- Designed as an all-country, all-weather adventurer
- The L4 sits on a Volkswagen Crafter 35 with 2.5-litre TDI engine, which meets Euro4 emission standards
- Driving the L4 is easy with its power steering and high-tech braking package
- A family of four can sleep on the easily deployed beds
- The kitchen and bathroom have all the essentials
The new L4 from RoadCraft is designed around a couple with two children, sleeping four in comfort. At nearly 7m long and weighing in at around 3880kg, it’s well within standard driver’s license parameters.
We drove the prototype vehicle, but RoadCraft is aiming to deliver 20 L4s to its rental arm (Wilderness) over the next year.
Volkswagen’s Crafter 35 van is the starting point for the L4, characterized by solid, precision bodywork, free of rattles. A 2.5-litre, five-cylinder common rail Turbo Diesel Injected (TDI) engine powers the vehicle, and there are plenty of options and extras.
This model was fitted with an 85kW engine. The company says future L4s will probably be equipped with a 100kW alternative, and there is also a 120kW version. All are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, though an automatic version is also available.
The vehicle performs well with the 85kW unit, though I didn’t take it up any remote tracks, and we didn’t have a full load on board. Still, there’s plenty of torque, and cruising at 100kph in sixth gear, the engine’s turning over at 2500rpm.
It is very quiet and fuel consumption equates to around 12.5 km/litre. All engines meet the Euro 4 emission standard.
The cab layout offers plenty of space, all controls fall easily to hand, and the visibility is excellent.
The large “split” side mirrors eliminate blind spots and provide uncompromised rear views. Just as well – the vista from the cab’s rear view mirror is a little tight (you have to peer past the bathroom structure).
The standard vehicle isn’t equipped with a GPS unit, but it would be easy to fit one.
Features include cruise control, a fully-adjustable driver’s seat, adjustable steering column, air conditioning and stereo/radio player. There’s also a DVD player mounted on the ceiling.
Both the cab seats swivel 180o to create a friendly, intimate space.
Despite its size, driving the L4 is easy with its power steering and high-tech braking package.
It comprises 300mm discs up front (298mm at the rear) with two calipers per wheel. The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) teams up with Electronic Brake-Pressure Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP) and traction control to ensure optimal driving safety. EBDdisperses the braking force to where it’s most required – between the front and rear axles. A great help when negotiating awkward, rough-terrain country.
The rear wraparound couch becomes an expansive double bed (1770 x 1900mm), which can be configured as two singles (800 x 1900mm). The bed is easily deployed with a flick of a switch – using an electrical release mechanism.
Up front, the children sleep in two bunk beds configured sideways, across the width of the vehicle (750 x 1770mm each). The lower bunk is formed from the bench seat, while the upper folds down – on pneumatic rams – from the ceiling.
Test your culinary skills with lots of lockers and solid Macrocarpa bench top space.
A four-burner Spinflo gas stove with grill (fed by two 4.5kg gas bottles) sits under a Dometic range hood, with wash-up in a generous stainless steel sink. Hot water’s (14-litre capacity) supplied by either the Truma diesel heater or mains power.
A 110-litre Waeco fridge (with separate freezer compartment) is on the opposite side, mounted at chest height. The compressor will run even when you’re on a 30o angle, or over corrugated tracks.
For me, though, the galley’s piecé de resistance is its tools – top-quality pots and pans, and surgical-grade knives.
The bathroom is spacious by motorhome standards, and features a Dometic cassette toilet (nine-litres), shower and basin. The swivel seat toilet swings out of the way when not in use, and the bathroom doubles as a drying room.
That Truma heater is a Combi model – providing heating for the vehicle and the drying room, as well as the hot water for the galley and bathroom. Grey water collects in a 135-litre tank and all Roadcraft vehicles have self containment certification.
Insulation in the L4 uses SL2 grade polystyrene in the roof, and polyester “Green Stuff” batts in the sides and behind the cabinet walls. Coupled with carpeting on the floors, thermoflex on the walls and vinyl headlining on the ceiling, you won’t be chilly, especially once the heater kicks in.
As well as the DVD player in the cab, the main, 15” Majestic LCD screen is mounted in the lounge. You have a choice of CD, MP3, MP4 or the radio. Or, hook your iPod into the auxiliary input.
The L4 is fitted with twin batteries – one for the engine, the other for the house. The latter (220 amp-hours) comprises two six-volt, deep-cycle batteries connected in series. The vehicle’s also fitted with a 600-watt inverter, providing 240 volts AC.
The Crafter comes with a four-year or 200,000km (whichever comes first) full-vehicle warranty. That’s complemented by Volkwagens’s Roadside Assistance programme (24-hour help for three years), plus a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty and three year paint defect guarantee.
A good selection of outdoor accessories are supplied with the vehicle, including Oztent fold-up table and chairs, and a gas-fired barbeque and an outside shower. Optional extras range from a customized awning (over the main entrance), to a satellite dish, solar panels and a roof rack.
To read in-depth RV reviews, see the latest issue of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine, on sale now.
85kW, 2.5 litre, five cylinder, turbo-charged diesel (upgradeable)
Volkswagen Charter 35
4 years/200,000km mechanical, 1 year on appliances