Rhino Meerkat

Little big van

Most van manufacturers tend to grow their van models – perhaps starting with a 16 or 17-footer and eventually expanding into a big 22 or 24 with hot and cold running luxuries. Few however aim for a mini-van that’s shorter than the tow car, but that’s what the Rhino crew have done with their beaut little Meerkat. Rhino vans are a custom builder, so it’s not as if they are producing a line of these midget meerkats.

Small full vans have been around a while. The little teardrop vans that gained some fame a few years back are a case in point. But where these baby bubbles were seriously limited to tar roads, small people and light tow vehicles, the little Meerkat is every inch a tough little off road rig.

What is surprising though, is the room inside one of these pocket battleships. The Rhino boys have managed to fit all the standard features of a much larger caravan and still leave room to swing a meerkat.

Externally, Rhino’s Meerkat is as tough as their larger models. They feature a galvanised A frame in a normal caravan configuration, rather than the usual Rhino arched style. Beneath this is a beam axle and spring suspension package. This is simple and effective. On a tiddler of a van like this you don’t need fancy suspension.

The hitch is a Digga with override brakes, forward of a spare wheel and a storage box. The box is segmented, with a 9kg gas bottle stored in the driver’s side section, and the remainder purely for storage.

The van is built using Rhino’s composite panels, with chequerplate edging at all corners and joins, which makes for a pretty robust little rig.

On the kerb side is a Fiamma awning covering a forward hatch. Within this is a slide out barbecue console with sink fitted with a hot and cold flick mixer tap. Essentially this is a neat outdoor kitchen, with a fold down table alongside, and stereo speakers if you need to wake up the local wallabies.

On the driver’s side is another capacious storage locker, along with a hot and cold external shower.

The Rhino Meerkat has a rear door configuration (naturally, given its size) with the bed up forward, kitchen on driver’s side and dinette on kerb side.

As you step inside, the dinette is on the left, with an L-shaped lounge and Lagun swing table. The longish window behind the dining area lets the air flow, and there is storage beneath the end bench, as well as in overhead lockers above. An electric fan attached to the opposite bulkhead can be swivelled to keep the dining area cool.

Opposite the dinette, the kitchen features a three burner gas cooktop and sink combination in a nicely finished benchtop. Beneath the benchtop is a handy combination of cupboards and drawers, along with a Dometic fridge.

A wide window behind the cooking area lets the neighbours know what you are cooking for breakfast (The scent of bacon and eggs cooking travels for miles)! Above the cooking area is a set of lockers, complete with rangehood, light and stereo controls. Adjacent to the entry, above the fridge and benchtop, is a microwave and an electrical control console.

At the forward end of the Meerkat is a double bed positioned east west, with storage access beneath and an open locker at the foot of the bed. A TV is fitted above the bed’s foot, with a fan mounted above the bedhead. Above the bed, and indeed throughout the Meerkat, are plenty of LED down lights, and a fresh air hatch is mounted above the sleeping area.

Independent camping ability is pretty good in the Meerkat. Up top a 120-watt solar panel is fitted, with a charger and on board 120 a/h deep cycle battery to keep the sparks flying. Nine kilos of gas is plenty for a long stay, and a 65-litre water tank is fitted. Additional water and gas could be carried in the tow car if longer bush camps are required.

The little Rhino Meerkat is not for everyone, simply because it is a little van. However when you add it up, the Meerkat has everything a large van carries – double bed, internal kitchen, external kitchen, TV, solar, shower, hot and cold water. It only lacks a large internal living space, and since we tend to spend most of our time on the road outside, this little rig ticks a lot of boxes.

I reckon one of those wing awnings that cover the side and around the rear would make this Meerkat a more practical rig. And for those with small tow cars it has a tare of just over 1000kg. My mum’s Morris could tow it around.

The Rhino Meerkat could serve as a backup for the good doctor’s phone box. It makes a pretty useful Tardis.


Manufacturer: Rhino Caravans

Model: Meerkat

Length: 3m

Width: 2.1m

Tare: 1080kg

Price: $34,900

Find Out More

Rhino Caravans

Martin Gray

Unit 9/36 Centenary Place

Logan Village Qld 4207

Tel: Martin 0412 746 200



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