Roadstar’s 2014 Little Rippa Adventurer combines singleaxle simplicity with serious rough-road cred.
Some ‘offroad’ caravans are barely worth the material their decals are printed on when it comes to serious travel off the bitumen. With good weather, time, patience, a willing tow car and reasonable ground clearance, you can take just about any caravan a long way around Australia.
Getting it back in one piece, however, or travelling rough roads regularly – well, that’s another challenge that only a few caravans are truly built for. From what we’ve seen of Roadstar’s 2014 Little Rippa Adventurer, you can add it to that select list.
It’s not easy to make a fairly conventionallyshaped caravan stand out from the crowd, but the 2014 Little Rippa Adventurer does it in style. Based on the single-axle Little Rippa compact onroad van, the Adventurer’s DNA came direct from Roadstar’s heavy duty, tandem-axle Safari Tamer, with which it shares much of its offroad equipment and smarts. This includes its larger 150x50mm Supagal steel chassis with tapered Z sections, front stone shields and twin mudflaps ahead of a large checkerplate toolbox and flanking jerry cans,
plus two additional jerry cans on a twin-arm steel rear bumper cradled on either side of twin spare wheels. Throw in 470mm-high black checkerplate protecting its lower walls, 4t shackle anchor points, thoughtful front and rear adjustable LED work lamps to illuminate the hitch/toolbox or spare wheels and you start to get the picture.
Slip underneath and you’ll be further impressed by the van’s 2.6t-rated Cruisemaster XT coil spring/ twin telescopic shock absorber suspension and 16in Mantis alloy wheels fitted with Grabber AT2 all-terrain Light Truck tyres, while up front there’s a Hitchmaster DO35 multi-directional offroad hitch and a robust handbrake.
Perhaps it’s the contrast between all these rugged items and the silky, mill-finish satin silver composite upper-body cladding with its striking decals, the windowless front panel, or the car-like LED rear lights, but the 2014 Little Rippa Adventurer clearly has that indefinable quality called ‘presence’, both on or off the beaten track.
This presence grows when you step through the centre-forward door and find the van to be surprisingly welcoming, homely and stylish inside. Again, it’s hard to put your finger on what makes it appealing, as there’s nothing unusual about its conventional, open plan layout, with a front north-south island bed flanked by twin robes with cupboards overhead, a central kitchen with adjacent three-way fridge/freezer, opposite a leather-clad L-shaped dinette, with a separate toilet, vanity, shower ensuite spread across the rear of the van.
Perhaps it’s the computer designed and cut plywood furniture with its high-gloss acrylic finish in silver and grey on our review van. Or maybe it’s the quality hardware, the soft-close drawers, and the very generous headroom. Or perhaps it’s simply the combination of all these things that gave it a luxurious feel. Whatever the case, you could imagine negotiating the Gibb River Road by day in the Little Rippa and leaving the red dust world outside at night.
The Little Rippa Adventurer reviewed here was the most popular 16ft 6in (internal) queen-size bed model, (you could also order it as a shorter 15ft internal length van) and it delivers a good balance between comfortable living size and manoeuvrability.
True, its 2.44m (8ft) girth works against it on narrow tracks, unless you are prepared to wear some body damage. And the absence of cutaway rear bodywork means that you can probably take large offroad humps and steep riverbanks off your travel itinerary. But Roadstar thought of this and the standard ‘terrain protection’ brush bars that are welded to the chassis and protrude from each side to protect the lower bodywork, plus the rear skid rails beneath the relatively low-hanging rear bumper, are all there for a reason if you find yourself in extreme terrain.
However, the 16ft 6in package provides a good compromise for those who want to travel Australia without fear of unsealed roads and with enough ‘live-in’ space for those times when it’s too uncomfortable to spend evenings outside, for whatever reason (hot/cold/wet/windy/insects). Despite its relatively short length, there’s ample room for a travelling couple to move around the Little Rippa without tripping over each other.
The van’s width provides good access to both sides of the lift-up bed, with taller occupants catered for at night with an extendable bed base and infill cushion. A Four Seasons hatch above the bed ensures good ventilation without undue light.
The L-shaped dinette is more space-efficient than a café dinette setup in a van of this length and while short on bench space, the kitchen with its Swift four-burner cooktop, plus grill and microwave below, is adequate for those times when you want to cook inside. On the plus side, the 184L Thetford three-way fridge/freezer will hold enough to keep
Roadstar Voyager 4000 30ft 2005 • $43,800 • WA • 0497 082 427 Roadstar Vacationer 19ft 2007 • $33,990 • SA • 08 7099 9230 Roadstar Little Rippa 14.6ft 2005 • $15,990 • QLD • 07 3073 8217