Review: SLR Adventurer 4X4
The Adventurer 4X4 is an offroad motorhome designed to explore the rough country of Australia's goldfields.
IT'S FAIRLY SAFE to say that 4WD motorhomes are not particularly common. Real 4WDs, I mean. There are, however, a few reasons for that. The principal one is that constructing a true 4WD rig is something of a specialist design and there are only a few of these expert builders around.
One of these manufacturers is south-east Qld's SLR Caravans which, despite a name suggesting otherwise, actually builds quite a few motorhomes. The Adventurer 4X4 is one of its offroad models.
One of the challenges in any motorhome design is ensuring that flexing of the cab chassis is not detrimental to the body. That consideration is especially important to a 4WD rig, as is ensuring the body is structurally sound for all the bouncing around that it is going to experience.
All of these factors were under consideration for Alan Morgan - a keen gold prospector - when he approached SLR about a possible offroad motorhome design. As you could imagine, gold prospecting requires access to some fairly rough country.
The need to traverse such rugged routes meant an appropriate base vehicle was needed. In this case, SLR went with an Isuzu NPS 300 4X4. Powered by a 5.2L 114kW turbodiesel engine, and featuring a five-speed gearbox, the Isuzu is a firm favourite with bushfire brigades, which says something about its suitability as a 4WD. But for motorhome use, it does require a few practical and comfort modifications.
During our test drive through some steep hillsides not far out of Brisbane, the Isuzu showed what a 'grippy' performer it was. There were a few places where it looked like we were not going to make it, but by choosing a different course the Adventurer always managed to power through.
One of the problems to overcome with a rig like this is that while the cab chassis is designed for a considerable amount of flexing, the rigid body is not. To cope with this issue, SLR used kinematic suspensions mounts, which are designed to alleviate too much twisting on the motorhome body.
In addition to the handling requirements, there are also a few other modifications and additions, including Stratos seats, long-range fuel tanks, upgraded air-adjustable suspension, bullbar (with winch), driving lights and truck-style air horns.
When looking at a 4WD motorhome, above the chassis is just as important as below. A galvanised steel frame, integrated with the chassis, comes with rigid outer core fibreglass walls. Foam insulation sits between the walls and the internal lining, and the front, roof and rear are all one-piece fibreglass, designed to minimise leakage.
A Camec triple-locker door and Seitz hopper windows are both standard, but I question the safety of the acrylic windows without any sort of protective covering. While I have no doubt about the suitability of the windows in general, they are somewhat vulnerable to scratches on narrow bush tracks, which is, of course, where this rig will spend a lot of its time.
A good-sized storage bin, with large offside drawer, is built into the rear and is accessible from both sides. A front nearside slide-out tray contains the house and starter batteries - a total of six.
For the al fresco lovers, a slide-out barbecue sits above the batteries. It may be a little on the high side for some, but remains at a workable level. A clever extra feature here is the top-hinged bin door which, in addition to the motorhome's awning, acts as a cover for the barbecue.
A nearside ladder between the cab and body gives access to the cab-mounted roof rack and body - useful for regularly cleaning solar panels, not to mention as a high point for taking photographs for this magazine!
The Adventurer's interior layout is quite simple: the bedroom and dining sits to the rear of the middle entry door, and the kitchen and bathroom are up front. All cabinetry has been imported from Germany and is designed to be lightweight but strong. Given the rig's offroad capabilities, all door latches are a welcome compression-style.
In the rear, the bedroom and dining areas have been designed in tandem in order function in sync with each other. The double bed sits in the offside corner and a lounge fits along the nearside. A table matching the bed profile sits between the two, which means it's possible for two people to use the table without clambering over each other. Alternatively, it's not difficult to have breakfast in bed while watching the world go by through the surrounding windows. Tucked into the corner beside the lounge is another storage cabinet
Up front, the corner kitchen includes the usual items - Smev three-burner cooktop and stainless steel sink, with drainer moulded into the benchtop. The cupboard and drawer underneath also includes a wine rack.
The "crawlway" between the motorhome and cab does sit above the kitchen bench, which means a certain amount of agility is required to use it for anything other than passing items through.
Opposite the cooktop, beside the bathroom, sits a dual fridge: a standard Vitrifrigo compressor with a 75L drawer/freezer underneath. A very wide four-shelf slide-out pantry is next to the fridge cabinet and an LG microwave sits on top of the lot.
Sitting in the corner behind the driver's seat, the bathroom includes a Dometic cassette toilet, flexible hose shower and hand basin. A small overhead locker, towel rails and a window, adding to the light/extraction fan, are also successfully squeezed in.
Not surprisingly for an offroad rig, the Adventurer is designed with self-containment in mind. With a fresh water capacity of 280L, along with 100L of grey, this rugged motorhome can stay away from the bitumen for some time. Four 100Ah deep-cycle batteries are kept up to charge by three 130W solar panels and a 2kW generator (if needed). LED lighting all-round keeps the after-dark energy needs to a minimum and a wall-mounted fan can be used if 240V for the Dometic roof-mounted air-conditioner is not available.
In addition, there is also an Eberspacher diesel-fired heater. The electrical control panels are centrally located above the entry door.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The SLR Adventurer 4X4 is undoubtedly a specialist vehicle. There are a few compromises when you compare it to a normal motorhome but that is a necessary evil when you are after a functional, purpose-built, offroad motorhome.
That said, this rig doesn't lack for any of the major comforts and has the distinct advantage of being a go (almost) anywhere machine. Who knows, maybe its gold prospecting owner will get into some especially tough country and find enough of the shiny stuff to recover his outlay.
Source: Caravan World Aug 2011