This compact caravan from Jurgens offers everything a couple will need
Jurgens sure packs a lot into this compact little van. It measures in at only an external measurement of 18’3” (5542mm), which translates to 16’1” (4920mm) of internal space. But couples wanting light weight and ease of towing won’t be compromising on all the attributes we expect from a contemporary van.
Let’s face it. Everyone wants an ensuite, so, through clever design and thoughtful use of space, the team at the Jurgens draft board – well, the computerised CAD machine, has managed to equip the Skygazer with a full-width bathroom with separate shower and toilet, not a combo as you might expect in a van of this size.
Sixty years of building caravans and feedback from over 100,000 customers are invaluable, and Jurgens is proud of thinking outside the box. The Skygazer comes in four different layouts with a choice of a queen, double or a euro style convertible bed. This quirky design gives the choice of a roomy dinette, which converts to either twins or slides together to create an east-west double. It has the disadvantage of having to rearrange the bed each evening but adds bench space in the kitchen.
Weight is kept to a tare of only 1470kg or with a maximum 330kg payload, to an ATM of 1800kg, so you can tow it with a variety of mid-range vehicles, including some sedans and two-wheel drive utes. The factory achieves the relatively modest weight by computer modelling and sophisticated engineering of the under carriage for maximum strength where it is needed and trimming weight back in low-stress areas. Rather than full profile rails from tow ball to the rear, various sections of the box section Optima Chassis have cut-outs to suit the load and lightweight C-section cross beam support the body. The final product is then hot dip galvanised for continuous protection against the elements.
A one piece exterior grade ply floor is then bolted and glued to the chassis to add strength and water resistance. Wall construction is also a departure from that of most manufacturers that build with a timber frame. Jurgens use single piece, composite panels of an interior ply sheet and an exterior aluminium panel bonded to a central polystyrene matrix which is incredibly durable, impact resistant and has superior insulation against sound and temperature.
Finally, a single piece Uniskin roof and sturdy fibreglass ends are bonded to the walls and floor, joining the body together in a virtual monocoque entity.
In another departure from the norm, the suspension is AL-KO’s independent torsion bar system with shock absorbers that have carried Jurgens vans for millions of trouble free kilometres. Again, it’s a robust product that reduces unsprung weight and also allows the van to travel unobtrusively behind the tow vehicle. As each wheel meets any irregularities in the road surface, it does so without transferring shock to the suspension on the other side.
Even though the suspension isn’t pitched as off-road, Jurgens does say it’s dirt road capable, putting lots of out of the way national parks and free campsites within reach.
In an aim the keep costs down, the look of the vans is standardised across the range of six vans and two pop-tops. What you see here in the colour scheme and design features are what you get from biggest to smallest, and while it may appear somewhat conservative, this probably appeals to most Jurgens buyers, who tend to appreciate the practical nature of the vans over a more zingy appearance.
Up front an AL-KO ball hitch sits on the tapered C-section chassis and a fibreglass cover keeps the handbrake cable neat and out of the way. The front boot has a divided section for a pair of 4.5kg gas bottles to the driver side and a larger division for the spare wheel and jack, leaving space for some extras like mats and hoses. A second boot runs full width for locating longer items and a pair of 14” alloy wheels and some bright blue graphics help brighten up the two-tone grey exterior.
Entry is down the back and opens to a compact interior with the ensuite to the right of the entry and the living space further forward. This design will suit most couples as the bathroom is easily accessed from outside without walking through the van, and the bed is set away from the entrance, so any guests don’t have to pass by when visiting. The test model is the J2201 version with an extendable queen bed and the dinette on the passenger side.
Like the outside, the colour scheme is standardised to various tones of grey including the timber look cupboard doors and a granite benchtop. Variations in the soft furnishings allow colour choices to personalise the interior.
The driver side kitchen comprises a 128L three-way fridge freezer, a microwave gas Thetford Minigrill Mk3 with gas and electric cooktop and a circular stainless steel sink set into a small return. Cupboards overhead and below the sink have limited storage but there is storage space under the bed and lounge. Concertina doors on the corner cabinets make accessing their contents somewhat easier in the confined space.
An L-shaped dinette is opposite the kitchen making the table handy for food preparation. Cushions are well padded and the table swivels to ease access. I liked the large double insulated window that allowed uninterrupted views of your campsite and a cooling breeze on a warm day.
Large windows surround the bed on three sides for plenty of fresh air and light but blockouts and screens are built in, to control light levels and keep the bugs at bay. There are cupboards to each side and overhead and there’s also a remote control stereo, a pair of reading lights and a clock mounted above the bed. A 12v TV/DVD with wind-up aerial and booster is mounted on a bracket for viewing from either the bed or dinette.
It might not be the biggest bathroom in Caravanville, but I found plenty of room in the shower to move and a useful vanity, mirror and storage spaces. The 12v pump supplied good pressure and the gas water heater supplies both bathroom and kitchen.
A lot of folk would see the Skygazer as a van for caravan parks where you can hook up the air con and watch TV flat out hooked into 240v. You can sure do that or, if you like, chase broader horizons. The van comes with an on-board battery, charged by the tow vehicle when travelling so with three-way fridge, gas cooktop, a 60L water tank and 12v LED lighting it is possible to get off the grid onto unpowered sites for a few days at a time with careful use of water and power.
Pricing as tested is a reasonable $51,490. It comes with a three-year warranty on the van itself and one year on appliances. Given you probably don’t have to also shell out for a large tow vehicle and rego costs are lower than a big van the Skygazer makes economic sense. It has all the essentials in a package that isn’t intimidating to tow and is stored easily.
Model: Skygazer J2201
Overall length: 6.57m
Travel height: 2.77m
Tare weight: 1470kg
ATM weight: 1800KG
Ball weight: 140KG
Price as reviewed: $51,490
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13 Sharnet Ct, Pakenham Vic 3810
Ph 03 5943 7700