OFF THE BEATEN TRAKKADU
If you’re looking for a go-anywhere campervan, Trakka’s Trakkadu could be just the ticket...
by Allan Whiting
Sydney-based Trakka is one of the leaders in design and innovation in motorhomes and campervans and has been building on VW Transporter van chassis since the 1970s. The latest Trakkadus incorporate VW’s most recent technological innovations and upgrades and we took one bush to see how it all works.
There are now five models in the Trakkadu line-up, from the A$75,500 103 2WD version up to the 132 4WD with Off Road Pack, at a RRP of A$127,000. Our test vehicle was a 132 ORP model, which we chose because it’s the most off-road-capable in the Trakka lineup.
The Light Vantastic
The Trakkadu 132 ORP is built on an enhanced Transporter van. The manual transmission is a specially designed six-speed with a deep-reduction first gear and the suspension is fitted with VW-approved Seikel components that help lift ground clearance from 180 mm to 240 mm.
Being the top-shelf Trakkadu the 132 ORP comes with all the expected inclusions: swivelling front seats, gas-strut lifting roof, diesel stove, 80-litre fridge, ADR-approved rear seats, opening and fixed windows, premium awning, fresh-water tank, grey-water tank, 100 AH AGM house battery, electronic monitoring system, LED lighting, 3200 kg GVM suspension upgrade and rear differential lock. The test vehicle was fitted with an aluminium nudge bar, Hella HID driving lights and a rear annexe with shower. Other options include solar charging, diesel cabin heater, tow bar, TV, stereo upgrade, leather upholstery and hot water system. Phew.
The VW Transporter already has car-like performance from a 132 kW/400 Nm turbo-diesel engine, plus world-class dynamic and passive safety equipment: ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), fog lights with cornering function, rain-sensing wipers and auto headlights.
The end result is a Trakkadu that has excellent original and Trakka equipment levels. We checked it out on and off-road, and spent two nights sleeping in it.
Trakkadu Goes Bush
Having tested previous Trakkadus we knew that Trakka’s functionality, fit and finish were second to none and the test vehicle confirmed this experience. All the conversion items worked as planned and we found it very easy to change the Trakkadu from driving to camping trim.
On our first bush night it rained, so we had to set up quickly and that proved to be simple: the side awning protected the doorway while we spread a groundsheet and erected our chairs; and the rear door protected us while we put up the aft annexe. We used a pre-made bedroll on top of the fold-out bed and went from driving mode to dining and sleeping mode in about five minutes.
The only problem we encountered was keeping mozzies out of the cabin when we wanted to leave the side door open.
The diesel stove is a safer option than LPG, but it needs some warm-up time, we discovered. We found it ideal for cooking planned meals, but for that quick midday cuppa one of the el-cheapo, hardware-store butane single-burners is the go.
Driving the Trakkadu was a pleasure and we appreciated having our house-on-wheels contained in such a compact machine (no camper trailer to consider when trying to park in shopping centres). It handled secondary bitumen and dirt roads with poise, apart from some rattling of contents on corrugated sections.
The 132 ORP model is Trakka’s most capable Trakkadu and we had high hopes for its off-road ability thanks to the low-speed first gear fitted to this machine, but it’s still no rock-hopper. Even in first cog the Trakkadu baulked at the low stone shelves on our favourite fire trails: tracks that standard 4x4 utes handle easily.
VW offers a seven-speed twin-clutch mechanical-automatic transmission on the Transporter, but the gearing in this transmission isn’t as deep as the manual six-speed box’s, so that wouldn’t work, either. What’s needed is a torque-converter automatic transmission, to let the engine spin-up without stalling.
Although the Trakkadu didn’t like running on fire trails it was fine on beach sand, where the gearing and flotation from its fat tyres worked well.
As an Outback touring machine for a couple the Trakkadu should be ideal: compact, economical, easy to drive and manoeuvre, and able to get to camping spots larger vehicles or those towing camper trailers can’t manage. However, it isn’t a full-on all-terrain adventure machine.
From experience I know the Trakkadu is a rare beast. It combines the comfort, safety and refinement of a luxury car with the ability to haul family and friends, and then double as a weekend escape or extended touring machine. Any model Trakkadu is a four-place family wagon that can keep your shopping cold in the fridge while you watch your kid’s (or grandkid’s) sporting endeavours from under the awning, or inside with a coffee when the wind’s blowing. And that’s just one scenario. VW’s Transporter has been with us so long it’s been refined to within an inch of its life. Ditto Trakka’s innovative and beautifully made camper conversion. Combined, they’re a formidable combination which, although not cheap, delivers satisfaction in spades.
Superb daily driver
Safe and economical
Excellent integration of camper
Quality of vehicle and conversion
Genuine all-road ability
Manual gearbox only
Lacks ultimate off-road ability
Extensive options list
Expensive for its size
Click HERE to visit the Trakka website.
Click below to download a PDF of the full test, including specifications, photos and contact details.