Light on the wallet and heavy on features, the Sportscruiser is a concept that floats…

Top-notch airbag suspension, a shower larger than some houses and a price that will leave you smiling. These are just a few of the surprises found in the latest version of the Sportscruiser 1800 Cross Country. 

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It seems that a lot of the current innovation in vans comes from manufacturers with a boating background. This makes sense, as durability, weight and space restrictions (and keeping the weather out) are attributes common to boats and vans. John Smallwood, the Sportscruiser MD, used to race and travel on yachts in his younger days – so he well understands these issues. Combine this with a business background in quality management and the ability to do business with quality suppliers, and you have the ingredients of a great product.

Why does this matter you might ask? China. To get quality, you need to pay for it and then manage it. The chassis and shell of the Sportscruiser are made in China, then fitted out in SE Queensland. Stringent quality controls are in place during all stages of the manufacturing process so that the finished van is a top-quality unit at around half the price of similarly-featured products. 

 

BUILD 

The chassis is made from good quality steel and is formed by a super-strong double frame that is
hot-dip galvanised. On top of this is the marine ply floor with integrated fibreglass layer for protection. This forms the base for the vacuum-bonded composite of fiberglass and structural foam for the walls and roof. 

The roof, front and back walls are formed from a single piece of composite. This is curved to create the retro and aerodynamic front that is a hallmark of the Sportscruiser. It has style and saves on fuel at the same time.

Vehicle Components – that makes the respected Cruisemaster suspension systems – fits its new ATX airbag system directly to the chassis in its Geebung factory. VC designed it, so the install should be good to go. The Cross Country 1800 is the largest of the Sportscruiser vans but still comes in at only 1950kg for the tare weight. 

 

INSIDE

The Sportscruiser vans are perfect for a couple travelling; but not so much for a family as the bed options are either two singles or a double. With this configuration, compromises with extra bed options don’t need to be made; so space can be well utilised.

The bathroom has a large shower and separate toilet. After years of boat living and small showers, John has made sure the shower is a size to suit everyone comfortably. There is even a washing machine that slides out from under the vanity sink.

As you enter the van through the rear door the leather lounge and table is on the left, the ensuite on the right and the kitchen in front of you. The large 193-litre NovaKool compressor fridge/freezer with the microwave above is straight ahead and to the right of the three-burner gas cooktop with gas oven and griller. A 193-litre Dometic three-way fridge is available as a no-additional-cost alternative.

A little further to the left is the stainless-steel sink. Both the sink and the stove have glass fold-down covers to provide extra bench space when needed. Above the sink is one of the large double-glazed windows. All windows have integrated blinds and fly screens.

Under the leather lounge and centered over the axles are the multiple AGM batteries. Connected to these are the Enerdrive AC and DC-DC chargers that ensure a capable systems approach to battery management even if you should install lithium batteries in the future.

A 2600W Enderdrive inverter is also included to supply true sinewave 240V power to the van from the batteries. The inverter incorporates an auto AC transfer which helps keep your appliances running as it switches from DC to AC when connecting 240V. The inverter also has an RCD safety switch.

The layout, fittings and décor of the inside of the Sportscruiser provide an elegant yet functional feel with plenty of storage space and room to move about. An air-conditioner is also included to keep you cool.

 

OUTSIDE

The distinctive swept-back front of the Sportscruiser will probably be the first thing people notice when they see it. The nostalgic lines not only look good; they make the Sportscruiser a breeze to tow in cross winds (pun intended). 

While on the outside, suspension is not as noticeable. The Cruisemaster ATX air-sprung suspension is built to take the roughest of tracks while providing many advantages over standard suspension options. Even if you don’t plan to go rough with the van, the ability to independently raise/lower each side of the van with the click of a remote button is magic.

There are three 82-litre water tanks plus a fourth 60-litre tank attached in spots over/fore/aft of the axle to balance the load. All water to the van passes through filters. Have you ever had a full grey water tank and had to drive the van a few hundred metres to empty it, then drive the van back and set up again? This is not an uncommon  scenario when staying at places like showgrounds. John has… which is why he has included a portable grey water tank as an option. 

On the drawbar, the gas bottles are housed in a protective case placed behind the large storage box and jerry can holders. A 13-foot awning provides shade and shelter when set up.

 

VERDICT

The Sportscruiser 1800 Cross Country is a surprise package when it comes to its quality inclusions, low tow weight and small pricetag. Meeting John and talking though his manufacturing process makes one feel that he has found a great formula when it comes to creating quality vans that are easy on the eye and on the pocket. 

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