Review: Winjana Cattai
Half fifth wheeler, half caravan. The Winjana Cattai is an all-comfortable Aussie tourer.
WITH A FEW exceptions, fifth wheeler layouts have their main bedroom in the front overhang. Most of the exceptions have a dinette or lounge up front. However, a unique design from Winjana RV, the Cattai 760 Hybrid, has neither. Instead, the nose cone is used as a storage area, both internally and externally.
Developed by Winjana RV proprietor Andrew Brennan, the hybrid design is more like a caravan layout than you’d usually find in a fifth wheeler but, naturally, has all the latter’s towing advantages. Although the Cattai might look a little different on the outside, the inside will look very familiar to CW readers. It features... drum roll... a front bedroom, full-width rear bathroom, nearside kitchen bench and an offside dinette. Lest readers think I am being flippant, my point is that it’s an interesting case of cross-design thinking.
Stepping in through the rear entry door reveals an uncluttered interior that nonetheless makes the most of the available space. The frames for the cabinets are built from Canadian spruce, with lightly-stained American oak used for the cupboard doors and drawer fronts. The rig was fitted with incandescent lights as standard, but can be upgraded to more energy-efficient fittings.
In the rear, the spacious bathroom is different to the usual. A rollaway shower curtained cubicle fills the offside corner; on the opposite side, the sideways-facing vanity cabinet has a washbasin and cupboard set to one side, leaving enough space for a top-loading washing machine. There are not overhead cupboards; instead, a wall mirror fills the space. All of which, of course, leaves space for the Dometic cassette loo to be fitted centre stage. Ventilation is supplied by a central exhaust fan and a window in the rear wall.
The space between the bathroom and dinette is filled by a fridge cabinet and pantry. The latter comes with a shelved cupboard above, and drawer and hot water heater below. The fridge space is designed to accommodate a variety of fridge sizes, in this case an off-the-floor 150L Dometic.
The kitchen bench, on the opposite side, is fitted with the essentials: four-burner cooktop/grill and stainless steel sink/drainer, with a bit of space left over for meal preparation. General storage is handled by four drawers, a two-door cupboard, and three overhead lockers. At the forward end of the kitchen bench is a second cabinet. It is set back to allow easy access to the bedroom but acts as a small cupboard, provides a user-friendly height for the microwave, and is the mounting point for the flatscreen TV, positioned in such a way that it can be seen from either the bed or the dinette.
Upholstered in leather, the cafe-style dinette is a simple design with a non-folding table, overhead lockers and under-seat storage compartments. The table is mounted on a single pole. The wheel arch protrudes somewhat into the leg well.
A floor-to-ceiling partition behind the front dinette seat separates the bedroom from the rest of the living space, but lovers of open spaces might well prefer not to have it there.
In the bedroom, a queen-size island bed takes up most of the space, but there is still room to move around. Large windows on either side improve the space perceptions very well. Instead of the usual caravan-style bedhead, there are four good-sized cupboards with all the doors hinged the right way for easy access. Instead of bedside cupboards, there are two simple shelves with powerpoints. Reading lights are positioned centrally in such a way that they can be faced away from the sleeper on the other side.
In terms of the structure of the Cattai, like all Winjana products it is built on a powder-coated RHS steel chassis fitted with Al-Ko independent suspension and a 50mm Hijacker pin hitch.
There is no gas cylinder bin; instead, two 9kg cylinders (with lockable holders) sit on a frame under the front overhang. Across the top of the chassis, 20mm marine ply is used for the floor and, like the cabinetry, Canadian spruce is the material of choice for the wall frames and roof beams.
Between the roof and wall framework, 25mm polyester insulation is used throughout. All is covered by aluminium cladding with a one-piece section used for the roof to minimise water leaks.
Taking into account both the Seitz hopper windows and Camec security door, there is no denying that the Cattai has a caravan look about it. About the only non-caravan feature is the overhang and its storage compartment. Access doors to this area are fitted to both sides with one on the front wall. Though very spacious, it’s let down by the fact it site quite high. At least the front access door can be reached by standing in the back of the tow vehicle. The only other external bin is fitted mid-offside, but that’s taken up by the batteries and charger.
With the Cattai’s ATM of 3000kg, something in the dual-cab ute department, such as our Isuzu D-Max (GCM: 5900kg; load capacity: 1000kg) or a Mazda BT50 (GCM: 5950kg; load capacity: 1200kg) would be well suited. Indeed, with its 3L, 120kW turbodiesel engine, our Isuzu had no trouble handling the mostly unladen fifth wheeler.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With its overall length of 8m (26ft 3in), the Cattai offers a generous internal living space that includes a north-south island bed. Yet, it remains a practical towing proposition for a number of vehicles.
Put it all together with the fact that its layout is very caravan-like, and you have a vehicle that will appeal to current fifth wheeler owners who want a full-height ceiling in their bedroom, and also to caravan owners looking for a change.
External length 8m (26ft 3in)
External width 2.43m (8ft)
Interior height 1.96m (6ft 5in)
Travel height 2.96m (9ft 8in)
Nameplate Tare 2140kg
Nameplate ATM 3000kg
Pin weight 400kg
Frame Canadian spruce
Chassis Powder-coated 130x100mm RHS steel
Suspension Al-Ko independent
Price as shown $80,000 (tow-away, Qld)
Supplied by Winjana RV, 2 Buchanan Street, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, (07) 4638 3576, www.winjana5thwheelers.com.au
WORDS AND PICS Malcolm Street
Source: Caravan World Jun 2012