Stand out

With its op­tional bur­gundy ex­te­rior, the 2012 Hori­zon Banksia is an eye-catch­ing large van con­ver­sion.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - 2012 Horizon Banksia -

Nav­i­gat­ing my 2012 Hori­zon Banksia around an­other cor­ner in the Bal­lina hin­ter­land of New South Wales, I re­flected on how much en­joy­ment I get out of driv­ing large van-based con­ver­sions. Of­ten, the vans have the same size en­gine as their larger coach-built cousins but they carry much less weight. That makes them more re­spon­sive to the right foot and they of­ten have bet­ter han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics.

I re­alise this is not ev­ery­one’s prime con­sid­er­a­tion when choos­ing a mo­torhome, but I like driv­ing, and any­one who is go­ing to spend more than a few hours on the road should def­i­nitely keep it in mind.

This 2012 Banksia has a Fiat Du­cato as its base ve­hi­cle and while many Du­cato mo­torhomes of this era came with the 3L, 132kw tur­bod­iesel, Hori­zon de­cided to try out the smaller 2.3L, 109kw en­gine to see how it was re­ceived.

I, too, was keen to see how the smaller mo­tor per­formed, es­pe­cially in tan­dem with the six-speed au­to­mated man­ual gear­box. Quite well, it turned out. Euro­pean ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers seem to have their tur­bod­iesel tech­nol­ogy well and truly sorted.

Al­though not quite as quick un­der­foot as the larger en­gine, the 2.3L mo­tor was cer­tainly will­ing enough. It didn’t af­fect the AMT gear­box too much – it had the usual hes­i­ta­tion at low revs but was other­wise a rel­a­tively smooth per­former. If your driv­ing style is a lit­tle cruisier than mine, then the 2.3L en­gine should cer­tainly de­liver the goods and the tyres fit­ted are de­signed for non-com­mer­cial driv­ing so the ride qual­ity is go­ing to be bet­ter.

EYE-CATCH­ING COLOUR

One of the at­trac­tions of the 2012 Hori­zon Banksia is its metal­lic ‘pro­fondo red’ (bur­gundy) colour. I should point out that the colour is op­tional, but it’s cer­tainly one I’d be con­sid­er­ing. The 2012 Banksia was also

avail­able in ‘burnt or­ange’ – an­other eye-catch­ing metal­lic hue .

Hori­zon fit­ted Seitz win­dows all-round, in­clud­ing to the slid­ing door and di­rectly be­hind it. I like this ar­range­ment be­cause it im­proves the nat­u­ral light in the mid­dle of the van, but the win­dow can be eas­ily dam­aged by open­ing the slid­ing door too quickly.

The ex­te­rior of the mo­torhome has all the usual items, such as a gas cylin­der bin, Dometic cas­sette toi­let door, Truma hot wa­ter heater and a colour­co­or­di­nated awning.

There is no ex­ter­nal bin but open­ing the rear doors of the van pro­vides ac­cess to the sub­stan­tial un­der­bed stor­age area in the rear. Part of this is taken up by the hot wa­ter heater on the near­side and the gas bin on the off­side. The only prob­lem with this ar­range­ment is that there re­ally isn’t any­where to store drip­ping hoses, so a plas­tic bin of some sort is def­i­nitely re­quired.

POP­U­LAR LAY­OUT

In van-based con­ver­sions, internal space re­stric­tions means there is only a lim­ited num­ber of prac­ti­cal lay­outs that can be used. The Banksia’s is one of the more pop­u­lar ones, with a bed across the rear, near­side kitchen, mid-off­side bath­room and a front lounge/din­ing area which in­cor­po­rates the Du­cato fac­tory-fit­ted swiv­el­ling cab seats.

Air-con­di­tion­ing was op­tional in the 2012 Banksia as Hori­zon found quite a few cus­tomers spent time camp­ing away from 240V power, and a roof-mounted unit just adds ex­tra weight.

Across the rear, the east-west bed mea­sures 1.8x1.3m (6ft x 4ft 3in) and comes with an op­tional in­ner­spring mat­tress. Taller peo­ple would be bet­ter off look­ing at a north-south al­ter­na­tive, avail­able in some of Hori­zon’s other mod­els.

There is good cross­flow ven­ti­la­tion in the Banksia, as well as plenty of stor­age. In ad­di­tion to the un­der­bed space, which is also ac­ces­si­ble from the in­side, there are over­head lock­ers all-round and LED read­ing lights fit­ted to both sides of the bed.

Large van con­ver­sions usu­ally have rel­a­tively com­pact bath­rooms and the Banksia is true to form with a vari­able-height shower hose, cor­ner wash­basin, small wall mir­ror and Dometic cas­sette toi­let.

Be­tween the bath­room and the bed in the rear, a full-height, two-door cup­board of­fers hang­ing space above and open stor­age be­low.

KITCHEN CATER­ING

The kitchen, which is fit­ted with a three-burner cook­top, stain­less steel sink with drainer, a 136L fridge and a Sharp Carousel mi­crowave, will han­dle more than ba­sic cater­ing.

Kitchen stor­age space is quite gen­er­ous with five good-sized draw­ers and work­ing space isn’t too bad, ei­ther, with a nom­i­nal amount plus a hinged ex­ten­sion at the front. There are no over­head lock­ers but they would crowd the space any­way. In­stead, the wall is used very ef­fec­tively with a switch and gauge panel, a pel­met stor­age shelf and

a mounting point for a flatscreen TV.

Hori­zon has fully utilised the swiv­el­ling cab seats, with the driver’s seat mesh­ing well with the ta­ble and dinette seat di­rectly be­hind. A set up like this is al­ways go­ing to be a bit fid­dly to use ef­fec­tively but it’s a very good com­pro­mise, es­pe­cially as the ta­ble can be moved back and forth along a wall-mounted metal rail. Both 240V and 12V sock­ets have been wall-mounted un­der the ta­ble and a false floor has been built around the cab seats and the dinette. This means shorter peo­ple won’t have to dan­gle their legs when sit­ting in the cab seats, and ad­di­tional stor­age is cre­ated with three draw­ers in the false floor.

One of the is­sues with large van con­ver­sions is that both the slid­ing and rear doors of­fer plenty of ways for in­sects to get in but a good cure for that is the op­tional side and rear door screens that were fit­ted to our re­view Banksia. They are at­tached by Vel­cro around the van’s door frames and have zip­pered doors for easy ac­cess.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

There’s no doubt Hori­zon worked on a con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment pro­gram in the few years lead­ing up to the re­lease of this 2012 model. And while it didn’t bring out any rad­i­cally new mod­els, quite a few small and not-so-small re­fine­ments were in­tro­duced.

For a sin­gle per­son or a cou­ple, who are not par­tic­u­larly tall, the Hori­zon Banksia has much to of­fer. It has all of the ba­sic fea­tures needed in a mo­torhome, in a rel­a­tively small pack­age that’s easy to drive and ma­noeu­vre.

Fiat Du­cato Turbo Maxi 20ft 2015 • $69,900 • VIC • 0428 220 321 Fiat Du­cato JTD Maxi 2005 • $58,000 • QLD • 0407 969 729 Fiat Avan Ap­plause 2005 • $64,990 • NSW • (07) 3085 2861

Quick specs: 2012 Hori­zon Banksia Com­pare specs 6.36m (20ft 10in) 2.05m (6ft 9in) 2933kg 4005kg $106,728 View sim­i­lar mo­torhomes for sale

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