Trakka’s ‘Next Gen’ Trakkadu is a star, no matter the terrain...
by Malcolm Street
Anticipation of fun might be the best way to describe getting behind the wheel of the latest generation all-wheel drive Trakka Trakkadu: especially the latest All Terrain (AT) model. It’s the smallest of the Trakka fleet, thereby offering the least amount of internal living space, but at the same time having a great deal of versatility off-road, on-road and around town.
Naturally, Trakka chose the tried and tested Volkswagen T5 as their base vehicle, along with a very interesting (optional) paint colour – a metallic brown called “Toffee”. If nothing else, it certainly stands out! Being their All Terrain model, it comes with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive package plus a VW suspension upgrade from 3000 kg to 3200 kg, which in a vehicle this size is a chunky amount. In addition, Trakka has also fitted Seikel raised suspension that lifts the T5 by 70 mm. That certainly results in better ground clearance but has the side effect of making the Trakkadu AT less easy to get into undercover carparks. Also added are a Seikel engine guard, rear differential lock, spare wheel and tyre and a bottle jack, rather than the scissor variety. On the tyre front, all terrain tyres have been fitted, with a higher profile than usual to give a more comfortable ride.
For the actual conversion, the most obvious items on the outside are the elevating roof and the Fiamma F45 Titanium awning. The roof, made from a composite construction, has a very low profile and is fitted with gas struts, making it very easy to lift from inside. More subtle are the table rail fitted to the sliding door and the water tank outlet on the mid off-side. Out of sight externally are the water tanks and the external shower, which is actually mounted inside the Trakkadu at the rear, but very much for use outside, unless of course you like water running through your camper!
Of course, the T5 Trakkadu comes with all the cab comforts we’ve come to expect. In making that comment, I’d make the nostalgic observation that we’ve come a long way since the days of the T2s that were used in the early Trakkas! Extras include the radio/CD player with an iPod connection and the optional stereo upgrade with satellite navigation and rear vision camera.
In the safety department, the T5 comes with front airbags as standard but this vehicle came with optional side and thorax airbags. Naturally, ABS disc brakes are fitted all round and the T5 also comes with an Electronic Stability Program.
On the Road
As I said, getting behind the wheel of the Trakkadu means a fun ride. Yes it is a van, but the gutsy 132 kW turbo-diesel VW delivers plenty of power and the seven-speed DSG gearbox is a very smooth performer indeed. On the bush tracks I tried, being an AWD, there was little scrabbling for traction and the ride was surprisingly smooth. All the controls are closed to hand, including those on the multifunction steering wheel, which are really handy. Rain sensing wipers are part of the VW package and it’s always a bit of a surprise when there’s a nominal drop of rain and the wipers suddenly come on. The external rear view mirrors on the VW are good but the rear vision camera certainly aids when reversing around. A neat little addition are the folding rear-seat head restraints that would otherwise block the internal rear view. A bonus is that they are easier to move out of the way when making up the bed.
The living area of any van conversion is going to be considerably smaller than a coach-built motorhome, but it’s more than adequate for this light weight camper, as well as being very versatile for an around-town machine. Both cab seats swivel around; there’s a kitchen bench/wardrobe unit along the offside; a day/night lounge seat mid-van and a large shelf in the rear. With the roof up, the large screened windows offer plenty of ventilation. There is a rear tent available for the Trakkadu but I have to say given the lack of opening windows, I might well be considering Velcroed insect screens for both the sliding and rear doors. Light weight Euro Ply is used for all the cabinet construction. General storage is a bit limited, but there are both good sized wardrobe and under-shelf areas in the rear, as well as the kitchen cupboards.
I suspect most campers will be living outside when the weather permits, but both the swivelling cab seats and the rear seat offer plenty of seating and stretch-out room – at least for two people. Even with the bed made up there’s still seating for two, although the driver’s seat, not being able to fully swivel, is slightly cramped.
Time to Eat
Simple is the word to best describe the Trakkadu’s catering facilities. A Webasto diesel fired cooktop is used for heating everything up; an underbench Waeco 80 litre fridge keeps things cool and the stainless steel, glass-lidded washing up bowl keeps things clean. General storage consists of large cutlery drawer and two cupboards, both with space-saving roller shutter doors. In the larger cupboard are two drawers; a nice and convenient way of stashing everything. At the forward end of the bench, above the fridge, are both the Trakka electrical control panel and the Webasto cooktop controls. I like the electronic control panel, with everything neatly in one place.
There are two places for mounting the table that is stored behind the driver’s seat. The first is on the rail along the kitchen bench, thus allowing it to be used from all seats. Alternatively it can be used outside, by clipping to the rail on the sliding door.
Making up the 1.95 m x 1.25 m (6 ft 5 in x 4 ft) bed is quite simple, a matter of folding the headrests back and releasing the seat back by pulling on the centrally located strap. The seat can be moved forwards and backwards a fair bit, so it is quite easy to fill the gap between the folded-down seat-back and the rear shelf. There’s one reading light, centrally located at the rear, so guess where the pillows are going to go! If extra sleeping accommodation is required for children an optional roof bed is available.
Insulated curtains are fitted all round, except for the cab windows, where a custom made, press-studded curtain is used - quite a simple arrangement but one that works quite well. LED lighting is used throughout, with a mixture of strip and reading lights. A tricky little feature are the LED strip lights fitted inside the awning mounting at each end. Not overly brilliant but still good enough to see what you are doing and not in your face either.
What we Think
It might look small and simple but the Trakkadu AT is a very sophisticated piece of machinery. Whilst not being the size of say Trakka’s Jabiru motorhome, it does offer tremendous versatility in the ways it can be used. It certainly can be used very easily around town, with its capacity to carry four people or large loads. Alternatively, in the bush it’s kitted for remote campsites, along with the ability to get to those same places with aplomb and without difficulty. Being a relatively light weight camper it’s also good for the environment, by having a minimal impact on several fronts. In short, I like it!
- VW Transporter base vehicle
- Setting up is quick and simple
- LED lighting
- Decent radio/CD player
- Good carrying capacity
- Raised ground clearance
- Hi-tech and energy efficient electrics
- Not cheap but you get what you pay for!
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