The Regent Cruiser made a rather grand entrance at this year's BAV with a sumptuous lounge, modern styling and semi-offroader features fit for royalty.
Image Credits: Phil Cerbu, Cam Inniss, Marcus Cozzolino, Matt Williams
TIM VAN DUYL
If ever there was a company and a caravan worthy of having a crack at being a Best Aussie Van it's Regent and its Cruiser. Caravan World has followed the resurgence of the brand since it was taken over by Caravans Australia in 2012 after the full effect of the GFC struck the original owners. We got our first look at the then all-new Cruiser in 2013 and more recently again in 2019 when we sampled the 20.6, deeming it worthy of a shot at the title.
Regent promotes the Cruiser for ‘the experienced owner’. This does not mean that it requires special skill or knowledge to own or use, quite the opposite. It is a caravan distilled, one that takes the best of what is proven to work and nothing more. It is built traditionally with a CNC routered ply frame behind the Alupanel cladding and sits on Rocker Roller leaf-springs as standard.
The sentimentality the setup created in seasoned caravaners was evident at the Showcase and with our judges who appreciated the ride of leaf springs and low entry they gave when parked up.
There is a departure from the traditional way of doing things internally though, with a modern feel to the gloss white and soft grey colours used inside, and the appliances fitted are all top-notch modern units. From the north-south queen bed to the sumptuous lounge in the dinette, the 20.6 is an extremely relaxing place to be and judges agreed with an excellent average score of 7.8/10 for Liveability. They also rated the Build Quality highly with a joint highest average score among all caravans at BLA CZone’s Best Aussie Vans 2019 of 7.9/10.
On hand in Inverloch we had Craig Clarke, affectionately known as Kiwi due to his heritage. Kiwi offered calm and considered opinions when pushed by the judges on the merits of the Cruiser, his years of experience clear and much appreciated. To Kiwi and the team at Regent Caravans HQ, well done on delivering such a well-considered and exceptionally presented caravan, and congratulations on topping the charts in Build Quality at BLA CZone’s Best Aussie Vans 2019.
With superior quality of finish and advanced building techniques, the Regent Cruiser, at $77,990, deserves a high score in value for money. The company has a well-deserved reputation and is one of our longer running brands, and, from what I have witnessed at their factory, they take extra care in how they put each model together. Their single sheet ply walls are works of CNC art, and the insulation is fitted perfectly. The interior has a homely but modern touch that would be easy to live with on the road.
There is a five-year warranty for the chassis, with a 12-month warranty for the parts manufactured by Regent and the usual manufacturer’s warranty on accessories. Use is limited to “normal use and operation on bitumen, concrete or formed gravel surfaces”, which is fair enough for a touring van.
Regent’s warranty clearly sets out a customer's right under Australian Consumer Law
and they have a dedicated Warranty Officer to take care of any problems as quickly as they can.
Al-Ko’s roller-rocker leaf spring suspension kept the 2452kg tare weigh planted firmly on the road without too much wandering in the strong crosswinds. There was no banging from the 50mm ball over the rougher sections of our track, and the van sat steadily on the higher speed sections.
If fully loaded to its 3052kg ATM, it would go over legal towing weight behind the Trailblazer, so a more substantial tow vehicle is necessary. A reverse camera is a standard-issue and will be useful to keep an eye on following traffic on long straight sections.
With an aluminium composite roof (one piece) and wall structure and the ubiquitous black alloy checkerplate waistline, on the surface the 6.6m (21ft 8in) Regent Cruiser looks the same as quite a few other vans. However, instead of a conventional timber frame, it has a plywood sheet frame instead. The advantage of this is that it and the insulation is easier and more accurate to cut on a CNC machine and faster to put together.
A look under the van reveals a 100mm x 50mm (6in x 2in) railed galvanised chassis with a 50mm x 50mm (2in x 2in) riser and a 150mm x 10mm (6in x 2in) sized drawbar, while a load sharing tandem axle leaf spring suspension and a 50mm ball coupling very much suggest a road going van.
A closer viewing of the chassis reveals that most pipework and cabling is strapped up out of the way and there is both a battery box and an Anderson plug attached to the front offside chassis rail. As a general comment on all the vans at BAV, I know it’s not always easy, but a look under a caravan might tell you more about a caravan manufacturer than just about anything else.
Inside the Cruiser, the overall finish has a very contemporary look about it, with glossy white, black and grey forming the colour scheme. Plywood is used for all the cabinetry which is CNC machine cut. Internal storage space is quite good, with the feature items being the four drawers under the bed, which is set a little higher than usual to accommodate them. LED strip lighting is fitted under the overhead lockers and under all the cupboards, in addition to the ceiling fitted downlights and the wall reading lights
Generally speaking, the Cruiser appears to be built fairly well. The electrics are well sorted for a road tourer van with a 100Ah battery, 150W solar panel and a BMPRO Battery Plus35 management system. Together with the water tank and gas cylinder capacity, it’s good for limited remote stays.
VIV AND RON MOON
With a long heritage of building touring vans for the Australian market, the Regent Cruiser is classified as a semi-offroader, capable of taking you, as their brochure says, '... when and wherever the wander-lust takes you.'
For peace of mind when you are travelling, the Regent Cruiser has a five-year chassis warranty, while the van itself has a standard warranty of 12 months, which can be upgraded at extra cost. At least, as it is classified as a semi-offroader, you'll be able to take it along the Long Plain Road in Kosciuszko NP or to such places as the small historic hamlet of Adavale in central Qld.
As far as towing was concerned the Regent Cruiser performed reasonably well. Still, we did notice a bit of rock and roll from side to side on the lumpy roads we were on, and a touch of 'ball slap' from the tow coupling, all pretty standard fare from such a suspension and tow coupling set-up.
I was a little disappointed that a van with Regent's pedigree didn't have a grey water tank fitted as standard fare. You'd want to fit one to make use of the free camps that proliferate the continent or even nearby in your home state. Most councils frown on grey water being dumped on their parklands and footy ovals so a grey water tank is near essential.
Storage wise this van has a good amount, so you'll be able to take all you need for that long annual trip up north. Bench space is about average for such a van — read, 'not great' but passable.
The Regent Cruiser with its two 95-litre water tanks has enough water to keep you hydrated and showered for a few days. Two 9kg gas bottles, likewise, will keep the stove, fridge and hot water running for that amount of time, if not longer.
Power wise, once you are off the grid, you'll have to contend with one 105Ah AGM battery to supply all your power requirements and a single 150W solar panel to keep that battery charged. It'll be ample for an overnight stay or even a bit longer depending on what the weather is doing and how much demand you put on the system.
The three-way 185-litre Thetford fridge will keep enough food cool and crisp and the beers cold allowing you to enjoy a wayside stop or a remote campsite for a few days.
Sleek and modern were the two words that immediately sprang to mind when I stepped foot inside the 20'6” Cruiser from Regent Caravans. Gloss white, black and grey surfaces dominate the colour palette of this 'on trend' interior fit out. The traditional layout with the bed at the front, ensuite at the rear and kitchen/dinette in the middle is one that won't win any new design awards, however, there has been a few little tweaks.
Starting with the ensuite, the shower tray is 1.1m long. The benefit here is two-fold. One, you've got plenty of room when showering, and two, the entire ensuite benefits with plenty of room to move around and there's a heap of storage space too.
Up front, the bed sits higher than normal thanks to an oversized tunnel boot that runs full width across the van. This extra height enables a Weber Q, or similar, to be fitted to a slide, complete with lid, to take care of cooking duties under the awning.
Keeping everything fresh and bright inside is LED lighting aplenty, with the strip lighting mounted underneath the cupboards at floor level creating a lovely ambience.
Externally, the Regent Cruiser appears to tread a pretty familiar path. But it is what's hidden beneath the Alucobond exterior composite panel that sets this van apart. Gone is the meranti stick frame, replaced with an 18mm thick, lightweight, structural, water repellent CNC cut plywood frame with reverse CNC cut foam infills, giving millimetre perfect insulation to the entire caravan. CNC machining is also used for all cabinetry, ensuring a better fit and finish.
Underneath, the galvanised chassis hasn't escaped the technological improvements either. The use of CAD design and robotic welding ensures 100 per cent accuracy and consistency for every frame. This frame is also backed by a five-year warranty when driven to suit conditions on gazetted roads Australia wide.
Just shy of $80k, the Regent Cruiser will suit the discerning buyer who is looking for a well-built van with a decent payload (600kg) and still be able to tackle a few well maintained dirt roads to get away from the van parks for some peace and quiet.
Regent Cruiser 20ft 6in
VALUE FOR MONEY
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
HOLDEN HAULED — Ged Bulmer
Fuel Consumption: 16.4L/100km
Tow Rating: 2.5/5
This was one of only two leaf sprung vans on test and the shortfalls of this more traditional suspension arrangement immediately made themselves felt on the test track, with the Regent feeling less comfortable to tow than its competitors with independent suspension. The van felt quite a bit firmer over some of the lumpier sections of road and bumps, transferring bump to the vehicle through the tow hitch and generating more pendulous movement and stability issues. There was an evident increase in trailer sway or yaw, brought on by the pendulum effect of the trailer drawbar acting on the tow hitch. This reached its most acute on the return downhill section, where the Trailblazer’s electronic stability and trailer sway control systems were activated twice, necessitating a reduction in speed to 60km/h before the system would deactivate.
The Regent’s tare weight at 2500kg placed it exactly mid-field, but its 120kg ball weight was significantly lighter than everything on test and this may well have contributed to the handling problems. On the plus side, the Regent’s 16.4L/100km fuel consumption figure made it the most fuel-efficient van on test. However, this could also be partly attributed to its lower average towing speed, which at 54.6km/h was the sixth slowest.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length: 8.4m (27ft 6in)
External body length: 6.6m (21ft 8in)
External body width: 2.5m (8ft 2in)
Travel height: 2.9m (9ft 6in)
Interior height: 2m (6ft 6in)
Ball weight: 117kg
Suspension: AL-KO Rock and Roller
Coupling: AL-KO 3.5-tonne ball
Brakes: 12in electric
Water: 2 x 95L (fresh), grey water tank optional (not fitted to van)
Battery: 1 x 100Ah
Solar: 1 x 150W
Air-conditioner: Ibis 3
Gas: 2 x 9kg
Sway control: Optional (not fitted to van)
External kitchen: Optional (not fitted to van)
Cooking: Swift oven (gas/electric)
Fridge: 185L, N614 Thetford
Microwave: Swift 23L
Bathroom: Internal fiberglass shower and Thetford ceramic bowl toilet
Hot water: Swift (gas/electric)
Washing machine: 2.5kg top loader
No options fitted
PRICE AS SHOWN
$77,990 on road, Victoria
To enquire about this caravan, please contact Green RV (07) 5356 500 (Vic, NSW or QLD) or Great Southern RV (08) 7231 0226 (SA)