With the new AirOpus R1 – that’s the idea!
Words and Images by Anthony Kilner

Tough Luxury is the catch-cry from the Opus Australia team who worked in conjunction with their UK colleagues to design the uniquely Aussie features on the AirOpus. Purple Line is a UK-based family business with an Australian arm started by family member Johnathan Harrison.

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The Opus campers we see here are manufactured in China, then shipped to an Australian assembly line to be finished with Aussie compliance. Jason Dodd, operations and technical manager, oversees end-to-end quality control and ensures each Opus meets Aussie requirements (as well as Opus’ own high standards).

The Opus has been around since 2012 in Oz. It was initially designed to work with poles. The AirOpus is the first air tube system to be developed for camping. It has just been launched here in Oz and it’s a cracker!

Set-up
The amazing thing about the AirOpus is how easy it is to set up. Once the camper is parked and level, the top is opened and latched into place. The hardest part is allowing the spare wheel at the back to drop down so that the frame can be secured. The electrical door is then opened, battery power turned on, pump switch flicked; and while the tent section is blowing up, the stabilising legs are dropped and any required storage lockers opened (such as the fridge locker, to grab a coldie for when the job’s done).

Once the canvas is inflated, simply set up the inside as required and sit back and relax. Packing down is almost as fast. Simply undo the toggles (there are five) and the air is out in minutes – ready for everything to be packed away.

The ‘canvas’ is manufactured from 260g poly cotton waterproofed to handle our wet conditions, and even the UK’s wet conditions! The thing I like about the high roof is the spacious interior feel. Opus has gone a step further with a tropical roof featuring clear panels to offer an amazing amount of light. The panels can be covered from the inside for protection against the sun, or left unsheathed to offer wonderful views of the stars.

One wonders if this impressive erection might blow away or deflate in all the wrong ways. Purple Line has addressed such concerns with the air tubes inflating in sections and several layers of protection around them. They are not going to burst easily. If overinflated (like any good tube) the sections might have a tendency to pop; so inflation needs to be managed correctly to avoid this problem. Repairs can be done if needed (just like repairing car tyre tubes); and if one section was terminal the rest of the camper would still stay up so the holiday wouldn’t be wrecked.

We had a discussion about the high winds and storms we can experience here in Oz. Apparently (so far) not one AirOpus has been blown out of camp. It was very windy on the first day of the Caravan and Camping Supershow in Melbourne where the AirOpus was launched. It went up and down in the wind all day… a good indication of its durability and stability.

Outside
The body of the AirOpus is manufactured with an aluminium frame and composite panels built around a galvanised chassis and drawbar, making it a solid unit. The body comes in several colours including orange, matte black, blue and metallic grey. Underneath there are stabilising legs and two shielded 80-litre water tanks with their own pump system. A stainless-steel kitchen slides out from the back – it includes a sink, a four-burner stove and bench space; as well as a couple of handy drawers.

The camper boasts gas and water outlets on each side (for the shower and the kitchen). These fittings might cop a bashing in the bush, and could be better protected. The shower sink offers cold water only.

There’s a large stoneguard on the A-frame which also hosts a 9kg gas bottle and twin jerry can holders. A storage box houses the fridge slide which will take an 80-litre Waeco fridge on the kitchen side. Opposite is a smaller slide to handle a generator or extra storage. Mechanical components include an articulating poly block hitch and Opus independent coil-spring suspension with twin shockers on each side. The arms incorporate Opus’ own KOJACK jacking plate system. Twelve-inch electric brakes handle the stopping while 235/75R15 tyres are fitted to the alloy rims.

Towing this camper was very easy as it’s pretty lightweight with an ATM of just 1800kg. It handled the dirt roads on the Mornington Peninsula easily. While most of the roads were only mildly corrugated, it certainly sat easily on the back. On the blacktop at speeds up to 80km/h I couldn’t feel the trailer doing anything out there behind me – so there’s no reason to think it shouldn’t tow well above that speed. The winding roads provided no particular challenge.

Inside
There are several things I liked about the AirOpus. The bedrooms at each end can be individually sealed against mozzies and flies, so the main living section of the camper can be left open without folks in the beds being eaten alive. The slight downside of the airbags means these sealable bedrooms are a little short. Our editor Tim (a smidge under six feet tall) had his feet hitting the screen. They didn’t poke out of the camper though; just into the space between the inner wall and the exterior wall where the air tube runs.

On the rear half of the camper is a U-shaped leather-like seating area which doubles as a bed for another two people. Six people can sit in this space. Opus was wisely making changes to the back swabs to make them more sturdy.

There’s a portable toilet in a box near the door. It can be used inside or outside. LED lighting is used around the camper. There are USB inputs as well as a stereo (with CD/DVD function and twin speakers). A television can be added to the package. Several lockers inside provide storage but most of them contain electrical components such as the dual batteries, a compressor and a Narva Projecta controller.

The versatile dining table can be used inside or outside.

Pricing, ‘Ready to Roll’ Pack and options
The AirOpus has hit the market at $25,990 plus on-road costs in basic trim. Opus offers the Ready to Roll Pack, which includes extras such as twin batteries and water tanks, Air Annexe, stainless-steel slide-out kitchen, leatherette seating and a spare wheel – for a total of $32,740.

Optional extras include Ego Titanium Movers, fridges, roof racks for bikes and boats, floor mats and even LED light bars.

The price of our review model with the pack and options was $36,488 including on-roads ex Melbourne. There is a five-year 60,000km warranty on the suspension (with the kays taken off the tow vehicle, which could be unreliable). There’s three years warranty on the canvas and tent with five years warranty on structural components.

Verdict
This product is going to see some improvements to its fit and finish which will further enhance its appeal. A reliable pump system will be important, perhaps with a back-up included. There is a hand pump, but an airline fitting to suit a car-based compressor (or a portable unit) might be a worthwhile addition.

There is lots to like about the AirOpus (and only a few things to not). I reckon it’s so different that the niggly things won’t be a major issue.

Specifications
Body length: 5.6m (18ft 4in)
Body width: 2.1m (6ft 9in)
Tare weight: 1200kg
ATM: 1800kg
Price as tested: $36,488 drive-away ex Melbourne

Cons

  • Exposed gas and water fittings
  • Beds are a little short due to the airbag structure
  • Some messy trim issues

Pros  

  • Overall low weight
  • Completely sealed bedrooms if required
  • Ability to roll up/remove the side wall
  • Sleeps up to six
  • Optional Titanium Movers
  • Ease of set-up

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