sleep Number Premier air mattress.) Opposite the bed, in the rearmost portion of the full-wall slide, a dresser and overhead cabinetry provide plentiful storage and also house a 40-inch Sony LED TV. This cabinetry also holds a SilverLeaf Total Coach control panel. A second panel offering the same functions resides in the cockpit.
The spacious rear bath contains a laundry center, in addition to the usual bathroom accoutrements. An optional Whirlpool stackable washer and dryer were located in a tall louvered cabinet next to a linen closet. Immediately adjacent is a 40-inch-by-32-inch solid-surface shower with inlaid ceramic tile accents and a glass door with a large handle suitable for use as a towel hanger. An optional fold-down teak shower seat was mounted to the wall in the enclosure.
The opposite side of the bath holds the vanity and a macerator-style toilet. The solid-surface vanity contains a pair of under-mounted sinks with waterfall-style faucets. A narrow, but deep, medicine cabinet is mounted in the center; it is flanked by mirrors, which rest atop a ceramic tile backsplash. Large drawers and cabinet doors provide plenty of room beneath the vanity. A Fan-Tastic Vent fan, trimmed with hinged wooden louvers, is located in the bath area.
The rear wardrobe is fitted with full-width sliding doors that afford access to hanging storage, abundant shelving, and, in my test unit, an optional wall-mounted safe.
Electrical needs in the London Aire are met by 50-amp shore power service, complete with an optional power cord reel in my test unit, and augmented by a Cummins Onan 10-kw Quiet Diesel generator mounted on a powered front slide-out mechanism. A bank of eight optional AGM batteries was mounted on a slide-out tray for ease in service access and to power the Magnum 2,800-watt inverter/charger. An automatic generator start module fires up the generator should battery voltage drop below a preset level or if the thermostat setting indicates that the air-conditioning system needs to kick on.
The SilverLeaf Electronics Total Coach System monitors all of this and will not start the generator when shore power is present. An energy management system monitors power consumption and will shed loads as needed should the load demand exceed the available AC power; it also interacts with the Magnum inverter to perform load assist operations.
Interior heat and domestic hot water needs are met by an Oasis hydronic heating system, which uses a diesel burner or an electric heating element. In addition to the two heating zones in the coach interior, the Oasis system has a third zone to provide basement heat, with a dedicated thermostat for that zone. The ceramic tile floor is also warmed by electric heating grids. Three 15,000-Btu rooftop air conditioners with heat pumps are fed through ducted ceiling treatments to cool the coach interior on hot days. All of these systems can be controlled by the Total Coach System panels.
The Total Coach System also handles the water connections in the utility bay. A digital tank monitoring system displays tank levels on the two interior master panels as well as on a panel in the utility bay. The system can control automatic dump valves and an auto-fill valve. The latter will shut off the water automatically once the fresh-water tank is full. The utility bay also holds a soap dispenser, paper towel holder, black tank flush connection, outside shower head, and whole-house water filter. A power hose reel holds 50 feet of fresh-water hose. The optional Sani-Con macerator allows RVers to bypass normal dump connections and push the waste uphill, or for longer distances if necessary.
Road Test, Final Impressions
The London Aire was a joy to drive. The heavier Freightliner SL chassis rode like a dream and handled well. Newmar uses Comfort Drive on all of its diesel pushers. This system can apply power assist to the steering, which does take away a bit of the road feel when driving. I preferred setting the Comfort Drive at its minimal setting to give me the best feel. Even with a steady side wind, I didn’t experience any issues keeping the London Aire nice and straight, without any assist from the Comfort Drive. When executing tight turns in a truck stop, it swung around with ease and made me question the accuracy of the 52-degree wheel cut specification. When at crawling speed, the Comfort Drive goes into full assist, so it’s possible that the ability to swing the wheel around quickly might have made the difference.
Braking was excellent, and the three-speed engine compression brake did a good job of slowing down the coach. Power was what one might expect from a 15-liter, 600-horsepower engine with close to a ton of torque. Step on the pedal and the London Aire moved into traffic without delay. Pulling a large trailer with this drivetrain and the 15,000-pound hitch shouldn’t be a problem. The 365 front tires tracked straight without being affected by ridges or pavement lane changes.
Newmar has hit a home run with the new London Aire. Company designers did a great job of reinventing rather than retrofitting an existing model. It must have been a real challenge to incorporate fresh, new styling and features within the target price range without negatively impacting quality, but the company succeeded, in my opinion. I predict that the London Aire will be a desirable choice for many RV buyers.
Newmar Corporation, 355 N. Delaware St., P.O Box 30, Nappanee, IN 46550-0030; (574) 773-7791; www.newmarcorp.com
Freightliner SL raised-rail, side radiator
Cummins ISX15, 600 horsepower at 1,800 rpm; 1,950 pound-feet torque at 1,200 rpm
Allison 4000 MH Series, 6-speed automatic
4.30 to 1
front — Michelin XZA 365/70R 22.5 LRL;
rear — Michelin XZA 315/80R 22.5 LRL
292 inches plus tag
antilock front disc, rear drum air
ZF independent front suspension; 52-degree wheel cut; column drive
Newmar Comfort Drive with adjustable control
chassis — (2) Alliance Model 1131 Group 31, maintenance-free;
house — (8) AGM, with all-electric option; (4) 6-volt, standard
Magnum 2,800-watt pure sine inverter/charger
Cummins Onan 10-kw Quiet Diesel with automatic start
44 feet 11 inches
13 feet 4 inches
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 20,000 pounds;
rear — 20,00 pounds;
tag — 13,000 pounds
(weighed with 150 gallons fuel, 105 gallons water, one passenger)
front axle — 16,800 pounds;
rear axle — 17,540 pounds;
tag axle — 11,260 pounds;
total — 45,600 pounds
OCCUPANT & CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
aluminum hung sidewalls and roof; fiberglass roof; gel-coat fiberglass exterior sidewalls, front and rear caps; 5/8-inch foam insulation
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 80 gallons;
black water — 60 gallons
150 gallons; 15 gallons DEF
N/A — all-electric coach, optional; 22 gallons, standard
Oasis hydronic heating
Oasis hydronic zone heating
(3) 15,000-Btu air conditioners with heat pumps
Whirlpool 19.8-cubic-foot residential all-electric, optional; Norcold 12-cubic-foot, standard
(2) Dometic, porcelain, one with macerator
coach — 1 year limited/unlimited miles
structural — 5 years
chassis — 3 years/50,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED