Rip

Road­star’s 2014 Lit­tle Rippa Ad­ven­turer com­bines sin­gleaxle sim­plic­ity with se­ri­ous rough-road cred.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - 2014 Road­star Lit­tle Rippa Ad­ven­turer - Words Michael Brown­ing pics Jack Mur­phy

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.

SPA­CIOUS LAY­OUT

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

Clock­wise from main: The Lit­tle Rippa will fol­low you al­most ev­ery­where you want to go – in com­fort and style; two ad­di­tional jerry cans on the rear bumper flank the twin spare wheels; spot­lights on the front and rear of the van help il­lu­mi­nate things at

Clock­wise from left: The over­head cup­boards in the cen­tral kitchen will swal­low up plenty of culi­nary sup­plies; high gloss sil­ver cab­i­netry gives the van a mod­ern look; the L-shaped dinette is an ef­fi­cient use of space in this small van; the fridge is a T

Quick specs: 2014 Road­star Lit­tle Rippa Ad­ven­turer $70,000-$75,000 (depend­ing on state of de­liv­ery)

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