After a long wait, the brand new, US-built Winnebago Minnie caravans have finally landed on Australian shores and we were able to put one to the test.
CW field editor Malcolm Street took a mint-green Minnie 2206AUS, nicknamed ‘the Gherkin’ for a test run behind an older model Nissan Patrol and was pleasantly surprised with how well it towed.
“The vehicle’s age also means that it doesn’t hide anything coming from the rear and any towing quirks get transferred straight to the driver. There were very few and it was quite a relaxing drive,” Mal said.
Winnebago has come up with some striking external colours for the Aussie Minnies, such as red, yellow and orange – but a more muted grey is available for the more conservative among us.
Construction-wise, the American Minnie has some similarities and some differences to traditional Australian caravans.
“Like many American-built caravans, the under-chassis area is enclosed by corrugated plastic sheets but I can assure you the chassis does have 150mm (6in) I-beam (not RHS) rails with smaller cross members, all of which are hot-dipped galvanised,” Mal said.
“More conventionally, the drawbar rails are 150mm (6in) RHS complete with ball coupling, swing up jockey wheel and handbrake. A little more familiar, at least on imported caravans, is the tandem-axle Al-Ko Independent Rubber Suspension (IRS).”
Aluminium is used for both the body framework and the floor joists but not the exterior, which is a gel-coated fibreglass called Lamilux L1000.
Like many modern Aussie vans, the Minnie has a front bedroom, rear bathroom layout with “one of the largest bathrooms I have ever come across”, Mal revealed.
STRAIGHT AND NARROW
At 7.19m (23ft 7in) long and just 2.15m (7ft 1in) wide, the Minnie is narrower than most caravans.
“I thought that was a bit curious, given most American things are usually bigger,” Mal said. But, it turns out, there’s quite a simple explanation, though – the Minnies are made to fit the width of the shipping container they’re transported in.
Unfortunately, the lack of width is noticeable inside, as the area around the bed felt a little cramped, according to Mal.
So has the very new and unique Winnebago Minnie caravan been worth the wait? In short, the answer is, yes.
“Although I didn’t really like the space ratios of this particular layout – a bit too much bathroom and not quite enough kitchen and bedroom – I did like that the Minnie is different to just about anything else around. In a crowded market, that’s a really good feature,” Mal concluded.
You can check out the full review of the Winnebago Minnie in the June issue of Caravan World – on sale May 7.