The rise of internationally-sourced camper trailers in the past decade – particular those from China – has changed the face of the industry in Australia and, thus, the nature of those trailers has changed greatly as well.
There was a time when the description ‘imported’ represented for many compromised performance, needless complexity and poor material choice. But buyers expected more, so the marketplace responded and, while some crinkles are still present, the standard of workmanship in many models has improved greatly, at an increase in price as well.
The Taipan Auriga – named for a constellation of stars first documented by Ptolemy in the second century – is a recent arrival for the Brisbane-based company. It is a traditional hardfloor rear-fold camper. Sitting behind a tow vehicle, it’s a handsome looking camper with a long drawbar, a deep gull-wing storage box at the front and plenty of side lockers. When it’s set up for camp, it gives off the same aura.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The Auriga is a hardfloor design and comes with a winch to assist with the set up procedure. Once open, you adjust the three internal hood bows, four internal spreader bars and two rear vertical bars, which is straightforward enough for an overnight camp. To set up the awning, however, there are another 14 spreader bars as well as nine tent poles, plus two poles under each of the window awnings. That’s a lot of poles and bars impacting the time it takes you to set up camp.
Once set up, you can zip out the main tent wall from under the awning for an open airy feel.
All the poles travel in a box, accessible from either end, across the back of the swing-away spare wheel carrier. The box hinges down for access to the wheels.
Internally, there is a storage area that’s accessible either by a large deep drawer under the bed or by lifting the strut-assisted bed base with the foam queen-size mattress on top. This is particularly handy if you have bunks opposite the bed and can’t reach the full depths of the drawer. A fold-down rear door provides an access point to this area when the camper is closed up. To illuminate the sleeping quarters, one of the aforementioned light bars will do the job, although negotiations might result if you plan to read when your partner wants to go to bed. Private reading lights would definitely work better here.
There are two handy pockets midway along the bed for storing small items, but I’d like to some near the bed-head storage as well.
To close the tent, you need to remove or collapse the tent spreaders and bows first, then push out and hook up the winch, lift the floor waist high to flex the line of tension under 180° and then winch over the floor. The winch keeps the load off the tent bows, but you can still close over the floor without it, if you prefer.
The kitchen is all stainless steel and is fully self-supporting, so there’s no need to fiddle with supporting legs. The roomy Smev three-burner cooktop and stainless steel sink looked good and there is a generous fold-over extension to prepare food. Underneath are two drawers for cutlery and other kitchen items and, along the back, are two open bays for the piezoelectric stove starter and gas and water hoses.
The tap is electronic, activated by lifting the spout from within the sink. It’s a neat idea in many respects but if your reserves are low, you’d need your kettle at the ready to minimise water loss.
There is a small round LED light in the kitchen but, being at bench level, you’d struggle to see into your saucepans, especially if it’s partially concealed by the tent’s canvas skirt. However, there are four light bars included in the Auriga’s package and one of these could serve to
illuminate the kitchen.
Next to the kitchen are two large drawers at the rear of the front gull-wing box which would serve as pantry, cookware and/or crockery storage. In front of them is a sturdy fridge slide with solid tie-down points capable of holding up to an 85L Evakool or 80L Waeco fridge. There are filtered vents on the two gull-wing doors but, while these will keep out dust, they really need a fan or similar on the inside to effectively pump out the heat.
Gas comes from either of the two 4.5kg gas cylinders at the front, either side of the jerry can holder. This can carry four jerries but if you want to carry three or less, you’ll either have to strap them in or pad it out with empty jerries as there aren’t any individual slots.
In front of these and the gull-wing front box is a stoneguard that looks a bit small in size and could do with mud flaps at the outer ends to protect the lower edges of the box and its fittings. I also wonder whether the laced-in netting would survive an onslaught of stones on a long stretch of gibbers.
The driver’s side of the gull-wing box has two roomy drawers on slides that would carry canvas, a generator, porta-potti or other camp necessaries.
The Taipan Auriga is a well put together rear-fold camper that would benefit from a few electrical upgrades and a simpler setup with respect to bars and poles.
If you dropped one of the spare wheels to lighten the load you’d be on your way to an excellent camper. And, at a price of $20,000, it is a lot of camper for the dollars.
HITS & MISSES
- Good design and engineering
- Self-supporting kitchen
- Zip-out tent side
- Good storage options
- Large under-bed drawer
- Lacking in electrical capacity
- Excessively complex pole and bar setup
- Small stone shield
- Bit heavy for offroading
Check out the full feature in issue #97 February 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.