A SIDE BENEFIT TO this review of the new Concept Europa caravan was to visit the northern Brisbane premises of Kratzmann Caravans. Opened earlier this year, the Burpengary dealership under the direction of Clinton Kratzmann certainly stands out and has all the features that are expected in a modern caravan dealership.
In many ways it was appropriate for our Europa, which Concept terms its 24ft model (internal length). With an external body length of 7.9m (26ft) it certainly stood out from the crowd in more ways than one.
As you might expect, the internal layout is a home away from home. There is even a departure from the ubiquitous front-bedroom, full-width rear-bathroom layout; instead the front bedroom has an adjoining split bathroom, which leaves plenty of room for a two-sided kitchen area and a very inviting club lounge in the rear.
It’s the club lounge that is the most appealing. Upholstered in contoured leather cushions, it has windows all round and invites sitting down and relaxing the moment you step into the van. Also an asset is the any-which-way-table that has a glossy anthracite finish to match the rest of the benchtops.
It probably wouldn’t work in a smaller van, but the somewhat dominant burnt-orange hue of the cabinetry isn’t overpowering. Indeed, the Europa does not feel cramped at all.
Lighting consists mostly of the 12V halogen bubble-style fittings which create a nice ambience at night. The generous number of reading lights are all LEDs. Some people prefer that to be the other way round, but no doubt you can make your choice with a van like this.
I’ve been told that all service aspects in the hotel business are equal in importance but the kitchen is more equal than the others. Well, here is a kitchen that offers plenty of potential.
The nearside bench has just a stainless steel sink with drainer on the benchtop – the rest is just working area.
The forward end is raised slightly and looks a little odd until you realise that a front-loading Dometic washing machine resides within. It’s raised off the floor because it sits on the nearside wheel arch. That still allows space for two cupboards and a slide-out wire basket pantry in the under-bench area and three quite deep overhead lockers, all with a second shelf. Occupying the four-locker space is a microwave, set lower than usual because of the lower lockers.
Opposite, the two-door, 186L fridge sits against the bathroom wall. That leaves space for a full Spinflo stove and again, a good amount of benchtop space. Given that this is a luxury van, a Waeco wine bottle cooler is also fitted into the under-bench area. This gives room for a single cupboard, two drawers and both overhead lockers and several floor lockers. It depends on your travelling preferences but I’d like a few more drawers of various sizes, instead of one of the cupboards.
Like quite a few other van designs, the Europa kitchen also accommodates the entertainment section. At the rear end of the offside bench, a large flatscreen TV is mounted on a swivel arm. This, of course, comes with the necessary power and antenna connections and can be seen quite easily from the rear club lounge. In the locker area above, an AM/FM radio/DVD player supplies sound through the multiple speaker system.
There are pluses and minuses with a split bathroom versus a full-width rear one. To me an asset of the split bathroom is that it is right next to the bedroom and has a walk-through which accommodates the non-square shape of the nearside shower cubicle. It still has room for the average person but does not take up valuable space.
That leaves a good amount of room opposite for the Thetford cassette toilet and accompanying vanity cabinet. The cabinet includes a very contemporary-looking washbasin, upper and lower cupboard space and a large wall mirror. Sliding doors can close off both sides of the bathroom, and ventilation comes from two fan hatches and a small window above the loo.
Up front, the bedroom is a fairly standard setup with a 1.85x1.6m (6ft 1in x 5ft 1in) mattress sitting on a posture slat bed base. There are large windows on either side and instead of one largish window across the front, there are two smaller ones fitted. Around the bed are side wardrobes, bedside cabinets and overhead lockers. Both wardrobe doors have mirrors on the outside, which is a nice change.
Instead of the usual diagonal cupboards at the foot of the bed, there are low, quarter-round cupboards on either side plus a smaller cupboard above the offside one. They do restrict bed walk-around space somewhat.
The Europa is built along fairly traditional lines with a 150x50mm SupaGal chassis and a 150x50mm drawbar that is welded to a second, 100x50mm rail that runs back to the suspension mounts – no surprises given the length of the van with the load-sharing suspension, tandem-axle setup. Timber is used for the framing and there is insulation behind the aluminium cladding. In addition to the front boot, there are bin doors on either side at the rear which give access to the under-seat areas.
With a van like this, you’d certainly expect a bit of a weight penalty and with an ATM of nearly 2900kg, you’d be right. It’s certainly in large 4WD towing territory and although it’s not a difficult van to tow, the extra length has to be kept in mind when turning sharp corners or overtaking. Not every caravan park is going to be able to accommodate a van of this length.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If big vans are your scene, the Concept Europa is sure to be of interest. In particular, when vans have a large bathroom, the kitchen is often downsized but that’s not the case here. The Europa, which is available in 19ft 6in to 24ft (5.94m to 7.3m – internal length) configurations, contains everything you might want for luxury travel on the road and doesn’t skimp on the interior space to achieve that.
CONCEPT EUROPA 24ft
External body length: 7.9m (26ft)
External width: 2.41m (7ft 11in)
Interior height: 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Nameplate Tare: 2440kg
Nameplate ATM: 2846kg
Suspension Al-Ko tandem leaf spring
Fresh water 2 x 80L
Priced at $87,500 (plus dealer delivery charges and non-standard features)
Kratzmann Caravans, 174 Eastern Service Road, Burpengary, Qld 4505, (07) 3888 2755, www.kratzmann.com.au.
For more about Concept Caravans, and to find your nearest dealer, visit www.conceptcaravans.com.au.