The Fine Life
Cruising the highway in an ultra-luxurious 45-foot motorcoach is an experience unmatched in the motorhome world. Those who haven’t piloted one of these behemoths of the road can only surmise that they must be special since most celebrities opt for this mode of ground travel. After all, performers on road trips typically roll up thousands of miles in a short amount of time and comfort is paramount. While most of these luxury coaches are built into bus shells, there’s one company, Newell Coach Corporation, that takes this art form in a different direction and the result is a coach that possesses the highest level of luxury and drivability.
The Newell is not a bus conversion; it’s a coach that’s built from the ground up in Miami, Okla. Simply put, the Newell people believe bus shells have too many limitations, since they are built to accommodate multi-seat transportation, not motor-homes. After spending time in a 2014 Newell 45-foot coach, it’s apparent its engineers have produced a machine with spectacular road manners and luxurious living that will satisfy the whims of the most discriminating buyers.
Standing next to a Newell is like a pilot standing next to a jet. It may look like a lot to handle, but in reality, the Newell is incredibly easy to drive. Much of the credit goes to the electronic, ZF active suspension that provides continuous damping control, responding instantaneously to road conditions. The air bags, which isolate the body from the chassis, and the shock absorbers adjust at each wheel every 10 milliseconds. The result is a butter-smooth ride that hugs the road with virtually no body roll.
A second element that contributes to the drivability is the EasiSteer computer-controlled steering. This steering system also adjusts to road conditions, especially when driving in strong side winds. This allows for feather-light steering when conditions are normal while providing precision steering calibrations to help the driver keep the coach moving in a straight line when conditions change. Steering effort can be adjusted manually via controls on the dash. ZF, the German company known for its engineering prowess, builds the front independent axle, the drive axle and the tag axle with an active steering component. Combine the suspension features with the steering tag axle, and this coach exhibits an extremely tight turning radius and exceptional maneuverability, even though it’s 45 feet stem to stern.
Cockpit instrumentation and ergonomics will make any driving aficionado happy. Beyond the array of switches and controls surrounding the driver is a digital instrument cluster that illuminates virtual gauges on a flat, black screen. The cluster can be adjusted electronically to move the gauges as needed to provide the driver a clear line of sight through the steering wheel. A collision avoidance system and adaptive cruise control team up with multiple view cameras to keep the driver apprised of all road conditions. It takes a while to acclimate to all the controls, but once the driver is dialed in, the on-the-road experience is heavenly.
Piloting this coach is so much fun, the driver literally has to force himself/herself to take a break. Of course, the 600-hp Cummins engine adds a level of excitement in that department. Once the driver finally leaves the Knoedler Air Chief seat, which has numerous controls to further enhance comfort, the coach interior awaits. The floorplan is custom, as it should be when future owners plunk down $1.7 million to get in the game. Newell works closely with the buyers, who can use other coaches as a pattern for ideas or start with a clean slate. Building the chassis from scratch — starting with the first piece of metal and continuing until the aircraft style aluminum body is completed — is the core of the coach’s strength and build-out versatility.
Newell refers to this type of building technique as “bridge-construction,” which is semi-monocoque in style. From here the coach is assembled to customer specs. Most owners opt for the 45-foot floorplans with a rear master bath and guest bathroom somewhere in the center. The coach we tested was configured with a front salon, the galley opposing a center half bath, and the bedroom between the galley and rear bath.
Four strategically placed slides expand the interior to enormous proportions, with each section of the coach having a distinctive feel. Gorgeous Italian dark cherry wood graces all the cabinets and walls. Exotic woods are used in many of the coaches and in this case, the light colored tile flooring (with radiant heat) contrasts beautifully with the darker tone wood. High-pressure laminate cabinet finishes are also popular, as are finely crafted sculpted ceilings. All the cabinet hinges are concealed and the doors are flush mounted for a seamless look. Even the Sub-Zero refrigerator is integrated into the cabinetry.
Up front, the salon has opposing couches upholstered in leather; one converts to a bed with an air mattress and the other has a scissor-type mechanism. The opposing slides really open up the living area and the way the slide floor meets the main floor looks like an engineering marvel. The system is actually relatively simple, but the materials are top notch using precision ball bearings and an electric motor. Retractable bearing covers allow the use of deep, 30-inch slides in the salon, which took some doing from an engineering standpoint.
Dinette configurations are always subjective. In this case, a booth is built into the space between the curbside couch and structure for the refrigerator. At first glance, it looks compact (for two people) but a clever design allows expansion of the cushions and table to make it perfect for four adults. The concept works so well, we’d have to forgo the idea of using a freestanding dinette.
Like most galleys in highline coaches, this one is on the smaller side, but well equipped. The glass top for the two-burner electric cook top and sink cover are needed if the chef wants to spread out. A large GE Advantium microwave/halogen oven handles baking and heating; for cleanup, the scraps can go in the garbage disposal and the DishDrawer dishwasher takes care of the rest. A coffee pot is almost flush mounted in the wall and water is plumbed into the unit, making brewing a pot of java a simple process.
By now, you probably realize this coach has no LP-gas. All systems are electric, with the exception of the Aqua-Hot hydronic heating system that has diesel fuel and electric modes. A massive house battery bank consisting of six 8D AGM batteries and two 8Ds for starting the engine are tied to dual 2,800-watt pure sine wave inverters and sophisticated charging/conditioning systems. The coach is wired for 120 and 240 volts AC, which can be furnished by the 20 kW turbocharged diesel generator when hookups are not available. In a nutshell, this coach is packed with so many support systems (like four roof air conditioners), that the need for hookups is purely incidental, though hanging around in nice RV resorts is a common practice for Newell owners.
Think big when contemplating the extensive list of standard equipment and features. Holding tanks are large, the fuel tank is large, TVs are large, the hitch receiver is capable of handing up to 25,000 pounds and the coach has a 63,600-pound gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr), and system redundancies assure residents are always pampered.
While we’re on the subject, the master bedroom and connected rear bath are sights to behold. Opposing slides allow the room to dwarf the king bed — and not just any old bed, but one that has lots of controls. The mattress platform (revealing storage for the extra dinette cushions and a sturdy safe) is power operated, as is the mattress itself, which can be compressed to provide walk-through room when the slides are retracted. A 47-inch LED TV lifts from the cabinetry below the expansive window in the bedroom, allowing perfect in-bed viewing. Surround sound components are connected to the 47-inch LED TV in the front (above cockpit) and can be ordered for the bedroom, if desired.
There’s no shortage of closet space, both in the bedroom area and in the bathroom. Closets are cedar lined and capable of handling big wardrobes. One closet is reserved for the stacked washer and drier.
The bathroom is a work of art. Décor-wise, nothing is spared. An ornate vessel sink has center stage on the multi-level lavatory structure. Diffused lighting under the cabinets adds a tasteful element that doubles as a night-light. Fixtures are first class and nestled perfectly in the designer backsplash. Glass and tile are the two main elements that work in harmony to create the shower stall. Patterns are continued throughout the bathroom suite, and, of course, the fixtures are high end. Luxuriating in this shower is made possible by the previously mentioned onboard support systems. We’re not typically lulled into spending a lot of time in a motorhome bathroom, but this one is a game changer.
Just for the record, the half bath is smaller and sans a shower, but it is just as nice. Vacuum-operated porcelain toilets are used in both bathrooms.
Windows play a vital role in the floorplan development process. Sizes and locations are matched to the individual floorplan, and they are usually huge. That makes the ambient lighting effective during the day and allows the use of designer-grade window coverings that complement the interior décor schemes. In the test coach, Hunter Douglas power Silhouette Duet shades are used throughout. These shades can be adjusted to regulate sunlight and in the bedroom deliver a pitch-black environment. MCD shades are used in the cockpit. The double-paned, insulated windows are deep tinted and flush mounted to the exterior of the coach.
A coach of this caliber leaves nothing to manual operation. Many of the functions are loaded into iPads using specialized software that allow fingertip control of windows, lighting, entertainment systems and the patio and window awnings. One iPad is mounted next to the master bed and the other next to the dinette. The iPads are mounted on magnetic plates that also provide charging.
Using iPads for operating accessories and systems is just part of owning a coach that has such a high level of technical sophistication made possible by an extensive use of electronics.
If you like to push buttons to make things happen, you’ll love the Newell. For example, all the lighting is part of a multiplexing system that allows operation from multiple locations — beyond the iPads. The air-powered entry door with keyless locking opens with alacrity after pushing the button, making it clear that entering this coach will reveal something special. Wherever there’s a chance for automation, the Newell engineers grab the opportunity. The list is way too long to elaborate here.
The Newell exterior is dramatic and free-flowing, partially because of the complex paint schemes and brilliant finish made possible by using super premium paint and flawless applications of clear-coat. That ZF Friedrichshafen and Porsche Design were called upon to enhance the styling plays to the company’s pursuit of perfection. These are world-renowned design houses with a flair for modern styling. That’s evident by the front end of the coach, where flowing lines and multiple LED lights make for a striking look.
Outside, the aforementioned windows and slideouts are flush mounted with the sidewalls — so well concealed that it’s difficult to find the outline of the slideouts. Newell will suggest color schemes, but ultimately, the owner has the last say. Awnings are nicely integrated into the bodylines and a generous use of chrome panels and accents bring out the overall luster of the exterior.
Storage compartments have a unique bi-fold configuration and are solid as a rock. Power operated (of course) drawers, garnished with shiny diamond plate panels, pop out for easy loading; you’d have to work pretty hard to fill them all up. The utility center, again finished in diamond plate, offers everything necessary for hooking up and cleaning; even the built-in sewer hose is high end.
There’s not much to want after planning, designing and executing the manufacture of a Newell. But it’s a complicated coach that takes acclimation, unless you’re a repeat customer. A walkthrough for a typical motorhome may take a few hours; it takes two or three days to become oriented with the systems and function of the Newell. Obviously, this coach is not for everyone, but enthusiasts who have the financial wherewithal can live the fine life on the road in one of America’s premier luxury motorcoaches.