Windsor Caravans has introduced a fixed-roof model to the Rapid range, making the transition from road to rest even quicker.
The new RAC 442s slips into the Rapid family at the smaller end of the range, with a body length of just 4442mm (14'5"). However, the latest Rapid gets the full luxury treatment, with a generously-sized bathroom that includes a shower recess. At around $40K the latest Rapid looks like excellent value for money.
Pop-top Rapids range from 3842mm (12'6") to 5192mm (17'), with a travelling height of 2240mm (7'3"), but the new RAC 442s fixed-roof model is 2740mm (8'9") tall. The internal height is the same 1980mm (6'6") as in the pop-top versions.
The RAC 442s has one fold-out double bed at the nose of the van. Most of the pop-top Rapids have two fold-out doubles. We like the design of the Rapid fold-out bed section, because there are upper and lower metal panels that provide better weather protection. Canvas-top, fold-out bed areas are quite chilly on cold nights.
The bed section in the RAC 442s folds out easily and is a one-person operation. The bed can be unfolded without the need to uncouple the Rapid from the towing vehicle, so gotta-get-some-sleep-now overnight stops in roadside rest areas are possible.
Two handles unlock the van's front panel that becomes the sleeping area's roof panel. It swings up on a pair of gas struts, pulling the canvas sides with it. The floor panel drops down into place and that's it for the outside work. Inside the van, the mattress that's folded in half for travel is opened up and, if you've left the bedding in place, you're ready to hit the sack.
Access to the interior requires no effort, because the door is low-set into a step recess. The door separates into a metal/glass section and an expanded mesh/flyscreen section.
The bed is to the left of the doorway and the fridge and sink unit are opposite the door. To the right is a three-seat (in a pinch it'll seat four) dinette with removable table and under-bench storage. The four-burner LPG stove (oven unit optional), range hood and microwave oven are opposite the dinette.
A large, full-width bathroom is at the rear of the van, ventilated by twin roof hatches with electric fans and a lift-up window. The shower recess is roomy and comes with a height-adjustable rose and soap tray.
The roof is fitted with a meshed, opening hatch with sliding blind, a small pressurising hatch and provision for Ibis or Wren airconditioning units.
Like the other Rapids, the new RAC 442s is built on a galvanised chassis and gets its ground-hugging stance from a dropped beam axle on leaf spring suspension. An optional high-riding inverted axle is available.
RTV-A or RTV-S rough-road chassis upgrades are optional. The former features independent, trailing-arm suspension and the latter is a heavier-duty leaf-spring design.
The drawbar is fitted with a jockey wheel clamp and mounting rings for a pair of 4kg gas bottles. The standard levelling legs are wind-downs, but optional Al-Ko easy-lift jacks make the job quicker and simpler.
There's a full-width, 320mm-high storage bin at the front of the van with access hatches on both body sides. A Carefree awning folds out over almost the Rapid's full length.The Windsor Rapid RAC 442s tips the scales empty at 1390kg and has a GVM of 1690kg. The ball weight as tested was 130kg.
The Rapid's options are comprehensive, allowing owners to go nuts with the specifications. The list includes aluminium wheels, solar panel wiring, external 12-volt and TV aerial plugs, roof TV aerial, external speakers, fridges up to 150 litres in capacity with 15-litre freezer, external gas bayonet, gas/electric hot water in lieu of straight LPG, flat-screen TV arm and a fold-down picnic table under the exterior light.
We found the Rapid very easy to hitch and tow. The long drawbar and set-back axle made manoeuvring simple. Provided owners don't stack heavy items in the front storage bin, the set-back axle proportions shouldn't put too much ball weight on the coupling.
With only one drop-down bed the RAC 442s is obviously designed for a couple. The dinette has space to seat visitors and would sleep a child occasionally.
The fit-and-finish is quite good, but you get what you pay for - no high-gloss coatings or flash laminates. The up-side is a practical, no-nonsense interior that has all the features most couples would want, along with easy maintenance. However, we really didn't like the cheap-looking, plastic push-button door and drawer locks - one of which had already jammed in the 'open' position. Not good.
The folding mattress would be comfortable for most people, but the 1880mm length and 1300mm width won't suit basketballers. The mesh panels with zippered canvas covers gave great flow-through ventilation.
The bathroom layout worked well, with plenty of space for two people to tidy up before heading out at night. The sliding door solves the access problem.
The galley area worked fine, with walk-through space to the bathroom behind the cook. We judged the cupboard and drawer volume more than adequate. There were downlights in all the expected places.
The dinette table felt light and flimsy, with too much free movement, but the seats and cushions were comfortable.
We found the US-made awning awkward to set up - a definite two-person operation - in contrast to the easy-wind-out European handle types. The plus for the Rapid's Carefree awning is more robust construction and far better capacity to handle wind gusts.
A travelling couple could have a pleasant lifestyle towing the Windsor Rapid RAC 442s around the country. It has all the features most people want and is very attractively priced. What more could you wish for?
Excellent easy-manoeuvre package for a travelling couple.
Box-type, rather than fold-out, step compromises ground clearance.
|Country of manufacture||Australia|
|Price as tested||From $35,995 + ORC|
|Options||high-riding inverted axle, oven unit|
four-burner LPG stove, range hood, microwave, 2x 4kg gas bottles, aluminium wheels, solar panel wiring, external 12-volt and TV aerial plugs, roof TV aerial, external speakers, 150L fridge, 15L freezer, external gas bayonet, gas/electric hot water in lieu of straight LPG,
|Gross weight||1,390 kg|
|Towball download||130 kg|