The New Black!
Trakka launches its Trakkaway 800 on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter…
By Malcolm Street
One of the more successful motorhome designs has been Trakka’s coachbuilt Trakkaway range. The current range has been built on the front-wheel drive Fiat Ducato/Al-Ko chassis combination (except for an initial offering on the rear-wheel drive VW Crafter), but the latest offering is built on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter cab-chassis. This marks a return to rear-wheel drive and will certainly please many potential buyers, especially those looking to tow.
Unusually, our review vehicle’s external finish was mostly black, which is an interesting departure from the usual white.
Measuring 7.92 m (26 ft) the Trakkaway 800 is built almost to the maximum allowed length of 8 m. That limit is due to the maximum rear overhang being 60 per cent of the wheelbase and is one reason Trakka has incorporated its rear slide-out bed into the 800’s design. Whilst on the chassis, a look under the motorhome reveals a chassis extension, which looks like original Benz engineering, to accommodate a towbar.
The moulded fibreglass panels on each end and the vacuum-moulded composite panels used for the walls are standard Trakka-produced fare – so therefore very strong and of high quality. Our motorhome came with Trakka’s Aero2 low-profile nosecone, complete with Skyview hatch, but one of few options available is the Aero4 front end, which accommodates an over-cab bed and therefore makes the motorhome good for four people to sleep.
Still on mouldings, one of the other options is the Rain Water Retrieval System, which fits neatly around the rear wall and allows for 55 litres of rain water to be collected.
Largish Seitz double-glazed hopper windows are a feature of the 800, as is a Dometic unscreened entry door. Storage space is quite generous, with the largest bin being at the rear and accessible from both the nearside and the rear. The latter is slightly awkward to get at with the rear slide-out open (mind your head), but does offer good storage. It also happens to be where the external clip-on table is stashed (under the base of the bed), which on our prototype unit was set a bit low but will be raised on future models.
On the Road
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy driving the Trakkaway 800. Powered by the largest of the Sprinter turbo-diesels – the 3.0 litre 140 kW V6 – the engine delivers plenty of grunt underfoot and the super-smooth 7 speed full-automatic gearbox (not an automated manual) slides effortlessly through the gears. Our review motorhome came with a rear vision camera built into the radio/CD player/Sat Nav system, but the Trakka team tell me future models will have it as a separate unit. Being built as a B-class motorhome there is no over-cab bed, so getting to and from the cab to the rear is quite easy. A bonus of the Skyview hatch is that is can be left open when driving, thus ensuring a breezy airflow without too much buffeting. Surprisingly for a prototype motorhome, there were few squeaks and rattles, which are sometimes present beyond the normal motorhome noises.
If you are au fait with Trakkaway layouts then inside the 800 is going to look a bit familiar. To the left of the entry door are two inwards-facing lounges, plus the swivelled cab seats that make up the lounge area, while opposite the door is the kitchen. That gives space to the right of the entry door for the bathroom, leaving all the rear for the bedroom; the bed of which fits neatly into the rear slide-out. In saying it’s a familiar layout, that’s not to be taken as a negative comment at all. It’s obvious that Trakka has a layout that works well and that its customers like and I certainly don’t have any trouble living with it, either. Trakka's trademark roller shutter-style doors are used on the overhead lockers and a number of the cupboards.
Up front, the lounge/dining area is one that’s makes full use of the swivelled cab seats. They are fairly close in height to the inwards-facing lounges, so two can sit back in comfort and if guests arrive there’s good room for them as well.
When dining time comes around the Zwaardvis mounted table, which is stored in the bedroom when not being used, can quickly be set up. One of the features of Trakka’s pole mounted TV, which is fixed to the end of the kitchen bench, is that it's easily seen from most of the seats. That might sound like a bleedin' obvious statement, but I've been in a few motorhomes where TVs are mounted in some not easily viewed locations.
Two handy compartments are built into the front edge of the kitchen bench, one with 240 and 12 V sockets for battery charging devices. Much of the space under the offside seat has been taken by the battery, charger, inverter, etc, but the air space above has not been wasted – Trakka’s built-in a lift out storage box that can easily be utilised for light weight items.
Time to Eat
As with many of its designs Trakka has opted for an L-shaped kitchen. It's a bit European in its sizing (smallish) but still has all the necessary items, including a raised shelf along the front edge that uses air space below to improve the bench top area. Against the wall is a three-burner cooktop with grill/oven below. That leaves space in the right angled section for the adjoining sink/drainer.
The under-bench area is fully utilised by drawers and a slide-out wire basket pantry. Adjoining the kitchen bench to the rear is the 184-litre fridge, with microwave oven above, and plate/cup storage above that. One of the little bugbears of the microwave-above-the-fridge setup (and therefore being too high) has been resolved here thanks to the steps leading to the bedroom.
One of the advantages of a rear wall slide-out is that the rest of the motorhome can be used whether it’s in or out (it also means that if it gets stuck out you can still drive - Ed). Even if you are too tired to push the slide-out switch the bed can still be used, albeit with a bit of a scramble by the nearside sleeper.
Measuring 1.95 m x 1.35 m (6 ft 5 in x 5ft 5 in), the bed has curved corners for easy access and good walk around space. Because of the rear slide-out the bed base does not lift, but there are drawers on either side. Additionally, there’s a good selection of cupboards, wardrobes and drawers in all the usual places around the bedroom area. None are particularly large but that’s frequently more practical in actual use.
The lower half of the corner beside the shower cubicle is taken up by the housing for the cassette toilet, but the space above is mostly for the pole-mounted flat screen TV. In some ways the pole mount arrangement is less flexible than a swivel arm but it certainly offers much in the stability and strength department, not to mention being easy to use. A cutaway has been built into the cabinet to accept the bed when it’s closed up, but it also doubles as a seat if you don’t like bending over to lift the table and pole mount out of its storage area.
In the space efficiency department the Trakkaway 800’s Switch Mode Bathroom (SMB) is a winner, due to the remotely controlled slide-in, slide-out cassette toilet that hides under the vanity when not being used. This allows the cubicle to be made to a size more than sufficient for showering comfortably (and using the vanity), without making it a vehicle interior space hog. It’s also quite light and bright, with a large roof hatch and window, plus plenty of wall mirror area.
In a motorhome like this the electrics are going to be quite sophisticated. The twin 100 AH deep cycle batteries are charged by either the Sprinter’s smart charger, the mains-supplied 25 amp charger or the 120 W solar panel. The latter might not sound like a good capacity, but given this motorhome has full LED lighting with selectable levels of illumination and a three-way fridge, living remotely for a number of days should not be a problem. Water capacity, a very generous 165-litres, might be the limiting factor. Naturally you’ll have to survive without the microwave and air-con. but hey, that’s “roughing it”! On the subject of air conditioning, these days there’s a good range of 12 V fans available, one of which has been fitted into the bedroom.
What I Think
It’s a bit hard not to be impressed by the Trakkaway 800. It’s certainly the result of continuing design evolution I think I first saw in New Zealand some six or seven years ago, when Trakka had some interests across the Tasman. Although I quite like the Fiat Ducato-based Trakkaways, there’s no doubt that the use of the Sprinter cab-chassis will enhance the motorhome’s appeal.
Although the 800 ain’t cheap it offers much for the discerning motorhomer; especially one who desires comfort and style, plus the appeal of the three-pointed star on the bonnet.
- Easy driving
- Comfortable front lounge
- Storage compartments everywhere
- A host of clever design features
- Sophisticated electrical system
- Black not an ideal colour
- Smallish kitchen area
- Slide-out limits rear boot access
Click HERE to visit Trakka's website
Click below to download a PDF of the full test, including specifications, photos and contact details.
Trakka Trakkaway 800 (2156 KB)
Trakka Trakkaway 800 (2156 KB)