Earlier this year, Regal Caravans was given a challenge by its new Queensland dealer, Fraser RVs. The Toowoomba-based caravan yard wanted something different. Something special. The bar was set high and Regal got to work.
The result: the Condamine 650X, named for the southern Queensland river. It’s an offroader with a lot of heart. A lot of features, too.
Characterised by smooth, clean lines, more storage than you’re likely to need – believe me, there’s a lot – and a well-defined and finished layout, the Condamine 650X cuts an imposing figure on the road.
The Condamine comes in three variants: the 650, the 610 and the 570, each a different size. The ‘X’ in our review model’s name refers to the fact it’s been given the offroad treatment.
Al-Ko Enduro Outback independent coil suspension, 16in alloy wheels, a slight cutaway rear and dual 90Ah lead crystal batteries are among the offroad additions.
The Condamine 650X rides on a hot-dipped galvanised chassis. The sides are smooth composite aluminium, while the roof is one-piece fibreglass.
There is a traditional aspect to the van that I quite liked. Yes, it has a meranti timber frame and a 12mm ply floor, as well as protective black checkplate front and sides. But it’s done very well – to my eye, the joinery was almost seamless. And I particularly liked the split front boot, with a nearside and offside hatch rather than one large boot lid.
The offside hatch gives access to the van’s electrical nerve centre: a Projecta 12V 25A battery charger and the regulator for the twin 120W solar panels. The nearside hatch, meanwhile, is yours to fill.
A checkerplate box forward of the front boot is home to dual 9kg gas cylinders and an offside fridge slide. Behind the boot, however, is yet another boot: a right-through tunnel storage area. And if that’s not enough external storage space, how’d you like a bin at the offside rear?
Underneath, there are twin 90L fresh water tanks as well as a 110L grey water tank. There’s some debate over whether a grey tank is necessary in a caravan. But they’re commonplace on motorhomes and are becoming more popular with the offroad set. I think provided the van has the load-carrying capacity to accommodate a full tank of grey water and full water tanks, as this van does, they’re a great addition, especially in vans designed to head off the beaten track.
I liked that much, if not all, of the wiring and plumbing was positioned in such a way that it was protected by the chassis. The brass mains water inlet, for example, is mounted behind a chassis rail, well and truly out of harm’s way. There is some unprotected PVC, including the outlet for the grey water tank, but they are all kept quite snug against the cross beams.
Across the nearside of the Condamine 650X you’ll find a fold-down picnic table, as well as an external entertainment compartment – just bring the telly outside, mount it to the adjustable arm, and plug it in to the 12V socket and antenna jack provided.
Overall, the 650X has a commanding exterior. The suspension seems a sound match, with the van remaining well planted to the road, both unsealed, gravel and undulating, while the underpinnings appear good and solid.
It is the interior of this van, however, that is the most attention-grabbing. Rarely have I seen a split-level layout in a caravan. A cutaway rear on a caravan will inevitably change the floor level inside, and often this is dealt with by installing the bed over the angled floor. The result is always reduced under-bed storage space. However, Regal has gone one better by creating a step up into the bathroom.
And that bathroom? Well, it’s a full-width number fitted with an offside shower, nearside cassette toilet, a top-loader washing machine, great bench space, LED lighting and more. Classy? Sophisticated? Yes.
One thing I did notice was the position of the hot water heater switch, next to the toilet. I can imagine it’s the easiest position for it, since the heater itself is positioned under the bathroom bench, next to the washing machine. Personally, I’d look into having the switch near the bed – I like to turn off gas appliances overnight and let the water reheat in the morning and would prefer to stay in bed while it heats up!
The rest of the interior is classy, too, from the slightly angled kitchen bench to the dinette, the forward bedroom with ample storage space (though the aforementioned tunnel boot does encroach on the under-bed storage, naturally), and even the colour scheme.
The kitchen includes full cooking facilities, a pull-out pantry, a stainless steel sink with flick-mixer tap, and even a battery monitor and touchscreen stereo system with an inbuilt DVD/CD player, which you’ll find mounted to the cabinetry slightly forward of the microwave.
The bedroom, meanwhile, features side wardrobes, 12V and 240V powerpoints either side of the bed (a sensible move, if ever there was one), windows all around and even a hatch above the bed – natural light is not a problem in this part of the van.
Other features include a a Nova Kool fridge-freezer, flip-up dinette footrests, a Belair 3200 reverse-cycle air-conditioner, and multidirectional LED reading lights for the bed and dinette. It is a welcoming, refined space.
The Regal Condamine 650X is appealing in a number of ways. It has decent ground clearance, great suspension, acres of storage, and an elegant, well-finished layout. And the split-level floorplan is an intriguing solution to the space that would be otherwise ‘wasted’ by the rear cutaway. There are, in fact, plenty of clever design flourishes on show throughout this rig.
While there is a reasonable amount of fresh water storage, not to mention the grey water, I’d option in another solar panel (or consider a portable set to augment the provided 240W system) and perhaps even add a slide-out barbecue to the tunnel boot.
All of that side, I think Regal has risen to the challenge set by Fraser RVs. Yes, the Conadmine 650X is indeed a different and very attractive unit.
FIT AND FINISH –
HITS & MISSES
Overall length: 8.3m
External cabin length: 6.5m
External cabin width: 2.4m (including awning)
Travel height: 3.15m
Internal height: 2.05m
Unladen ball weight: 180kg
Frame: Meranti timber
Cladding: Aluminium composite with one-piece fibreglass roof
Coupling: D035 offroad
Chassis: 6in hot-dipped galvanised
Suspension Al-Ko Enduro Outback
Wheels: 16in alloy
Fresh water: 2x90L; 110L grey water tank
Awning: Dometic roll-out
Battery: 2x90Ah lead crystal
Air-conditioner: Belair 3200 reverse-cycle
Gas cylinders: 2x9kg
Sway control: No
Cooking: Swift 500 Series four-burner cooktop with griller and oven
Refrigeration: Nova Kool fridge-freezer
Toilet: Thetford cassette
Washing machine: Top-loader
Lighting: 12V LED
Hot water: Gas-electric