AL-KO's Best Aussie Vans 2017: AUSRV Finke Review

By: Michael Borg, Ron Moon, Malcolm Street, Peter Quilty


Built with modern manufacturing techniques to a genuine semi-offroad specification, the AusRV Finke 03 ups the ante on family adventures.

When we first saw the AusRV Finke months before, we were impressed by the intuitive layout and the modern manufacturing techniques adopted by the long-established camper trailer brand.

Now returning Best Aussie Vans, can the old kid on a new block impress us with a family-friendly layout? Only one way to find out!

SEMI-OFFROAD TO THE CORE

AUSRV-Finke

I’m definitely a fan of the AusRV Finke. Its overall design is a refreshing take on the average family touring caravan, and I reckon it offers the perfect combination of value, performance and comfort. One thing that really stands out to me is the fact that the Finke is a true semi offroad caravan.

AUSRV-Finke -10

What I mean by that is it’s not a light duty on-road caravan with a fancy suspension system added to the mix. Instead, it’s constructed exactly the same way as its big bad brother, the Byfield (same chassis, too). It’s just been down-spec’ed a bit to keep it affordable for the average family who wants adventure but isn’t going to absolutely torture it offroad. You still get independent trailing arm suspension; it’s just the lighter duty option. You don’t get a mesh stoneguard up the front, but you still get a healthy layer of spray-on stone protection. It doesn’t have rock sliders right around it, but let’s face it – it doesn’t lack clearance and you end up with a lighter setup in the end. In fact, the conservative Tare weight gets another big tick from me, too.

AUSRV-Finke -9

The undercarriage is as tidy as it needs to be, the electrical gizmos and wiring are second to none and the cabinetry inside is a descendant of its full offroad counterpart, so you know it’s up to the task. So yep, it’s a tough contender in this year’s event if you ask me.

COMFORT OFF THE GRID

Meant for a family, the 19ft Finke from AusRV features a double bed at one end and a set of two (or three) bunks at the other. As you’d expect there are a few compromises for such a family-inclusive layout but these are pretty minor and you’d easily get used to them.

Built on a dual 1600kg (per axle) independent AL-KO suspension complete with electronic stability control, the hot-dipped galvanised steel chassis is built tough for Australian conditions. The fibreglass foam-core composite walls and roof are smooth and smart looking and are bonded to a one-piece resin infused floor, which results in a very strong and durable structure.

AUSRV-Finke -2

There is a large east-west bed up the front, a club lounge and kitchen area in the centre of the van, while down the far end the bunks are located on one side with a toilet, shower and washing machine on the other. The kitchen features a stove with three gas burners and an electric hot plate and oven, a microwave and a 190L fridge with freezer.

AUSRV-Finke -5

The battery and solar system are backed up by a Redarc BMS30 battery management system, the entertainment is looked after by a Fusion stereo system controlled by your mobile phone and a 24in HD TV, while each bunk has a small fold-away TV unit.

Designed for living off the grid or taking it easy in a caravan park the Finke will take you near everywhere in Australia.

LIGHT AND STRONG

AUSRV-Finke -6

AusRV’s Finke is a bit of newcomer in the Australian caravan scene but the design shows someone with plenty of caravanning experience has had a hand in the overall design. It looks a little different to many caravans produced in Australia but that’s because it’s built in Brisbane, Qld, and not Melbourne, Vic. I don’t hail from the Sunshine State but I reckon that can be an advantage in the world of caravans.

AUSRV-Finke -11

In the jargon department, the Finke is classed as ‘all terrain’, which doesn’t mean full offroad (there is an Extreme Terrain Kit available) but more than suited for where most people might like to travel. To that end, it comes with an AL-KO independent suspension setup and AL-KO Stability Control.

AUSRV-Finke -7

Within the overall body construction, the emphasis is on getting the weight off but still retaining the necessary strength and rigidity. That’s fairly obvious from the clean-looking chassis design and the composite wall/extruded body structure.

Priced at under the $80,000 mark, this Finke has a layout that’s designed for a family which is a bit of a challenge for any designer, given the 5.7m (19ft) external length. That was achieved mostly by facing the bed in an east-west bed across the front. The price may be a bit of a stopper for some but the saving, if needed, comes via the tow vehicle. Many family vans require something like a Nissan Patrol or Toyota LandCruiser but the 2900kg ATM means a less expensive tow vehicle can be used legally and safely.

FAMILY MATTERS

The AusRV Finke 03 all-terrain bunk van has virtually every conceivable mod con for the modern family.

AUSRV-Finke -12

Let’s start with the kids… the double bunks in the rear bedroom, each with DVD players and a window, will certainly keep the ‘little natives’ happy! And there’s plenty of room to stow all of  their clothing and variety of thingamajigs courtesy of two centrally located cupboards and three slide-out drawers.

AUSRV-Finke -4

The main bedroom has an east-west bed, and the dining room table drops down to form another berth – making the Finke 03 a bona fide five-berth van.

And how about the classy club lounge… I can envisage my wife and I kicking back with some nectar of the gods, in perfect harmony with background music emanating from the Fusion stereo system after a long day’s travelling.

A pragmatic kitchen comprises a Dometic four-burner cooktop, grill and oven, 190L fridge with black plastic insert, and a two-tier slide-out pantry. And there’s an alluring, large ‘black rotomould’ round-bowl sink – a welcome change to stainless steel!

AUSRV-Finke -3

There is also a modern ensuite including a full-height shower with sliding door, a pedestal-style wash basin, black chrome tapware, hand towel ring, towel rail, soap holder and toothbrush holder.

And this Finke’s ‘all-terrain’ badging is far from marketing speak given it rides on durable AL-KO Enduro Cross Country independent trailing arm suspension and a sturdy galvanised AusRV 6in chassis.

Furthermore, its build quality is something to behold – including a hail-resistant one-piece fibreglass composite panel, which is sikaflexed into aluminium extrusions, and resin-infused flooring with kevlar rovings both above and underneath.

Raptor coating at the front and on the A-frame offers plenty of protection, while a nearside rear hatch and a large tunnel boot provide adequate external storage.

AUSRV-Finke -8

Meanwhile, an aerodynamic front as well as fibreglass mouldings on each corner are a great aesthetic on the van.

Family is a basic unit of society and the AusRV Finke 03 is a veritable bonding session on wheels!

Weights and measures

  • Overall length 8.13m (26ft 8in)
  • External body length 5.87m (19ft 3in)
  • External body width 2.42m (7ft 11in)
  • Travel height 3.1m (10ft 1in)
  • Internal height 2.02m (6ft 8in)
  • Tare 2141kg
  • ATM 2900kg
  • Payload 759kg
  • Ball weight 98kg

Price as shown

  • $79,990

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #571. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!