A bird of prey is a formidable force out in the open plains. Which is quite appropriate for Royal Flair’s ‘Raptor’ 11ft 5in tandem/shower model. Methinks many isolated off-grid locales are sure to fall prey to this diminutive bush predator! Based in Campbellfield, Vic, Royal Flair was established in 1975, and more than four decades of experience is strikingly evident in the Raptor.
But what was the inspiration behind this pocket dynamo that caters perfectly for the ‘big boys’ and their ‘toys’ – and even an adventurous couple intent on hitting the ‘road to nowhere’? Royal Flair’s owner Bill Deralas – the brainchild behind the Raptor – explains that he’s simply a “fisherman and hunter” at heart. And a thrill-seeking explorer, I hasten to add.
“I wanted to create something I could reliably take to the outback,” he said. “I was sick and tired of friends hauling a boat and/or a motorbike for me during free camping trips. And I wanted an offroad van in which I could eat, live and sleep with a minimum of fuss. Further, I had all of these ‘lovely toys’ sitting at home basically doing nothing except gathering dust.”
Enter the Raptor – an all-round, bulletproof offroader that will take you far and away. Armed with a boat rack, rear fold-up tray that can hold a quad bike or a couple of motorbikes, sufficient battery (2x105Ah AGM), solar (1x150W) and water capacities (2x65L), and an array of requisite mod cons, the Raptor is purpose-built for dim and distant bush and coastal escapades – and tackling the outback! The rooftop storage can also be customised to carry kayaks, dinghies and fishing equipment.
It’s difficult not to be impressed by the Raptor’s external attributes, with its impregnable fibreglass armour designed to win the battle against rugged roads, rocks, debris of the worst kind and encroaching trees. Just as imposing is the frame’s fibreglass complite panels, with compressed waterproof foam sandwiched in between. Consequently there’s no chance of water leakage into the van, even if its sheathing was to be penetrated.
The Raptor’s underpinnings are exemplary – including a 6in G&S SupaGal chassis and drawbar with 75mm raiser for additional ground clearance, 3.5T-rated G&S Control Rider TS suspension and 265/75 R16 Cooper S/T MAXX all-terrain tyres.
Meanwhile, a busy extended A-frame houses a large toolbox that has provision for a fridge slide (with at least an 80L fridge capacity) on the nearside and a storage compartment with slide-out drawer below that can hold a 2kVA generator. But the centrepiece is a X-Bull 3000lbs 4WD 12V winch, mounted on a backing plate, that is operated by wireless remote control. It can be deployed for loading and unloading a boat (boat rack can hold approximately 100kg even weight) and folding up the lightweight but sturdy steel rear tray (which can hold approximately 550kg).
There’s also a DO35 recessed hitch coupling for outstanding articulation, and a single 9kg gas cylinder.
If al fresco camping cuisine is your whim, the Sovereign Bushman RV Explorer slide-out barbecue, located forward on the nearside, will prove a godsend. Other external highlights on the Raptor include high checkerplate at the front, a spotlight on the aerodynamic front wall and on the rear wall, a Thule Omnistor awning, drop-down picnic table, exterior shower (with light above), speakers, underslung spare wheel, plus USB and 12V sockets (which can also be used for pumping up tyres). Additionally, the steel checkerplate wheel arches are welded to the chassis.
Oh, I almost forgot the visually conspicuous decals, which Bill designed by “playing around with Google”. They really do make for an eye-catching aesthetic.
The Raptor tips the scales at a Tare weight of 2133kg and boasts a massive payload of 800kg – more than enough to take a quad bike or a couple of motorbikes along for the ride and still have plenty of leeway for clothing, food and water etc.
Once inside the Raptor you’ll quickly detect the intelligent utilisation of interior space – and amazing storage capacity for a van of such minuscule dimensions.
Lateral thinking is at the forefront, as the rear club lounge (with telescopic drop-down table) easily converts to sleeping quarters and is complemented by a space-saving shower/toilet combo. But by no means is this rudimentary ensuite claustrophobic.
It all adds up to a pleasingly commodious internal living zone. Indeed, I was taken by the wraparound overhead cupboards (Urban Republic PVC outside and laminate inside) enveloping the lounge adorned with a grey charcoal Zepel fabric.
Royal Flair’s trendsetting design nous has also allowed for a pragmatic kitchen with excellent cooking facilities including a Dometic Cramer Combi three-burner cooktop with sink, and an 80L Waeco CoolMatic CR-80 compressor-driven fridge/freezer. And there’s ample storage, including a two-tier wire basket pull-out pantry. Metal-sided drawers and user-friendly shell-lock handles further exemplify Royal Flair’s avant-garde approach.
Another innovative move is the installation of a Truma Saphir comfort RC air-conditioner (located under the club lounge, and accessible via a rear hatch) which delivers climatic comfort all-year-round. And there’s a 12V Sirocco fan mounted on the rear wall for extra airflow.
The Raptor also boasts a high tech BMPRO BP35 battery management system in conjunction with an advanced Trek display. An LCD/DVD combo 24in TV and CD/radio/MP3 with speakers provide in-house entertainment.
I also liked the modern Camec square lights, with attention to detail even extending to the footwell complete with a silver checkerplate base cover and Royal Flair logo embossed into the fibreglass moulding. And the one-piece honeycomb composite floor panel was easy underfoot.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Royal Flair Raptor 11ft 5in epitomises the hackneyed phrase, “good things come in small packages”. No doubt it will whet the insatiable, adrenalin-driven appetites of the ‘big boys toys’ brigade intent on getting down and dirty on the dusty trails.
OK, it’s relatively beefy for its size, but the trade-off is it punches well above its weight.
Quite simply, it’s a ‘bird of prey’ on wheels – ready and able to swoop on the innermost regions of Australia.
HITS AND MISSES
- Ability to sustain off-grid punishment
- Lounge/bed configuration
- Rear fold-up tray
- 12V remote-controlled 4WD winch
- No sway control
- Windows could be more panoramic
- Relative weight for its stature
Weights and measures
- Overall length 5.73m (18ft 10in)
- External body length 3.48m (11ft 5in)
- External body width 2.25m (7ft 5in)
- Travel height 2.92m (9ft 7in)
- Internal height 2.65m (8ft 8in)
- ATM 2933kg
- Tare 2133kg
- Ball 378kg
- Payload 800kg
Price as shown
RRP $73,236 (excluding above option)
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #573. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!