Pop-top tour­ing

The 2010 Coronet Prince pop-top is a com­fort­able and com­pact tour­ing com­pan­ion.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - CONTENTS -

Coronet’s 2010 Prince pop-top is put through its paces

The best things in life are free. When it comes to caravanning, isn’t that the truth. In fact, it’s what it’s all about. Fire­side com­pan­ion­ship, a mag­nif­i­cent out­look, fine wine…

I’d been in the of­fice too much. It was time to down tools, hitch up and get away. An­drew Phillips runs the RV Re­pair Cen­tre in Bayswa­ter, Vic, but also owns the Coronet Car­a­vans mar­que, and the con­ver­sa­tion went some­thing like this: “An­drew, I’m stuffed. Can I bor­row a van?” “Sure, I’ve got a 2010 Coronet Prince pop-top. Look af­ter it and she’s all yours.”

So with a patch of sun­shine amid a very gloomy weather fore­cast, I put the Prince on the back of my Toy­ota HiLux and headed down the South Gipp­s­land High­way to­wards the Bass Coast. Kil­cunda, a coastal com­mu­nity not far from Phillip Is­land, was my desti­na­tion.

IN­NER GLOW

Our 2010 re­view pop-top is of­fi­cially termed the ‘17ft 6in, rear kitchen, is­land bed’ model. The mea­sure­ment refers to the in­ter­nal length you’re look­ing at 7.4m or 24ft 3in).

Clearly it’s not a van for the Gun­bar­rel, but it doesn’t pre­tend to be. Rather, coastal and hin­ter­land cruis­ing are more its speed. And for that pur­pose, it does a very good job. It proved an ad­e­quate tow be­hind the HiLux, but some slight jostling had me won­der­ing if it was a tad light on the nose. Noth­ing dra­matic, mind you, and by no means a deal breaker. Had the gas cylin­ders been full, I reckon it would have towed per­fectly.

The deal mak­ers of this tan­dem-axle car­a­van are on the in­side. And it starts as soon as you en­ter through the ubiq­ui­tous Camec triple-locker door. The kitchen, which runs the full width of the rear, is all class with more stor­age space than you could hope to fill. The bench­top is smooth Laminex with about 200mm of splash­back in the same fin­ish. There’s no mould­ing or bead­ing (which might in­di­cate a cov­er­ing up of mis­takes) where the bench­top joins the splash­back. Rather, it’s a crisp line of no more than 1mm that’s neatly gapped with ( over­all,

sil­i­cone to pre­vent wa­ter ingress. This con­struc­tion method re­quires all mea­sure­ments and cuts to be mil­lime­tre-per­fect.

The kitchen, which also fea­tures all the nec­es­sary mod cons (stain­less steel four-burner cook­top and grill, 110L Dometic fridge, sink and mi­crowave), also comes with a hatch in the off­side cor­ner. Be­neath the hatch is a small bas­ket – per­fect for stor­ing veg­eta­bles, etc. How­ever, I would have liked to see a rub­ber seal around the edges, con­sid­er­ing it’s so close to the sink. An­drew Phillips’ rea­son­ing against the seal was that hav­ing one would dis­rupt the very smooth fin­ish of the bench ( he’s right, it would). Be­sides, the hatch is made of marine ply, which doesn’t rot.

The 12V Shur­flo wa­ter pump is un­der the sink – the cuts in the shelv­ing through which the plumb­ing runs are neat and tidy. The build qual­ity of the cab­i­netry over­all is sound, with 3mm poly­ply glued and screwed to the cab­i­nets’ mer­anti tim­ber frame – one of the light­est con­struc­tion meth­ods for cab­i­netry.

On the topic of in­ter­nal con­struc­tion, the floor is typ­i­cal 12mm marine ply glued and screwed to the chas­sis. The li­noleum floor, though, is not glued – it’s sta­pled at one end, then stretched as one piece over the ply and sta­pled at the other end. A spe­cial pad­ding on the lino’s un­der­side grips the ply and pre­vents air bub­bles. It also pre­vents the lino from ‘warp­ing’ when ex­posed to di­rect sun­light for long pe­ri­ods.

LOUNGE LIZARD

The off­side lounge is the real high­light of the Prince. It faces the L-shaped dinette on the near­side, and is just a beau­ti­ful place to be. The high den­sity foam is comfy – I put my feet up and read a book, and fell asleep as I lis­tened to the

ocean. Magic. The stor­age space be­neath both lounge and dinette is quite good, and that un­der the queen-size bed (the in­ner­spring mat­tress of which mea­sures 1.52x1.87m or 5ft x 6ft 2in) is very good.

The bed it­self… what can I say? I al­ways sleep bet­ter in car­a­vans so I had high ex­pec­ta­tions. I’m pleased to re­port that I was not dis­ap­pointed. The bed­room has the usual bed­head of over­head lock­ers and wardrobes and it’s all nicely done with a shelf across the front.

As for gen­eral stor­age through­out – such an im­por­tant fac­tor in find­ing the right car­a­van – you’ve also got four lock­ers above the lounge with (op­tional) lead-light inserts, and three above the dinette with­out the inserts.

The pop-top’s 350mm-high tent sec­tion is of a heavy-duty vinyl that does a good job of block­ing out ex­ter­nal light. On the topic of light, each of the

liv­ing ‘zones’ – bed­room, dinette and lounge – has two mul­ti­di­rec­tional halo­gen spot­lights. There are three dome lights in the ceil­ing and a great spread of dou­ble pow­er­points through­out.

As for en­ter­tain­ment, the Prince comes with a CD/MP3 player that’s con­nected to two in­ter­nal DNA speak­ers. A flatscreen TV and DVD player isn’t part of the pack­age, but can be op­tioned in.

PRI­OR­I­TIES RIGHT

For the kind of tour­ing it’s de­signed for, the Coronet Prince pop- top has its pri­or­i­ties right. It’s not about the bells and whis­tles. In­stead, it’s a rig with a back-to-ba­sics-in-style em­pha­sis, and I like that.

It has a 4in, ex­tended A-frame and a 4in chas­sis back to the front spring hang­ers. The main rails are 4in from the load­shar­ing sus­pen­sion to the rear. The 14in al­loy wheels are part of the stan­dard

pack­age and look ter­rific. The rig’s mer­anti frame is clad with shal­low form are in­su­lated. The A-frame is home to a cou­ple of A stone­guard for the tap wouldn’t go astray. awning, how­ever, is a flu­o­res­cent. You also get AlKo drop-down cor­ner sta­bilis­ers and a spare wheel mounted to the rear bumper, which is U-bolted to the main chas­sis rails.

The lid of the front boot is sur­rounded by a padded peb­ble guard. Since the gas cylin­ders are on the draw­bar, the boot it­self, fin­ished in pow­der­coated alu­minium, has ad­e­quate space for stor­ing of putting the jockey in your tow ve­hi­cle, it’s the only place to store it – the boot is the only ex­ter­nal 100Ah bat­tery and charger.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The Prince pop-top sat at the entry level of car­a­van con­fig­u­ra­tion. The Prince was a faith­ful, com­fort­able home base for our tour of the Bass Coast, and I’d have no qualms about hitch­ing one up for a longer trip. Com­fort­able. Com­pact. Cairns, here I come.

Words Max Tay­lor Pics Stu­art grant

Clock­wise from above: Two 4.5kg gas cylin­ders on the draw­bar; to raise the roof, en­sure the awning ‘ switch’ is in the cor­rect po­si­tion, then un­clip the cor­ner latches; 14in al­loy wheels; LED tail­lights; lift the hinges in­side to fin­ish rais­ing the pop- top; a prac­ti­cal kitchen; op­tional 100Ah bat­tery pack in the pow­der­coated front boot.

Clock­wise from top left: Off­side lounge with high den­sity foam cush­ion­ing; the bed comes with an in­ner­spring mat­tress; pop the top and you’re ready to re­lax; the cor­ner hatch is a good spot for your veg­gies; the CD/ MP3 player is con­nected to two DNA speak­ers.

Above: com­pan­ion.

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