Xtra, Xtra, Read All About it!
Four-seats adds versatility to Trakka’s desirable Torino Xtra…
by Richard Robertson
The Torino Xtra is Trakka’s top selling model. A versatile and compact van conversion packed with quality inclusions and backed by intelligent design, it walks a fine line between nimble camper and long-distance tourer. Approved seating for four and a bed that raises for additional boot space simply adds to its appeal. From doubling as a family station wagon to whisking friends to the golf club it has practical uses well beyond its primary role. The Tornio Xtra also sits at the more affordable end of the Trakka pricing spectrum and as many will attest, buying something smaller but of good quality is a better bet in the long run.
Earlier this year we spent a few days touring in the Trakka Torino, the two-seat two-berth sibling of the Torino Xtra, and I'm going to borrow heavily from that review because much is interchangeable between these two vehicles. The obvious differences lie in the dinette and sleeping arrangements, and which of these two models is best suited to you comes down to personal preferences. Both are conversions of Fiat’s popular and proven Ducato van and both are built to Trakka’s same high standards.
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 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) and has its cables and wires routed to maximise conversion ease.
Remote central locking (locks all door but opens the cab or cargo doors separately), 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 Fiat’s 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, which puts out 132 kW and 400 Nm, and matches it to the manufacturer’s proprietary Comfortmatic 6-speed automated manual transmission. It’s a strong, refined and economical combination that makes for easy cruising when loaded yet makes easy work of the cut-and-thrust of city driving. The Ducato’s low stance, wheel-in-each-corner design and wide track gives it 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 to deliver a civilised and refined driving experience, once you’re accustomed to the AMT’s slightly unusual shifting habits.
We stepped into the Torino Xtra straight from the Trakkaway 700, which featured chassis and suspension manufacturer AL-KO’s new front suspension upgrade. As explained in the
Trakkaway 700 review Fiat Ducatos sit slightly nose down. The upgrade – new MacPherson struts and springs – raises the nose some 40 mm, resulting in an even stance and more comfortable ride. Stepping straight back into a standard Ducato the difference was certainly noticeable. Trakka can perform the same conversion on its Ducato vans in-house but don’t view it as a must-have, it’s just a desirable upgrade.
iMotorhome has been accused of being Trakka centric. 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. And as I’ve previously noted, Trakka is also one of the few manufacturers with registered demonstrators we can travel in and use. Only by living in a motorhome is it’s true character revealed.
Outside, new design elements like carbon fibre-look body decals look good, while things like a fixed TV antenna that looks like a car radio aerial and flush-fit windows with black aluminium frames (instead of white plastic) are new and enhance practicality. 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 fiddly they can be. 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. Two dimmable LED exterior lights brighten things up at night and/or provide security when you’re absent, while an electric entry step makes access just that bit easier. We also liked the flip-up outdoor table that’s revealed when the side door is slid open, as well as Trakka’s signature removable outdoor table, which attaches to a rail on the sliding door and stows in the boot at other times.
The test vehicle included Trakka’s Remote pack that does away with the LPG system by using diesel to power the cooker, make hot water and provide room heating. The pack also includes a 135 W solar charging system and additional sound and thermal insulation. It adds $8500 to the basic $126,500 drive-away price, but interestingly the majority of Torino models leaving the factory are Remotes.
Inside is where the Xtra's differences become apparent. The layout features swivelling cab seats and a forward-facing dinette seat for two; a mid-positioned kerb-side kitchen and driver’s-side bathroom, plus an east-west rear bed. What it provides is a surprisingly spacious front living area, a generous kitchen and bathroom, and a bedroom that at first looks a bit cramped but is surprisingly practical.
Trakka’s interiors are second to none. Blending European design with local experience the finish of light timbers, grey and silver accents, and roller shutters in place of conventional cupboard doors produces a unique look carried across Trakka’s range. LED lighting is used throughout, along with the Company’s signature concealed purple/blue strip mood lighting.
“We spend a lot of time ensuring all aspects of our interior designs fit. For example, all corners are rounded; we don’t just build square box cupboards and stick them up.” Trakka’s managing director Dave Berry explained. Indeed the more you look into the Torino Xtra the more thoughtful design touches you find.
The front living area could well be transplanted straight from the Trakkaway 700. Both cab seats swivel easily on their factory-fitted mounts, while the forward facing dinette seat is not only seatbelt equipped for two, it's actually shaped to be a comfortable long-distance travel seat. This seat lifts to reveal useful storage (there’s more over the cab) and a double 240 V power point. it’s also where Trakka installs the optional sine wave inverter. There’s also a double USB charging outlet in the side wall beneath the dinette window, conveniently placed for when the flip-up corner table is in place.
The main dining table is a removable pole unit with multi-adjustable Zwaardvis mount. The pole stores securely in the storage/wardrobe space behind the long roller shutter at the forward end of the kitchen bench. The table, on the other hand, stores beneath the bed mattress in a cutout atop the bed base. It is perhaps the most awkward design feature of the vehicle, brought on by space constraints and a desire to access the table from inside the vehicle. Personally I'd be happy to pop outside, open the rear doors and slide the table out of a mounting either where the current outside table stows or from somewhere else in the boot area. Trying to lift and hold the mattress (especially when bedding’s in place) while extracting the table from its current position is difficult. The good news is that once in place the table can be positioned to provide generous dining space for two and acceptable room for four.
Evening entertainment is provided by a 48 cm (19 in) HDTV/DVD combo unit mounted on a pole at the front end of the kitchen bench. It’s height adjustable and can be swivelled around for viewing from outside. Inside it's ideally viewed from the swivelled cab seats and can also be removed and relocated to the bedroom.
In The Kitchen
As someone who actually likes to cook while she travels, Mrs iMotorhome is always happy to ‘work’ in a Trakka kitchen. The long, curved benchtop has usable workspace (aside from room for the cooker and sink) and even incorporates a small, lift out rubbish container that can double as a wine bottle holder. Six deep drawers featuring soft-close/self-close and push button locking provide plenty of storage, along with three overhead cupboards. The central overhead cupboard actually houses the Torino Xtra’s electrical controls (lights/tank levels/battery condition/inside & outside temp, etc) plus controls for the Webasto diesel cooker, hot water system and room heater. A glass splashback between the benchtop and overhead cupboards is another nice feature, as is a filtered drinking water system. As mentioned earlier, the long roller shutter at the front end of the main kitchen bench conceales the dining table pole and has a hanging rack for clothes, as well as providing storage for bulky items.
Appliance-wise the Remote-specced Torino Xtra gets a Webasto diesel cooker with ceramic top, a single-bowl round sink with glass lid (but no drainer) and a rangehood on the working (kerb) side of the kitchen. Across the aisle, behind the dinette seat, is a tall unit containing a high mounted 136 L Waeco 12/240 V compressor fridge/freezer with a microwave above it, which many Remote customers delete as a tradeoff for extra storage. There’s a deep cupboard below the fridge, too, ideal for a dustpan and brush, thongs, etc.
While Mrs iMotorhome is still ‘warming’ to the diesel cooker we both loved Webasto’s combined hot water and room heater. Quick and easy to use, the heater fan worked near silently on a thermostat to keep us warm as the mercury dropped just below freezing overnight. The appeal of a totally gas free motorhome is strong: no bottle refills and no annual gas inspection. But Mrs iM remarked that for someone like herself who loves to cook she’d rather have the standard Xtra’s three gas burners and the instant temperature control gas provides (plus the ability to quickly boil a kettle).
One final kitchen feature certainly worth mentioning is the double recessed shelf in the end panel by the bedroom. It has room for all sorts of nicknacks but is ideal for charging phones or tablets as it has a double 12 V USB outlet and a double 240 V power point.
Despite its small size the Torino Xtra has quite a large bathroom. 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 a 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.
We were bemused by the bathroom’s side-opening window, which although heavily tinted for daytime use has no privacy blind. I understand its positioning makes a blind unworkable but I’m surprised an opaque finish isn’t standard. Also, removing the Thetford toilet’s cassette is unusual. It requires opening a hatch in the bathroom wall before using the remote to move the toilet forward and lining the end of it up with the open hatch. You then need to open an exterior vehicle hatch to access the cassette. It sounds more complex than it is and you’d soon get used to it, but the double door arrangement is unusual. Opening the external hatch reveals a cleverly concealed outside shower, which neatly tucks away into the cavity between the vehicle and bathroom cubicle walls.
Mrs iM was thoroughly impressed by the SMB and decided its best to leave the loo retracted at night, enter the bathroom and then bring it out. We both like the wooden board that covers a recesses in the shower floor, so you stand above any water, too.
Positioned east-west across the rear of the vehicle, the bed measures 1860 mm (6 ft 1 in) x 1350 mm (4 ft 5 in) but looks smaller than it is. It makes the most of the Fiat Ducato’s boxy body and was big enough for us to lay our two single Duvalay memory foam sleeping bags side-by-side. Prior to the trip I had concerns the bed wasn't going to be long or wide enough, but was pleasantly surprised on the first night. Despite being as tall as the bed is long, keeping my legs slightly bent (the way I normally sleep) avoided any length issues.
Some people decry an east-west bed because access isn’t as easy as an island bed, especially when nature calls in the dead of night. The truth is if anybody gets up in the night in a motorhome it wakes the other person, and in this instance it's a small price to pay to have a full four-seat dinette in the front of the vehicle. In fact far from being a liability, in this instance it's allowed Trakka’s designers to incorporate an electrically raised bed that increases the boot capacity substantially while still allowing bed use (albeit with an added degree of access difficulty).
An interesting thing about the bed's design is it’s shaped slightly wider at the kerbside end, for shoulder room we’d presume, and that’s where we put our pillows. But Trakka’s floor plan shows the pillows at the opposite end, which is also the only end with reading lights. Due to the slightly protruding bathroom corner the bed is marginally easier to access as per their floorplan, but I think most people would prefer reading lights at both ends so they can choose which way to sleep.
As mentioned earlier the TV can be moved to the bedroom, attaching to a short pole just behind the bedroom/kitchen divider, and this requires you to be ‘Trakka-way-round’ on the bed to watch. Conversely there are a couple of coat hooks (and a magazine holder) on the rear of the bathroom wall, but long jackets placed there would drape on the head or shoulders of the person sleeping on that side if you did sleep ‘Trakka-way-round’. So many things to consider! The concertina privacy door doesn’t need considering, though. It’s a great touch and one that provides precious privacy, especially if one of you is an early sleeper or night owl.
What I think.
Every vehicle is a compromise and the smaller the vehicle the greater the compromises. That Trakka has managed to fit a full sized four-seat dinette, chef-friendly kitchen, large bathroom and a decent bed into something as small as a Fiat Ducato shows compromise isn’t always a negative thing.
The Torino Xtra is an ideal van-conversion motorhome if you need to carry extra passengers and/or want a large lounge/dinette that can even double as a mobile office. It’s built to Trakka’s high standards and is a pleasure to drive and live in. What more can I say, except that if you don’t need the extra seats take a look at the ‘standard’ Torino, with its larger bedroom and more flexible sleeping options. Either way it’s certainly something worth shouting about!
- Design innovation
- Overall quality
- 4 Seat dinette
- Kitchen size
- Spacious bathroom
- LPG free (Remote Pack)
- Vehicle economy & equipment
- Rear boot size
- Bed size won’t suit everyone
- Awkward table stowage