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RV Review: Skydancer, the world’s first ‘topless’ RV

Today’s review is of something I never knew I wanted, the Skydancer motorhome by Skydancer of Cologne, Germany. The big thing about this big thing is that it’s a motorhome that’s also a convertible. 

No, no. Not with slide rooms or things like that. Convertible meaning the entire roof over the cockpit can slide backward to give you open-air dining, seating and, yes, even driving. So it’s a big, convertible motorhome. Well, not that big. 

European-sized

The Skydancer is based on the Mercedes-Benz Atego chassis and sports a 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine mated to a manual transmission and driving the front wheels. To get a perspective of the footprint of this thing, it casts a similar shadow on the ground to a typical crew cab pickup. So it’s not that huge. 

Further, in typical European fashion, there are no slide rooms. What you get is what you get. 

I can’t imagine that this motorhome is going to snap your neck going down the street. But a 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine may make this achieve not horrible fuel economy. And, again, this is Europe—where they laugh at us crying about our gas prices. Yes, they even laugh at Californians complaining about fuel prices. 

The big thing in the Skydancer

What really makes this a showstopper is the front cabin. There are four forward-facing captain’s chairs. But this entire cockpit area is surrounded by large windows. Even if the roof isn’t open, it’s still a very open-feeling space. 

Of course, there’s a windshield. But there’s also a wrap-around second windshield below that. There are windows above the belt line but also windows below the belt line. If you have one of those little dogettes that many RVers seem to favor, that pooch is going to be quite happy looking out the lower windows. 

The signature thing is that the roof over the cockpit slides backwards to reveal open-air motoring and al fresco dining. The entire roof structure slides backwards and now you have nothing overhead. 

This could be great for shuttling down the Autobahn, but might also do nicely if you use this area for dining. 

Dining in style in the Skydancer

The front two seats swivel around to face the rear two seats and, with the roof open, you’ve now invited Al Fresco to come have dinner with you. I don’t know who this guy is, but he seems to be at all the open air cafes I’ve been to, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen him. 

A table swings up between the front and rear seats on each side so that’s the place to grab some escargot or, perhaps, a pretzel and some “bier.” That’s more my style. You can also fold the seats flat and convert this space to a bed if you’d like. That’d be quite the thing—sleeping under the stars. 

Of course, if it gets chilly or, as has been the case lately in Europe, ridiculously hot, you can close the roof. There is no mention of an air conditioner. Those aren’t tremendously common in Europe, so you just might be sweltering. 

One interesting thing is that, like so many European vehicles, the Skydancer features a manual transmission. The odd thing about this is, to facilitate the driver seat swiveling, the transmission’s lever has a power mechanism to raise and lower it. 

I’m not going to make any comments about this but, perhaps, the motorhome is happy to see you. Okay, one comment. [Think, Mae West … or not.]

Winnebago EKKO

I’ve likened other European RVs to the Winnebago EKKO in the past for good reason. That’s the most European-style motorhome we have in these United States. This is no exception.

Looking at the EKKO floor plan, it’s very similar to this motorhome. There’s a bed that spans the entire rear of the coach which is raised up. A bathroom occupies the road side. The bath is a wet bath, which is very typical of a European RV.

There’s a sink in here on a tray, and it can slide in and out over the toilet. Of course, that toilet is a cassette toilet—because most European RVs have cassette toilets. It’s how they do things over there.

Like the EKKO, this also has a large cargo hold under the bed. This space is large enough to accommodate bicycles or skis or that sort of thing. Perhaps even a couple of beer kegs if you’re on the way to some sort of celebration.

And, if you are and have two kegs of beer with you, please provide directions. I need to supervise such an event. With my beer stein.

In summary

I can’t see this going over in the U.S. at all—for so many reasons. But I do think creative and unusual designs are worth looking at. With that huge convertible top, this certainly qualifies as unusual. It has definitely been a showstopper. 

One big takeaway comes from what’s under the floor of this: that Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder diesel engine and manual transmission. When the Sprinter first came to these shores—with its ancient but bulletproof five-cylinder engine—it caused quite a stir. 

A big, capable van that got better than 20 miles per gallon was something we weren’t used to over here. The Sprinter has since become a fixture. 

I wonder if we could look to Europe for some inspiration on RVs that don’t get eight miles per gallon going down hill with a tail wind? Combining aerodynamics and more efficient drivelines could be one way we make RVing more enjoyable for many. There’s been a a lot of talk about RVers being out less, including dramatically lower numbers at large gatherings. 

Imagine if we were able to get fuel mileage in the mid- to upper-teens or, even better, low-20s? Add a convertible top and now you might be talking. 

More from Tony

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.

You can also check out his RV podcast with his wife, Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

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Vanessa
2 months ago

Would be limited to older drivers who know how to drive a stick!

Steve H
1 month ago
Reply to  Vanessa

In the US, all Mercedes Sprinters now come with a 7-speed automatic transmission. If this MH were imported to the US, it would come with an automatic and a 3L V-6.

Lindalee
2 months ago

Why, in Europe where they drive on the right, is the steering wheel on the left (like American cars)? Couldn’t help noticing! Are they angling for the American market with this one?????

Vanessa
2 months ago
Reply to  Lindalee

Great Britain is the only country that drives from the right. The continent drives like us.

Brian Burry
2 months ago

They probably made the ugliest RV since the early 1970s, it is unbelievable any money would’ve gone into that design!!!

rvgrandma
2 months ago

If there was a screen that would cover the opening then it would be good for those nights that are not cold.

Steve H
2 months ago
Reply to  rvgrandma

Do convertibles cars in your area have screens when the top is down?

Gordy B
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve H

Do you sleep in convertibles? In Michigan open windows must have screens. If you were to sleep in that, four of our mosquitos would carry you away and deposit you in the woods (bloodless) and go back and steal your RV. Happy Trails

Spike
2 months ago

Interesting unit.

In my neck of the woods, every mosquito and biting horse fly is praying this RV becomes popular here! 😉

Jeri Shepard
2 months ago

I think it would be awesome! Imagine the night skies in some of the camping spots we’re privy to!

Steve H
2 months ago

I can just imagine driving this RV with the top open in mid-September through the Arkansas River Canyon between Canon City and Salida on US 50. Then heading north on US 285 and US 24 past the Sawatch Range with Colorado’s highest peaks–Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive, and Mts. Harvard and Princeton. Finally, visiting Leadville on the way to I-70 at Minturn via the Eagle River canyon, with its brillIant yellow aspen-covered slopes glowing in the sun shining in a gorgeous blue, cloud-free Colorado fall sky. I’ve done just that in a two-seat sports car with the top down, but never in a convertible four-passenger RV. Spectacular!

Roger Spalding
2 months ago

Looking different for difference sake. Andre Agassi said it best, “Image is everything.”

Donald N Wright
2 months ago

This is a really nice idea. Imagine your girlfriends “sunning” themselves while you drove along. Maybe the terror in their eyes as you approached a low bridge. Best of all, with a manual transmission, it is difficult to steal.

david
2 months ago

Love how creative that unit is. That is an amazing RV, love it.
I love seeing what others are building. Thanks for sharing.

friz
2 months ago

Will not be a hit in Florida. Your brains will be fried in 60 seconds in the summer sun as you sweat every ounce of water in your body. Give me shade and AC.

bill
2 months ago
Reply to  friz

Florida? Fried brain? Carl Hiassen readers can appreciate your pun.

Tom
2 months ago

No A/C? No sale!

bill
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Many European RVs have the a/c underneath (less wind resistance) and some are (were) made by Coleman (Dometic?)

Bob M
2 months ago

Nice, but expensive. At least they’re innovative, not like American RV manufactures.

friz
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

innovative = hair brained

bill
2 months ago
Reply to  friz

“Hair brained” posted by friz? .. good one!

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