I’ll travel miles to check out a new caravan. When I caught wind of a new Regal Caravans Sahara on display at Cobram Caravans, I had to decide: drive 303km from home to the Murray River, home to the border town of Cobram, or stay in the office and answer emails?
At first glance, there’s something almost stealthy about our review Regal Sahara. With its charcoal composite aluminium cladding and black checkerplate protection on all sides, the Sahara has a certain purposeful aesthetic.
Riding on 16in Primal Force alloy wheels with all terrain tyres, and Al-Ko Enduro Outback suspension, this caravan should be at home off the beaten track. What’s more, it has a reasonable amount of fresh water storage (160L) and a good 12V setup in the form of two 120W solar panels and two 97Ah deep-cycle batteries, which are mounted in steel boxes (with a checkerplate fascia) to the offside main chassis member. A 90L grey water tank is also included.
When it comes to external storage, the Sahara fares quite well. In particular, I liked the checkerplate box on the A-frame, which is split into two main compartments: general storage in the nearside compartment, where you’ll also find the supplied jack and wheel brace; and room for a 2kVA generator or portable fridge on the supplied slide-out tray in the offside compartment.
There is also a tunnel boot; however, because a slide-out Swift barbecue is fitted to the nearside, access is only possible from the offside. More storage is found at the nearside rear – the space behind the locker door runs about the height of the van but the door is at the bottom, making it hard to fully utilise this excellent storage space. A secondary locker door, above the exisiting door, would remedy the situation.
Along with the slide-out barbecue, the nearside of the van gets a Dometic roll-out awning, an LED light bar, a fold-down picnic table and a 240V and 12V point.
Naturally, the Sahara has a connection point for town water and I liked that it was mounted to the steel behind the wheels, well and truly out of harm’s way.
I thought the underside of the van was well put together, too, with no low-hanging pipes or wires dangling in the breeze. The fresh and grey water tanks are, as you’d expect, protected by gal sheeting.
INSIDE THE REGAL CARAVANS SAHARA
The layout of our review Regal Caravans Sahara is somewhat traditional. It’s comprised of a front north-south bed, nearside dinette and offside kitchen, and a full-width rear bathroom. Having said that, each of these ‘zones’ is appropriately sized and equipped.
The bedroom has the usual overhead lockers and wardrobes and windows either side. To increase the natural light factor, I wondered if the bedroom would benefit from a window at the front but the overhead hatch offers a decent compromise. The bed has a couple of reading lights and padded ‘headboard’ and, yes, the mattress lifts on gas struts to reveal a large storage space.
A flatscreen TV is mounted forward of the kitchen on a swivel arm, so you can watch from the bed or the dinette.
The cafe-style dinette, with its overhead lockers, cupboard beneath the tri-fold table, large window and snap-up footrest for both lounges, is as comfortable as they come. I liked that there was a 12V and 240V point at the lounge, meaning you can easily charge your devices while relaxing with your feet up. What’s more, there’s a 12V point just above the rearmost lounge, too.
Regal has fitted a hatch to access the storage space beneath both lounges; however, it’s just as easy to remove the seat cushions. The storage areas under both lounges are impeded slightly by the wheel arches and the rearmost area houses the 12V water pump. The space beneath the forward lounge, though, is otherwise empty.
The kitchen, meanwhile, is equipped with a four-burner cooktop, griller and oven, overhead lockers, a microwave, a 184L three-way fridge, drawers, a cupboard and a slide-out pantry. The sink even has a filtered tap for drinking water. A hinged section of bench above the cooktop lid adds to the overall kitchen workspace.
The bathroom isn’t the largest I’ve seen, but nor is it the smallest. It contains a Thetford cassette toilet on the offside, a shower in a separate cubicle on the nearside, and a vanity in the centre, across the rear wall. The vanity unit conceals a top-loading washing machine, too.
Along with a couple of cupboards and overhead lockers, there’s a linen cupboard in the offside rear corner, next to the toilet, with the hot water service fitted beneath. It can be accessed by a small hatch, but it’s awkward due to the position of the toilet. Thankfully, a hot water service is not an item that needs constant attention.
It should be pointed out that, because Regal Caravans is a custom manufacturer, nothing is set in stone, and this applies to the Sahara. If there’s something on our review van you don’t like, or want more of, Regal could make it happen.
From a towing perspective, the van is in serious 4WD/dual cab ute territory, but interestingly its unladen ball weight is quite low, the idea being to minimise the likelihood of overloading the towbar thanks to the low starting point.
This Regal Sahara is fitted with the equipment you’d expect for its price point and, from cooking to water to power, it certainly covers all the bases in terms of long-haul caravanning.
FIT AND FINISH –
HITS & MISSES
- Reasonable payload capacity of 500kg
- Attention to detail throughout – there are very few imperfections
- Inclusion of a grey water tank
- I’d like a second locker door above the existing door at the nearside rear for better access to this storage space.
- It’s not essential but I’d like a front window.
Overall length: 8.7m
External body length: 6.2m
External width: 2.45m
Internal height: 2m
Travel height: 3.2m
Unladen ball weight: 90kg
Frame: Meranti timber
Cladding: Charcoal aluminium composite
Chassis: 6in galvanised double-boxed
Suspension: Al-Ko Enduro Outback
Brakes: 12in electric
Wheels: 16in alloy
Fresh water: 2x80L
Grey water: 1x90L
Awning: Dometic roll-out
Battery: 2x97Ah deep-cycle
Air-conditioner: Belaire reverse-cycle
Gas cylinders: 2x9kg
Sway control: No – can be optioned or fitted aftermarket
Cooking: Swift four-burner cooktop with griller and oven
Refrigeration: 184L Thetford three-way
Toilet: Thetford cassette
Shower: Separate cubicle
Washing machine: Top-loader
Lighting: 12V LED
Hot water: Suburban gas-electric
$77,990 (from Cobram Caravans)