With 13 pop-top and seven caravan layouts available the Windsor Rapid range takes a practical approach to being most things to many people.
With 1700kg the absolute manufacturer's towing limit for the GoSee Captiva auto gearbox diesel LX we asked Melbourne and European R.V.'s, Frankston to make us a Rapid match.
So we headed for East Gippland in wild, wintry weather with a1254kg Windsor Rapid RA 471 on the Captiva's custom-fitted Hayman Reese towbar. The RA 471 stands tall among the Rapid range on a 150mm (6in) main frame which is raised 101mm (4in).
The RA 471extra clearance and improved entry and exit angles are really handy as rugged terrain is not confined to the Outback. A steep gutter, sharp driveway angle and limited backing space are just as testing on caravan entry and exit angles.
WDH tweaked up. Open face of lock-pin faces forward
So we used the multi-adjustment options of the Hayman Reese drawbar to carefully position the Rapid - Captiva towing profile through the Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH).
With the tow vehicle and Rapid, perfectly level handling and braking are at their best. The WDH distributes towing weight evenly and the Captiva's front wheels get more grip which means steering and brakes work better.
As winds which reached 50 knots hit us in a gale driven ride to Park Lane Top Tourist Park, Traralgon our Hayman Reese hitch-up process paid-off big time.
It is impossible to tow in such weather and not compensate for the conditions as big gusts and rain squalls hit and big trucks blast past. But with the Hayman Reese rig set up right the Rapid followed faithfully with our towing speed deliberately held down to about 90 kmh.
Sure the posted 110kmh in sections of the highway was easily achievable with the gale up our tail.
The wind was so strong from behind at times we could have done something we rarely do - tow easily in overdrive.
GoSee with Windsor Rapid RA 471 and Geist Activ 495
But talking of tail, our driver seat of the pants feel was not comfortable so we opted to be around to tell the tale and drove safer so as not to wind up sorry.
Even so the big wind probed the rig and our skills and found a flaw. The clutch on the wind-out awning let go.
Warned that the Rapid had set sail by a kind concerned driver in a following vehicle we stopped and locked and lashed down the awning clutch.
Later we stopped for an early rest break and check after an hour and a half and walked around the rig. Unhappy with the WDH setting look we adjusted and took the tensioning chains down a link.
This a big plus with the Hayman Reese towing equipment fine tuning is possible and ajustments can be made to cope with vehicle height variations between makes and models.
It also copes with the raised ( 101mm 4 inches) profile of the Windsor Rapid 471 which is fitted with the Rugged Terrain Vehicle (RTV) Austrek pack.
That translates into Austrek independent suspension. 15in off-road wheels. 150mm (6in) chassis rail. Easy lift drop down stabiliser legs. The Windsor Rapid RA471 is pre-wired to take a solar panel.
There is Rimex aluminium checker plate fitted to the lower side of the RV and a pressure hatch.
From Melbourne and European R.V.'s, Frankston, that adds $4,810 to the RA471. As we tried it the price is $37,910 plus on road costs. Prices are GST inclusive.
Double checking the awning clutch Windsor Rapid
On the run to and from Park Lane Top Tourist Park, Traralgon the GoSee Captiva LX diesel handled the Windsor well in the demanding towing.
On the run back into 10 - 15 knot headwinds and hilly going fourth gear was used in the five speed auto gearbox which allows over-ride selection.
Towing in company with GoSee's restored big six-cylinder four litre turbo diesel the small modern common-rail cleverly tweaked 2 litre four-cylinder diesel held its own on steep hills and butted into the steady headwinds in fourth.
GoSee does not recommend extreme weather towing. If the choice is there go another day.
Once on the excellent ensuite site at Park Lane Top Tourist Park the Windsor Rapid showed it is an excellent roomy camping fit.
The first plus was it settled easily and firmly on the concrete ensuite slab.
The jacks give great stability on the Park Lane drive-through slab site
With the Easy lift drop down stabiliser legs wound down camping in storm winds is a steady experience. The stabilisers are really strong.
GoSee now regards them as among the best we have seen on any caravan make.
With only one bed needed we swung the front bed lid up.
Inside the Windsor the bed unfolds with a little easy tugging and the pop-top goes up with a solid shove. That is it.
Reverse the process when it is time to go. The storm conditions were ideal for really getting to know the Windsor Rapid.
Rain squalls hammered in driven by gusts to 50knots. Like all fold-out designs of its kind there is pant and puff from the folding bits in big winds.
For nervous first-timers a big wind makes its presence felt in unfamilar sounds.
In soft-section RV designs the elements are closer. For GoSee this is not unacceptable when weighed against the advantages of the Windsor Rapid's space and portability.
Another major Windsor Rapid plus was there were no leaks despite the extreme weather machine-gunning rain at the pop-top and front bed area.
Pull down. Stand clear as the water runs off
And the bed stays dry when the top-down fold-away bed is locked down. But it is important to remember to stand back as the big bed hatch shuts to avoid the water which runs off if it is raining.
Check that everything is neat and tidy before starting the fold-away process, stray soft bits will jamb the fold-away process and could cause damage.
Once the pop-top is down on the RA471 four hyfield locks at the corners of the RV lock it down. The taller RA471 requires long arms for the task. A portable step is handy.
Of course double check the wind-out awning clutch before travelling.
GoSee has had some bad experiences with awnings of this kind across makers and models in caravans, pop-tops, motorhomes and campervans.
At worst they can hurt - badly. Bruised andeven broken fingers are possible.
Read the instructions and keep fingers, hands and arms clear of the powerful rewind.
GoSee regards wind-out awnings as a fair weather shade benefit with limitplus in light rain. We prefer guy ropes and tent pegs to pin them down. We don't use awnings in strong winds nor do we leave them unfurled at night.
Coffee time on the offset Rapid work bench
Living in the Windsor RA471 is comfortable in wet, cold windy weather. With the cold storm winds and rain a small electric fan heater made life in the Windsor pleasant with the thermostat kicking the heating level in and out.
There is good cooking and storage design overall in the Windsor Rapid.
Original design thought extends to the off-set in the sink and bench. The benefit is more useable space.
We don't like small airconditioners in general and dislike the set-up in the Rapid we tried.
Confind by the pop-top it is too low and a pain in the neck for an adult of normal height seated at the big table.
But overall GoSee likes the obvious practical planning which goes into the most used items in the Windsor.
Power and TV points are well placed. Cooking and storage space, sliding draws and cupboards work.
Planning extends to the sink fittings and pump being easy to get at. The microwave is in easy reach.
There is no oven in the unit we tried. GoSee does not use an oven as we thermo cook, OzPigor use caravan park facilities while on the road.
More sliding kitchen space Windsor Rapid
Thermo cooking uses minimal fuel, does not need watching, serves nutritius meals for up to six and is dead easy to clean up. Another big benefit is cooking smells do not become imbedded in the RV.
Talking of Top Tourist Park facilities Park Lane is an Australiasian caravan park class leader.
Good food, good company and all the good gear usually only found at home are available in the Top Tourist Parks community complex.
The Park Lane facitilities are as good and better than many of the best camp kitchens to be found in New Zealand.
Friends that Trans-Tasman comparison is the highest praise GoSee can give as New Zealand's Camp Kitchens are the jewels in the Kiwi camping culture.
The Park Lane Camp Kitchen is completely equipped.
There is even a multi-choice hot drinks machine which produces far better than average coffee for a few dollars in the slot. Again high praise from GoSee.
We travel with a trained, diploma carrying, dead-serious about it GoSee barista. His knowledge of coffee, in all its variations, is totally informed on trends, brands and taste.
Good food good company Park Lane Top Tourist Park
The Park Lane camp community complex has a luxury TV lounge and a big games room which makes life much better for families in bad weather.
The first sign of even more icing on the Park Lane cake (so to speak) was posted in the comfortable ensuite whichcame withour $25 ensuite campsite. Open daily it said - hot breakfast.
So of course we did, hot breakfast that is. Good choices all round. Eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, cereals, toast ,ah, life is good.
We just wonder what all the poor people who have not tried caravan park living are doing.
Fuel crisis, hmmmm, sure price rises, death and taxes are certain. But there are a lot of top caravan parks in Australia and New Zealand which provide amazing facilities at around $25 a night for two.
Seems to GoSee that such an accommodation save buys a lot of fuel.
And caravan park chains like Top Tourist offer real member benefits too.
$25 buys a Top Tourist Club Card. That gives a 10 percent discount at any of their member parks up to a maximum of $25 per stay plus member benefits.
Park Lane communal kitchen
At $70 their Platinum card membership offers discounts of up to 50 per cent on good things to do.
For example - Travel and tours, dining out, lifestyle, accommodation, leisure and entertainment, attractions, automotive, retail, health and beauty, ticketing, financial services, magazines, body and mind, home and garden, pet care, car hire.
There are general benefits too, savings vouchers and reward programs.
The Windsor Rapid RA471 GoSee used was provided courtesy of Melbourne European RVs from their new location on the corner of Frankston-Dandenong Rd and Klauer St. Frankston, Victoria. Australia
About the tow vehicle -
The GoSee Captiva diesels use a new 2.0-litre, common rail, 16-valve SOHC inline four-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel engine that produces 110kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 320Nm at 2000rpm. This compares to 169kW and 297Nm (at 3200rpm) for the petrol models.
GM-DAT (nee GM-Daewoo) developed the engine in conjunction with Italian turbodiesel specialist, VM Motori, and it meets Euro IV emission standards.
The modern turbo diesel engine uses high-pressure direct fuel-injection (in this case a Bosch system) and a variable geometry turbocharger. The Captiva is the diesels first run in production.
The turbo diesel is matched to a five-speed manual transmission in the base SX model only. At around A$36,000 this is a deal worth looking at. We think the manual variant is geared significantly shorter than the auto. Coupled with a higher maximum braked towing capacity (2000kg versus 1700kg for the auto) this could suit those who want to tow as a first priority.
The 2.0-litre engine benefits from a turbocharger to increase low down power, coupled with an air-to-air intercooler. It has a 17.5:1 compression ratio.
And the dry bed is locked away
Big table Windsor Rapid
Check that everything is neat and tidy
Forward double bed out and pop-top up on the Rapid
Getting the pop-top up Windsor Rapid
Mind you head Windsor Rapid
Pop-top hyfield locks need long arms
The front bed mattress folds in
Will you have toast too. Breakfast is served at Park Lane Top Tourist Park Traralgon
Park Lanes TV lounge
Park Lane Games Room
The Windsor Rapid fits the ensuite site well