BUYERS GUIDE - MOTORHOMES
All Terrain Warrriors is a Queensland-based motorhome builder, specialising in 4WD light truck cab/chassis conversions. Global Warrior models incorporate years of design and evaluation under Australian off-road conditions.
We checked out the latest ATW product at the 2013 AIMEX exhibition in Sydney and were very impressed with the interior design and excellent fit and finish of
the display vehicle.
The show vehicle was a short cab Isuzu NPS 4×4, fitted with ATW’s optional single-wheel conversion.
Since then, we spent some time with a long-wheelbase Fuso Canter crew-cab-based Global Warrior.
The Global Warrior’s rear end has a distinctive cutaway shape that ensures maximum departure angle and serves as the location for twin spare wheels. These bolt to a cradle that lowers using the 7500kg rear recovery winch, meaning there’s no need to lift the spare wheels.
Entry is via a manually-folding stairway into a wet-area vestibule that doubles as the shower recess. The toilet/handbasin module is behind a door in the vestibule. This design means the entry area can be flushed clear of mud and dirt, using the shower rose. Clever.
Forward of the entry door is a four-seat dinette that converts to a double bed and there’s an optional folding kids’ double bed that slots above the dinette.
The main bed is an aft-set queen bed, with 700 litres of storage space underneath.
Between the dinette and the aft bed is a kitchen module incorporating an Orico metho stove – Webasto diesel cooktop optional – a sink and a 140-litre, two-drawer Vitrofrigo marine-grade fridge/freezer.
Full headroom is assured by a pop-top roof, elevated by a four-ram, auto-level electric system. The ‘infill’ section is heavy-duty vinyl, with meshwindows and zip-up covers and curtains.
Rebuilt running gear
ATW prefers to build on Isuzu and Fuso light-truck platforms, because of their legendary reliability, durability and nationwide after-sales support. However, these vehicles are not available ex-factory with single wheels and tyres front and rear.
As those of us who’ve driven these vehicles off-road know only too well, they bog down easily on their skinny front tyres on soft ground, while the rear duals are prone to damage from rocks trapped between the tyre sidewalls.
Several companies do wide-single wheel and tyre conversions for Isuzu and Fuso light trucks, but ATW guarantees that its wheels and tyres are ADR-approved and the conversion meets ADR 35 truck-braking standards.
The basis for the conversion is an 8.25 x 19.5-inch tubeless rim, with a heavy-duty nave that’s drilled for wheel nut attachment on both its faces. The offset has been dimensioned so that the one wheel shape can fit front and rear axles, providing the same track dimension front and rear.
The wheels are fitted positive offset at the front and negative offset at the rear. For that reason each rim is fitted with valves on both sides of the nave, allowing easy access to the valves no matter which way the wheel is mounted on a hub.
Tyres are steel-ply-carcase, 285/70R19.5 Toyo truck tyres, rated at up to 2900kg each.
The tyres stand 50mm taller than the stock ones, so ground clearance is enhanced and gearing reduction is reduced by around eight percent, potentially improving fuel economy. Off road gearing has less reduction, but both truck models already have super-low first gear ratios, so that’s not much compromise.
Incidentally, a speedo re-calibration is part of the wide-wheel kit.
If you’ve driven a Canter or an NPS you’ll know how hard-riding the standard vehicle can be. ATW retains the existing spring hangers, but replaces the conventional, tight-packed leaf springs with parabolic, low-friction leaf springs. The standard shock absorbers are replaced by larger-volume, aftermarket
ones and progressive Aeon rubber springs replace the standard bump stops. As a result, ride quality is markedly improved.
On and off road
Standard Canters ride poorly, especially when lightly loaded, but the ATW tyre and suspension conversion makes a huge difference. The ATW Global Warrior still doesn’t ride like a Range Rover, but it’s a lot better than the stock truck.
Ride quality on gravel roads was quite good, with none of the harshness over deep ruts and potholes that the standard truck exhibits. Also, the improved damping and progressive bump stops restricted the stock vehicle’s savage rebound action.
We’d be happy to do a lengthy gravel road and off-road trip in the ATW machine.
Off-road ability was restricted by the long wheelbase vehicle’s sheer size, but the break-over angle was better than we expected and the Global Warrior cleared a sharpish river bank without doing more than chipping a divot from the grass with its centre bearing cross member.
However, we’d pick a short wheelbase model if we planned to do much rock-hopping.
Although the replacement tyres reduce the overall deep reduction gear ratio, the difference is slight and is more than rectified by the better traction that the wide single wheels and tyres provide.
Our evaluation time was short, but check out our test video: