Malcolm Street reports on his week in Trakka’s penultimate Trakkaway-series motorhome…
I recently spent a week at the Campervan and Motorhome Club's (CMCA) National Rally at Narrabri and my transport and accommodation for most of that week was a Trakka Trakkaway 770 motorhome. Whilst not being a large RV manufacturer, Trakka builds a good range of motorhomes, especially in their coachbuilt Trakkaway range, with something for everyone, from a 7 m/23 ft rig to the very comfortable tandem-axle 8.6 m/28 ft unit. All are built on a Fiat Ducato cab that’s bolted to an Al-Ko chassis. The Trakkaway 770 (7.7 m/25 ft) undoubtedly has one very attractive feature: a fixed island bed at the rear. It's available in two body forms, with a Luton peak over the cab (Aero 4) or without (Aero 2) and my review vehicle was the latter.
Like most local manufacturers, Trakka buy the Ducatos with the most powerful turbo-diesel available, that is the Multijet 180 model, which puts out a maximum of 132 kW of power and a very generous 400 Nm of torque. As noted above, it comes attached to an Al-Ko chassis; one that comes fitted with Al-Ko’s Level Controller (ALC). It is used instead of a conventional shock absorber and automatically sets the level of the motorhome. It’s not air bag suspension, which relies on an external air source, but one which uses vehicle motion to power an internal oil/gas system.
Given it's a Trakka motorhome, the 770 body fits the Ducato very well. A close look at the fibreglass body reveals quite a number of what are known as complex curves – top and bottom. That means areas like the roof are curved both fore and aft and to the sides. This not only makes for a better looking motorhome but has practical value as well – rainwater runs off the roof and in the case of the mouldings on the rear wall, they act as a rainwater retrieval system. In addition those same rear mouldings are curved inwards, thus not only improving the air flow but very much taking away the boxy look.
For the entry door, Trakka has fitted its usual Dometic door with non-opening window and a moulded-in garbage bin, but not an insect screen. I have to say that I missed that particular item on warmer days. Windows are the usual Seitz double-glazed items with integrated screens and blinds.
One of the assets of the low Al-Ko chassis is that good external bin space can be built in, in this case with a rear boot that also has access from the nearside. On the opposite side is where the gas cylinder bin, with two 4.0 kg gas cylinders, is located. Also to be found along the offside are the three water filler connections (main tank, mains pressure fitting and rain water tank) and the power cord holder. Instead of just coiling up a separately connected lead, this one is permanently connected, with a fixed holder. It's a fairly neat arrangement that I like, but slightly time consuming to wind up. It is, however, always good for someone like me who carries various lengths of power cord depending on where I’m camped – like a CMCA rally.
Naturally, the 770 comes fully equipped electrically. Two 100 AH deep-cycle batteries are charged by both a 25 A battery charger and a 135 W solar panel on the roof. If needed, a 1200 W inverter is available as an option.
On the Road
The drive from Sydney to Narrabri is an excellent test of a motorhome, especially if a diversion is taken through the Hunter Valley wineries. Although the trip is mostly freeway/highway travel, the New England highway provides all kinds of road conditions, including multiple numbers of road works sites.
Suffice to say the Ducato-powered 770 moved along very nicely. There's no doubt in my head that the 3.0 litre 132 kW turbo-diesel is the way to go with this sized motorhome. Although the smaller and lower powered 2.3 litre 96 kW and 109 kW engines have started to appear in a few imports, the 132 kW engine, bolted to the six speed AMT gearbox, provides a relaxed and stress free drive. I'm not being a lead foot: My criteria is the ability to maintain highway speeds without difficulty in most situations.
In the driver and passenger comfort department my 770 came with the optional leather upholstery on the cab seats, which along with the matching leather seats in the rear certainly adds a touch of class. The driver’s cab has all the usual items including GPS and Bluetooth. Mr Publisher will love this – unlike earlier models, the Fiat radio does have a USB connection – which means the ability to plug in one's iPod but some glitch means the only way to turn the iPod on/off or change tracks is by unplugging it. Fiat still apparently have not heard of a simple 3.5mm socket.
One feature I did particularly like is the SkyView hatch Immediately above the cab seats. It comes with the usual integrated blind (essential under the hot sun) and insect screen but does have the interesting bonus of being able to be left open when driving (being front hinged) – nothing like a bit of fresh crossflow air when driving I always think!
With the 770, Trakka has nailed what for many is the ideal layout in a non-slide out motorhome. The front cab area, with swivelled cab seats and sideways facing lounges, forms up a practical lounge dining area. Mid station, the kitchen fills the offside area, with the bathroom cubicle being on the opposite side. All that leaves enough space in the rear for the island bed. All the decor is very much in the grey/beige, easy-to-keep-clean Trakka style. Also very familiar are the roller shutters used on all the cupboards and overhead lockers. Apart from anything else, they are great for the ability to leave open without the door being in the way.
There are LED lights all over the place, many on a dimmer circuit and if even more low level lights are needed, then there are mauve mood strip lights around the cab as well as above and below the kitchen. If nothing else, they provide a soft night light. During the day of course, the fore and aft ceiling hatches and the all round windows provide a good level of natural light. Pole mounts for the TVs are well placed and functional – they hold the TV securely when travelling – yet both are easy to move around for optimum viewing.
The Trakkaway 770 doesn’t have a particularly large lounge/dining area but it will suit a couple very nicely and four can probably sit around the table without much trouble. This might sound a surprising comment, but the floor level around all the seats is at the same level and not all manufacturers manage to achieve this useful feature! Moving around the table is aided greatly by the Zwaardvis table mounting - it can swivel in several directions and I found it quite useful, using it as both dining and work table. On either side above the lounge seats are overhead lockers and I do like the half-round shaped ones above the cab seats. In my case they are extremely easy to park a tripod or two in and have quick access.
Time to Eat
Several Trakka motorhomes feature an L-shaped kitchen but the 770 has a straight bench that comes with a three burner cooktop with grill/oven below and a stainless steel sink without drainer alongside. Both sink and cooktop have smoked glass lids and the narrow shelf that runs along the wall behind is useful for not only kitchen items but battery chargers as well.
Under the bench top four drawers and a slide-out pantry offers a copious amount of storage, as does the shelf-fitted locker above. I'm not a fan of electronics mounted directly above the potentially steamy atmosphere of a cooktop, but in this case the roller shutter door closes everything (electrics control panel, hot water switch and diesel heater control) off very nicely.
Between the rear end of the kitchen bench and bedroom partition is where the 190-litre fridge, with microwave above, are to be found. A byproduct of the step into the bedroom area is better height access to the microwave oven!
Trakka normally does its bathrooms with a bit of class and this one is no exception. It does of course include the space saving Switch Mode Bathroom (SMB). That's Trakka speak for the Thetford cassette toilet which, at the touch of a remote button, slides out from under the wash basin when needed. Otherwise there's plenty of room for a shower or when using the well equipped vanity sink area. The bathroom floor is raised above the floor level to allow for drainage and that does require a little bit of dexterity when using the loo! Ventilation is well catered for by the relatively large window and roof hatch areas.
As previously noted, there are a couple of steps into the bedroom. The 2.05 m x 1.49 m (6 ft 9 in x 4 ft 11 in) mattress and bed base have curved corners to allow for easy access. Lifting the bed base not only gives access to the under bed drawers but also the rear boot as well. Hiding under the drawers is the compressor unit for the Truma ducted air conditioner – a very good hiding place indeed. General storage in the bedroom is quite simple, with two bedside wardrobes and cabinets, along with two cabinets in foot of bed corners. In the latter case, the offside one having a pole mounted mirror above and the nearside, a pole mounted TV.
WHAT WE THINK
I spent a week travelling and living in the Trakkaway 770 -– more staying than travelling – mostly because I used it as an office and home at the CMCA rally. It was hard not to come away impressed. In my opinion the Trakkaway 770 has a very functional layout, with a minimal number of annoying compromises. In fact I reckon the 770 is a very pleasurable touring motorhome.
- Ducato cab/Al-Ko chassis make for easy handling
- Practical layout with room to move
- Front lounge layout
- Internal lighting
- Generous external storage space
- Kitchen layout
- Central locking all doors
- No radio/CD player in the rear
- No insect screen on entry door
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