Best Aussie Vans Finalist 2014 Jurgens Narooma Test Review
It’s not often that we’re invited to take out our frustrations on equipment worth almost $65,000. But we’re not ones to back away from a challenge, either.
The Narooma J2607 is a considerable van, and not just because you can beat the living daylights out of it with your fists if the urge strikes.
Nudging 27ft from tip to tail, containing most of the mods-cons, it tipped the scales at 2196kg Tare. Now, I’ve towed and lived in some noticeably shorter pop-tops that weighed close to that. This says something about Jurgens’ manufacturing philosophy.
The company, based in Pakenham, Vic, has always cut the cloth differently to many of the other players. The result is aesthetically distinctive caravans that reflect the brand’s manufacturing philosophy that strength and excessive weight don’t necessarily go hand in hand. You can, in fact, have one without the other.
Jurgens builds 800-plus vans a year, having experienced growth every year since opening its doors. Its current premises is four times the size of its previous factory and, in a sign that the company is determined to become a major player, it has bought two acres of land next door on which to expand its operation.
Chassis and Suspension
Known as ‘Duratherm’, the Narooma’s walls are a composite panel comprised of a 0.5mm-thick, textured aluminium outer skin and 2.7mm internal ply sandwiching a structural timber and polystyrene matrix that gives the walls their overall strength and insulation properties, not to mention their weight savings. Rather than being secured on top of the floor, the walls sit in an aluminium extrusion to the side, forming a seal against water, dust and dirt.
The roof, meanwhile, is a one-piece aluminium affair, claimed to be strong enough to walk on. Now, I was happy to pound the caravan with my fist, but not having a ladder handy, I had to give that a miss.
Jurgens’ tendency to do things differently – to not follow the herd – extends to the hot-dipped galvanised chassis. Each chassis member is bolted, rather than simply welded, together, with cross members sitting on top of the main members and spaced 330mm apart (centre to centre) in the time-honoured bearer-and-joist arrangement.
The wheels are fitted to Al-Ko’s zinc-plated rubber torsion, independent suspension system, while two tanks, one forward of the axles and the other in between, can carry a combined 160L of fresh water.
Stepping inside the Narooma J2607, the only family van in the line-up, there are no obviously cut corners or missing equipment. It’s a tidy, modern presentation with a number of pleasing design flourishes. Up front is a queen-size bed (1.9x1.5m) with a lot of cargo space underneath. There are deep bedside wardrobes, too, but because of the location of the slide-out barbecue, no nearside cupboard has been fitted.
The offside does, however, have a bedside cupboard, and I liked the strategic positioning of the Truma hot water service switch – if, like me, you prefer to switch off the appliance overnight, you can flick it on and stay in bed while the
The Bottom Line
The Narooma’s principal appeal lies in the fact that it is almost 27ft of van that can be towed by the likes of a turbodiesel Ford Territory (if it’s wearing the heavy-duty tow pack) when laden. This is not to downplay the attention to detail throughout, which is generally very good.
And then there’s the punch factor. While the impact of a fist against cladding is considerably less than, say, the trunk of a tree, it’s reassuring to know it will at least stand up to the minor bumps that occur to even the most experienced vanners’ rigs. As for hail storms, it’ll be right.
- The undeniable strength and durability of the cladding
- Long but light and strong
- Elegance of the interior
I would have liked...
- More accessible position for gas bayonet coupling
- Stoneguard for A-frame tap
The full test will appear in Caravan World #533, January 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!