Maverick Viper 13 Hybrid

Tim van Duyl — 5 August 2021
Hybrids may miss out on internal volume, but they are nimble without too much comfort lost

Though this isn’t my first look at a Maverick, it is my first look at their Hybrid and the Viper 13 is eerily familiar. With the same layout of external access and overall size to the half-dozen or so other imported hybrids of the Viper 13’s competitors, I feel like I’ve seen almost all they have to offer.

So, why look at the Viper 13? The price is sharp — at $46,989+ORC as seen — for one, and that's for a Viper 13 with the Option Pack inclusions, which I’ll get to later on. And, as the brand seems to be on a roll, with company frontman and genuinely great guy Bailey Winnen telling me the company is outselling supply by large amounts, I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. First up is the layout and who it suits. 




IS THE VIPER 13 RIGHT FOR YOU?

The Viper 13 suits couples and singles on tour as well campers that want a base station to host friends — it has the amenities to host a dozen people in tents or swags. It is compact and has plenty of comfort to offer someone on the road for long stretches. It really is flexible. 

The lucky couple that sleeps inside do so on an east-west bed that slides out from the rear. Extending it is simple, as you release some latches and pull the roof, walls and floor out, and lock it in. The bed is a decent size and sits nice and low to the floor to make access easy. But, if you want to invite some friends inside for the night, you best know them very well as the only secondary sleeping is by way of converting the dinette to a small bed best suited to children. 

The corner ensuite is a good size and right by the door, so if someone from the outside needs to duck in, they can without upsetting occupants. The external kitchen is fantastic, with a quality Dometic three-burner stove is a bit different to most in the Vipers’ class, which tend to use generic four-burners that come with heavy and user-unfriendly cast pot stays. (If you are not sure what the hassle is, you have to secure the heavy, cast pot stays when travelling or they will destroy your stove. The best way to do this is with a tea towel which you cannot do while they are hot — the Dometic is miles better).

There is an external shower which will come in handy for friends or a quick wash after a day in the bush and with twin 9kg bottle holders there should be enough gas for plenty of showers, if you have the water. 

BUSH CREDIBILITY 

On the water, there is an 80L grey tank under the Viper 13 and the toilet is a cassette-type, making it national park friendly — though it is worth considering using this cassette for number twos only and carrying a spare cassette or two as its capacity will be your limitation on stay length. Freshwater capacity totals a substantial 240L by way of two 120L tanks, more than I have seen in its competitors. The tanks are separated by a valve found inside. Beside it, you’ll find a Sealflow pump that can be used as a lift pump for sourcing water from rivers and lakes though I doubt you’ll need it as assuming 10L per person per day, there is the capacity for almost two weeks for a couple. Should you need more, there are two 20L jerry can holders in the front locker too. 

Solar is substantial too, with two panels providing 300W total feeding into a bank of three 100Ah AGM batteries via an optional Projecta BMS. That should be enough to run all of the appliances, excluding the AC, which will not run on the optional Projecta 1000W inverter. Opposite the external fridge slide is a neat locker for a generator so should you need AC when remote, investing in and using a gennie is your only option. 

There is a good-sized wood rack on the front by the locker that houses the two 9kg gas bottles and space for the jerry cans. I appreciate seeing these in a locker as they are less prone to theft when locked away. The designers have considered users tendency to drag the Viper into the scrub by adding a good amount of checkerplate armour. 

Underneath the Viper is pretty neat with push-lock pipes used. These are held in place by rubberised p-clamps, a nice touch. The water tanks are polyethylene, another nice touch and the whole underside is protected with a liberal spraying of rubberised paint. 

The Viper rides on Maverick’s own independent trailing arm suspension, though I couldn’t see a difference between it and most of its competitors’ versions. It does have two shocks per side, however, and it is good to see the bushes appear to be polyurethane and are greasable. The standard hub has a six-stud LandCruiser PCD so should you tow with one (or a Patrol with the same PCD), you have the option of removing a spare or the knowledge you have options for extra spare wheels. 

COMFORTS 

I mentioned a lot of inclusions, some of which are noted as options. They all come in a bundle, dubbed the Option Pack by Maverick. When you break it down, there is over $14,000 at retail value for $3999. I would not buy a Viper without it as just the Dometic Ibis-4 AC, Projecta BMS and Inverter and solar package would retail for more than the bundle’s asking price. 

Also in the package are things to make your stay more comfortable, like a 14L Truma HWS, Bluetooth stereo and HD TV as well as one of my favourite jockey wheels, the Ark XO 750 and a 16oz enclosed annex with vinyl floor. 

The mattress is a king-size innerspring designed to fold away. The dinette is small, only seating two but you can, however, use the edge of the bed for extra seating as the table is adjustable in height. 

Opposite the dinette is a good-sized bench with cupboard storage underneath and beside it, an upright fridge with storage above. Taking it all in, storage is a real plus in the Viper 13 both internally and externally; with a tare (pre-options) of 2100kg and a ATM of 2800kg, you will struggle to fill it after the tanks are filled. 

Insulation and ease of use or how you feel using a van, play a big part in comfort, and for hybrids, it is hard to compete with full-size caravans. Having to pop the top is a step more in ease of use, and with it comes a vinyl section that offers little by way of insulation. The roof and walls of the Viper are fibreglass which does a good job reflecting heat, but I would still look to park somewhere shady and with good wind for ventilation on our hotter days. 

Popping the top is easy and importantly, is not needed for a roadside pitstop or to access internal storage. You simply unhook the external latches, head in and using levers, pop the top. 

HOW DOES THE VIPER 13 TOW? 

We had two cars tow the Viper 13, a 120 Series Toyota Prado and a 2020 HiLux. The Prado represents what I think is a realistic option for the Viper as they can be had for under $20,000, are family friendly and capable but it felt like a lot of work to tow the Viper with it; we saw the temps climb on a big hill and generally it wasn't a good match. 

The Hilux, borrowed from MSA, was more capable but they are also $65,000 new, have 500nm of torque and a 3500kg tow rating so it shouldn’t be concerned with the Viper’s weight, which is what was holding us back. 

I’d like to see a couple of hundred kilos pulled out of the Viper 13’s tare. Empty, it's a noticeable tow even for its small size. For towing, it pales compared to the Titan 480-X I reviewed last issue, which is a substantially bigger van (though also more expensive) with almost the same key weights. Comparing it to one of the best sellers from Jayco, the 17.55 All Terrain Pop-Top, an 18ft twin axle with the same alloy frame construction method the Viper uses, and the key weights are again similar. So why is it so weighty?

BIG BONES 

The Viper is built on a heavy-duty steel chassis measuring 150 x 50 x 3mm and the external kitchen is substantial. Add in the triple batteries and stand up fridge inside and it starts to make some sense, but I would still like to see some weight removed with a chassis less reliant on volume of steel used and more on its design plus some emphasis on lighter materials. A lot of us like a heavy duty chassis but technology has surpassed the need to use it as an excuse not to design a good chassis. Look at AL-KO’s LightR chassis as an example. 

THE BOTTOM LINE 

The Viper 13 has a lot going for it. The excellent external kitchen is a big plus for me, as is the option to have a second fridge in the slide. Personally I like pop-tops for their lower tow-height and with the Option Pack added, I think the Viper 13 represents great value for money — but the compromise is that you’ll really need a hefty tow vehicle to pull it with ease and, with so many similar hybrids getting around, you likely won't stand out from the crowd. 


SPECS

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES 

Exterior length 6.3m (20ft 8in)    

Height 2.5m (8ft 2in)

Width 2.1m (6ft 11in)

Tare 2100kg

ATM 2800kg

Ball weight 110kg

EXTERNAL

Chassis Fully galvanised with underbody anti-chip protection as standard

Suspension Adjustable independent trailing arm coil spring, 4 x Gas shock absorbers

Wheel arch flairs as standard

Brakes 12in electric 

Wheels 265/75/R16 offroad tyres with 6in steel Landcruiser wheels

Water 2 x 120L

Grey water 1 x 80L

Battery 3 x 100Ah deep cycle AGM

Solar 300W roof-mounted panels (optional)

Air-conditioner Dometic roof-mounted reverse-cycle (optional)

Gas 2 x 9kg

INTERNAL

Fridge Front toolbox with pantry and fridge slide

Bathroom Internal ensuite with Dometic cassette toilet

Hot water Truma Ultra Rapid 14L gas/electric hot water system (optional)

PRICE AS SHOWN    

$46,989 + ORC

MORE INFORMATION

Maverick Campers

96-98 Main North Road

Prospect SA 5082

Ph: 1300 628 494

W: maverickcampers.com.au

Tags

Review Caravan Hybrid Maverick Viper 13 Couples van Nimble

Photographer

Cam Inniss and Matt Williams