Down to Earth
Aura Caravans has hit the market with a bang and the launch of their Earth Series range. Anthony Kilner and the long term D-Max joined forces to take the Earth Series for a spin and came away impressed.
Australia is known around the world as a big red land. It’s a comfortable place to live and the people who live here have adapted to quite a diverse environment. After spending some time in the all new Aura Earth Series off-roader I decided some comparisons could be drawn.
Like the reference to Oz this van is big and red. The van is more than capable of traversing the variety of terrain Australia has to offer and it’s very comfortable to boot. That works for me.
Aura Caravans opened its doors to the world of caravan manufacturing officially in September 2015. The small team is keen to make an impact in the caravan market and judging by the two vans I’ve seen so far they are certainly on the path to doing so.
When we picked up the Aura we were greeted by one of the Directors, Ishan Bindu and Steve Golding, Sales Manager, who were running around getting the last minute jobs finished ready for us to hook up. It was bucketing rain and the wind was howling across the paddocks and factories of Campbellfield, making for a crappy day to be doing a photo shoot however the boys were upbeat and excited.
They walked me around and through the van and explained how it was built. The main strength comes from a hot dipped gal Preston Chassis. Bolted to this chassis is a 3.5 tonne rated independent suspension system with coils and shockers to handle our varied road and track conditions. Braking is handled via 12-inch electric units while sexy 16-inch red and black rims and tyres are fitted for a tough look. AL-KO stability control is a standard feature while up front a DO35 off-road coupling keeps the vehicle and van well and truly hitched.
Other gear underneath includes twin 80 litre water tanks and a 90 litre grey water tank. The tanks are shielded and full chequer plate protection underneath is standard however it hadn’t been fitted on our review van as it was so new. There are the usual drop down legs, jockey wheel plus a mesh floor in the A-frame adding to the package.
While on the A-frame, there is a custom generator cum storage box which sits proudly up front and includes a Jerry Can holder. Twin 9kg gas bottles are also fitted and in a first for me there were two taps mounted on the A-frame. When I asked about that, the answer was simply hot and cold water. Wow, hot and cold on the A-frame is a cool thing indeed.
The body is built around a meranti timber frame with 300mm centres for toughness. The composite walls, one-piece floor and one-piece fibreglass roof are all bolted, glued and screwed to the chassis for strength on and off-road. In fact all the furniture is attached the same way. These guys are serious about their build quality and about manufacturing a van to last. Black chequer plate is used extensively around the van to really accent the big red look.
Other exterior features include a full width boot complete with electricals, an external shower, rear bumper with spare , slide out BBQ complete with Weber Q and a picnic table drops down to reveal a map of Australia which will create a great talking point in camp. There is also an entertainment cabinet and large awning, while a ladder on the back allows access to the roof. The ladder has a maximum load limit of 80kgs. Double glazed windows, reversing camera and a pressure hatch plus twin 150 watt solar panels are just more standard features on offer.
Overall I really like the exterior package of the Earth Series. It looks tough enough to get out and about and is very practical.
If I thought the exterior was flash then stepping up into the Aura was equally as good. The door is mounted toward the front and there is a ‘wow’ factor when you walk inside. The ensuite runs across the front of the van and features a good sized shower, Thetford toilet, ceramic basin, washing machine and a great series of storage cupboards for keeping clean and neat.
On the passenger side of the van is a club style lounge trimmed in RV Travel Support upholstery which really looks neat. Opposite the lounge is the kitchen with a huge array of cupboards, cooktop and grill complete with rangehood, microwave and deep sink with flick mixer and separate water filter outlet. A large fridge is close to the ensuite at the back of the van which makes it readily accessible from the dinette for grabbing a cold bevy.
There are overhead cupboards throughout the van with all spare space utilised well for storage. There’s plenty of LED lighting around the van plus air con makes life pleasant while travelling in hot weather. The windows are great and allow plenty of light and ventilation through the van.
The bedroom at the back of the van is dominated by a queen sized bed, island style off the back wall. This space is pretty jazzy with upholstery on the bed head between the wardrobes either side of the bed. It’s a neat look. Again all space has been utilised for shelves and cupboards which just adds to the smart look of the room and the van overall.
I found the interior well designed and jam packed full of gear to make touring comfortable and practical. It’s an interior I could see myself lounging around in and enjoying.
The Isuzu turbo diesel hauled this big red rig quite well. While it was pushing the load limits the Aura van sat really well on the back. We towed it through some water and mud, over some slippery grassy ground and on main roads and secondary roads and the van just sat on the back and behaved itself really well.
I had wondered whether the D-Max might have problems handling this van, creating a package that could be unsafe, however just minutes into the drive that thought was blown away when I had to do some interesting manoeuvring around traffic on the Old Hume out of Campbellfield. Aside from the back end of the D-Max dropping a bit it did it very well.
I really liked the fit and finish of the Earth Series van. Yes it’s “out there” colour-wise however I don’t actually mind that either. Being different is a good way to stand out in the crowd. For under 90Gs this van has everything needed for comfortable touring and on the initial Walk Through it looks as though it will go the distance and do it well.
Just on that, the Aura team is so confident their product will stand up to the rigours of touring Australia, they are offering a 3-year all-inclusive warranty which is a huge selling point for owners to know they will be covered if something goes wrong.
I really liked the interior design and look and I reckon the Earth Series could well become a force in the caravan world and a worthy contender at that.
Manufacturer: Aura Caravans
Model: Earth Series
Travel length: 8.7m (28ft 5in)
Travel width: 2.49m (8ft 2in)
Tare weight: 2780kg
Ball weight: 240kg
Price: $89,990 driveaway
Find Out More
4 Failla Ave Campbellfield Vic 3061
0437 777 305 or 03 9357 5437