Titan, which has two entrants this year, is proving a formidable manufacturer — and its 480 Hybrid toppled the rest of the competition by a slim margin to take out the top gong.
The Titan brand has been around for eight years with a business model that mixes an imported composite body with local fitout of electric and plumbing components. The company owners listen to market feedback and bring gradual improvements with each new model. The 480 came with an impressive $6000 electronics package adding considerable off-grid capability, and starting at $83,990, it has to be excellent value.
Titan made no secret that there were at this year’s Caravan of the Year event to succeed. They came well-prepared with a pair of vans that stood out for their innovative approach to offroad travel. The 480 impressed the judges, and when the scores were tallied, it was the overall winner and took out the X-Factor category in a tight finish. Congratulations Titan.
As the Australian buying public becomes more demanding in build quality, a lot of local builders are moving away from that traditional timber frame caravan. Titan is already ahead of the game by using a heat-formed composite body right from its inception, and it has proven to be durable and efficient. Underneath is a robot-welded galvanised chassis riding on a trailing arm independent suspension with twin shock absorbers. The construction has been around long enough now, and with enough examples on the road to test reliability and feedback has been positive.
Joinery is generally well finished, with only some niggling issues with corner trim and joins. The electronic installation and plumbing are as good as we have seen, and vans come with water and power diagrams in the event of problems. Even the fuse box is labelled, in what must be a breakthrough for the caravan industry! Appliances are high quality, and the windows, door, and awning are well-known caravan components.
A combination of smart technology and clever design brings high levels of innovation to the van. And while it's been around for a while now, against traditional construction methods, a composite body can still be considered innovative.
But the most convincing nod to contemporary thinking is a layout that brings comfort and convenience for a couple into a relatively narrow 16ft platform, capable of getting into remote places for extended stays. They have delivered a north-south bed, a comfortable lounge with a decent size swivelling table, and a functional combination ensuite. While there's no internal cooking facility, the supercharged battery pack and inverter mean you could run a small induction cooktop if the weather is too grim for the outside kitchen.
Tim Van Duyl
Small hybrids are the fastest-growing segment in caravans and for good reason. They pack a lot into smaller, more nimble packages and tend to encourage outside living — something we are lucky is so great in Australia.
The 480 fits the bill for small and nimble. Its 2780kg ATM is not low but includes a substantial 600kg payload. Towing it without water, with only some promotional gear and props for photos behind both a 300 Series LandCruiser and a more representative VW V6 Amarok, it felt good.
As an offroader demands, it has a lot of clearance and independent suspension. It could have been top-heavy and lurched, but it didn't. I suspect that is down to the lightweight body and stout chassis which will have kept its centre of gravity low.
Once pulled up, it’s clear the 480 is built for a couple wanting to take in the outside air. The coverage from the awning is very good, and importantly shelters the excellent kitchen perfectly and the second fridge well. External storage is massive to allow for packing in a lot of toys and outside furniture too.
Making your way in and out to collect a blanket or chuck your phone on charge is a breeze. The step-up is made easy by a set of electric steps. Inside, it is spacious for a 16-footer, but don’t be fooled into thinking it has the room of a 20-footer. It has the bed from one and nearly as much storage, but they take from the space inside, and no van can defeat physics. Taking that into account, it is targeting a mobile couple, people that are looking to explore, travel, and enjoy the further reaches of the lands.
If you’ve picked up on the specs of self-sufficiency, you’ll know it has the credentials to match my expectations of who will buy it — but there is more. A van that targets remote users must back the talk with support, and the Titan seems to be one of the best.
With some 15 dealers and around 200 service agents, there’s help if you need it and you’ve got a long time and few restrictions to try it all. The 480’s walls, floor, and ceiling are warranted for 10-years, the chassis and suspension for five, and the build for three years for use on all marked tracks and even salt-beach use. The build number is registered to its owner with a service plan part of the warranty document which is transferable to the next owner so long as it's kept up to date and with records kept online, via a service portal, it is easy and reliable.
Titan seems to be looking at what the market wants and delivering that in spades — nature by day, nurture by night. This hybrid van has all you need to hit the road or go completely offroad.
A front queen bed takes pride of place in the layout. You’ll need to kneel on the ledge and lever yourself up into bed. There are special cubbies on each side of the bed with room for everything from phones and books to drinks and chargers (USB and power outlets). There’s a good amount of storage, including an under-bed compartment sealed off from under the van.
There’s a full kitchen outside, and two fridges — one in and one out — a microwave (though it’s up too high and could be dangerous when retrieving hot food), a combined shower/toilet that passes the elbow test, comfortable seats, TV/DVD combo, Bluetooth capability, and entertainment package as standard, gas/electric hot water, and separate water tank filters. The power upgrade means you have access to more gizmos (including air-conditioning) via the inverter and battery power.
There’s not as much room inside as other vans, but the very nature of the hybrid is synonymous with getting outside more, so it scores high for having two fully equipped ‘living’ areas while considering the slightly awkward manoeuvres to get in and out of bed.
In terms of availability, lead time can be as little as eight weeks if you’re willing to take one of the standard models. The worst-case scenario, for a van fitted out to specs, is about six months.
The price of $89,990 (for the upgraded 480 on show) seems steep for a hybrid, but once you sit inside and soak in the style, accessories, and comfort, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch. With the $6000 TSV power upgrade, you have luxury living in an off-grid van.
A little differently to usual, the water tanks for this caravan are available in three different capacities — 75L, 85L, and 95L. That’s mostly for those who have excessive weight issues with either the caravan or tow vehicle. The grey tank is standard at 75L, and the two gas cylinders are 9kg each. Our review van had a Titan (Stage 2) electrical upgrade, which is quite impressive to say the least, consisting of two 200Ah lithium batteries, three 180W solar panels, a Victron 2000W/80A charger, and a Victron 500A SmartShunt (for smartphone monitoring). It’s all fitted into an external storage bin, located on the offside and, given its location, offers easy access. There’s certainly enough battery capacity to run the Dometic air-conditioner if desired.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 4.8m (15ft 9in)
Overall length 6.9m (22ft 8in)
Width 2.16m (7ft 1in)
Travel Height 2.93m (9ft 7in)
Internal Height 1.9m (6ft 3in)
Ball weight 220kg
Chassis 150 x 50 x 3.5mm Galvanised Steel (hot dipped galvanised)
Suspension Cruisemaster XT (coils) fully independent suspension system with twin hocks on each wheel
Coupling DO35 Off road hitch
Brakes 12” electric brakes
Wheels 265/75R16 Mud Terrains on 16” black alloy rims with 1 x spare
Water 2x 100L general/65L grey
Battery 2x 120Ah AGM
Solar 2 x 160W panel
Air-conditioner 2.5kW IBIS 4 A/C system
Gas 2x 9kg
Sway control Optional upgrage
Cooking Thetford stove (3 x gas burner, 1 x electric hotplate) and grill with automatic ignition
Fridge 152L Thetford T1152 (tropical rated) compressor upright fridge/freezer
Microwave 25L CAMEC Microwave
Bathroom Ensuite with combined shower/toilet
Hot water 14L Truma Ultrarapid Gas/Electric hot water system
PRICE AS SHOWN
252 Bruce Hwy Eastern Service Rd, Burpengary East QLD 4505
Ph: (07) 3216 4555