America's best-selling compact travel trailer has a trick up its sleeve - a slide! But is this enough to help the R-Pod RP-176 conquer the UK market?
The R-pod RP-176 caravan has an attractive appearance at the same timeretroand sturdy, which is sure to please some motorhome buyers. But there's no getting around it: it's a niche product.
The strongest selling point of this imported compact caravan is the expandable section which gives it a spacious feel. The long list of options like air conditioning and spare tire can make it even more attractive.
However, the R-pod RP-176 falls short of what the UK public has come to expect from leading caravan manufacturers in 2016 – as a full range of home appliances. However, the importer claims that the R-Pod RP-176 is gaining ground and fans in the UK.
Compact, but the extension provides extra space
Several outlets, including two outdoor outlets
External stereo speakers
A wardrobe would cover the limited storage space
Small, basic bathroom
Small assortment of kitchen equipment
looking at the past
In America they do things differently. Take a look at this motorhome, which is part of a range available in the UK for the current model year. Lightweight and affordable, they are manufactured by Forest River, which was founded in 1996 and is now one of the largest RV manufacturers in the United States.
Forest River has distributors across Europe and is hoping to establish a niche in the UK with its R-Pod range. It's up to today's UK standards, but has a profile that dates back to the 1950s. These tourers also have a trick up their sleeves: a slide that makes them even more spacious.
We tested the R-Pod RP-176, a compact four-seater import camperAmerican Caravans DirectI hope it sells well. She has a U-shaped saloon at the rear, a sliding side area where the galley is located, a bathroom on the opposite side and fixed berths forward.
The sofas in the living room convert into a double bed measuring 1.88m x 1.54m
Argument and formulation
Let's start by going to their website. The axle of the R-Pod RP-176 extends beyond the body for better tracking and stability when towing.
The R-Pod's retro styling doesn't end with its profile. His supports differ from those of conventional tourists. Instead, they are scissor jacks of the type used on early British caravans. Instead of a gas box, a single brace sits atop the A-frame. The windows use tempered glass instead of acrylic and open like vintage cars. At least the roof and sides of this unusual camper are made of FRP.
Modernism enters the scene with passion: a large part of this caravan disappears in a few minutes. Outside there are two sockets and a shower with hot and cold water - perfect for washing dirty boots or dogs. There is a folding step under the door and an awning light above it. There is a folding handle on the left side for those who need assistance when boarding.
Some differences between the British campers and this American import will divide opinion. First, entry is through the offside and the lack of grab bars makes manual maneuvering difficult.
Then there are the drain pipes: one for draining gray water from the kitchen and shower and another for the bathroom. There's no cassette port to hide in here.
Unlike UK camps, US camps have sewage. To compensate for this lack of drainage in each field, R-pod provides a special large container that you park under the shelter and connect to the appropriate pipe.
The R-Pod RP-176 features a wraparound rear lounge that comfortably seats five adult guests on its sturdy, freestanding table.
So it's a cheerful and spacious caravan that loses a bit of its atmosphere.
Although the windows are large on both sides, they cannot be relied on for much support on a cloudy day, as the rear window is small and there is no skylight.
R-pod is also tight on sauces compared to the UK camper manufacturers. On the R-Pod RP-176 there is a single curtain that protects your privacy at the back and the side windows of the caravan have only shutters and no curtains - both unusual for the tourers sold here.
An overhead light provides artificial lighting. No headlights for late night reading.
For other distractions, the R-Pod is better equipped. At the other end of the galley, directly opposite the bunks, is an entertainment center with a name-brand radio/CD/MP3 player and optional TV. We were told that the US antenna will receive digital signals from the UK. There are two speakers on the top. A second pair is connected externally so you can enjoy your music outdoors.
The extension gives more space in the caravan kitchen, from the counter to the cupboards. However, the standard kit list may disappoint UK buyers. A two-burner gas stove is freestanding, without an oven or grill. The stainless steel sink has a fixture that matches and complements the countertop, but does not have a drainboard - recessed or attached. There are two sockets under the wardrobe.
There is a window in the pull area wall just behind the work area, and a small but effective 12V lamp provides good lighting at night. On the right is a 119 liter Dometic triple fridge. Our test car had an optional microwave.
Another unintentionally retro touch is the unusual bathroom. It's so simple it could be from the early 1980s. The toilet drains into a tank under the van. The small sink has a simple plastic faucet that also controls the old fashioned shower head.
There is no window in the bathroom, but to compensate there is at least a fan in the skylight and bright lighting. Another outdated idea is the shower curtain. The space is so small that some will find it difficult to use it.
Designed for family cruising, the R-Pod RP-176 has fixed berths measuring 1.88m x 0.54m and offers good headroom and reading light, but no windows. Bunk occupants may find it stuffy and cramped in summer. Mattresses should be supportive for small children, but may not be as comfortable for older children.
The floor-to-ceiling entertainment center partially separates the bunks from the galley. At its edge, near the floor, two exits are placed.
The lounge sofas convert to a 1.88m x 1.54m double bed, with the large dinette filling the space between the bench seats. The pillows are not very thick and may become unsuitable as mattresses over time.
The R-Pod doesn't have a lot of free storage space, but the designers made the most of it.
There is space under the lower bunk and sunbeds, but the latter is shared by lockers with external hatches. The bathroom tries to make up for the lack of cabinets and upper cabinets with two wall pockets. The kitchen has two good drawers and a cupboard, as well as an upper cupboard, but it is quite shallow.
In addition to trailer stability, the increased track width allows the wheels to protrude above the walls, eliminating the need for the wheel arch to encroach on storage space.
The entertainment center offers some storage options, but nothing that makes up for the lack of closet space in the R-Pod RP-176. A wardrobe would have been useful as the main sitting area had no useful storage.
|useful load||360 kilos|
|shipment length||6 metro|