Masterpiece Caravans has launched the Performance semi-off-road caravan and it’s fast becoming a name in the industry, but will it cut the mustard on the dirt roads and tracks it’s designed for?
By Anthony Kilner
If I had any doubt about the ability of the Performance to handle off-road conditions,
they were quickly dispelled when Courtney Goudie of Yarrawonga Caravans put it to the test. Courtney took the van over dips and wash-aways, up steep banks and along dirt roads around Lake Mulwala and the Performance took it all on with ease.
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Watching this van handle dirt road, bitumen and tackle some of the rougher parts of the track around the lake, it was soon obvious to see just how well the Cruisemaster suspension and the overall package of the Performance worked.
Before we get into the details of this van I want to introduce Masterpiece Caravans, the manufacturer of the Performance semi off-roader. Remon Raffaello heads up this relatively new company that started in early 2016. Remon’s background is in engineering, building caravans that will stand up to the rigours of dirt tracks and off-road work.
For Remon though, it’s more than just building a van to tackle free camping and off-road track work, it’s also about quality. Masterpiece has set a quality standard, at a price, and is not interested in tip-toeing around the subject. There is no room for compromise on the quality that is being sought after in this factory.
When I checked out the Performance, aside from one small issue everything was as neat as a pin and very well presented. Courtney and husband Dean had both remarked on the quality of this van and noted that was the main reason they are rapt to be selling them through their yards.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer gander at the Masterpiece Performance.
The interior layout out of the Performance is very practical and the overall fit and finish is pretty spot on.
The doorway is mounted towards the rear of the van and access is easy with a drop step in place. An ensuite is fitted across the back of the van and is big enough to be user friendly. To make the best use of this space the van features a square basin on the left side of the bench while on the right is an under-bench, 3kg top-loader washing machine. There are plenty of cupboards under the bench with a wall cupboard on the left-hand side. Between the wall cupboard and the sliding door is a ceramic toilet, with a good-sized shower opposite.
The only minor issue I found in the ensuite was when the cupboard door was fully opened it just touched the towel rail mounted on the sliding door. This is an easy fix and an unusual issue to find according to Dean.
Along the driver’s side wall, stretching from the ensuite to the main bedroom, is the kitchen area which is jam-packed full of cupboards, drawers and some great appliances. Near the ensuite wall is a large double-door fridge in a shiny black finish that contrasts well with the white and tan cupboards.
Next in line is a pantry where a single door hides two slide-out pantry rails which are very user friendly. A deep square sink fitted with flick mixer and water filter, as well as a draining rack, is slotted neatly between the pantry wall and a full oven and grill.
A microwave is placed above the sink and the stove comes with an overhead exhaust fan. Moving past the stove is ample bench space with storage underneath.
An overhead cupboard on the border of the kitchen and the bedroom houses the electrical heart of the Performance van. Mounted neatly inside is a fully fused 12V system, water gauge, solar controller with readout and battery electrical charge monitor. The hot water switching and the main 240V safety fuse are also mounted neatly in this space. I do like the electricals being all in one space and easy to access. A stereo/entertainment system is mounted just below this cupboard for easy use as well.
Opposite the kitchen is a club style lounge in matching brown leatherette with each seat featuring a rounded edge on the wall to create a comfy backrest and a lift-up foot rest. There’s storage under the seats and in the overhead cupboards up top. A tri-fold table allows for plenty of room when folded in and a good-sized table when folded out.
As mentioned, the bedroom is mounted at the front of the van and is, again, a very light room. Wardrobes feature either side of the bed and of course this van has cupboards in every spare space available, without hindering access to the bed.
Large windows provide plenty of light and ventilation which just adds to the vibrant feel of the room.
Of course there is a TV, an air-conditioning unit, LED lights and strip lighting throughout, plus a host of other inclusions that make this van very practical for touring. While the layout is similar to other vans on the market, it’s a proven layout that is roomy and well lit.
I reckon if you are going to have a tough package to get off-road then the body should reflect that toughness. The body of the Performance looks pretty rugged with black checker plate trimming over silver high profile stucco aluminium. Throw on some smart decals and this van certainly looks the goods.
To add contrast to the silver body, Masterpiece has added black trimmed windows, a black picnic table, black awning, black speakers, even the external shower cover is black; but wait there’s more. Black and silver alloy rims contrast with the silver drop step, while the front stone guard and tool locker are also black. The door hatches that provide access to a full-width tunnel boot also keep with the black theme. The alloy A-frame with mesh floor and the rear bar, complete with two silver jerry can holders, does stand out. Like I said, this body looks tough enough to go anywhere.
Mechanically speaking, the Performance is running a Supagal chassis featuring a four-inch main frame, a six-inch A-frame runs through to the suspension and a two-inch raiser gives the body plenty of lift. The van runs a Cruisemaster 3.3T CRS suspension system, which also utilises twin shockers on each arm, and will certainly handle dirt road touring. Finally, 10-inch electric brakes and an AL-KO ESC system for swerve control rounds out the package.
Underneath the van, standard gear includes two 120 AH AGM batteries in separate boxes, two 95-litre water tanks and a 95-litre grey water tank. These tanks are protected with shielding against stone damage.
Up on the roof are two 150-watt solar panels, antennas, hatches and the AC system. Other gear around the body includes two work lamps, one at the front and one at the back, a reversing camera, twin 9kg gas bottles, 50mm AL-KO ball coupling and an eight-inch jockey wheel. An entertainment hatch is mounted in the wall between the picnic table and the door which is ideal for tourers to watch TV or a movie outdoors.
The Performance offers a solid and very practical mechanical package that should stand up to the test of time and it looks good too.
Having spent the better part of a few hours wandering around the Performance I really liked the lightness and open feel of the interior. Large windows and hatches paired with a groovy colour scheme create a calm interior space that overall is very practically laid out for the end user.
For the price, this van offers a lot of goodies that will make touring Australia easy. With a manageable overall size, it has impeccable manners on road and along some fun dirt tracks. It will be worth checking out by anyone wanting a van that will perform!
Body length: 6.2m (20ft 6in)
Body width: 2.4m (7ft 9in)
Tare weight: 2586kg
Price as tested: $72,490.00 drive away ex Melbourne
- Cruisemaster CRS 3.3T suspension
- The overall look of the van
- Level of interior accessories
- Overall storage space, inside and out
- Piano hinges throughout
- Spacious open feel
- The cupboard door in the ensuite hits the towel rail