Sydney RV, based in western Sydney, is undoubtedly a dealer of some note if the range of caravans on offer is any guide. At the dealer’s Penrith premises, there’s a wide range of caravan brands available but some, like Essential Caravans, stand out more than others.
Like many caravan manufacturers, Essential is based in Melbourne, and produces a range of caravans for touring, semi-offroad, offroad and family travel. Since I was looking for a family caravan, I opted for a C Class Signature Family 2-6. By way of explanation, the Essential’s C Class is already a well-appointed van, but the Signature moniker adds a few more goodies, like the grey water tank.
The C Class Family 2-6 has an external length of 6.8m (22ft 4in) and that’s certainly a generous length for a bunk van, giving a layout designer plenty of scope. The overall layout reflects current family caravan trends: a forward door entry, a front island bed, a nearside lounge, an offside kitchen, and a rear area with double bunks on one side and a bathroom on the other.
When stepping aboard, you can immediately appreciate the elegant interior design. The LED strip lighting fitted above and below the cabinetry adds a touch of class, and the footrest on the lounge is a noteworthy inclusion.
A WELL-SIZED KITCHEN
Cooking for a family does require a bit of working space for general meal preparation/vegetable cutting and the C Class kitchen delivers very well. There are the expected stainless-steel sink/drainer and a four-burner hob/grill/oven, but there’s benchtop space to spare as well, and the cooktop has a flush lid when not used.
I liked the generous-sized drawers. All had metal sides and opened, closed and latched very smoothly. Instead of a separate cutlery drawer, there’s a slide-out within the top drawer for all the eating and cooking utensils. Above the kitchen bench, the three overhead lockers supply the necessary upper storage. Alongside the kitchen bench, the Dometic 173-litre three-way fridge butts up against the rear bedroom wall. Above the fridge, the NCE microwave is a stretch to get at, so it could be dangerous with a mix of hot food and children.
DINE IN STYLE
The L-shaped lounge works with this layout and certainly has a stylish look about it with the contoured seat cushions and the matching magazine pouch. Surprisingly, the table is just a single pole mounting and can only be rotated but not moved around. Underneath the seat are both 240V and device charger outlets. Of note are the classy-looking reading lights, complete with night illumination and the labelled wall light switches. That saves the time-honoured technique of switching everything on and off until you find desired light.
At the door end of the overhead lockers is a collective mounting point for the BMPRO touchpad control, the radio/CD player and one of the two Sirocco fans. Those being a Signature addition, the other fan is located on the opposite side of the van.
Between the lounge and the bathroom is a full-height cupboard of generous proportions. It’s multi-shelved, so it can be either a linen and towel cupboard, a pantry, or both.
In the van’s rear, the double bunk is situated along the offside wall, and is notable for several features.
One is the double drawers under each bed, which is a great idea for family living. No arguments about which storage space belongs to whom. In addition, the cupboard between the bathroom and bunks has drawers below and compartmented shelves above, resulting in a very generous amount of storage.
Both the bunks measure 1.83m x 0.66m (6ft x 2ft 2in), have a decent-sized window and come with the requisite reading light, power point and device charger point. The adjacent magazine pouch is undoubtedly handy for stashing devices when not in use. Somewhat better than the usual plywood cut-outs, the aluminium ladder’s height makes it a bit awkward to use.
Up front, there are large windows on both sides of the bed, so there are no problems with air circulation and cooling breezes. Around the 1.88m x 1.53m (6ft 2in x 5ft) bed, the cabinetry looks elegant. It’s interesting the effect that the semi-concealed strip lighting has on enhancing the overall look.
For those who like somewhere to stash night-time essentials, the choice is the pillow cubby or the shelf area above the bed that has a backing mirror. Just like the rear area, there’s a good amount of cupboard and drawer area and built into the bedside shelf on both sides is a wireless charger.
Undoubtedly, bathrooms across the rear of a caravan offer the most area. Sideways bathrooms like this one are squeezed slightly to fit in and while things look a bit tight, there’s still enough room for the shower cubicle, Dometic cassette toilet and the small vanity. It’s not immediately obvious, but there are a couple of extra cupboards built into the bathroom wall. The bathroom area certainly isn’t ballroom-sized, but there’s enough space to turn around. Like the rest of the van, the subtle lighting is quite effective.
AROUND THE OUTSIDE
Grey isn’t the first shade that comes to mind when considering stand-out colours but on the C Class, it gives the van a rather dashing look – aided somewhat by the eye-catching decals. Coincidentally, the grey colour matched my tow vehicle, and the pair looked quite good together. Even though this isn’t an offroad van, it still received the black alloy checkerplate treatment.
Built on a SupaGal chassis with 150mm (6in) rails and drawbar, the C Class has a meranti timber frame and aluminium composite cladding, giving the van a very smooth look. The stainless-steel grab handles and the subtle fibreglass moulding on the lower rear wall add to the van’s look.
Under the cladding is styrofoam insulation for the walls and gold batt fibreglass for the roof. Just like the interior, there’s plenty of external storage. In addition to the front tunnel boot, there are two smaller bins, one mid nearside and the other at the rear offside. Other external features include the two 9kg gas cylinders on the drawbar and the spar wheel mounted on the rear bumper bar.
The tandem axles are fitted with load share leaf and beam suspension and 15in alloy wheels. A Signature feature is the uprated All Terrain tyres.
For those who want to get away from it all, the C Class Family 2-6 is quite well equipped for short periods. Having a shower onboard, there are two 95-litre freshwater tanks and a single 95-litre grey water tank. The single 100Ah AGM battery can be charged by both the 195W solar panel and the BMPRO HA battery management system. Anyone contemplating extended periods off the grid may consider extra battery and solar panel capacity.
The C Class Family 2-6 isn’t a totally heavyweight van with an AGM of 3040kg and a tare mass of 2540kg. It was capably towed by the Isuzu MU-X I was using and on our travels across the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. The van was very well-behaved behind my MU-X throughout the tow test. Although a dual cab ute should be suitable for this van, if a family of four is planning on travelling for an extended period, it might pay to do a few load calculations for both the caravan and the tow vehicle.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The C Class Family 2-6 is a great-looking van inside and out. It’s packed with features and will give any caravanning family some great recreational travel. It is done stylishly, and naturally.
HITS AND MISSES
- Good looking van
- Internal storage
- Bunk beds with underneath drawers
- Overall lighting
- Extra seat needed for dining
- Fixed mount table
- Height of bunk bed ladder
- Pricey for some families
Essential C Class Signature F2-6 Ratings
VALUE FOR MONEY
It’s certainly not a budget price but the van certainly offers plenty of great features
Tows quite well and for most people a dual cab ute will suit
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Family caravanning where budget isn’t the first consideration
The fit and finish looks to be quite good with an eye for detail
Room for a family of four
With the 100Ah battery, 195W solar panel and water tank capacity, it’s good for a night or two in the bush
Essential offer a five-year warranty on all its vans with the usual proviso on OEM components
Not exactly innovative but the internal storage has been well thought out
Interior look – very attractive
Essential C Class Signature F2-6 Specs
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||6.8m (22ft 4in)|
|Overall length||8.59m (28ft 2in)|
|Height||2.9m (9ft 6in)|
|Chassis||SupaGal 150mm (6in) rails and drawbar|
|Suspension||Load share leaf and beam|
|Brakes||10in ALKO electric|
|Water||2 x 95L freshwater, 1 x 95L grey water|
|Battery||1 x 100Ah AGM|
|Solar||1 x 195W|
|Air-conditioner||Dometic Ibis 4|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Sway control||BMPRO Sway Control|
|Cooking||Thetford four-burner hob, grill and oven|
|Fridge||Dometic RMD 10.5XS 173L three-way|
|Bathroom||Dometic cassette toilet, separate shower cubicle|
|Hot water||Swift 28L gas/240V|
- Grey water tank
- BMPRO sway control
- Upgraded All Terrain tyres
- 2 x Sirocco fans
Essential C Class Signature F2-6 price as shown $88,790.00
THE NEXT STEP
The sellers will be happy to help and answer any inquiries you may have about the products advertised for sale.