WHEN EDITOR MAX first asked me me to review an SLR, I thought he was referring to some sort of camera. However, the SLR he was referring to was indeed a caravan, more specifically an SLR CV 1700. Gold Coast-based SLR is in fact a manufacturer of motorhomes and fifth wheelers, but it’s now turning its talents to the caravan market, producing caravans using similar manufacturing techniques.
Not far away at Burleigh Heads dealership Hinterland Outdoors, manager Stewart Cameron was keen to take the SLR caravan range on. “We think it offers a different dimension to the caravan market,” he told me, adding: “Indeed, their relatively light towing weight will certainly be of interest to people with smaller tow vehicles.”
I could only agree; with a Tare of 1680kg, an ATM of 2000kg and an external length of 5.18m (17ft), the CV 1700 certainly looks like a good prospect – especially when you consider the internal layout features a full-width rear bathroom, and it’s only a single-axle van. It’s certainly a well behaved little caravan on the road, where it gets along without difficulty.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
On the surface the CV 1700 looks a little different, but it’s different underneath, too. Both the chassis and frame are built as an integral unit, not separately – it’s more like a monocoque structure. That’s possible because the frame is fully hot-dipped galvanised steel, same as the chassis – not the more conventional frame materials of timber or aluminium. Although a steel frame might sound heavy, clearly it isn’t.
The body is also something different, being made from insulated panels – it has a hand-laid 3mm fibreglass exterior with a double gelcoat on both sides, with a foam core in between – similar to the construction of some fibreglass boat hulls. That panel is laminated to the steel frame, which then has an internal lining of ply timber. Filling the frame space is a layer of foam insulation.
Underneath the van, the 100x 50mm (4x2in) chassis looks fairly conventional, with leaf spring suspension fitted with greasable shackles. Al-Ko ‘quick drop’ corner stabilisers are used all round. The twin water tank protection also has a twist, with framed alloy chequerplate protection instead of just gal sheeting.
On the drawbar are fitted two 9kg gas cylinders plus the usual ball coupling and jockey wheel. There isn’t a front boot; instead, a front tunnel storage space is installed, accessible from both sides.
One of the features about this SLR is that it does have a fairly clean, streamlined look about it. In keeping with the Euro styling, the windows are Seitz double-glazed hoppers, with the door being a more traditional Camec triple-locker. Providing shelter and shade is a Fiamma F45 awning.
In some ways, the van has a familiar layout – rear bathroom, front bedroom and kitchen/dinette in the middle – but at 5.18m it’s not a particularly big van and it’s been fitted out in a style that looks a little different. The stained timber-look walls may not suit everyone’s tastes, but it’s been done in a light hue and the large windows plus roof hatches allow plenty of natural light to flood in. Imported lightweight German ply is used for all the cabinetry along with the door, and the locker catches work in a very positive fashion.
Built into the kitchen bench is a stainless steel sink and Smev two-burner cooktop with a grill/oven underneath. Given the size of the bench area, storage space is a bit limited, but there are two different-sized drawers, two floor lockers, two overhead lockers and one useful corner cupboard with a bi-fold door – making an effective use of the space available.
Adjoining the kitchen bench is a cabinet containing an off-the-floor 104L fridge with a recessed, user-friendly-height microwave oven. Above the microwave and below the fridge are storage cupboards. Conveniently mounted on the panel beside the microwave oven are 12V control switches, a simple battery condition indicator, a double powerpoint and remote for the Dometic roof-mounted air-conditioner.
Opposite the kitchen bench, the dinette will seat two people easily and four if you are friendly. In addition to under-locker halogen downlights, reading lights are fitted for both seats and there’s also a double powerpoint near the rear seat. Both overhead lockers and underseat areas provide storage space.
Up front, a 2x1.4m (6ft 5in x 4ft 6in) mattress sits on a ply timber and metal frame base. In some ways, it’s surprising that a posture slat bed base hasn’t been fitted, given the rest of the fitout. Naturally there is storage under the bed base, slightly shortened because of the tunnel storage.
Lockers over the bed are rendered impractical by the SLR’s streamlined front section; instead, you get just two bedside wardrobes with drawers underneath and small shelves, the latter separate from the lower cabinet.
The bathroom has a separate shower cubicle on the nearside, a Thetford cassette toilet on the offside and a small vanity cabinet in the middle. The latter has a wall mirror and two LED wall lights. While the shower cubicle has both a small window and light/fan fitting, the rest of the bathroom is unventilated.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Despite the abbreviated name, there are certainly no shortcuts in the SLR CV 1700’s design. It’s something of a refreshing change in the caravan design world, and it incorporates several innovative engineering features. Its light weight is also an attractive feature, especially given it still has most of your regular contemporary features.
Overall length: 6.71m (22ft)
External body length: 5.18m (17ft)
External width: 2.39m (7ft 10in)
Interior height: 1.94m (6ft 4in)
Nameplate Tare: 1680kg
Nameplate ATM: 2000kg
Unladen ball weight: 160kg
Frame: Hot-dipped galvanised steel
Chassis: Hot-dipped galvanised steel
Suspension: Leaf spring, greaseable shackles
Price as shown: $47,900 (tow-away, ex-Qld – stamp duty may apply in other states and territories)
Hinterland Outdoors, 90 Kortum Drive, Burleigh Heads Qld 4220, (07) 5583 6777, www.hinterland.com.au.