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Branch Out
Horizon’s new Casuarina allows you to roam far and wide while roosting in a fairly compact nest when it’s time to come home
Words and Images by: DES COOMBS

One of the difficulties when touring with a motorhome is coming back to your suburban home. It’s all very well to have the biggest, roomiest motorhome on the market but what do you do with a large piece of real estate you called home away from home when you are facing a driveway too small to park it?

This is one of the advantages of a camper conversion like the Horizon Casuarina. Not only will it run down a driveway any average car can (except for its 2.6m height, of course) but it will cope much more easily with the run to the supermarket car park for supplies, too.

CAB AND CHASSIS

The Fiat Ducato is almost the default campervan base of choice these days. This particular Horizon conversion has been painted in a most resplendent shade of metallic orange – perhaps not to everyone’s tastes but certainly a pleasant break from the standard, default colour of white, which is still available if you want it. The Ducato’s standard features as specified for the Casuarina include airconditioning, Blue&Me voice-activated Bluetooth, power windows, mirrors and door locks and 120-litre fuel capacity.

Dual airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic traction control (ETC) and electronic stability program (ESP) are the standard safety features.

ON THE ROAD

The Ducato’s 3.0-litre turbo-diesel pulls the Casuarina along well, with ample  torque and power. While low engine rpm is where there is often a torque black hole with turbo-diesels, the Fiat is not so afflicted – it seems to get up past the initial period where the turbo charger needs to spin up and right into the torque band. The engine is not the quietest or smoothest diesel at low speeds, but once touring it is not obtrusive at all.

The only source of frustration is the six-speed Comfort-Matic automated manual transmission. While in principle this is a good idea for improved fuel-efficiency over a traditional hydraulic automatic, in practice the shift response is often poor. If you leave it entirely to the computer to decide on gearshifts, then it will often upshift too early. Then just when you want an early gearshift, the gearbox hangs onto a lower gear. The best way to drive this is in the manual mode, which gives you control over the gearshifts.

The independent front/live rear axle suspension is clearly commercial in nature, with ride quality sharp over abrupt bumps. This improves with speed, and longer, undulating bumps are well-absorbed and suspension controlled.

INSIDE

The sliding nearside door is the key opening into the campervan, with an electric slide-out step (with its switch located on the cabinet wall just to the right of the entry) to make access easier.

Sorting out the camper for a stop-over or extended stay is quite simple, with no  pop-top roof to lift or really anything else except turning the captain’s chairs around (and fitting the table), winding out the Fiamma awning and fitting the Velcro optional flyscreen for the sliding door’s aperture.

The storage options are plentiful, following the familiar Horizon layout with large lockers above the kitchen area and beds/dinette at the rear. There is also a clever, spacious shoe storage cupboard, set in the floor in the bed area.

Lighting is by 12-volt LED downlights in the ceiling plus six 12-volt LED reading lights. Natural light is available through the five double-glazed hopper windows and two roof hatches in the main living area. The roof and walls are insulated, with the ceiling covered with embossed ply.

A 19-inch TV mounted on a swivel mount next to the kitchen receives signal from a roof-mounted Wineguard antenna.

CATERING

The kitchen area, on the nearside of the van about mid-way down its length, has two generous storage hatches above at about eye level and six drawers underneath the bench. The bench space  is mostly taken up with the single-tub stainless-steel sink and the three-ring gas burner. Fortunately, both the gas cooker and sink have a hinged glass top and on the side of the bench towards the front is a fold-out bench section, all of which improves the available food preparation space markedly.

On the offside wall opposite the kitchen bench is the 12-volt microwave at about eye level and just below that the 136-litre Waeco 12-volt compressor fridge. Under the fridge and above the microwave are more storage cupboards, and to the left of the fridge are two vertical cupboards.

SLEEPING QUARTERS

There are three different bed configuration options; a two single-bed layout, a double-bed layout or a café dinette that converts to a double bed. There are five lockable, hinged hopper windows with integral mesh screens and blinds. At the bed area there are five large lockers, although this design precludes opening the rear-wall locker and one of the adjacent lockers at the same time.

The rear barn doors can be opened and fly mesh wall fitted to give a relatively open, airy feel to the rear of the cabin.

KEEPING CLEAN

The combined shower/toilet is on the offside of the motorhome opposite the sliding entry door. It is entered via a mirror glass door to reveal an adjustable shower head up high to the left and a corner washbasin with a two-door storage cupboard beneath. To the right is a Dometic 19-litre cassette toilet plumbed to a SOG system, and in the ceiling is a pop-up hatch vent.

ELECTRICS

The electrical system is fed by a 200- amp deep-cycle AGM battery that is topped up by a 240-volt 40-amp battery charger. A battery monitor and all main power switches are housed above the kitchen bench. There is a reverse-flow  Fiamma extractor/cooling fan in the ceiling, with air-conditioning an option.

STORAGE

The boot is the main external storage area, with the only other external-access storage restricted to the gas bottle compartment on the offside rear.

VERDICT

Although it is quite a compact van, the Horizon Casuarina provides a great deal of internal storage and a great sense of space and an airy feel with the sliding door and barn doors open.

Added to this a great deal of amenity with its shower toilet combination, and you have a great short to medium term escape vehicle.

GOOD THINKING

Optional flyscreens; compact dimensions belie great deal of internal space

COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

Adjustable table at rear is a bit of a compromise

Tags: Review Casuarina Horizon Motorhome Campervan Fiat Ducato
Category: Reviews
Written: Mon 01 Dec 2014
Printed: December, 2014
Published By:

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Article Information

SPECIFICATIONS

VEHICLE

Manufacturer Horizon

Model Casuarina

Base vehicle Fiat Ducato

Tare weight 2933kg

GVM 4005kg

Licence Car

Passengers Four

MECHANICALS

Engine 3.0-litre turbo-diesel

Power 130kW at 3800rpm

Torque 360Nm at 1400rpm

Gearbox Six-speed automated manual

Brakes Disc, ABS and ESP

DIMENSIONS

External length 6363mm

External width 2050mm (incl awning)

External height 2630mm

Internal height 1915mm

Rear bed size 1890 x 670mm

EQUIPMENT

Cooktop Dometic three-burner

Fridge Waeco 110-litre 12/240V

Microwave oven Panasonic 20L 800W

Lighting 12V LED

Batteries 1 x 200 AH AGM deep-cycle

Solar panels 200W

Toilet Dometic 19 litres

Shower Combined cubicle

Hot water heater Truma 14 litres

Water tank 150 litres

Grey tank 55 litres

Gas cylinders 2 x 4kg

PRICE 

From $115,700