Very few horse float manufacturers get involved in the caravan industry. A few manufacturers both here and in New Zealand build fifth wheelers and motorhomes for either humans or horses, but not so caravans.
That might be about to change. Otto Tuza is well known for his horse floats in Australia but in a little surprise not so long ago, his first caravan appeared on the market. CW first noticed them at the Brisbane show when a new brand of caravan, Sunrise, came over the horizon (yep, bad pun...).
It wasn’t only a new brand, but some of the design features appeared to be very different and not only the ones that were easily seen. One of the latter is the Aeroride independent suspension. I asked Otto for a simple explanation:
"Essentially the suspension design has a combining rubber torsion bar as a lead point, the coils as weight reducing points and the shock absorbers as an impact area," he said. "Combining these three points gives you a smooth and responsive ride, in both negative and positive pull in a similar way to load sharing suspension. One important aspect of the suspension is that there are no wearing parts, thus eliminating all points of pressure." Airbags can also be fitted if required.
Up the front, our review van has a simple ball coupling fitted between the 150mm (6in) rails but it’s been designed to easily accept a heavier duty offroad coupling. Two 9kg gas cylinders adorn the tops of the rails, along with a mains tap fitted to the nearside.
Under the 150mm (6in) double-rail chassis are the two water tanks (one fresh, one grey) and the battery box (with two 120Ah batteries) fitted to the offside rail. Just about everything else has been neatly strapped up well out of the way, including the under-floor water pump put there to reduce internal water leak possibilities.
The caravan structure is made out of meranti timber which is stapled and glued together, fully insulated with polystyrene and with an outer skin of aluminum cladding. Coremat fibreglass is an option.
There’s tunnel storage instead of a front boot. It isn’t quite a tunnel though, because a slide-out barbecue has been fitted to the nearside. There is also a quite large storage bin fitted to the rear nearside. Two other external doors hide the battery charger and 12V fuses (mid-offside) and entertainment unit (mid-nearside).
Inside, the layout of our review Sunrise looks quite familiar: front nearside entry door, front bedroom, nearside kitchen, offside dinette and full-width rear bathroom. What doesn’t look the same is the décor. Instead of the timber look, a white/light-grey scheme has been adopted with two-pack paint over a double-sided laminex construction that is used on all the cupboards and locker doors. It’s certainly a nice surprise at first sight. All the bench and table tops are post-form-rolled.
The Roman blinds used on the Seitz windows are a little different too, and complement the integrated window blinds quite nicely. I wondered about their practicality but they seemed to survive my hamfisted efforts.
Relatively speaking, the kitchen looks quite normal. It does have a very glossy laminated benchtop which is incorporated into a flush top for the Stoves four-burner cooktop above the grill and oven. Set at an angle in the corner, the stainless steel sink has both pumped and filtered water taps. The angle of the sink gives a bit more space underneath for the four drawers and cupboard.
The microwave is fitted in beside the overhead lockers. Its height may give shorter persons a problem but after discussion with Anita Andonovski (somewhat shorter than I am) at Sunrise Caravans, I’m told it’s certainly a moveable item.
In the forward side of the stove are four more drawers and a cupboard and there are the usual overhead lockers. Speaking of these, I ran my fingers around the inside edge of the lockers for my usual ‘sandpaper’ test (which often gives some clue about the general fit and finish) and could not believe the super-smooth finish on all cupboards and lockers– it would have been a joy to any craftsperson.
NEAT AND TIDY
In keeping with the generally different look, the dinette, upholstered in grey leather, is set up in club-lounge style with drawers under the ends of both seats. Both the 240V powerpoint and 12V sockets are accessible under the side (‘centre’) seat. LED lighting is not in short supply with three strip fittings under the overhead lockers and two reading lights.
Up front, the red cushions and throwover certainly bring a bit of colour to the 1.96x1.55m (6ft 5in x 5ft 1in) bed. The innerspring mattress sits on a posture-slatted bed base, which lifts up to reveal a split under-bed storage area. The offside area is just open space but the nearside is usefully fitted with a very long drawer. Nice and easy to use.
Apart from the large Fiamma exhaust fan and large side windows, the bedroom area is otherwise standard with a bedhead of side wardrobes, bedside cabinets and overhead lockers. It is interesting to note the effect that the non-timber look has on space perception generally.
The bathroom layout is tried and trusted. It comprises a nearside shower cubicle, offside Dometic cassette toilet, a front-loading washing machine in the rear offside corner and an array of cupboards and drawers around the vanity washbasin. It’s those that are the talking point because there are plenty of them, including a small wardrobe. Under the sink, the plumbing has been carefully situated out of sight and out of the way for cupboard use.
THE BOTTOM LINE
At first glance, especially from the outside, this Sunrise New Generation might look the same as quite a few other vans, but on stepping inside it becomes clear that it’s not. And when you take a further look at those harder to see areas, like the suspension system, you’ll see that some things are very different.
On the road, too, things are a little different. For a large van the Sunrise is a very smooth tower, even without a weight-distribution hitch fitted. Definitely a van worth a serious look! - words and pics Malcolm Street.
Van supplied by Sunrise Caravans, 252 Eastern Service Road, Burpengary, Qld 4505, (07) 3888 4455, www.sunrisecaravans.com.au