In an effort to get more people off-road and provide self-sufficient camping, Lotus manufactures the Trooper range of caravans for all-terrain touring and the range is impressive from front to back.
On my way from Melbourne to Geelong to catch up with the guys at Gateway Caravans, I had the ABBA song, Super Trouper, going through my head. I am a semi-ABBA fan which is scary to admit in writing although having said that they did produce some awesomely great songs. I knew some of the chorus lines of Super Trouper however not the full lyrics, so when I got back in front of the PC, I checked them out.
One of the chorus lines stood out. Super, Trouper, lights are gonna find me, shining like the sun, smiling having fun, feeling like a number one… I am sure Lotus weren’t thinking about ABBA when they designed the Trooper however I reckon new owners of a Trooper will feel like they are number one and they will certainly have plenty of fun in the sun with their off-roader!
Enough of ABBA, it’s time to have a closer look at our review 21ft Trooper because it’s impressive even without the ABBA tag. The mechanicals are the backbone of the Trooper and start with a 6-inch hot dip galvanised and engineered chassis complete with a 3.5 tonne Control Rider suspension system including coil springs and shocks. Braking is handled via 12-inch electric units and maintaining contact with the road is through 16-inch tyres with flashy looking alloy rims.
Underneath this off-road van are nudge bars all round, two 95-litre water tanks and a 62-litre water tank plus full armour plating protecting the floor and all the hoses and pipes that run underneath a van.
Up front on the chassis is a DO35 off road coupling, tap, twin 9kg gas bottles, an upgraded tool box with a generator slide which is an option and a vinyl stone guard to protect the front of the van.
At the rear is a 4-arm bumper which holds the spare tyre as well as two Jerry can holders and recovery points. Mechanically this van is very well equipped.
The body is based around a meranti timber frame and features aluminium and chequer plate finish with the bottom sides rolled underneath for greater durability. The list of body parts is a mile long with some of the main ones being an awning, LED lighting, optional reversing camera, picnic table, work lights front and back, external speakers, external shower, a full width tunnel boot and solar panels.
This van looks the goods on the outside, and classy is a great way to describe the look and feel of the inside.
The ensuite is on the right hand side of the door and features a Dometic swivel toilet and an NCE washing machine fitted neatly in the cabinetry. I didn’t like the fact that the access hatch to the washing machine could scratch or damage the glass splashback, perhaps a stopper of some description could remedy this. There is a good sized ceramic wash basin and plenty of storage in the ensuite. The shower unit sits against the driver’s side wall and is roomy once inside. I did find the door space opening a little squeezey and if you were a larger person it could be a tad tight.
In the centre of the van the kitchen runs along the passenger side wall with the dining area opposite. A black leather club lounge fitted with lift up foot rests dominates this space and a trifold table which incorporates a cabinet, opens the room up when the full sized table is not needed. Overhead cabinets provide plenty of storage as well as storage under the seats.
The main kitchen features a good workbench close to the door. Next to that is a Swift oven, grill and cook top unit with a range hood fitted above. Alongside the stove is the sink which includes a flick mixer and water filter tap. A microwave sits above the sink. The rest of the area is taken up with storage drawers and cupboards. It’s a practical layout with oodles of bench space. The lid which covers the sink hits the window frame which did not impress, although once again a stopper of some sort should sort things out.
On the driver’s side of the van between the dining room and the bedroom is more cabinetry that houses a 185 litre 3-way fridge and more storage space for kitchen goodies.
The last area of the Trooper is the bedroom at the front of the van. This comes complete with queen sized bed comprising inner spring mattress and slat base to provide a great night’s sleep. There are wardrobes either side of the bed and the usual overhead cupboards.
The interior package includes a lot more than is first obvious. This starts with ply gloss walls, double glazed windows and blinds, acrylic splashbacks plus a Fusion entertainment system with I-dock, LED lighting, twin roof hatches, multiple options for mounting a TV inside and out, and rounding out the goodies is an AC system mounted in the middle of the living space roof.
Aside from a few little items the interior design is neat, classy and practical. It’s certainly got everything needed for some comfortable touring.
We used a Nissan Navara to haul the Trooper around and while it comes in at the bottom end of vehicles that can tow this Trooper legally, it managed it well. The Trooper sat and rode well both on the blacktop and on the dirt. There was very little pitch and roll considering we didn’t have any stabilising gear on board and the brakes and suspension worked a treat.
We traversed some slippery, steep dirt hills and used 4WD to avoid spinning wheels. At one point we engaged low range to crawl up a steep section that had a lot of switch backs to manoeuvre. The Nissan handled this well and nothing moved in the Trooper.
The overall size does create a big towing package although that is off-set by the amount of space inside the van. There is always something to consider when choosing a towing vehicle and van and this one is a really good towable package.
The interior of the Trooper is neat and very practical for long distance touring and complements the big exterior look that is rugged and stands out in a crowd. From the custom built off-road chassis to the leather trim, this Trooper is very flash and it comes with a price tag to match. The Troopers start around the $91,000 mark while our review model was a shade under $94,000 with its optional extras.
I do really like the 12 month off-road warranty which covers owners anywhere in Oz. Overall this Trooper is pretty impressive and worth some serious consideration as an off-roader.
Manufacturer: Lotus Caravans
Model: Trooper 21ft
Body Length: 6.40m (21ft)
Width: 2.4m (7ft 9in)
Tare Weight: 2780kg
Price: As shown, $93,950.00 drive-away ex-Geelong
We’d like to thank the team from Gateway Caravans for helping out with the Trooper and Noel for hauling the swish off-roader around during the photo shoot. Gateway Caravans are located at 112 Bellarine Highway Newcombe, Geelong.
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