Getting offroad with the family is becoming the holiday of choice for many, and this particular Titan puts it within reach.
South-east Queensland is home for a high number of offroad caravan manufacturers. It’s not surprising really when you think about it, considering some good offroad travel, including beaches is never far away, relatively speaking.
One of the most recent additions to the offroad crowd has been Burpengary-based Titan Caravans. The company sells a range of caravans, hybrids, and camper trailers. Like other importers, much of the construction work is handled in China, but the final fit out of the plumbing, electrics, suspension, and other componentry is done in the Burpengary factory.
Although Titan produces several traditional layouts, one of the more interesting models that emerged from the factory not so long ago was the Blackhawk 490 Bunk. Getting a bunk bed layout that includes a bathroom into a van with a length of just 4.9m (16ft 1in) is a challenge, but Titan has clearly risen to it. The use of the east-west bed and bunks that double as a day lounge means a few compromises, but at the same time makes this an effective layout.
With a tare of 2220kg and a payload of 580kg, the 490 Bunk offers a family that can travel together in a relatively compact space a generous range of touring opportunities. A benefit of the respective weights is that the 490 does not require an excessively heavy-duty tow vehicle.
Titan Caravans has dealers in NSW, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia, and Titan’s warranty varies somewhat depending on the item. The caravan build, fit out and internal construction is covered for three years. The caravan chassis and suspension components, excluding consumables like tyres and brake pads, are covered for five years. Lastly, the Titan heat laminated wall, floor, and roof construction, which includes water leaks, dust ingress and delamination has cover for ten years. Individual components like refrigerators and air components are subject to the respective warranties of the various manufacturers.
Titan’s warranty is certainly of interest. Titan handed us a fairly detailed document, which not only detailed the company’s obligations but the customer’s as well. In particular the servicing and maintenance requirements are well listed. There are a few differences but it’s well detailed and certainly better than some warranty documents I have seen. They have an Australia-wide and New Zealand Dealer Network, and the warranty is directed to Titan-Care, a monitored Factory-direct call centre.
Squeezing in a bunk layout and bathroom facilities is quite an achievement and Titan has certainly done quite well. There are some compromises of course, like access to the front bed but the bunk bed that doubles as a lounge seat is a good idea. A family is certainly going to favour outside living and it’s a van not really designed for long-term family trips, but it doesn’t pretend to be either. In the Australia world of caravans, where a meranti timber frame and aluminium cladding is still common, the fibreglass composite panel body construction is something worth noting.
The Titan’s compact profile and relatively low tare of 2200kg combined with sensible weight distribution meant it was extremely safe and predictable over our towing course. We hooked up the Titan to a V6 Amarok, which proved a good match. The 490 was smooth and rattle free. The narrow track of the van gave better views to the rear than most vans and also helped traversing down narrow trails. The extended A-frame gave smooth and predictable reversing into position.
As ATM is 2800kg with a 640kg payload, there are plenty of mid-range and twin cab utes that can tow it safely.
The 490 packs a lot into a compact family van, so with limited space there are compromises inside. With this in mind, it’s probably more suited to shorter stays away from home rather than a van for a long trek.
While this Titan is all about outdoor living — and it succeeds in that with the comprehensive exterior kitchen — I like that there is still the option for meal preparation inside with a compact rear cooktop and sink. Sensible design gives a bunk that folds into a lounge and there’s also an opportunity for a bassinette. But the significant lifestyle feature is the powerful lithium pack with an inverter big enough to run the air conditioner for hours.
A compact bathroom is inevitable in a van this size, but it’s big enough for a decent shower and seems well ventilated. Access to the bunks should be easy for the young ones, but the side supports don’t look strong enough for extended use. Not everyone is a fan of east-west beds, so it could be a deal-breaker for some couples.
Anyone moving up from a camper will be impressed that setup time is instant, so arriving at camp late is no longer a chore.
Compact size, tough suspension, and a very sturdy platform and body construction mark the Titan as a true offroad contender, and it looks the part with rugged angles and plenty of macho add-ons in boxes and wheel carriers. It might not have the excess of everything appeal of some full-size offroaders, but it will get you places they won’t. The kitchen design gives loads of cooking space under the protective awning. But the winning feature is probably the extended running time of the air conditioner on a hot day from that highly capable power pack.
Tim Van Duyl
What nailed the value proposition for me was not the base package, but the additional Titan Special Vehicles (TSV) Stage-2 power bundle. It is the backbone of the van’s self-sufficiency, is seriously impressive, and only $6000.
You should know by now that we judge the vans as displayed with their as-seen price. The 490F (F is for family) can be had a bit cheaper than the $92,990 as seen, but that’s moot and frankly not the bundle that I would recommend.
The TSV Stage-2 adds on a power suite including enough battery to run the AC for about five hours (two 200Ah Lithium) with three 180W solar panels that produced 155W (13A at 12V) on a semi-cloudy day. Power in and out was managed by a Victron MultiPlus inverter-charger capable of up to 2000W as an inverter. We had the AC running at about 700W and cheekily fired up the microwave, it handled it — which is outstanding. Control is by touchscreen with data on power usage and charging coming from a 500A Victron Smartshunt. Rounding it off, there are DCDC and AC chargers and a 100A MPPT solar regulator. A compressor fridge is a nice touch as they require less ventilation which should mean less dust in the van; it was a Thetford and was consumed about 4A to maintain temperature. This bundle is about what I think is best for most of us. It is capable of running the AC for the hottest part of the day and can add a lot of power back in via solar.
Water is flexible with the factory allowing buyers to choose tanks that increase in length mounted in the same spot at no charge. Volumes are 75–95L with one mounted on either side of the axle. The reason for the no-charge choice of volume is to allow the buyer to manage their payload, which for our van was a reasonable 640kg.
The 490F is meant for small families who want a short break in a van that can go off-grid, or maybe even grandparents who want to take the grandies for a short while.
The 490 is not a big bunk van, but it has 16ft of useable space. There’s a bed across the front of the van — more than 2m long — plus two full-size bunk beds along the side opposite the lounge/dining area, but it doesn’t feel cluttered.
Storage is limited, but is enough for two adults and two children for short escapes. If you want to leave the kids home, you can fold the bunk up and use the bottom bed as another lounge. There are also bonus points for bassinette options.
Titan uses frameless composite construction — heat laminated fibreglass composite panels; it’s the on-trend methodology for building. It’s been around now for a few years and is starting to get popular. The advantages are excellent insulation, a light weight, and fast build — which matches Titan’s ability to pump out these rigs. Plus, one-piece manufacturing cuts down the risk of leaks and dust. Wall panels are insulated, fire retardant, marine-grade sandwiched using fibreglass inside and out. The 490 has a hot-dipped gal chassis and 2.8 tonne full independent coil shock suspension.
Fit and finish is good. Inside is pretty sleek and stylish, especially for an offroad van. There’s a mix of overseas construction and local in-house installation, fitting, and connections and 240V cabling.
The Titan Care Package takes the worry out of tackling the bush, beaches, or national parks.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 4.9m (16ft 1in)
Overall length 6.8m (22ft 4in)
Width 2.3m (7ft 7in)
Height 2.96m (9ft 8in)
Payload 640kg (calculated)
Ball weight 200kg
Frame/Cladding 35mm composite panel
Chassis galvanised 150mm x 50mm
Suspension Independent trailing arm T-tech
Brakes Electric drum
Wheels 16in alloy
Water 2 x 95L fresh, 1 x 65L grey water tank
Battery 2 x 120Ah Lithium
Solar 2 x 180W
Air-conditioner Reverse cycle (can run on a 2kVA genny)
Gas 2 x 9kg
Cooking 3 x gas, 1 electric stove with grill and range hood
Fridge 1 x 165L plus 1 x 50L
Bathroom Combo shower and toilet
Hot water Gas and electric
TSV Stage-2 Power Bundle
PRICE AS SHOWN
252 Bruce Hwy Eastern Service Rd, Burpengary East QLD 4505
Ph: (07) 3216 4555