REVIEW: SLR COMMANDER MOTORHOME
Meet the 13t MAN 4x4 truck from SLR motorhomes, converted into a true off-road RV with self-sufficiency and plenty of toys.
SLR purchased a MAN TGM 13.290 cab chassis 4X4 truck to serve as the base vehicle for its custom 6.2m (20ft 4in) setup.
The mighty MAN is one of the most advanced trucks on the market. This example features a 6.9L six-cylinder twin-turbodiesel engine, good for 213kW and a very useful 1150Nm of torque. With a 12-speed automated transmission, parabolic suspension springs, electric airbag suspension and front and rear diff locks, it has all the electronic and mechanical technology on hand to help traverse the most arduous terrain.
SLR has customised the suspension in-house to optimise it for offroad use while maintaining cabin comfort and minimising stress on the motorhome body.
On our test run along sodden and greasy offroad tracks on the outskirts of Brisbane, the cabin comfort was superb even over the toughest climbs and through the deepest ruts. The motorhome body remained impressively upright and controlled, while the truck’s chassis combined with air-suspension seating absorbed every imperfection – and there were big ones – with laughable ease. The only let-down came courtesy of the tyres, which were more of an on-road offering than offroad, so the heavy motorhome struggled with the greasy and muddy steeper inclines. Thankfully, offroad tyres were due to be fitted shortly.
SLR built a monocoque DuraGal steel frame for the MAN truck and covered it with SLR’s own composite fibreglass panels with 25mm insulation throughout. All this work was done at the Gold Coast factory, with SLR only buying in the likes of windows, appliances and German-built cabinetry to fit as specified.
The attractive green body has protective checkerplating around its lower quarters, with the rear end well-angled for those trickier and deeper river bed crossings. It features seven external hatches and a cargo slide, while a recessed rear leaves space for a spare wheel and outboard motor. An external ladder provides access to the roof where there are racks for extra storage, plus a substantial six 135W Kyocera solar panel set-up to aid the self-sufficiency.
An aggressive front bullbar with a hydraulic winch protects the front end, while there is a host of spotlights at the front and rear, with extra lighting above the awning.
Along with the solar, the electrical system comprises a 400Ah lithium battery with a 60Ah regulator, 125Ah charger and 2600W inverter. A well strapped in generator occupies one of the cargo areas, there’s a brace of 9kg gas cylinders, a total of 600L of water storage on board and a 600L fuel capacity.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT
The SLR Commander’s inside is not dripping in the padded luxury that can be found in other substantially-priced motorhomes, but there is an emphasis on quality and robustness here.
The owner requested a split-level interior, which doesn’t leave a great deal of headroom above the bed, but it does free up excellent storage space below. The main living space gives an excellent 2.2m of headroom, so it feels very open and roomy.
The dinette area is small, but ideal for two, while the finish of the work surfaces and cupboards is first class, as you’d expect. A combined shower/toilet leads off the kitchen.
It feels strongly built and well-laid out inside, with storage high on the list of importance.
It’s certainly a motorhome that dreams are made of and, at 13t GVM, and ready for just about any eventuality, the SLR Commander succeeds as a true go-anywhere expedition vehicle.
Self-sufficiency and go-anywhere ability were the key factors for the Commander, and SLR has covered every angle. Yes, it is far out of the price range of many, and isn’t one for those who prefer the social nature of caravan parks. It is, however, ideal for those who want the thrill of the adventure and demand confidence in the equipment needed to make it through these parts.
- Impressive size, power and strength of this huge truck
- Trick suspension that makes for comfortable travel over very tough 4x4 terrain
- Layout and finish of the interior without being overtly luxurious
- Huge storage areas for carrying essentials for self-sufficiency
I WOULD HAVE LIKED...
- A microwave
- A larger kitchen sink
- Offroad tyres
Adapted from Caravan World #518, October 2013