Deluxe Caravans does things differently on a number of fronts. Originally, its focus was as a white-label manufacturer. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means it manufactured for other companies. In 2017, the company started to place more emphasis on its own brand, ‘Deluxe’, and has gradually been building a name for themselves. Deluxe was building very modest numbers until the industry-wide surge in demand in 2020.
NEW WAY OF DOING BUSINESS
Lakshan Amarasooriya from Deluxe came out with me to do the review. He told me they evaluated the market and decided to make some important strategic decisions based on buyer behaviour. Firstly, in the current environment, they would only build family vans and no couples vans. Deluxe found that the decision cycle for the younger family van demographic is much shorter, and they could meet more customers’ needs quickly. Secondly, they discovered that the target market was comfortable with buying vans remotely, as a purely online process. Lakshan explained that it sells direct and despite being Melbourne based about 70 per cent of their sales are into NSW and Qld. It’s not literally a shopping cart scenario, but they do rely heavily on video calls to walk prospective customers through vans prior to purchase and to show build progress along the way once people have signed up.
Deluxe does not want to get ahead of itself, producing around 50 units per annum but it sees a bright future for the brand.
A TYPICAL OFFROAD FAMILY VAN
The Storm Breaker looks rugged and bold, is high off the ground and has mud tyres. The decals leave you in no doubt of the intended purpose with the words ‘offroad’ featuring prominently on all four sides of the van. The reality is this style of van has become the ‘new normal’ for a family RV. So, despite Deluxe's marketing practices being comparatively radical, its product is quite conventional by contemporary standards. And this means there is a lot to like about the Storm Breaker. Well-known and respected component brands featured throughout the van should bring a degree of comfort to online purchasers.
Underneath you have AL-KO Enduro X independent suspension and 12in electric offroad brakes. The Enduro X is positioned as an extreme offroad offering by AL-KO. If you look closely, the suspension arm looks quite different than other systems due to its pressed metal construction. AL-KO states it has significant weight savings while maintaining rugged strength. Mated to AL-KO premium twin shocks and coil springs, it is a set-up that has gone under the vans of many caravan manufacturers in recent years. AL-KO products underneath are rounded out with the electronic sway control system simply known as ESC. It is an option though and my new hobby horse is to see caravan manufacturers move to make these kinds of safety products standard on their vans.
I must confess, I haven’t come across the Road Rider brand chassis used. There is plenty of room to crawl around underneath the Storm Breaker to get a good look at the chassis and it appears to be a sensible design with good welds. Again, typical for an offroader, you will find 150mm x 50mm main rails and 50mm raisers. Lakshan tells me Road Rider is an emerging brand with substantial previous industry experience behind it.
For an offroader, there could be better stone protection underneath. The tanks do have metal shields, but it would be wise to add some foam lagging or pool noodles to various exposed plumbing and electrical lines yourself. Or you can option it from the factory. Stone protection upfront is great though with a big stone shield and rubber flaps mounted to the A-frame. You do have to be mindful of the stone shield when performing U-turns or sharp reversing as this will be the first contact point with your tow vehicle. While on the A-frame, you can’t ask for a better coupling than a Cruisemaster D035 for the job, and that’s what you get.
Deluxe CNC cuts its furniture in-house and the quality showed. All cabinetry looked precision built and operated nicely. The Storm Breaker has a proven layout that will work well for most families. There’s a queen bed upfront for the parents. You’ve got the typical robe and drawers set up on both sides of the bed and cupboards above. The mid-section is again familiar with the kitchen on the door side and the L-shaped lounge on the opposite side. Something a little bit different is the kitchen bench and cupboard below angles out at the sink area. It does take away from the passage area a little, but it didn’t bother me. What you get in return is a bit more bench space to work with and slightly deeper cupboards.
The overhead cupboards were all good and the microwave is high but at the end of the day, its gotta go somewhere. The fridge is a decent size 188L Dometic three-way. Climactic comfort is taken care of with a Houghton Bel Air Slimline air conditioner and Webasto diesel heater.
Adjoining the deeper than average bench is a slightly deeper than average bathroom wall. This made the bathroom just a little more spacious with room for a separate shower and toilet. Across from the bathroom are the double bunks with fans in each space. In between the bathroom and bunks is a nice-sized storage cupboard complete with Destination RV front loader 3.5kg washing machine.
Another little difference is the Storm Breaker does not have a step well at the entrance door. This gives you a tiny bit more floor space and eliminates a spot for wayward feet to fall into.
Eliminating the step well also impacts on external functionality. It takes away a lower point for water ingress while crossing rivers if you want to go that extreme. The structure should theoretically be a bit stronger with the continuous floor. And the piece of wall trim that hangs lower, framing a step well is done away with too. Getting up that little bit higher is not a problem with the fold-out exterior double step and grab handle provided. As an aside the cleaner wall line at the bottom of the van looks nicer to me too.
A meranti timber frame and composite aluminium skin cladding with a healthy dose of checkerplate is par for the course. The Storm Breaker looked well put together and appropriately sealed. The majority of the exterior storage is focused at the front with a through tunnel boot and good sized toolbox mounted on the A-frame. Just be careful when you open the toolbox door because it can swing out and hit the stone guard. Not a biggie – just nice to avoid if you can. There is one hatch at the rear offside under the bunk giving you a decent amount of total external storage. Out the back you have two jerry can holders and the spare wheel.
A bike rack lives on top of the A-frame storage box. This spot works out well provided you are reasonably tall and strong to get the bikes up there, otherwise you may need a small platform to stand on to make the job easier. A nice little feature is the picnic table is operated with latches rather than relying on a key each time – much more user-friendly. And you can enjoy your outdoor dining with external speakers and a decent rollout awning.
OFF GRID CAPABILITY
The most upmarket vans costing significantly more are going gasless, relying on big banks of batteries and a lot of inverter power. The Storm Breaker has a bet each way with a nice blend of electric power but still having two 9kg gas bottles on board. A spec of four 170W solar panels, two 100Ah iTech lithium batteries and a 2600W Enderdrive inverter is nothing to be sneezed at. And 190L of freshwater and 110L of greywater capacity is pretty good too. Deluxe has embraced an innovative new product to make that freshwater go further. We are very used to seeing an external shower mounted on the exterior offside wall but instead, you will find a product known as a Gusto. It blows air out the end of a brush and it looks like it will be great for getting sand off your feet. I think it is a nice idea and will definitely save water with kids. At the end of the day, you still need a shower and you do have one inside.
The unladen Storm Breaker with a tare of 2800kg felt at ease behind the modern HiLux used for towing duties. The ATM rating of 3500kg is the typical benchmark for this style of van making it legal for many tow vehicles and delivering a respectable 700kg payload. As we keep saying though, it is always important to do your homework to ensure you select a towing package where you don’t exceed the tow vehicle Gross Combined Mass rating when you have both the van and car loaded up.
THE OVERALL PACKAGE
With a starting price of under $90,000, it seems families are voting with their mouse clicks and grabbing a good value offering in what has been a red hot market. The optioned-up version we reviewed just tips over the $100,000 mark. They are all sensible options that help with comfort, safety, convenience and off-grid capability and many will see it as $10,000 well spent.
A one-year warranty does let the package down a little though with many competitors offering three and even five years these days. A smaller operator such as Deluxe selling direct simply can’t have the same nationwide network of service centres as the big guys. Deluxe aims to make up for this through its personalised customer service arranging independent service agents as required.
Deluxe has done a few little things to make its vans different than the competition but for me, the standout is they have found the secret ingredient in building customer trust to facilitate a six-figure online purchase.
HITS AND MISSES
- A good specification for off-road applications with AL-KO and Cruisemaster components
- A proven layout that works well for most families
- Furniture is well put together and operates nicely
- Will benefit from additional stone protection underneath
- Front storage box door bangs into the stone shield
Deluxe Caravans Storm Breaker 21ft Rating
Value for Money
“$90,000 gets you a well-appointed base model and $100,000 gives you just about everything you could wish for”
“The unladen Storm Breaker felt at ease behind the modern HiLux”
Suitability for Intended Touring
“The decals say offroad and it has a spec to match”
“Definitely up to scratch inside and out”
“A proven layout will get the job done”
“A good mix of gas and electric power. Freshwater will go further with a gizmo to blow sand off your feet”
“Deluxe offers a one-year warranty like many others in the market but there are also plenty that offer three or five-year warranties.”
“Hats off to Deluxe for adopting new products such as the Gusto air washer”
“The way the whole thing comes together is the Storm Breaker’s strong point”
Deluxe Caravans Storm Breaker 21ft Specs
Weights and measures
|Body length||6.6m (21ft 6in)|
|Overall length||9.2m (30ft)|
|Width||2.5m (8ft 2in)|
|Height||2m (6ft 7in)|
|Cladding||Aluminium smooth side cladding|
|Suspension||AL-KO Enduro X|
|Wheels||16” Roman alloy rims with 265/75/16 Mud Terrain Tyres|
|Water||2x 95L fresh and 1x 110L grey|
|Battery||2x iTech 100AH Lithium|
|Air-conditioner||Houghton Bel Air Slimline|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Sway control||AL-KO ESC|
|Cooking||Swift Full Oven|
|Fridge||188L Dometic three-way|
|Bathroom||Separate shower and toilet|
|Hot water||Swift 28L gas electric|
- AL-KO ESC
- 7 pin flat plug
- 2600W Enderdrive inverter
- Webasto diesel heater
- Diesel tank
- 2 x fans in bunks
- 2 x 100Ah iTech lithium batteries
- Gusto air blower
- Large Aussie Traveller anti flap kit
- Concertina door for ensuite
Deluxe Caravans Storm Breaker 21ft price from $89,900
Deluxe Caravans Storm Breaker 21ft price as shown $101,200
Supplied by Deluxe Caravans
THE NEXT STEP
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