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The Mercury Cars Guide : August 8th 2009
20— Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Marriage made for adventure What’s it like takingaself-contained holidayonwheels? KeithDidhamdrives Jayco’s latestmotorhomeona 1000kmroadtest from Melbourne toSydney T WENTY years ago it would have been an unlikely if not unholy marriage: that of a feisty Italian brand known for its quirky performance cars with a Aussie company which cut its cloth making basic campertrailers. But the automotive business offers up some unusual bed fellows. Today, Fiat has become a major supplier of platforms for the campervan and motorhome market thanks to the suitability of its Ducato vans. Jayco has blossomed into this country’s RV market leader, expanding from campers to caravans and motorhomes. Think of Jayco as the Toyota of the caravan and camper industry; mainstream, and enjoying similar brand recognition and sales success. Jayco’s motorhomes and car- avans are built on separate production lines in a voluminous factory at Lyndhurst, south-east of Melbourne. It is here the Fiat cab chassis is married to the Aussie-made fibreglass body and the cabinets made from local timbers and imported veneers, which are screwed and stapled together. The Ducato has become a vehicle of choice for the RV industry, being used by eight converters for the grey nomad and holiday rental market and accounting for 75 per cent of all Ducato sales. So important is the recrea- tional market that Fiat now develops 14 special Ducato variants tailored just for the motorhome and campervan market, with modifications to the cab to ease its marriage with the motorhome body while Fiat has also modified the transmission to better suit the RV’s constant load weight. Jayco’s mainstream mobile homeis the 7.1 metre Conquest, which sells for $110,000 plus onroad costs. Last week, we took up an offer to deliver one from Jayco’s Melbourne factory to Sydney on an extended 1000km road test, with two overnight stops. It proved to be an eyeopening journey; the notorious Pacific Highway was all but deserted; there were more middle-aged people than grey nomads in mobile homes and towing vans, and the standard of caravan parks (we used the Big 4 chain) in both Lakes Entrance and Batesmans Bay email@example.com with KEITH DIDHAM showed park operators at long last are providing clean, comfortable overnight stops. The performance and fuel economy of the big Jayco underlined the point that such road trips need not be taxing on the holiday budget. The Conquest comes with five different layouts and two roof heights, and that’s where buyers need to take time out to look at which suits their lifestyle. Typically, the Conquest can seat four (with approved seatbelts), has twin double beds, a combined toilet and shower and galley-style kitchen. But mobile-home design is all about compromise, and while the kitchen layout is fixed, buyers have a choice of bed, seating and storage configurations. The Euro-modern and plushlooking layout of the test vehicle was fairly standard for a motorhome: roof-mounted air conditioning system, twin gas bottles, hot and cold water delivery, double bed in a somewhat claustrophobic roof space above the cabin and accessed by ladder (great for the kids), a small table with seating for four (two with seatbelts), a midmounted galley and a bathroom/toilet and bed in the rear. The front passenger seat can be swivelled to provide extra seat- HAPPY TRAVELS: All is revealed on a longer roadtest. mid-sized small torque Jayco Conquest Howmuch:$109,990 plus on-road costs Platform: Fiat Ducato Engine: 3.0-litre turbo diesel,115kW@360rpm, 40Nm@1700rpm; frontwheel drive Transmission: Six-speed robotisedmanualwith auto modeor sequential shift Howbig: Length 7.1m, height 3.1m, width 2.3m, tare 3185kg,gmv4005kg; towcapacity1500kg Watercapacity: Fresh 125 litre, grey80litre Fuel consumption: 13.1 litre/100km average REACH: Making the bed may be a stretch for some people. more bench space would be nice and you have to question the wisdom of having curtains rather than blinds around stove and sink areas. ing. The layout in the test vehicle had a comfortable north-south mounted innersprung bed tucked up against the kerbside wall which may not be practical for older owners or those with less mobility because making the bed required dexterity. Those sleeping inboard were also slightly shortchanged because the corner of the bed has been chopped off to allow access to the bathroom. For the money, the Conquest comes well packaged: the galley has a high-mounted microwave, combined gas/electric cooktop and grill, large fridge and plenty of drawer and cupboard space including a roll-out pantry and overhead lockers with curved fronts to provide a more open feel to the layout. There was not too much to grumble about here. While there are abundant power points and excellent lighting, For clothing and general storage, there are abundant lockers, drawers and cupboards, a half-depth wardrobe and big area under the lift-up bed. Outside lockers are, however, not large enough to store camp chairs, an extra table, fishing rods or umbrella so they live under the bed. The Conquest does come with a wind-out, side-mounted awning, outdoor lighting and exterior power point. The dining area was gener- ous but the seats, designed for safe travelling, are too upright for lazy lounging. A TV was mounted on an adjustable arm behind the passenger’s seat, with a radio/DVD player (with too small and too fiddly controls but there is an easy to use remote) positioned next to a cupboard which housed the allimportant monitors for water and grey-waste levels as well as switches for the battery charg- DRIVE AWAY NO MORE TO PAY! $8.25 per day† Only 31,000km $15, 990 DRIVE AWAY 08 NISSAN Tiida Hatch 1.8 litre automatic, dual airbags, ABS. Stock No. 321701 CVT automatic, 1.3 litre petrol/electric, six airbags. Stock No. 321636 07 HONDA Civic Hybrid $24, †To approved business clients only, with a $2,500 deposit over five years with a 30% residual payment. Interest rate 10.50%. 1.4 litre automatic, six airbags, 6 disc CD, alloys. Stock No. 321713 08 NISSAN Micra City 990 DRIVE AWAY $15, 490 DRIVE AWAY $13.50 per day† $8.00 per day† www.djmotors.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Easy finance available with DJ Financial Services Hobart 1a Brisbane Street, Hobart Phone: 6213 3300 Warren Amos 0417 544 829 Luke Mitchell 0408 545 146 Glenorchy 275 Main Road, Glenorchy Phone: 6213 3315 Brian Anning 0418 531 853 Chris Wakefield 0400 635 446 Allan Gebel 0428 729 659 er and electric/gas hot water system. The fridge is smart enough to know which power source is available and switches between 240 and 12 volt automatically or you can run it on gas if away from civilisation. The combined bathroom with shower and fold-down sink and cassette toilet mean you don’t have tomakethe cold runin the middle of the night to the camp amenities block, but the design was let down by the high mounting of the mirror which scored a low mark from my average-height wife. Building a mobile home with all its components without any squeaks or rattles must be a major challenge for builders and Jayco has done an excellent job. The body felt tight, solid and well put together. I’ve driven luxury cars with more wind noise, but a rattle from the microwave was annoying. on the road IT is easy to see why so many motorhome builders opt for the Ducato with its new MTA Saturday, August 8, 2009 WELL-CONCEIVED: The Jayco 23ft Conquest 209. Pictures: KEITH DIDHAM gearbox — a six-speed robotised manual which can be driven as an automatic. The Ducato also comes with power steering, dual front airbags, keyless locking, cruise control, air conditioning, traction control, anti-lock brakes and both hill descent and hill start to ease any concerns about stopping and starting the Conquest on a slope or negotiating a steep decline. The forward view from the cab is excellent because of its high-mounted seating position, while huge door mirrors, each with individually controlled upper and lower mirror sections, cover the side view. A rear-facing camera and park distance control remove any concerns about backing. Fiat’s front-wheel drive three-litre turbo diesel develops 115kW at 3600rpm, but more importantly has 400Nm of torque at 1700rpm so it has penty of mid-range performance. It will easily sit on 100km/h at 2000rpm and can cruise at 110km/h when permitted so this is no slow coach. We surprised many fellow motorists by passing them on hill climbs. Naturally, such a high-sided vehicle can be affected by cross and headwinds but generally it feels stable. The best fuel return was 11.4l/100km — that’s better than some family sized cars and remember the boxy motorhome measures 7.1 metres nose to tail. It can be drivenon a standard car licence. It sells for $109,990 plus on road costs.
August 1st 2009
August 15th 2009