This highly affordable couples semi-offroader impressed the judges with its innovative body construction and luxury finishes.
There are any number of caravan manufacturers in Australia but one of the better known is Regent Caravans. Based in Melbourne, Regent has been a long-term manufacturer but in early 2021 moved to import a range of vans from China. The caravans are not completely built overseas as the final fit out is done at the Regent premises.
A typical example of Regent’s Cruiser range is the RC220. It has a length of 7.7m (25ft 3in), a tare of 2970kg and an ATM of 3500kg. It’s certainly not a lightweight caravan but is fitted with a layout well suited to luxury caravan travel.
The overall structure has moved with the times, and additionally, fibreglass mouldings back and front give the van a distinctive and stylish look. A somewhat more obvious feature is the offside slide-out, which is smooth in operation. Different is the ‘bus door’ front boot with its Blum cantilever style hinges. Set between the drawbar rails, the gas cylinders have a separate moulded cover which gives the drawbar area a cleaner look while maintaining easy access. The drawbar is 150mm (6in) RHS while the main rails is 100mm (4in) RHS and the steel chassis has a Raptor coating. AL-KO independent rubber suspension is used for the tandem axles.
Underneath the van, both the underfloor and the water tanks had alloy checkerplate protection. Most piping and electrical cable was neatly strapped up out of the way — even the brake cables, something not always done well in terms of mechanical protection. In some places, the sealant while likely being effective, looked rather haphazard in application. Although there was no grey water tank fitted, I thought it good that the necessary mounting bolts are already in position to make a retrofit easy.
Inside the van, the fit and finish was generally good but there were a few minor glitches in the sealant finish and a bit of swarf here and there. The cabinetry is ply timber and the glossy laminate finish, along with the post formed edges of the bench tops and leather upholstered seating, is a delight to the eyes. The contemporary clam shell style door and drawer handles are easy to use with inflexible fingers. In the bathroom, the shower cubicle is a one-piece unit and the Dometic toilet has a ceramic bowl.
Much of the innovation in the Regent Cruiser is found in the composite body structure with its fully welded aluminium frame integrated into the sandwich panel wall, floor, and roof structure. The use of the slide-out while not new in the RV industry, is slightly unusual in the world of caravans and not used all that often. Other body features that draw the attention are the bus door style front boot and rear wall moulding that incorporates the spare wheel. All nice touches.
Inside the van, club lounges aren’t anything new but when located down the rear or upfront in this case, they are a welcome feature. Where the double bed is fitted into the slide-out, there’s often a problem with the lack of any bedside cabinetry but the small compartments with hinged tops on both sides of the bed are a great addition.
Tim Van Duyl
The Regent RCC220 is a couples van, and with its semi-offroad designation it needs to have some capacity to keep a couple comfortable and safe on a long leg of a lap. That means it needs the capability to keep the lights on and the fridge running for a couple of days, at least and it does, just.
The Regent carries the bare minimum to keep critical appliances like the fridge, fans and lights running. It uses a cassette toilet, but as standard lacks a grey tank for the shower and kitchen. This will limit its use to parks that allow direct outflow (this already removes most National Parks and some farm stays). Power is by way of a Projecta PM300 battery management system with one 170W solar panel and a 100Ah lithium battery. It is nice to see the battery is lithium and as the fridge is three-way and there are two 9kg gas bottles upfront, it should run for weeks.
Being a strikingly affordable couples van, carrying some attributes to allow for limited off-grid overnighting as well as being an easy tow, albeit with a little movement, and spacious, the target market is clearly a retired couple. So, does the Regent hit a bullseye for those buyers?
It has to be one of the better options right now mainly due to its impressive value for money, strong warranty, and simple, spacious layout. It misses out on being truly self-sufficient, lacking a grey tank, and only set up for a night or two away but the low entry step, and soft colour palette should see it popular with Nomads looking for reliable comfort from a household name.
Claims by Regent to be the future of caravan construction carry a lot of weight. The body construction has been proven for seven years in the sister Snowy River brand, and its composite build is timber free, light, and robust. The foam-filled walls and roof also have excellent thermal and sound insulation. This construction method is modern and reliable, and it sets the brand apart in a sea of traditionally built local vans.
The big Regent boasts an aerodynamic wind-cheating shape, and the distinctive styling has a charming conservative appeal that traditional Regent owners will find familiar.
The Regent competes in a tight market of high-end luxury couple’s tourers, and many competitors tip over the $100k mark, so at $87,490, it is sound value. It comes with a suite of electronics and appliances that suit its place in the market, and the fit and finishes offer a welcoming and comfortable place to relax. Features like the leather lounge, all-round cameras add to the value proposition and the slide-out is a special feature that creates extra space for enjoyable times away.
The Regent is all about high levels of living space and effortless relaxation. It doesn’t get much better in a touring caravan than the room to move that a 22-footer offers — especially one with a slide-out bed. The generous length allows a roomy ensuite and lounge and plentiful storage options, which is essential when long-term travel is planned. Standard features that add to the upmarket feel include an electric step and electric awning, a leather lounge, and an instant hot water system.
Connectivity is vital to many of us, so it was great to see a Wi-Fi installation that streams to a 32in smart television. I also like the microwave placement at a low and safe height and the inclusion of a full oven.
Even with the imposing size, the Regent flies under the radar somewhat with conservative styling and a monotone finish. Many buyers will like the look, and it’s a pleasant point of difference against the pervasive dark colours of many of the offroaders we see on the road. You have to dig a bit deeper to find what makes the Regent tick, and those in the know will be drawn to the composite construction and the lux package that goes to make a very desirable couples tourer. But many minor talking points set it apart, including the electric step and awning and the pantographic door over the front boot.
We used a LandCruiser 300 series to test the Regent towing capabilities. Our tow test crossed through the township of Nagambie and involved navigating roundabouts, tracking along the freeway at 110km with a few speed restrictions and changed traffic conditions thanks to roadworks thrown in, and turn tests on dirt roads and along narrow country roads.
There were no real issues here. The drive was smooth, and it manoeuvred well around tight turns. It was a little nervous after two roundabouts in town at slow speeds but recovered quickly.
Regent’s warranty and customer care is impressive. There’s a five-year structural warranty and two years on manufacturing. And even though this is a blacktop tourer, the warranty applies on gazetted roads.
If something goes wrong, the preference is for owners to go to the dealer first for resolution. There are 10 dealerships across the country, including Tasmania and also in New Zealand so there’s a wide support network.
However, if customers don’t get a satisfactory solution, they can call the 24-hour warranty hotline and go direct to Regent’s in-house warranty team. The fact that the head of the warranty team (Amber) was at the event, speaks volumes.
They have about 40 service centres in every state and NZ, and when we asked what happens if you’re in the middle of nowhere when things go awry, the answer was “You go to your nearest caravan repair place and Regent will work with them”.
The company also has a Facebook page which is constantly monitored for comments — both good and bad — and problems are addressed. (Regent does not administer the page so they don’t remove negative talk.)
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 7.77m (25ft 3in)
Overall length 9.12m (29ft 11in)
Width 2.4m (7ft 10in)
Height 2.95m (9ft 8in)
Payload 601kg (calculated)
Ball weight 180kg
Chassis Raptor coated
Coupling 50mm ball
Water 2 x 95L
Battery 1 x 100Ah Lithium
Solar 1 x 170W flexible
Air-conditioner Harrier Plus
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Lippert
Cooking Dometic fan-forced oven
Fridge Dometic RUA6408X 188L
Microwave NCE 23L
Bathroom Separate shower and toilet
Hot water Fogatti instant HWS
Shower Fully moulded with shampoo shelf and footrest
Toilet Ceramic cassette
PRICE AS SHOWN
$84,490 Melbourne excluding delivery charges
Warehouse 2/24–32 Stanley Dr, Somerton VIC 3062
Ph: (03) 9303 6100