Windsor has been a familiar name on the local caravan scene since the 1970s. Built initially in Melbourne, production moved to Perth, WA, for some years before Apollo bought Windsor and sister brand Coromal to be part of its Brisbane plant in 2018. Apollo had been building caravans and motorhome rental fleets under the Winnebago and Talvor names and saw an opportunity to move into retail sales with the Windsor and Coromal lines.
Bringing these two well-known brands under the Apollo banner was a sensible move. Years of experience in the rental business gave Apollo an edge on how to build a robust and user-friendly caravan.
The sprawling 20,000sqm factory where a team of more than 50 workers builds the Apollo range is a state-of-the-art facility with an automotive-style production line. Economies of scale, efficient build techniques and modern materials deliver a van that's robust and well-priced.
Our review van sits in a modest range of couples and family vans between 5.7m (17ft 6in) and 6.8m (22ft), all destined as semi-offroad tourers. As one of two vans in the 5.9m (19ft 6in) line-up, it's a family van, whereas the other same-length model is a couple’s tourer.
The chassis is built in Melbourne at Hilton Chassis and shipped to Queensland for the caravan assembly. Made from Australian 150mmx 50mm steel, it’s hot dipped galvanised for maximum lasting quality. The A-frame is from the same profile RHS channel and connects to the tow vehicle through an AL-KO 50mm ball hitch, although a Cruisemaster DO-35 hitch is an option for more rugged travel.
Suspension is AL-KO’s rubber torsion system, which relies on rubber blocks twisting with load inside a square tube to soften the ride. While perhaps not a mainstream suspension style, it works very effectively even over rugged terrain; again, Cruisemaster CRS2 trailing arms and coils are an option. Two 9kg gas bottles rest on the A-frame, and a pair of 82L water tanks are slung under the chassis along with the spare wheel. The plumbing and wiring under the van are neat and well out of harm's way. Little things like saddles and rollers for the handbrake cable add to the van’s ease of ownership and show practical attention to detail.
Sandwich panels make up the caravan body with 28.6mm sections for the roof and walls and a single piece 33.4mm section for the floor. The walls and roof have 3mm fibreglass facings with a closed cell foam internal section. The top is a single panel that wraps up the front of the van and all the way over the rear end, offering maximum weather protection. Notably, there are no openings for a front boot or window, which are notoriously difficult to keep waterproof over time. CNC machines cut the outside shape and the spaces for windows and hatches of the panels to fine tolerances ensuring a close weatherproof fit.
Internal cabinets are produced in-house from sustainable European lightweight ply and are CNC cut for a close fit.
The smooth fibreglass finish of the wall panels gives the Windsor a clean and modern appeal. The latest models include black checkerplate panels down low instead of the previous black vinyl covering. I’m told the change is to meet customer expectations even if the van is unlikely to be subject to hard off-track abuse. The black contrasts with the bright white above, where minimalist graphics continue the contemporary theme. ABS plastic mouldings cover the corners for added protection and form stylish light surrounds at the back.
Up front is a full-width tunnel boot with a. light, and along the sides are external LEDs, two speakers, a picnic table and a full-length awning. The tandem black wheels have orange accents to match the wall graphics, tying the exterior design neatly together. The van's rear looks lean and tidy without a spare wheel at the back. Wheels are Primal alloys with 235x75 Goodride in a not-too-aggressive A/T pattern.
Up top is a single 190w solar panel and an Ibis reverse cycle air conditioner. The MD name indicates a mid-entry where a step folds down and a handle inside for easy access.
As the smaller of two family vans in the range, some compromises on design are a trade-off for the advantages of a reduced length. For example, the 196MD version has an east-west bed, whereas the 220 at a metre longer boasts a north-south bed and more room at the dinette.
The interior design is friendly and inviting, with a high 2.035m ceiling that creates a feeling of ample space. Close-fitting furniture has a quality look, with enough windows to splash natural light around. Plenty of white fibreglass on the walls and roof add to the bright and airy feeling, while black cupboards and appliances are on trend right now. For some contrast, Nicolo pine laminates and Cement Carbon upholstery lighten the impact of the dark cabinets.
There aren't too many ways you can fit a family layout into a 19ft 6in van. As we mentioned, there need to be some compromises. And while a door near the bed isn't universally applauded, it makes the best use of the ‘dead’ space between the mattress and kitchen for the entrance. So too, an east-west bed can be awkward, but the saved area over placing it lengthways is invaluable.
Overhead cupboards run high on the front wall, and a neat storage nook at the foot of the bed includes a USB charger. It might look like an unusual place for the 24” TV/DVD adjacent to the bedside window, but it’s a practical solution that’s unlikely to get in the way and can be seen clearly from the bed and dinette.
In the central section, we find the living space with a driver-side dinette and the kitchen opposite. A plush vinyl-clad lounge runs along the wall between the bed and the fridge. There's room for three against the 1200mmx500mm table, and the fourth family member could sit on the bed or a removable fold-up chair.
The kitchen is compact, so preparation space is limited to the large sink with a draining board and the fold-down stove top. The Thetford grill and cooktop sits over a large pot drawer, and there is decent storage in overhead cupboards on either side of the aisle. A full oven is an option. The 188L three-way fridge to the rear of the dinette is a good size for a family and having gas or 240v operation makes sense with the limited solar power on board.
Moving to the rear of the van, we find a set of bunks to the right with the ensuite on the other side. On the wall at the back of the 196MD is a full-height cupboard with a washer down low and generous storage above. The washer tells a story of the current world situation and supply chain issues. Until recently, Apollo used a Russian-made Camec machine that was no longer imported. The new supplier is NCE.
Because the storage cupboards are so large, there could be a temptation to overload them, so I think it's a shrewd move by the designers to locate the spare wheel under the van and forward of the axles to help keep weight balanced correctly.
The ensuite has room to move without wasting too much space. A floating ceramic bowl sits on a minimalist vanity with storage above and below and a well-lit mirror ahead. In the latest van, the shower is now a roomy single-piece moulded construction with shelves and a neat setup for plumbing. Overhead extractor fans keep the space well-ventilated.
Our review van has a twin bunk setup, with a third bunk an option. The beds seem sturdy and straightforward to access. Each bunk has a window, light and USB and a roof hatch adds to the light and airflow.
Our review van is a prototype 2023 model, and it includes significant upgrades that will be part of the standard package. Included are an external shower, Fusion sound system, checkerplate lower skirts, the BM Pro charger, Milenco security door and a lit internal grab handle at the steps.
The single 190w panel charges a 120Ah deep cycle battery through a BM Pro charger. An Odyssey phone app monitors power and operates lights and other systems remotely. This standard power package will suit caravan park travellers who go off-grid occasionally. In sunny weather, it will keep lights and music running for days while the gas will heat the van and the water for showers.
Tare weight of the prototype is 2126kg, and the latest version has an increase ATM of 2750kg for a payload of 624kg, which is right up with modern expectations.
We towed the Genesis with a two-wheel drive Isuzu DMax, which was well-matched with ample power. The van pulled smoothly with no sway or vices and was well balanced at its tare weight. AL-KO ESC is an option I would choose for times when road or weather conditions sneak up on you.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you listed all the elements of caravan design and construction that make up a well-engineered and modern caravan, I think you would find a good match with the Windsor we see here. We talk a lot about keeping weight out of vans, and there's no argument with this 19ft 6in van coming in at a bit over 2T. Most would expect a well-engineered chassis as part of a must-have list, and the single-piece hot-dipped galvanised version fits the bill. But most importantly, the sandwich panel sections combining into a super-strong, unified solid body is hard to beat.
Apollo offers a five-year warranty on the structural components and three years on the internal fitout. There's also three-year roadside assistance.
The 196MD starts at $76,000. That's good value considering the technology and quality of construction. In addition, Apollo's years of experience in the rental market should reassure buyers that the van is built to last.
HITS AND MISSES
- Composite body construction
- Sensible size and weight for easy towing
- Well priced for the build quality
- Hard to find any
Windsor Genesis 196MD Ratings
Value for Money
Well priced considering quality build and size
It balances well and towed with no vices
Suitability for Intended Touring
A family van for made roads and some dirt road travel
The composite construction , CNC joinery and heavy duty chassis are made to last.
Some compromises on space for a family
Limited solar and battery power for a few days off grid
Five years on construction, three years in internals and a roadside assistance is better than most
Sandwich panels, one piece chassis and smart electronics are winners
Conservative but modern design
Windsor Genesis 196MD Specs
Weights and Measures
|Body length||5.88m (19ft 4in)|
|Overall length||7.3m (24ft)|
|Width||2.5m (8ft 2in)|
|Height||2.97m (9ft 9in)|
|Ball to TARE ratio||10%|
|Frame||Composite sandwich panel|
|Chassis||150x50mm Hot dip galvanised|
|Suspension||AL-KO rubber torsion|
|Wheels||15” alloy Primal 135x75 AT|
|Water||2 x 82L|
|Battery||1x120ah deep cycle|
|Air-conditioner||Ibis reverse cycle|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Hot water||20L gas/ 240v electric|
Windsor Genesis 196MD price from $76,000
Windsor Genesis 196MD price as shown $76,000
Supplied by Windsor RV
THE NEXT STEP
The sellers will be happy to help and answer any inquiries you may have about the products advertised for sale.