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Choose your own adventure in Winnebago’s new B class conversion.

By Malcolm Street

 

One of the benefits that Winnebago has as Australia’s largest motorhome manufacturer is that it can offer a very comprehensive range of motorhome designs and motive power wheelbases.

 

In fact, Winnebago has just about everything available, from the small C class Free Spirit range to the luxurious A class Classic.

 

Winnebago doesn’t currently have any conversions using the original van body in its line-up, but the company has recently produced a very interesting and innovative alternative, the Adventurer.

 

Action adventure!

Introduced to CW at a Winnebago Motorhome Club rally, the first Adventurer out of the factory door was based on a Ford Transit – an ideal vehicle, in CW’s opinion.

 

However, Italian vehicle lovers won’t be disappointed either because the Fiat Ducato, and soon-to-be-seen Fiat Ducato All-Wheel Drive (AWD), will also be used for motive power. Yes, the AWD Ducato is definitely on the way – we’ve seen one!

 

The Adventurer is a B class unit (ie, no Luton Peak) and has been designed to be slightly wider than the Ford Transit body and of a similar length to a normal Transit van. This makes it very similar to a whole van conversion but given the extra width, much more flexible in the design department.

 

Winnebago, interestingly, calls it a ‘vanette’! Winnebago managing director Bruce Binns told CW that the Adventurer motorhome has been designed with the working person very much in mind – a vehicle that can easily be used around town but one which is also instantly available for the getaway weekend (or longer) trip.

 

Readers of this fine magazine will know that we find the Ford Transit a relatively good vehicle to get around in. Yes, it’s a commercial vehicle but with enough refinement and comfort built in to make it pleasant to drive.

 

Sitting above the hoi polloi in their sedan cars is, of course, always an asset. On the road the 2.4L (92kW) turbodiesel performs willingly enough in tandem with the five-speed auto.

 

We’re aware that many people like to have an auto transmission but CW isn’t exactly a fan of the Smart Shift panel-mounted pushbutton auto setup. It takes getting used to but somehow it feels unnatural when driving, compared to say a stubby dash-mounted gear shift.

 

A major plus though, is the fact that there’s nothing to have to get your legs around when moving to and from the driver’s seat. A motorhome this size will go most places that a large 4WD or light commercial van can – a major advantage in places like supermarket car parks and when driving around town.

 

Winnebago has done a sterling job with the Adventurer’s external appearance. The B class rig has a very streamlined look and even at the rear the normal boxy look has been muted considerably by the moulded fibreglass.

 

Also worth mentioning is the paint finish: the Transit cab is a metallic grey and part of the motorhome body has been painted to match, while the lower part of the Transit door has been painted white to match the motorhome.

 

It gives the whole unit an integrated and stylish appeal. The entry door is Winnebago’s standard Hehr item, the windows are Seitz polycarbonate hoppers and the awning is a Fiamma F45.

 

External storage is good, with a rear right-through storage compartment that’s large enough for two sets of golf clubs and a couple of fold-up bikes.

 

Compact but comfortable

Inside the Adventurer, Winnebago has opted for an across-the-rear double bed, nearside kitchen, offside bathroom and dinette behind the driver’s seat. Decor design is Winny’s ‘Euro look’ – darker stained timber with curved overhead locker doors and Seitz windows.

 

 All of the latter have the usual integrated blind and insect screen, as well as full curtains which are also fitted around the driver’s cab.

 

At the rear, the 6ft 4in x 4ft 2in (1.9m x 1.3m) double bed occupies all the space. It’s set slightly higher than usual to accommodate the storage area underneath and is surrounded by windows on three sides.

 

The offside end of the bed has two halogen reading lights and, very usefully, there’s a shelf at either end of the bed. Storage consists of three overhead lockers across the rear and two large underbed drawers.

 

Because of the motorhome’s size, it’s no real surprise that the kitchen is compact but it does have all the essentials: two-burner Cramer cooktop, stainless steel sink sans drainer and Dometic RM 4400 103L fridge.

 

Winnebago has not included a hinged shelf across the doorway, as it has done in some models. At the other end of the bench, some sort of plastic cover may well be useful on the corner of the bed.

 

I suspect that some innovative individuals may well design a portable shelf to sit on the bed corner during cooking and washing up times.

 

Kitchen storage is a little limited – cutlery drawer, two wire basket drawers behind a cupboard door and two overhead lockers. The under-overhead locker area is well equipped with a slimline Dometic rangehood, fluorescent light, powerpoint and tea towel rail.

 

Up front, Winnebago has made the best use of available space. The dinette table sits behind the driver’s seat and both driver and passenger seats swivel around, thus making a small but comfortable dining/lounge area for up to four people. The dinette seat also has two seatbelts for passengers.

 

Illumination is provided by a fluorescent light above the table but we thought a halogen reading light for driver and passenger seats would not go astray.

 

In the bathroom was a real surprise – a moulded fibreglass setup, the like of which CW has not seen before, which contained shelves, cabinets, water resistant loo roll holder and little storage compartments.

 

Large wall mirrors did make internal photography a little tricky, but for most people they will suit admirably. Of course there are also the usual items – Thetford cassette toilet and flexible hose shower, the latter also doubling as water supply for the wash basin.

 

One cabinet door didn’t quite clear the incandescent light fitting but that was more a prototypical problem, rather than anything else.

 

There’s actually no shortage of lighting: in addition to the aforementioned light, there are three halogen downlights above the mirrors.

 

Directly behind the passenger seat is a large hanging cupboard. Given the intended nature of the Adventurer, ie, short-term use, a shelf or two in the lower cupboard might be useful.

Under the cupboard is the new Air Command Kingfisher air-conditioning unit.

 

Being housed in this spot means the rear of the motorhome might not be cooled as effectively as it would if it were roof-mounted, but it does keep the external roof height to a minimum. A diesel-fired Webasto heater with ducted outlets in appropriate places is also on board.

 

The Bottom Line

Winnebago has produced a very appealing motorhome. Sure it’s not particularly big, but that’s not its intent.

 

Designed to offer an alternative to a large light commercial van conversion, the Adventurer will be of interest to anyone looking for a weekend getaway machine or even just a small motorhome that is reasonably comfortable and economical for touring.

 

For more information contact Winnebago, PO Box 420, Emu Plains, NSW 2750, (02) 4735 8116, fax: (02) 4735 8070 or freecall 1800 102 201, web: www.winnebago.com.au

 

We liked:

• Basic concept – a small but practical design for touring and around town

• Good external storage space

• Bathroom design – a good change with a fresh look

• Front lounge/dining area setup with both driver and passenger seats swivelling

 

We would have liked

Reading lights for both driver and passenger seats

 

Homestead Murray
Winnebago Adventurer
Base vehicle: Ford Transit 3550
Engine: 2.4L turbodiesel
Gearbox: Smart Shift – five speed auto
Max power: 92kW@3800rpm
Max torque: 285Nm@2300rpm
Tare weight: 2695kg
GVM: 3550kg
External length: 20ft (6.08m)
External width: 6ft 9in (2.05m)
Internal height: 6ft 3in (1.9m)
Cooktop: Cramer two-burner
Fridge: Dometic RM4400 103L
Microwave: No
Gas: One x 4kg
Lighting: 12V
Hot water: Truma 14L
Fresh water: 73L
Grey water: 97L
Second stage compliance: Yes
Price: $79,990 (on Ford Transit)

 

 

Published : Friday, 17 March 2006
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