Jayco Conquest Play: Review

By: Laura Gray, Photography by: Matt Fehlberg, Video by: Anna Pastukhova


A weekend sojourn to the snow was the perfect place to test out the carrying capacity of Jayco’s new Conquest Play motorhome.

Ever since my husband Ash and I travelled through New Zealand’s North and South islands in a rented Maui motorhome a few winters ago on a ski trip, I’ve wanted to recreate that trip here in Australia.

Designed specifically for trips exactly like ours, the newest Conquest model boasts a huge rear garage capable of storing anything from bikes and ski gear right up to golf clubs, motorbikes and dirt bikes! In fact, the garage is so integral to the Conquest Play that the entire layout and design works around it.

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It’s truly a monster storage space, measuring 1200x850mm (3ft 5in x 2ft 2in)and running the full width of the motorhome (2390mm). It easily swallowed our skis, boots, poles, a bike, our luggage and had room for plenty more. The only thing to be wary of is the garage’s 300kg loading capacity – it’s certainly got room for more than 300kg worth of gear, so you’ll have to be careful not to overpack it.

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Bonus features in here are the interior lights, so you can see what you’re doing when you pack or unpack in the dark (as is often the case in winter!), the full-length tie-down tracks to secure your bike or motorbike, recessed shelving, and the tough rubber floor which is protective and easy to clean if it gets wet, muddy or dirty which, if you’re using it properly, it probably will!

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But as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a heap more external storage available on the Conquest Play, including two large lockers just forward of the garage, and another smaller one on the offside.

DRIVING IN SNOW

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So we loaded up the Conquest Play with all our ski gear and headed north for the High Country. Mt Hotham was our ultimate destination.

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Due to the recent fresh snowfall (about 60cm in the 48 hours before we arrived – ‘Blizzard of Oz 2.0, as the resorts were calling it!) and the still-below-freezing temps, we were a little hesitant about how the Jayco Conquest Play would go on these roads. Driving a nearly 4.5T (3.76T at Tare) motorhome up steep, winding, potentially icy and snowy roads is not a task for the faint-hearted.

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Driving in these conditions requires some skill – the most important of which is driving in manual and not using the brake when descending. That’s simple enough in a manual passenger car but a 4.5T motorhome with an automated manual transmission (AMT) is another proposition altogether. However, within minutes we found the Conquest Play’s Mercedes-Benz Sprinter base vehicle was more than up to the job. The seven-speed AMT held the motorhome beautifully on steep descents, and the gear changes were super-smooth – another important factor on snow-covered or icy roads. I’ve always enjoyed driving Sprinter-based motorhomes and this was no exception; in fact, it only cemented my opinion of it further!

MOTORHOME FEATURES

Heading east past Dinner Plain at dusk, we reached our overnight camp about 38km later (7.7km before Omeo). The Mt Kosciuszko Lookout is also an RV-friendly camping area (with no facilities). On a clear day, like we’d just had, the views out over the Great Dividing Range were nothing short of spectacular, however, we’d have to wait until the morning light to enjoy them. As it was, again, dark when we arrived.

We bunked down for a quick overnight stop, sans power or external facilities, but the Conquest Play had pretty much everything we needed within easy reach.

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This Conquest Play is Jayco’s prototype model and features two single beds up the back. The single bed arrangement, coupled with the rear garage, may speak more to a couple of mates or a single person travelling around to bike shows or competitions than a touring couple. However, Jayco recognises that the single beds won’t suit everybody and has since built a model with a caravan-queen-size bed up there instead. I can certainly see why they opted for the singles in the first place – the amount of storage space it allows is insane – and, for short trips, I’m not fussed by them, but if I was handing over $165K to buy this motorhome myself, I’d probably go for the larger bed option.

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There are three steps up to the level of the bed – two with storage built into the step – a drawer and a large cabinet in between the beds, huge overhead lockers in the airspace above, and both beds lift up quite easily to reveal even more storage underneath.

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The space under the nearside bed is fairly shallow but entirely empty, while the offside space is cavernous and deep, suitable for larger items. It is partially taken up by the washing machine (unusual location but it’ll work!) and the hot water system. There’s still room for some of your gear, though.

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Fore of the bedroom, between the kitchen and the bedroom, is the Conquest’s split bathroom. This design is still not hugely common in RVs, with the majority opting for a full rear bath or small corner combo option, but I think it works. In this instance, the toilet/vanity cubicle is to the left (offside) of the hallway, while the shower cubicle is on the right (nearside). I like that it allows for separation of the facilities, however, it does mean that if anyone is using the toilet, you can’t move between the bedroom and front of the motorhome (or vice-versa) until they’re finished. But I think that’s a small price to pay for the convenience of a larger bathroom over a cramped combo unit.

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The next day dawned bluer, brighter and clearer than the day before, if that was even possible, and we were treated to the sensational, uninterrupted views over the Great Divide all the way to Mt Kosciuszko as we enjoyed a warm cup of tea.

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Our free camp was sans power but we used the gas burner of the Dometic cooktop to boil up some water. The Conquest Play’s kitchen is not huge; in fact, it’s quite compact for a motorhome of this size but it basically has everything you need (sink, microwave, four-burner, grill, pantry) – except for an oven. And, again, the focus is on storage and lots of it, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a place for everything.

THE BOTTOM LINE

When we managed to tear ourselves away from the view, it was time to, reluctantly, bid goodbye to the mountains and begin the five-hour trek back to the city. Our snowy little sojourn was over but it’d proved to be everything I’d hoped for, and more – perfect weather and acres of fresh snow to enjoy from the comfort of the fit-for-purpose and supremely capable Jayco Conquest Play.

The only thing that could have made the trip any better would have been more time. So, next winter, I’ll make sure we’ve got a lot more time to enjoy the skifields and the motorhome, and I might even have a better crack at filling up all that storage space in the Conquest Play!

HITS AND MISSES

Pros...

  • Storage capacity inside and out
  • Detail and thought in rear garage – lighting, shelves, tie-down points
  • Optional double bed layout
  • Full bathroom
  • The super-smooth Benz Sprinter

Cons...

  • No option for extra seatbelts to carry passengers
  • Internal storage is plentiful but none of the spaces are very big
  • Needs more windows/natural light

Weights and measures

  • Overall length 7.93m (26ft)
  • External width 2.39m (7ft 10in)
  • Internal height Not supplied
  • Travel height 3.3m (10ft 10in)
  • Tare 3760kg
  • GVM 4490kg (5000kg optional)

Price as shown (Vic)

$164,990

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #568. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!