Jacana is deadly serious about its big A-class coach conversion…
By Malcolm Street
Jacana Motorhomes, based in Taree, NSW, is definitely what I call a boutique manufacturer: not particularly large in size, but having a well established niche in the industry. The company builds a range of motorhomes to order and is currently one of the few manufacturers in Australia to produce an A-class motorhome – from coach/bus conversions rather than ground-up chassis builds, I should point out. A case in point being this Sirius SLX, which I had a lengthy look over at the recent CMCA rally at Robinvale, when Jacana’s proprietor Barry Drury invited me in to sit down and relax.
For the Sirius SLX conversion, Jacana use a Chinese-built Higer coach. It’s 10.42 m (34 ft 2 in) long, so anyone who desires a larger motorhome will find it an ideal conversion base. Although built in China, Barry Drury is keen to point out it comes with a genuine US-made Cummins turbo-diesel engine and an equally genuine US-built Allison six-speed auto gearbox.
I have to say that from the outside the Higer is a very smart looking vehicle and the coach-like look has not been lost by the motorhome items added. One of the items I particularly liked was the panoramic windscreen, which gives a tremendous view and also incorporates some essential blinds for when the sun is low. I did wonder about stone chips and even replacing the windscreen, but I understand Higer has quite a few coaches running around the country. So it might just be an issue of time spent locating one rather than availability.
One of the assets of the coach body is that it allows for plenty of external bin space. The nearside ones being particularly impressive because they come with a washing machine, slide-out kitchen complete with Weber BBQ and external entertainment unit! Despite all that there is still space for essential al fresco items like a table and chairs.
Just in case you don’t think the existing body of the Higer would give enough internal living area, there are two offside slide-outs built in as well.
There's no doubt that this is a very self contained vehicle. It runs on a 24 V DC system, rather than the more usual 12 V, and comes with 660 AH of deep cycle batteries and an amazing 800 W of solar panel power! All that is backed up by a generator, of course.
In the fluids department, a 500 litre water tank and 300 litre black water tank ensure self-sufficiency, as does (to a lesser extent), the 150 litre grey water tank.
Stepping in through the entry door reveals a very impressive layout. The place to head for while taking everything in is the front offside lounge. Along with the dinette behind it, it’s set into the front slide-out. Taking up most of the mid-nearside wall is the kitchen bench area, leaving the rear part of the vehicle for a split bathroom in front of the bedroom (the latter having an east west-bed set into the rear offside slide-out). First impressions are everything and the cabinetry work, along with the leather upholstery, looks to be beautifully done. Living comfort is assured by two Mitsubishi air conditioners mounted at either end of the motorhome; one above the driver's cab and the other in the rear bedroom area.
The layout allows for a spacious lounge area up front. Both the cab captain’s chairs swivel around, while all the nearside area between the entry door and the passenger seat is filled with an extensive entertainment cabinet that comprises a flat screen TV, radio/CD player, DVD player and satellite TV. This area also includes a number of cupboards and drawers, so storage of CDs and DVDs is not a problem.
Four people can comfortably sit in this area without a problem, but if a couple more guests come along there is always the dinette as well. Being cafe-style the dinette can accommodate two people for dining without a problem, but seats four at a pinch. The rear seat has two seat belts fitted, meaning two passengers can be carried without a problem.
Time to Eat
If a spacious kitchen is desired there is really no excuses not to deliver in a 10.42 m A-class motorhome and this regard the Jacana certainly delivers in style. Of course it comes with a four burner cooktop/grill/oven, under-bench microwave oven and a stainless steel sink that is nicely hidden by a top that matches the granite bench.
There's both a generous amount of bench top working space and cupboard/overhead locker storage space. All the overhead lockers have internal lights and there are two slide-out pantries: a full-height wire basket unit next to the stove and a timbered under-bench glass/bottle holder at the other end of the bench. Internal cupboard lighting might sound like a luxury, but a frequent problem in many an RV is that the position of the main lighting creates black holes in the cupboards. Digressing slightly, my non-favourite arrangement is the under overhead locker fluorescent that shines directly in your face, so you cannot see a thing in the cupboard....
Having a split bathroom doesn't mean any lack of space in either the shower or the toilet cubicles, the latter having a vanity sink in addition to the black-tank loo. Being adjacent to the bedroom, both sides of the bathroom are convenient for day and night time use.
In the rear, the second slide-out is designed to accept the 1.53 m x 2.04 m (5 ft x 6 ft 8 in) island bed. The slide-out is wide enough to have bedside cabinets on either side as well as a rear wall mirror with lockers above. Small windows built into the slide-out sides offer light and ventilation. Although the person on the forward side of the bed gets flat-floor access, the sleeper on the other side has to climb a few steps (the engine is underneath) to get to bed. The same applies for access to the full set of cupboards across the rear wall. Underneath the nearside window, the wall cabinet not only gives more storage area but also contains a flat screen TV that slides down out of sight when not being viewed.
What I think
Jacana's Sirius SLX is certainly a very well equipped motorhome, as it should be given the bottom line. I should point out that the Sirius is a custom built motorhome and reflects a number of the owner's custom requirements. Almost the entire electrical system – either 12 V or 24 V – is built to the purchaser's order, as are the air conditioning, heating, refrigeration, water heating and layout features.
It certainly looked to me like it was put together with a high level of general construction quality and design. Being one of the few A-class designs presently built in Australia, Jacana looks a good manufacturer to consider if this style of motorhome is what you’re considering.
- Very well constructed
- Good external bin space
- Well proportioned layout
- Spacious kitchen
- High capacity electrical system
- Pricey, but you gets what you pays for!
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Jacana Sirius (1277 KB)