The Light Vantastic
Trakka’s Torino raises the bar…
by Richard Robertson
I’m lying in bed and can’t feel my toes. It’s not cold, I just can’t feel them touching the wall I know is down there somewhere. For me at 185 cm (6 ft 1 in) that’s remarkable – especially in a van conversion motorhome.
Trakka’s new Torino is an alternative to the highly successful Torino Xtra – the company’s top selling model. Both are based on the Fiat Ducato XLWB van, but their layouts are very different. In a nutshell, the Xtra in Torino Xtra means it can carry two extra people. The new Torino is strictly for two, which for most potential owners is unlikely to be an issue.
Eschewing the Xtra’s east-west double bed and four-place dinette with seat belts, in favour of lengthways single beds (that can also become a king) and two smaller two-seat dining areas, the New Torino is very different.
“We actually spent about a year thinking through this design, refining it and working out all the details before building this first model,” said Dave Berry, Trakka’s managing director. “A lot of thought has gone into the design and we’re really pleased with it.”
“This first model” is the subject of this review and Mrs iMotorhome and I borrowed it for a few days to put it though its paces. Here’s what we thought…
Fiat’s Ducato, even in basic delivery van form, is built with motorhome conversion in mind. Swivelling cab seats and a pleasurable car-like driving environment are just the beginning. It’s wider than its main rival – Mercedes’ Sprinter – by 57 mm (2.24 in) and has a lower floor height, thanks to being front-wheel drive. There’s also more room underneath for water tanks due to the absence of a rear-wheel drive tail shaft and associated componentry, plus it has a much larger fuel tank (120-litres), carries 500 kg extra load and has its cables and wires routed to maximise conversion ease. The Ducato even comes with Michelin Agile Camping tyres that are specially designed to resist flat-spotting when left sitting for extended periods in one spot.
Remote central locking (locks all but independently opens cab or cargo), electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning, power steering, cruise, steering wheel mounted audio, Blue&Me Bluetooth with voice commands, media input socket, integrated but removable TomTom satnav system and more; the Ducato’s standard equipment list is most comprehensive. Dual air bags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, traction and stability controls are standard too. Trakka ads a Waeco dual-lens reversing camera that shows a distance view out the back when driving and a downward view with distance markers when reversing. It’s simply the best setup I’ve used.
Trakka specifies the largest engine option, Fiat’s 3.0-litre turbo-diesel that puts out 132 kW and 400 Nm and matches it to the manufacturer’s proprietary Comfortmatic 6-speed automated manual transmission (AMT). It’s a strong, refined and economical combination that makes for easy cruising when loaded and makes easy work of the cut-and-thrust of city driving. Although I failed to note the departure distance on the odometer my rough-as-guts fuel figures seem to show an average of about 11 L/100 km (25.7 mpg). Not bad for a brand new vehicle driven twice across Sydney and at maximum cruising speeds down the Hume Highway to Yass and return (and all easily on the one tankful).
It’s low stance, wheel-in-each-corner design and wide track gives the Ducato a firm but secure ride. There’s minimal body roll, good visibility, high comfort levels and low engine and wind noise; all of which combine into a civilised and refined driving experience once you’re accustomed to the AMT’s slightly unusual shifting habits.
iMotorhome has been accused by some readers of being Trakka biased. Given this is a company at the top of its game, and the quality of its products, it’s difficult to sound any other way. Trakka is also one of the few manufacturers with properly registered demonstrators we can travel in and use. And it’s only by living in a motorhome that it’s true character is revealed.
Trakka’s Euro-inspired interior decor – a stylish combination of subtle wood tones and silver-grey highlights and roller shutter cupboard doors – reflects the care and attention to detail of the overall fit out, which starts with an idea and becomes 3D CAD drawings before ever seeing the light of day.
“We spend a lot of time ensuring all aspects of our interior designs fit in. For example, all corners are rounded; we don’t just build square box cupboards and stick them up.” Dave Berry explained. “Have a look at the way all the cupboard end panels match up, and look at the way we’ve angled the concertina privacy door so it provides more standing room to get changed.” Indeed the more you look into the new Torino the more thoughtful design touches you find.
Outside, new design elements like carbon fibre-look body decals that look good but are just for show, and practical things like a new, fixed TV antenna that looks like a car radio aerial and flush-fit windows with black aluminium frames instead of white plastic. Inside, things like the REMIF blinds, which during the day are tucked neatly out of sight around the windscreen and cab door windows and within a few seconds provide total privacy with maximum space efficiency are the best of their type I’ve used. Speaking of blinds, anyone who’s battled with the combination flyscreen/blinds of Seitz hopper windows will know how flimsy and fiddly they are. Not these new ones! Solid and easy to slide up and down, they don’t try to spring open, don’t require a delicate touch to operate and the flyscreen section is finished in black (not the usual grey/white), which makes it easy to see through.
Back outside, Trakka fits a wind-out Fiamma awning and includes a power cord with circuit breaker that’s a permanent part of the vehicle and is concealed in its own locker. Unusually, this is fitted on the kerb side on this vehicle, due to legal spacing requirements with the gas bottle storage locker on the driver’s side, I’m thinking.
Pre-arranged social commitments and publishing constraints only allowed us two nights away in the new Torino. We left in a hurry, late on a Sunday afternoon after lunch guests departed, and to a large degree just threw our things in and went. Trakka does the best job of equipping its test/demonstrator vehicles; from bedding (if required), through crockery and cutlery and right down to matches and a myriad of hand wipes. Talk about thorough!
We took our own bedding – two Duvalay memory foam sleeping bags we’ve been trialling – clothing, camera gear and whatever else; so when we pulled up for the evening just 90 minutes down the road our first night was as much about finding places to put things than relaxing with a drink. It always takes time to settle into a new vehicle and this one was no exception.
To understand the new Torino’s layout picture this: Swivelling cab seats form a casual seating/dining area; there’s a mid kitchen on the kerb side with the fridge and bathroom opposite and down the back the two single beds (that can be made into a king) also serve as a more spacious inwards-facing dining area. At this level it’s pretty standard stuff but forget the Devil; in this vehicle the pleasure is in the detail…
On the road I’m the boss, but when the engine shuts down Mrs iM becomes Lady of all she surveys. That includes me and I know my place – which is out of her way. In this vehicle that can be up the front, with the driver’s seat facing aft and the little flip-up table on the fridge end-panel serving as a small but practical iPad workstation. It can also be in the same seat but with the pole-mounted dining table in place. The table top is elliptically mounted, so you can rotate it it out of the way for easier access. “My place” could also be down the back, where the beds meet the kitchen and bathroom. There, facing inwards and with the same dining table moved to its aft position, I could work without impeding her royal progress through the kitchen or other dominions.
Cooking and Dining
The new Torino’s kerbside kitchen is small, but even so it partially blocks the sliding side door opening. When cooking you need to use the sink’s glass lid for bench space, and when washing up it works the other way around. The cooker is a small, two-burner gas unit and the sink is round, sans drainer and has a lift-up flick mixer tap. There’s also a filtered water tap. The main kitchen bench unit has two rows of three self-closing drawers, the depths of which increase towards the floor. Cleverly, all are concealed behind two big sideways-opening roller shutter doors when not in use, which not only looks good, it means you don’t need to lock and unlock individual drawers.
Above the sink is a crockery cupboard fitted for plates and mugs. Above the cooker is a stainless steel rangehood with a small cupboard above it that houses Trakka’s integrated electrical command centre. This incorporates fresh and grey water tank levels, truck and house battery readouts, internal and external temperatures, water pump operation, 12 V master control and a separate master switch for the dimmable exterior lights. The cupboard also houses the fridge master switch, hot water controls and two switches for the sexy purple LED strip lights that hide beneath the main kitchen unit and under the overhead lockers (and which we forgot to use, hence no photos). House lighting is via ceiling mounted LEDs and both these and the exterior lights are dimmable and controlled from a custom switch unit on the pillar behind the front passenger seat.
Opposite the forward end of the kitchen bench (where the sliding door opens) is a tall unit with a cupboard below that contains the house batteries, a mid-positioned 136-litre 12/240 V fridge/freezer and a cupboard above that hides the microwave. Like most vehicles the Torino uses a combination gas/electric system for cooking and hot water, but an optional Remote pack does away with gas entirely, replacing it with diesel-fired hot water, cooking and (as a bonus) central heating. The pack also includes a 135 W solar system and a thermal and sound insulation package.
We tried the forward and rear dining options and preferred the rear, despite the front seats being a bit more comfortable. Trakka is implementing a secondary, smaller coffee table and extra table leg, which will work best up front while also supplying much needed additional bench space to the chef. The rear dining position allows better leg room and just feels more open. When not in use the dining table stores flush against the wall, above the foot of the bed that abuts the kitchen bench.
Trakka’s Switch Mode Bathroom is a cleverly executed, slightly convex shaped cubicle Dr Who would be proud of. The trick is a retractable toilet unit that whirrs out from under the vanity when required and whirrs away when finished – all by the magic of remote control (yes, there is a manual override). When retracted the shower size is comparable to a domestic unit. Another great feature is wrap-around shower curtain that covers your towels, toilet paper and the doorway. It press studs tightly into place and provides maximum showering space with minimal intrusion.
There’s a small rectangle sink and a triple paned mirror, the left-hand side of which conceals a medicine cabinet. The Torino has no side window due to the location of a vehicle body structural member, but it does have a large, clear roof hatch. A fan hatch might be a worthwhile option.
Mrs iM was thoroughly impressed by the SMB, although she decided you’re best off to leave the loo retracted at night, enter the bathroom and then bring it out. We both also loved the wooden board that covers a recesses in the shower floor, so you stand above any water. It also has a bilge-type pump in a small sump that sucks water out when detected, thus avoiding slow drains and pooling grey water. All very clever…
After our dinner we experimented with the TV, which is a 48 cm (19 in) TV/DVD unit that’s pole mounted and sits at the junction of the kitchen end panel and bedroom. It can be watched from the bedroom or swivelled for viewing from the kitchen and front seats, but it’s also easily removable and can be reattached to a small pole in the recess above the space behind the driver’s seat, by the fridge end panel. There it’s best viewed from the front passenger seat, which is good if one of you wants to go to bed. What’s also good is a concertina privacy door that screens off the bedroom from the rest of the vehicle, and as mentioned earlier follows an angled path to provide added standing/changing room in the bedroom.
A pair of single beds run between the rear doors and the kitchen/bathroom, down either side of the Torino. The kerb side bed is slightly shorter but each is countered to be wider at the top (rear) for added shoulder room. Because the Ducato is wide there is good space between the beds, but at the rear a centre cushion is fitted that bridges the gap and fills in half the length of them as well.
To convert the singles to a king you stand between the beds and pull out a sliding, recessed board from under the centre cushion. The two small backrest cushions you used at dinner time fill in the space and you have one of the biggest and most comfortable beds on the road. Interestingly, the foam cushioning is ‘pillow topped’ with memory foam, providing very comfortable seating/bedding straight off the showroom floor.
When you open the rear barn doors there’s a substantial boot beneath the bed heads, while inside the feet of both beds hinge up for added storage space. The whole bedroom sits on a slightly raised floor that you step up to from the aisle and the space between the feet of the beds has a shallow storage compartment built in that’s ideal for outdoor shoes, etc.
An unusual three quarter height wardrobe with rounded roller shutter door seems suspended above the foot of the longer bed. It sits above where the bed meets the bathroom wall and provides enough room to move your feet around under without smacking into it. Inside the wardrobe is a long, narrow slide-out drawer that can be removed by undoing a single screw. This is one of the cleverest design features of all, because when removed it’s designed to be positioned between the bed heads, once the centre cushion is removed. “Doing this can ‘formailise’ the twin bed arrangement if it’s just friends/mates travelling and makes a handy bedside storage unit as well,” an excited Dave Berry had said as he showed us how it worked, before we left Trakka’s showroom.
We tried the bed as a king the first night and as ‘formalised’ singles the second and in both cases it/they worked perfectly, proving very comfortable. The optional 12 V swivel fan above the bed proved a real winner, too, moving the air around on our two warm nights where our sheltered sites limited any breezes.
And the Winner is…
You! For a new design the new Trakka Torino is very well sorted. It’s a compact vehicle ideally suited to shorter breaks and occasional longer touring for two people – be they an item or just good friends – but It would be close to perfect for a single traveller.
Which brings me back to my toes. I wish there were more motorhomes I couldn’t feel them in…
- Design innovation
- Bed layout
- Mattress comfort
- Overall quality
- Spacious bathroom
- Flexible dining
- Vehicle economy
- Vehicle equipment levels
- Limited storage
- Limited bench space
Click below to download a PDF of the full test, including specifications, photos and contact details.
Trakka Torino - iMotorhome Roadtest 2014 (2397 KB)
Trakka Torino - iMotorhome Roadtest 2014 (2397 KB)