Golf – the caravan manufacturer, not the game with the round ball – is something of an institution in the world of Australian caravans.
Fitting into what we might call the ‘boutique’ part of the industry, the company manufacturers a range of caravans, from its budget Suncruiser to its flagship van, the Linwood, the subject of this review. For a while now, Golf has been teasing us with sneak previews of its new Linwood model. However, like a good bottle of wine, it’s taken a little time before it was ready.
There are several Linwood models available. Ours has an external body length of 6.67m (21ft 10in) and a layout that features a full-width rear bathroom, front bedroom and mid section living area. It’s a layout that’s very popular at the moment.
Large Seitz double-glazed hopper windows plus two large electrically operated marine-style hatches provide plenty of interior light and ventilation, giving the Linwood a very spacious feel. All the cabinet work has the traditional ‘Golf look’ about it, including the side-hinged overhead locker doors, but there are some changes. Like, for instance, in the kitchen, where the cupboard doors all have a roller-shutter appearance, while the overhead lockers (different to the rest of the van) use actual roller shutters.
Up front, the bedroom has a queen-size innerspring mattress bed that comes complete with doona, cover and matching pillows. Instead of the usual side wardrobes, there’s empty space, thus avoiding the crowded feel that some RV bedrooms have. But there are still overhead lockers across the full width of the van, as well as bedside cabinets. Gooseneck halogen reading lights and powerpoints are fitted to each side of the bed. Across the back of the bed, under the window, is a useful shelf.
The steel and timber bed base can be lifted up for access to the underbed storage area. Part of that area is occupied by the 120Ah AGM battery and the Dometic heater.
Catering is handled by the well-equipped kitchen, which comes fitted with a stainless steel sink and drainer, Stoves four-burner cooktop/grill and a Dometic 184L AES fridge with a Baumatic microwave above. General kitchen storage consists of two cupboards, a floor locker, two small drawers, one pots and pans drawer and two overhead lockers. The last two items have an in-built shelf for a better use of the space. A flatscreen TV is fitted at the forward end of the bench and can be seen from either the bed or the dinette opposite. Relatively speaking, the kitchen bench area is quite small – it’s a design compromise that Golf has made to accommodate the large bathroom. Whether you like it or not depends entirely on how you travel.
An interesting feature of the dinette is the tri-fold table, a great innovation that provides multifunctional use without it having to be lifted out of the way. Hiding under the table, against the wall, are a couple of shelves, which with a small amount of modification would make a nice wine rack. The dinette seats are upholstered in NZ-made leather and both have leg rests that can be pulled out from the end of the seat. Drawers are also fitted to the seat ends, with overhead lockers above supplying extra storage.
The end locker also gives a centrally located mounting point for the 12V switches, battery voltmeter, watertank gauge, and AM/FM radio/CD/DVD player.
In keeping with luxury van trends, the rear bathroom of the Linwood is well-appointed and has been fitted out in a very contemporary fashion. Both the stylish shower cubicle and the vanity look very impressive. Towel rails and cupboard/locker storage space abound and there is a large wall mirror on the offside wall. Naturally, there is a cassette toilet (the Dometic variety) and a top-loading washing machine. The latter is fitted to a slide-out, so can be accessed quite easily. The hot water controls and a powerpoint are fitted on the upper side of the wardrobe.
The Linwood certainly passed our large-bathroom test – it was relatively easy to get photos, which can be difficult in space-challenged layouts.
With an ATM of 2690kg, the Linwood is not a particularly light caravan and certainly in mid to large 4WD tow-vehicle territory. Even the Toyota Prado I used as my tow vehicle would require the van to be very carefully loaded.
The Linwood is built on a 150mm (6in) rail DuraGal chassis fitted with Golf’s Posi Trak independent suspension, which has airbags as a standard feature – unusual in caravans. The tandem-axle wheels have parallel bearings and 10in electric brakes, so it’s a van that is certainly built for some heavy going.
Above the chassis, the Linwood has an aluminium frame, with fibreglass sheets for the side walls and moulded fibreglass for the front and rear. Compared to previous models, the van has much smoother lines all round, including the front window stoneshield and front boot lid, which are nicely integrated into the moulding.
There are three storage areas at the front of the van: a conventional boot, a right-through pole holder and a right-through tunnel boot. As with most Golf designs, the Linwood’s gas cylinders (9kg and 4kg) are stored in the front boot. However, the difference is that the lip of the boot is much lower, making it easier to get the gas cylinders in and out. Also in the front boot is the fuel tank for the Dometic diesel-fired heater.
The spare wheel is not to be seen, either back or front. Instead, it’s mounted underneath the van at the front. Also mounted under the van are two large 82L water tanks.
Other external features include the electrical awning, roof-mounted 125W solar panel and a Winegard TV antenna.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Well, break out the champers: the Golf Linwood flagship has arrived! With an extensive list of features, the latest from the Golf stable is certainly going to impress the discerning traveller who demands comfort and luxury when they travel.
The Linwood has certainly been designed with the long haul around Australia very much in mind. In style, of course.
GOLF CARAVANS LINWOOD
Overall length: 7.74m (25ft 5in)
External body length: 6.67m (21ft 10in)
External width: 2.28m (7ft 6in)
Interior height: 1.97m (6ft 6in)
Nameplate Tare: 2290kg
Nameplate ATM: 2690kg
Lighting: 12V halogen and fluorescent
Gas: 1 x 9kg, 1 x 4kg
Fresh water: 2 x 82L
Arrow Caravans, 67 Radley Street, Virginia, Qld 4065, (07) 3265 5622, www.arrowcaravans.com.au
For more information, including your nearest dealer, contact Golf Caravans, (07) 3285 6348.