For this review, my choice of van is a Cosy Cab Kirkston 196 and when I first looked it over, I was again reminded of the power of a name. The first impression is perhaps of a cabin that is very cosy, then there is the model name. Whilst the number is simply a reference to the external length, Kirkston sounds a bit like a large country estate. It may all sound a bit whimsical but stay with me.
Perhaps I should mention the exotically-sounding dealer, Newcastle-based Concorde Motorhomes Australia from whence I obtained the caravan. The company takes its name from the A class motorhomes it sells, which surprisingly are neither British nor French but German built. However, priced at well over $600,000 they are not cheap and wisely Concorde Australia also offers the Cosy Cab caravan range as well.
Still on names, the two letters after the Kirkston 196 in this case are MD which simply mean mid door, a reference to the habitation door being forward of the wheels. In a front bed/rear bathroom layout when compared to a rear habitation door in a similar length caravan, it’s a neat design trick for getting a slightly longer kitchen bench and a bit more space around the bed, without impinging on anything else.
The Kirkston comes with what seems to be an extensive options list but many fall under the “X-Trac Pack” offering, demonstrated here. As standard, the Kirkston 196 has a hammer tone box section chassis with 100x50mm (4in x 2in) main rails and 150x50mm (6in x 2in) drawbar rails. It rides on tandem axle-leaf spring suspension and has a standard 50mm ball hitch. For anyone contemplating spending most of their time on sealed roads with the odd excursion along well formed dirt roads that should more than suffice.
However, if a bit of rough road travel is planned then the X-Trac Pack is available and amongst other features, comes with 3300kg AL-KO Cross Country independent suspension, 15in AT tyres, hot-dipped galvanising, a 50mm (2in) raiser on the chassis, DO35 hitch, jerry can holders, a grey water tank, external shower and for the inside, piano hinges on all doors. A little something to keep in mind here is that not only does that add to the price tag, it also adds weight.
For all Cosy Cab vans, the body construction remains the same—timber frame, silver coloured aluminium cladding, security door and double-glazed acrylic windows. There are two choices on external storage, a tunnel boot across the front and an external bin at the rear. If the option of a slide-out kitchen complete with stainless steel and sink is chosen, then you lose a fair bit of the front storage bin, of course.
Like many caravans on the market today, the Kirkston 196 layout looks familiar, with the front island bed, mid-section kitchen and dinette and full-width rear bathroom. It also has what seems to be the current colour scheme of choice—white, black and a few shades of grey!
Up front, the bedroom area does have a standard arrangement of a bed with the usual side wardrobes, overhead lockers and bedside cabinets. Although a neat addition is the extra shelf under the overhead lockers. For someone who either likes to read a book or listen to a radio at night, it’s handy for those sort of items.
Angled kitchen benchtops might look a bit funny but they do add valuable kitchen bench and storage space, as well as being a good location for both the sink/drainer and the microwave above. That item being set at a user-friendly position, lower than the adjoining overhead lockers. In addition to the cooktop, grill and oven, there is a generous amount of cupboard and drawer space, along with a slide-out wire basket pantry.
In my book, footrests on the end of cafe dinette seating are always a winner, which is what we have here along with the well-padded seat cushions. Access to the under seat area is gained by floor locker doors on the footwell area. Drawers might have been nice but I guess you can’t have everything and there is the small cupboard under the multifold table for smaller items.
There are the usual overhead lockers but the end one doubles as the electrical panel with all the necessary controls along with easily accessible but unlabelled fuses.
Caravan bathrooms normally come with the standard items like a shower cubicle, Dometic cassette toilet and washbasin as this one does. However, it is often the extra appointments like cupboard and drawer space, along with a good sized shower cubicle that make all the difference and the Kirkston has them all.
OFF-THE GRID CAPABILITY
Even if you’re not considering offroad travel, this van is still well set-up for camping off-the-grid.
In addition to the two 95L water tanks, a single 100Ah deep cycle battery and 150W solar panel and battery charger are standard.The Kirkston 196 on review, however, had double the solar and battery capacity for a few extra days between stops.
The grey water tank included in the X-Trac Pack is a great addition, too, but I’d opt for a few extra 12V outlets in addition to the one above the dining table.
On the towing front, its ATM of 2962kg really puts it well of out the 2500kg limit, even with its Tare Mass of 2362kg. However, that is still within the towing/GCM limits of the 3500kg utes that abound these days and a van without the X-Trac Pack is going to be even lighter again. So good for a selection of towing vehicles.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When looking over this van, it is interesting to compare the alternative layouts that are available within the same body length, in other words something for everyone. Having an extensive options list is a good move too. The base price is readily affordable for a road-going van but there are plenty of options including the X-Trac Pack seen here for those with larger budgets.
On the comfort front, the Kirkston is something of a Cosy Cab and certainly it’s a country estate that can be parked anywhere!
HITS AND MISSES
- Available in both on-road and offroad versions
- External kitchen
- Internal layout without major compromise
- Good sized kitchen
- Dinette foot rests
- Optional external kitchen takes up storage space
- 12V fuse labelling
- Lack of 12V charger points
- Caution on rear loading
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 8m (26ft 3in)
External body length 5.97m (19ft 7in)
External body width 2.32m (7ft 7in)
Travel height 2.97m (9ft 9in)
Internal height 2m (6ft 7in)
Ball weight 205kg
PRICE AS SHOWN
$72,120, on-road, NSW (from $53,500, on-road, NSW)
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #576. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!