BUYERS GUIDE - MOTORHOMES
The Austral slide-on pod range is made in China, but the electrical and plumbing work is done at Austral’s facility in Queensland, ensuring Australian compliance. We caught up with the 4.2-metre truck-mount model at the 2021 Camping and Caravan Show in Sydney.
Truck-based motorhomes are usually Big Money, but the Austral slide-on alternative costs less – fully-fitted pod $65,000 – and means that the truck tray can be used to carry freight when the camper is at home, resting on its electric legs.
The base can be any truck with sufficient tray length, payload capacity and provision of secure mounting points. The Austral 4.2-metre pod has a claimed dry tare weight of 1720kg and was mounted comfortably on a Fuso Canter 4×4 tray-bodied truck when we checked it out.
The display truck was fitted with AAV4x4 wide-single 17×9 wheels and Gladiator tyres.
The real-world payload capacity of a cab/chassis would need to be around three tonnes, to cover the weight of the pod, plus a tray body, two people, full fuel tank, full water tanks, camping gear, recovery gear, spare wheels and tyre, and other necessary kit.
The Austral 4.2-metre Pod
The Austral Pod has fibreglass panelling over an aluminium frame and the floor is insulated sandwich with PVC covering. There are six opening windows and three roof hatches, plus a fly-screen door.
Up front is a Thetford cassette toilet compartment, vanity sink , 3kg washing machine and separate shower.
The kitchen houses a Thetford 152-litre fridge/freezer and four-burner cooktop, lidded sink, range hood, smoke and CO2 detector, microwave and swivelling TV. An MP3 player connects to two internal speakers and two waterproof external speakers.
At the rear is a is a U-shaped, six-seater lounge, with adjustable-height central table and above that is a queen-sized bed that raises and lowers electrically.
Internal lighting is hidden-LED and there’s an LED skylight as well.
On the roof is a Dometic 240V air conditioner.
The electrical system includes four 240V internal sockets and external 12V cigarette outlet and USB, plus a 240V outlet. Mains power (15-amp) and water connections are provided.
Two 100W solar panels are standard, along with a 150A/h deep cycle battery.
There are 150-litre and 50-litre water tanks, plus a 14-litre gas/electric Truma water heater. A single 9kg bottle bracket is provided.
Outside are external shower, bicycle brackets, a powered awning, reversing and number-plate lights, plus 12V seven-pin-flat and Anderson plugs.
Not bad for 65 grand!
The Austral pod range is about expand considerably, with models for utes and for the Iveco Trekker medium 4×4 truck. Other models in the wings have slide-out modules for increased interior space.