At the recent Qld caravan show a very proud Sunland proprietor, Roy Weiss, was enthusiastically showing off his latest and greatest: the Winton IV caravan. It didn’t take CW long to get excited either and not long thereafter, it was time to hit the road.
Even on a brief inspection, it was easy to see why proprietor Weiss was excited about his new baby: everything from the highly polished rear bumper to the Rosewood timber cabinet work spoke of quality and attention to detail.
That is not all, of course. Sunland caravans are designed to handle many of the back roads of Australia and the Winton IV is no exception. Naturally enough it comes with a galvanised steel chassis that rides on Cruisemaster independent suspension that has coil springs, trailing arms and two shock absorbers per wheel. Twelve-inch brakes supply the stopping power for the alloy wheels, and up front, a Hitchmaster DO 35 is used. With this hitch, a reversing camera showing the towbar is a useful accessory to have.
A little something to note are the custom-made polyethylene water tanks – two 120L tanks for fresh water and one 120L tank for grey water – good for self-containment.
Keeping the bodywork in shape is a 25x25mm welded aluminum frame that comes with 25mm insulation in the walls, 50mm insulation in the roof and fibreglass covering it all. Stainless steel checkerplate protects the lower sides all round.
The spare wheels mounted on the drawbar rather than the rear bumper give the van a slightly boofy air. The electric caravan jack mounted between the drawbar rails is going to be of interest to those who find winding the jockey wheel a tad too much work. It didn’t take me long to get used to it.
Of course, the van cannot be moved without a jockey wheel but with a Tare ball weight of around 300kg, it is not going to be easy. Just in case though, there are purposeful-looking stainless steel handles fitted on all corners.
SCOOPS AND BOOTS
Caravans aren’t by nature necessarily streamlined shapes but some effort has been made with the Winton IV with the tapered front, air scoops at the back and on the roof, and a small air dam in front of the forward solar panel preventing air from getting underneath.
For storage there isn’t one front boot but four of them! The three lower are for three 100Ah deep cycle batteries (offside), Honda 2kVA generator (mid) and two 9kg gas cylinders (nearside), while the top one is for general storage. Its asset is that it’s at eye height (no bending over). Both the top boot and electrical storage have fluorescent lighting. If the front boots are not enough, there is a tunnel boot as well.
Inside, the Winton has a familiar layout: front bedroom, mid-kitchen and dining area and a full-width rear bathroom, though a few features like the Rosewood timber finish make a difference. A 7.32m (24ft 6in) length gives the designers room to play with and nothing is ‘squeezed in’. Large Seitz hopper windows and two hatches give plenty of light and ventilation, and if things get too warm, there are two roof-mounted Dometic air-conditioners. LED lighting is fitted throughout, including the ceiling-mounted dual evening/night lights.
Travelling cordon bleu chefs are going to love this kitchen because it’s big! Benchtop area is very generous, and on both sides there’s no shortage of cupboard and overhead locker space, with some of the latter having second shelves fitted. Drawers are a little scarcer.
The stainless steel sink is certainly of interest. It would fit very nicely in a modern home and has two tubs – one with a detachable drainer and a normal drainer. Cooking is handled more conventionally with a Swift four-burner cooktop/grill/oven, along with a Sharp microwave that’s mounted under the bench, not in the height-challenging overhead lockers.
LOTS OF GOODIES
At the bedroom end of the kitchen bench are a flatscreen TV, easily viewable from either the dinette or bed, plus a screen-based AM/FM/CD/DVD/iPod/Bluetooth entertainment unit. In the locker adjoining the latter are a few electrical essentials: 12V fuses, six-stacker for the CD/DVD player, 240V circuit breakers, solar panel regulator and hot water switch.
On the opposite side of the van between the bathroom and dinette is the Vitrifrigo fridge surrounded by cupboards and a drawer. The two-door fridge is of interest in that the lower door has a conventional finish but the freezer door finish doubles as a mirror! Hiding in one of the cupboards is an LPG-fired air heater.
It’s almost a bit simplistic to call the dinette a dinette because it has two very comfortable leather seats with cushioned ends against the wall, the de rigueur tri-fold table, and a very interestingly designed end cabinet that contains a cupboard, four drawers and a shelf area that can be used as a small office table. A nearby powerpoint can be used for a laptop, and the giant LED wall clock/calendar keeps track of those things that busy people need to know.
BEDROOM AND BATHROOM
Up front is a 2x1.55m (6ft 7in x 5ft 1in) queen-size bed with the innerspring mattress mounted on posture-slat base, of course. Under the bed is the usual storage area that includes a couple of wire basket drawers. Side wardrobes, bedside cabinets and overhead lockers surround the bed.
Naturally in a van of this stature, the bathroom is a thing of beauty with a separate shower cubicle, Dometic cassette toilet, Dometic front loading washing machine and a vanity cabinet that includes a very contemporary washbasin. Even the tap and water flow were worth a photograph!
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Winton IV is a very comfortable van, and is also fully self-contained with a generator, three 130W solar panels and very adequate tank sizes for fresh and grey water. It has everything you might want and is fitted out very well indeed.
With an ATM of 3500kg (not surprising, given what is fitted), the Winton IV is definitely in the heavy towing capacity range and something like a Toyota LandCruiser is certainly required. So is a healthy bank balance because it’s not cheap, though you definitely get what you pay for. Although CW doesn’t (yet) have annual awards for caravans, the Sunland Winton IV would be a very strong contender for the best caravan award in the top price range.
Source: Caravan World Sep 2010
Sunland Caravans, 1 Strathvale Court, Caboolture 4510, (07) 5499 2250, www.sunlandcaravans.com.au