Off-road­ers are on track at last

Now four-wheel drives and boats share the leisure-show lime­light, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

AF­TER 18 years off-road­ers have at last been in­vited to the party at the re­named Mel­bourne Leisurefest. For­merly known as the RV & Camp­ing Leisurefest, the ad­di­tion of four-wheel drives and boats is the big­gest change in the event’s his­tory.

‘‘It’s been the feed­back from the pub­lic in the past few years,’’ or­gan­iser Peter Wright says. ‘‘We’re at a great venue and we’ll be able to make use of that. And though we are a recre­ational ve­hi­cle show, the pub­lic wants the com­ple­men­tary items like cars and boats.’’

It’s be­ing held at Sandown Race­course from next Thurs­day to Sun­day, and the show’s or­gan­is­ers ex­pect 35,000 peo­ple to see the lat­est in recre­ational equip­ment.

De­spite the eco­nomic un­cer­tainty and slow­ing car sales, Wright — who heads the Car­a­van Trade and In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria — says the mar­ket is still bullish.

‘‘I can’t speak for boat­ing, but our in­dus­try is still re­silient,’’ he says. ‘‘Our mar­ket has soft­ened in the fam­ily area, but the higher end is still do­ing well. Peo­ple are still re­tir­ing and, though they may have a bit less money, they still want to do some­thing, to see Aus­tralia. That side of the mar­ket is hold­ing up well.

‘‘We just had our Syd­ney show at Pen­rith and though the Syd­ney mar­ket has been flat for a while, we had record crowds.’’

Sev­eral lead­ing brands will be rep­re­sented at the show.

Among the ve­hi­cles dis­played will be Holden’s new Colorado work­horse and Cap­tiva SUV, Honda’s CR-V com­pact off-roader, the new Jeep Grand Chero­kee, Re­nault’s Koleos 4x4, the tur­bod­iesel Nis­san X-Trail, and mod­els from Mazda, Kia and Suzuki.

Vis­i­tors will be able to try the cars on Sandown’s off-road test track. And the race­track it­self will be used to demon­strate car­a­van and boat-tow­ing and recre­ational ve­hi­cle tests.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from eight lead­ing 4x4 clubs will be on hand to an­swer ques­tions and of­fer ad­vice.

Sandown bound: Holden’s new Colorado will be on show at Mel­bourne Leisurefest.

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