Frequently appearing in these pages are vans with what I call an FBRB layout – a caravan with a front island bed (FB), usually a full or three-quarter-width rear bathroom (RB), and the mid area fitted out with both kitchen and dinette/lounge in a variety of configurations. Almost every manufacturer has a variation of this and it suits vans of a variety of lengths.
Interestingly, I learned recently that the front island bed arrangement is not nearly as popular in New Zealand, which makes me wonder, given the many commonalities between Aussies and Kiwis, if it has something to do with Pavlovian conditioning, of the RV variant! Perhaps CW might like to fund me in, say, a two-year touring study of both countries to check this out...? Well, maybe not. I can see the ‘Dream on, Sunshine’ smile on editor Max’s face, even as I type these words!
Back to reality. It was an Option RV Tornado Equippe from Queensland dealer Caravan World that made me realise just how many van lengths can house the many variations of the FBRB layout. In the case of the Tornado Equippe, there are at least four, ranging in length from 5.64m (18ft 6in) to 7m (23ft), with either mid or rear entry doors. There are always going to be practical requirements, like the bed length or the depth of the bathroom, that dictate the dimensions of the layout, which means for smaller vans there are compromises elsewhere.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
The decor is a take on a black and white theme, with various shades of grey including a faux-timber on most of the cabinetry, and white ceiling and walls to set things off. It all comes together quite nicely.
LED lighting is fitted throughout, consisting mostly of downlights, either in the ceiling or under the overhead lockers near the dinette and bed. Also fitted to the ceiling above the dinette are the speakers for the Kenwood sound system, which comes with all the essentials of a modern sound system, including USB and 3.5mm sockets and a Bluetooth connection. A shelf nearby for the plug-in devices would be a nice addition, though.
BATHROOM & STORAGE
True to form, the bedroom comes with a comfortable bed, large windows on both sides and a decent-sized bedhead consisting of side wardrobes, overhead lockers and bedside cabinets. The bed is fairly close to the doorway but that’s the price paid in a van this length.
The kitchen comes with all the expected items, like a four-burner cooktop, grill and oven plus a stainless steel sink. That doesn’t leave much spare benchtop space but the cooktop does have a laminated flush lid and there’s a small bench extension at the bed end. This creeps into the walking space around the bed but that’s one of the little compromises in a van of this length.
A practical touch is the microwave, which is set lower than the adjoining overhead lockers and at a more functional height. The 190L Dometic fridge has a locker above and is fitted against the bathroom wall. Below the kitchen bench are a couple of cupboards but part of one is taken by the water heater and the wheel arch displaces storage area in the other. Although space is limited, I suspect that a couple of drawers might work better. The door catches are a style that recess to lock, which I thought might be tricky to use but are actually quite user-friendly.
Opposite the kitchen bench, the dinette is definitely well-suited to two people. Both seats have hinged footrests and wall cushions, so there is room to kick back and relax. The tri-fold table is good for everything from drinks and nibbles to full meals and it comes with a small cupboard below and both a 240V and 12V socket above.
At the rear, the bathroom has all the expected facilities, including a shower cubicle, cassette toilet and vanity cabinet which are all fairly easy to utilise. Also fitted is a top-loading washing machine and a surprisingly generous amount of cupboard space – what you don’t get in the kitchen is made up for here. General ventilation is handled by two fan hatches in the ceiling, as well as a small wall window above the loo.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Given the 5.64m (18ft 6in) of this Tornado Equippe van and its FBRB layout, you have to expect a few compromises. Yet there are none that are really impractical and if the combination of both those features is desired, then it’s a worthwhile proposition.
Additionally, the Equippe comes in just under 2500kg ATM, so it’s perfect for the Prado set and definitely a plus for what is a well put-together touring caravan.
HITS & MISSES
- Not overly heavy
- Good electrical setup
- Eye-level microwave
- Bathroom facilities and storage
- Balanced colour scheme
- Smallish kitchen
- Limited walk around space on the offside of the bed
- Fuse panel awkward to access
- External black checkerplate shows up dust in double quick time!