Without a doubt, the most popular caravan layout in Australia is the front bedroom, full-width rear bathroom variety, with the kitchen and dinette in between. It is always refreshing, therefore, when an alternative layout, such as in the Talvor 650B – the B being very important because there are multiple versions of the 650 available – comes along.
The highlight of the 650B’s layout is the rear offside corner. A little like a club lounge but a bit more open, this area gives a relaxed feel to the van. A split bathroom separates the front bedroom from the living area, leaving space along the nearside wall for the kitchen bench.
Except for the walkway between the toilet and shower cubicles, the forward bedroom is surrounded by walls, making it feel a bit closed in. But it certainly has enough room for the 1.85x1.52m (6ft 1in x 5ft) island bed, not to mention the bedside cabinets, side wardrobes and overhead lockers that make up the bedhead, and the
two corner cupboards at the foot of the bed.
Windows on all three sides and a roof hatch keep the air flowing and the natural light level up. Given the layout of the 650B, it’s not possible to use one TV for both bedroom and dinette, so there are two TVs provided – the one for the bedroom is mounted on the bathroom wall. Speaking of the bathroom, a feature of its door is that is can also be used to close off the bedroom/bathroom area from the rear of the van.
The toilet cubicle is located on the offside and comes with a Thetford cassette toilet and a vanity with cupboard below, washbasin in the middle and mirrored-door shaving cabinet above. There is plenty of ventilation, with a large window and roof hatch. Directly opposite, the shower cubicle is fitted with a clear acrylic door and comes with a fixed-height shower and ventilation hatch. A small part of the floor also has the rear section of the wheel arch moulding, but that really doesn’t get in the way at all.
Four drawers and a small cupboard make up the lower section of the kitchen bench storage, along with two overhead lockers (although one is partially taken up by the rangehood’s ventilation duct). Taking up most of the space along the kitchen bench are a three-burner cooktop/grill/oven and a stainless steel sink/drainer with both tank and filtered drinking water.
On the opposite side, between the toilet cubicle and the dinette, is where the 175L three-way fridge is found, along with a Sharp Carousel microwave above. There’s also a floor-to-ceiling cupboard with multiple shelves that can be used either as a pantry or for general storage. Above the microwave is a radio/CD player but because it’s quite high, it’s a bit awkward to use.
With leather-upholstered, contoured cushions, the dinette invites you to sit down, relax and watch the flatscreen TV, which is mounted on the pantry. Though it’s a mostly square shape, the table has one chamfered corner to make climbing in and out easier. And it has one other interesting feature – the hinged corner on the walkway side can be lowered when it’s not in use. Not only does this leave in place a small table for light eating and drinking, it means getting past the table is considerably easier.
The storage features of this part of the caravan are not excluded to the overhead lockers around the walls and the corner shelves – there’s a corner cabinet that contains a top-loading washing machine in the lower half and a shelved area above. The only downside of this arrangement is the hinged shelf directly above the washing machine really can’t be used for storing much.
The locker at the top of this corner cabinet contains many of the electricals: 12V switches, hot water controls, water gauge and house-battery voltmeter. Also in this little cupboard is both a 240V socket and 12V outlet, though they’re not quite convenient for general use.
The Talvor 650B’s external bodywork comprises fibreglass composite walls with moulded fibreglass front and rear panels. Mostly white with a few decals to add a touch of colour, the lower portions of the walls are fitted with panels of alloy checkerplate.
Tinted acrylic double-glazed windows are fitted all round. The door isn’t fitted with a security screen; instead, a concertina insect screen can be slid across the doorway to keep the flies at bay.
The front boot is lined with marine carpet and is home to the battery, charger and mains switch in the offside corner. Both the winder for the corner stabilisers and the awning hook are neatly mounted on the wall, as is a handy fluorescent light.
The van rides on a hot-dipped galvanized box section chassis with 100x50mm rails, while the drawbar is made from a 100x50mm rail laminated to a 50x50mm piece. Above the axles, a 50mm riser sits between the chassis rails and the tandem-axle leaf-spring suspension, giving the chassis a bit more ride height. Smart looking 15in alloy wheels adorn the axles, with the spare mounted at the rear.
The drawbar is fitted with the usual suspects: a ball coupling, handbrake and jockey wheel, two 4.5kg gas cylinders, and a mesh rack under the drawbar arms.
The 650B weighs in with an ATM of 2700kg and a Tare of 2350kg, giving it a load capacity of 350kg, a little under the 400kg usually given to tandem-axle caravans, so it would pay to be mindful when loading up for your trip.
At 100kg, the unladen ball weight is surprisingly light. Nonetheless, the 650B remains in mid-to-large 4WD territory. On the road, it is quite a smooth tower without discernible quirks, even when running without a weight distribution hitch.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I have to say that it’s nice to see something a little different to the usual front bedroom, rear bathroom setup. I especially liked the mid-van split bathroom – it creates space for the corner lounge in the rear and is a feature that adds a different perspective to the world!
- Streamlined external look
- Rear lounge
- Reasonable storage space
- Split bathroom
I WOULD HAVE LIKED...
- Security door instead of sliding screen
- Better position for the 240V and 12V sockets currently in the locker above the corner cabinet
Originally published in Caravan World #512, March 2013.