Time to Roam Magazine Issue 9 - June/July 2014 - Page 34

| tried + tested camper review “ You get a lot for your money and a heap of comforts that would only have been available in the most expensive brands only a few years ago.” internally and at the kitchen. There are four storage drawers under the internal lounge and internal window covers enabling you to close up at night without having to step outside if the weather turns really nasty. In case of a light shower, there’s plenty of protection anyway with external over-window awnings on all the openings except on the kitchen side, with gussets back to the main tent sheltering the window from all but the worst in weather. All windows and the roll-down door have midge-proof screens. The awning has the three side walls included, as well as an annex floor which seals to the walls with velcro. The top of the camper has a tropical roof, providing additional shading to the roof canvas to keep the interior cooler in the heat and warmer in the cold. All the canvas is plain weave 470gsm on the roof and 420gsm in the walls and the roof lining has a unique aluminium impregnated polyurethane lining on the underside which does great things in thermally insulating the camper. Along the driver’s side of the Overland Grande is the living area, with a slide out kitchen at the rear and a large fridge slide and pantry drawer at the front. In our test camper the kitchen was steel with small cutlery drawer, a large stainless steel sink and large three-burner Smev cooker, however the company says future versions the kitchen, which is free standing without the need of support legs, will be all stainless steel. The kitchen tap, which is connected on set-up, along with the gas, is electronic and turns on automatically when raised into operating position. The fridge slide and the pantry is also being converted to stainless steel in future orders, with sufficient space for up to an 80 litre Waeco or Pros • Value for money • Plenty of internal living space • Quick set-up • Polyurethane finish to roof canvas for thermal insulation Cons • Limited bench space around kitchen • Spreader bar awning set-up takes time • Fiddly need to adjust tent bows • Heavy draw bar weight Engel fridge, with both options available. On the opposite side of the camper is the water tank filler in a small locker at the rear and on the opposite side of the front box, behind the fridge and pantry, is the electrics centre and another pull-out storage drawer. The electrical options start with a standard 100Ah (amp hours) gel battery, which can be lifted to a 140Ah version, or, in coming models, to a second 100Ah battery. There’s a mains charger, five resettable circuit breakers and an amp meter. At the front are rings for two 9kg gas bottles – that’s a lot – and two jerry can holders. The firewood-cum-luggage rack on top of the front box, an Al-Ko offroad ball coupling, large stone guard and swing-up jockey wheel. The body is welded steel, finished in twopack paint and stainless steel trim. The wheel flares, hinges and fasteners are also stainless steel and there’s checker plate aluminium on the front and top of the front box and the top of the fold-over roof. The wheels are 16 inch alloys with all terrain tyres, on six-stud hubs. The suspension is dual-shock trailing arm independent for the smoothest ride, with 2.6 tonne rated bearings and full toe-in and toe-out adjustment. The chassis is 75 x 50 x 3mm and the drawbar is 100 x 50 x 3mm, all fully galvanised. Chinese-made campers have come a long way in recent years and with the experienced intermediaries such as Blue Tongue keeping a close eye on the specs and the quality, there’s no doubt they will continue to improve. The Overland Grande forward-fold camper has much to offer, not the least being its $19,000 asking price. You get a lot for your money and a heap of comforts that would only have been available in the most expensive brands only a few years ago. Take a look and you’ll be impressed. YOU MIGHT ALSO CONSIDER Echo 4 Eagle Cheyanne Echo 4X4 is a brand of campers imported from South Africa, with all their models featuring excellent engineering and often unique and interesting features. The Echo 4 is one of their smaller campers, and at $19,900 is comparable in price with the Blue Tongue Grande Overland but is a very different format. It comes with a side fold-down kitchen but uses a portable cooktop, extensive drawer storage on both sides, but no fridge. There is full crockery and cutlery for six people, 100L water tank and electric water pump. The roomy front box is enhanced by the rear storage with slide, and it also comes with Echo’s unique microdot security system. There is plenty of LED lighting, a 240V as well as 12V electrical system and 70Ah batt