Best Aussie Vans Finalist 2015 JB Scorpion Test Review
Built tough, the JB Scorpion offers oodles of storage room and more than a couple surprises.
The coupling in the JB Scorpion is a DO35 offroad hitch which bolts to the 6in drawbar (which has a 450mm extension). Just behind it is the mesh stoneguard – a typical fitment for an offroad camper trailer but not often seen on a caravan. The stoneguard has a support frame so solid it looks like it could almost withstand a roo strike. The Anderson plug is neatly tucked into the longitudinal channel that supports the centre-mounted 8in jockey wheel.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
Behind the stoneguard is an aluminium checkerplate storage box. In the centre section of the box, accessed from the top, is the storage compartment for the two 9kg gas cylinders. While the vents legally required on the lower front of the box means some dust ingress is inevitable, the thick seal around the opening ensures dust and water won’t get into the hatch when closed. On the nearside of the storage box is a deep compartment housing a slide-out for a fridge or barbecue. Complimenting this on the offside is another shorter slide-out compartment, useful for spare gas cylinders as it’s vented on its rear wall. Tucked in behind the storage box, and, thus, well-protected from stone damage, is a tubular PVC carrier for fishing rods and the like.
Have a peek under the Scorpion and you’ll see a chassis and suspension ready for anything the Aussie terrain can throw at it. To begin with, the 3.2mm-thick chassis is built in-house by JB Caravans, and it looks incredibly strong – it has been braced everywhere. The three 95L water tanks have been encased in aluminium checkerplate and the under-floor is sheeted in galvanised steel. The suspension is the tough, 3.7t-rated Vehicle Components Cruisemaster trailing arm independent setup, with dual dampers per wheel.
On the nearside chassis rail, the steel battery boxes have been welded on. They have aluminium checkerplate covers secured with clamps whose securing threads are spot-welded to the steel boxes. This appears tough and effective, but looks a bit unfinished.
At the rear, the steel bumper supports two jerry can holders and the 16in spare wheel, which, like the road wheels, is shod in an excellent offroad tyre – the Cooper Discoverer STT. The rear also houses a reversing camera, with an in-car kit supplied with the van.
In the main living area, there’s a fridge-freezer unit and a tall roll-out pantry on the offside wall and, although it’s quite narrow, there’s a great deal of dry food storage space here. Further along the offside is the cafe dinette with tri-fold table. Because the JB has the batteries fitted externally, there are decent-size storage drawers under the seats and the table, and there are also lockers above the dinette. The only downside is that the wheel-arch intrudes on legroom if two people are sitting on each of the pews. The bonus here, though, is that each of the seats has a fold-out leg rest. A neat fitting is the 12V socket on the wall adjacent to the table, alongside a two-pole 240V wall socket.
HITS & MISSES
- Extensive storage options
- Pressure hatch to avoid dust ingress
- Tough under-body/chassis
- Off-grid capability
- Bathroom space is a little tight
- Microwave is positioned quite high
- Not enough legroom at the dinette
JB SCORPION SPECS
Weights and measures
- Overall length 8.58m (28ft 2in)
- External body length 6.22m (20ft 5in)
- External body width 2.41m (7ft 11in)
- Travel height 3.05m (10ft)
- Internal height 1.98m (6ft 6in)
- Tare 2740kg
- ATM 3340kg
- Ball weight 184kg
- Frame Meranti timber
- Cladding Aluminium
- Chassis 6in SupaGal with 2in riser
- Suspension Cruisemaster independent with dual shocks per wheel
- Brakes 12in electric
- Wheels 16in alloy with 265/75R16 tyres
- Water 3x95L
- Battery 2x120Ah AGM
- Solar 3x150W and 30A regulator
- Air-conditioner Aircommand Ibis
- Gas 2x9kg
- Sway control Al-Ko ESC
- Cooking Swift 500 Series combo four-burner cooktop with grill and oven
- Fridge Waeco 215L 12V compressor
- Microwave 25L
- Toilet Dometic ceramic bowl cassette
- Shower Separate cubicle
- Lighting LED
- Hot water Suburban gas/electric
Price as shown
- $85,000 (on-road, Vic)
The full test appears in Caravan World #546 February 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!