TESTED: COROMAL MAGNUM M526 XC
A capable pop-top for tackling rough roads
Coromal’s new range of Magnum pop-tops is available in a variety of layouts, and include both on-road and offroad versions. Our review van, an M526 XC (XC is its ‘offroad’ designation), was borrowed from City Caravan Centre in Brisbane. "It’s something new for this year," the dealership’s Mark Glencross says. "We’ve added a few touches of our own, like an external gas bayonet fitting and this particular layout is a family van which is bound to create a bit of interest."
I wondered about the differences between the XC model and the on-road Magnum, and Mark was quick to point them out.
"It’s not just a standard van with raised suspension: the offroad model comes with 150x50mm chassis rails and drawbar, a Treg coupling, an independent suspension upgrade with 50mm axle and parallel bearings, Al-Ko offroad electric brakes, water tank protection, 16in alloy wheels and extra furniture fixing. The awning, although not really an offroad feature, is offered as standard."
The extra furniture fixing might sound like a minor addition when compared to the rest of the list, but it is something that I consider to be quite important in a van built for rough-road work.
Like the rest of the vans in the Coromal range, the Magnum comes with an aluminium frame, as well as aluminium cladding, a Camec triple-locker door and glass hopper windows. A low skirt of alloy checkerplate is an XC feature.
Being a smaller van, it doesn’t have any external storage apart from the front boot. The boot is, however, very spacious, even taking into account the fact it stores a 9kg gas cylinder. The spare wheel is mounted on the bumper bar at the rear.
With its ATM of 1730kg and Tare of 1360kg, the Magnum is an easy tow for a wide variety of vehicles. The chamfered rear end of the van and independent suspension copes with undulating track conditions without too many problems, and while Treg hitches are a favourite with the camper trailer set, they can cause marital stress when it’s time to hitch up time– manoeuvring a caravan (rather than a lighter camper trailer) to line up the holes can be difficult! Unless serious rough-road travel is planned, a Hyland hitch might be the more ‘harmonious’ way to go.
With an external body length of 5.2m (17ft), the internal layout is, as you’d expect, quite simple but it’s still surprising what has been fitted. It’s also quite surprising the amount of space, both perceived and real, that is offered when the pop-top roof is raised for an internal height of 1.98m (6ft 6in).
In short, the layout consists of a double bed in the rear, kitchen bench and dinette in the middle and a lounge across the front that can be converted into bunk beds. An additional bed can be made up using the dinette seat.
The kitchen bench setup is straightforward: a Smev four-burner (three gas, one electric) cooktop is fitted alongside a stainless steel sink and drainer. Benchtop area is limited, as might be expected, as is general storage with one wire-basket drawer, one floor locker, one cupboard and one overhead locker.
The microwave is in a cabinet on the opposite side of the van, along with the outlet for the Heron 2.2 air-conditioner and a floor locker. The air-conditioner sits above the Dometic 90L fridge. Mounted on the wall between the air-con and microwave are a double powerpoint, TV antenna connection and 12V socket. The entire arrangement means that any TV, unless it is very small, will have to be located on the small shelf above the air-conditioner (but only freestanding and only when the roof is raised), or on a swivel arm on the side of the cabinet– this is our preferred option as it seems a more permanent solution. An AM/FM radio/CD player is fitted beside the air-conditioner.
In a relatively small space, a certain amount of design ingenuity is required, and the front lounge/dinette area is an interesting case in point. In order to fit a dining area, as well as beds, an L-shaped dinette has been butted up against the front lounge, which can be used as a bed. Above the lounge, a tri-fold bed base lowers to form a top bunk.
If an additional bed is needed, the dinette table can be folded down. This arrangement takes a little bit of setting up, but it will accommodate two children quite comfortably. A small wardrobe is tucked into the corner beside the entry door.
Taking up the rest of the rear space is the 1.79x1.37m (5ft 10in x 4ft 6in) foam mattress bed. For taller people, the bed comes with a 150mm extension. On the wall around the bed is the usual array of side wardrobes, floor lockers and overhead lockers, although the offside cupboard space is mostly occupied by the air-conditioner compressor. Naturally, the bed base lifts for access to the underbed storage area.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Magnum M526 XC is not a particularly large pop-top (and that can be an advantage when towing and storing), but it does open up a number of options for caravanning families who prefer solid walls (notwithstanding the pop-top section) over the canvas of a camper trailer, and minimal set-up time.
One of the biggest advantages of this Magnum’s layout is its adaptability– particularly in the sleeping department– without sacrificing on the essential needs for modern caravanning.
And then there’s the XC option: we believe the versatility of travel that it affords makes it very worthwhile.
Words Malcolm Street; pics Ellen Dewar. As featured in the April 2010 edition of Caravan World magazine, issue 476, out now.