The all-new Track Trailer T4 Symphony hybrid camper proves its worth in a tough outback torture test.
By Ron Moon
Article from WhichCar
There’s no doubt that Track Trailer Tvans have an enviable reputation in Australia that has been built on 20 years of production, as well as having been hauled to some of the most remote parts of the country. However, as an all-new model, the Track Trailer T4 hybrid camper has still to prove its mettle, and the example you see here is one of the first T4s off Track Trailer’s Bayswater production line in Victoria.
To see how well the T4 would perform, we joined Track Trailer on a test loop that would see us head through outback SA, up the Oodnadatta Track across to Coober Pedy, and out along the Anne Beadell Highway to Voakes Hill Corner.
We would then swing south onto a lesser-used track and then, by a series of old mining roads and Aboriginal business roads – some of which are bloody rough and deep in bull dust – we would find our way to Cheetima Beach, west of Fowlers Bay. From there we would head back to Melbourne via the blacktop.
Prior to our trip, the all-new chassis and its MC-2R suspension had been subjected to severe and extensive testing on the ripple strips of the impressive and very trying Anglesea Proving Ground Following that the van had been subjected to considerable on-road testing (both blacktop and gravel) and daily use in the Victorian High Country, along the Murray River, as well as a few coastal camping sojourns; so in its short life it has copped a pretty rough, near continuous workover.
There are three models of the T4 on offer: the entry-level Symphony is $105K; the more luxurious Rhapsody is around $108,500; and the Concerto Family Bunk model tops the line-up at just under $109,500. The model tested here is the Symphony.
The T4 body’s striking looks make a styling statement very different to its predecessor, the Track Topaz, with the walls featuring longitudinal creases for greater torsional strength and impact resistance. The two-piece insulated roof, the distinctive nose cone and the rear shower pod are all fashioned from fibreglass, while the riveted sandwich-panel walls and the roof structure are linked by a laser-cut external aluminium frame, colour-coded to distinguish the different models of the T4.
The Symphony comes with a huge amount of inside room, an east-west bed, six-seater split lounge, a fully set-up kitchen with a four-burner Thetford gas cooktop and grill (an optional diesel cooktop is also available), and a stainless steel sink with mixer tap backed up by a Truma UltraRapid 13L gas/electric heater. There’s also a Truma VarioHeat gas heater for cold nights, and air-conditioning is optional.
A 130L Isotherm compressor fridge/freezer will keep the salad crisp and the beer cold, while there’s hidden dimmable LED lighting throughout the van, along with a Fusion portable sound system. There is no internal shower/toilet in the Symphony, but it does have an external drop-down en suite tent and an internally accessible portable toilet.
Adding to the hybrid flavour is the slide-out kitchen, which is a bloody beauty; it’s basically the same as the top-line unit from the latest model Tvan. It comes with a three-burner stove, a matching stainless steel sink with flick mixer tap, along with three roomy drawers for storing cutlery, cups, plates, coffee, tea and more of those everyday necessities. The integrated windshield is again a unique Track product, and a quick-connect lead supplies gas to the stove. Just in front of the slide-out kitchen and handy to all is a 40-litre drawer-type Evakool fridge/freezer.
Up the front is a huge storage locker and side lockers, and the total outside storage adds up to a mammoth 1395 litres of space, or so says the brochure. Down the back-end is the rear en suite or shower pod, which is roomy and has been improved from previous Topaz models with better and faster access.
For the more technical minded, and those looking for long stays in the scrub off-grid, there are two 120W roof-mounted glass solar panels feeding two 105amp/h AGM batteries. There’s a 300W Redarc full sine-wave inverter (700W unit optional) controlled by the Redarc Manager 30, which has a built-in DC-DC charger and solar regulator, while the gas supply comes from two 4kg bottles.
Our Symphony had a few options including a larger main water tank (260L in total), a RedVision electrical management system, electro-mechanical lifters for the pop-top roof, a powered roll-out Thule awning – which is a beauty – and a unique pop-up kitchen pantry which makes use of the corner space in the van. We also had the 700W inverter and zero-gravity blinds. Track’s new dining table, which stores under the bed, is a masterpiece of design and construction. Those extras add another $13K or so to the base price.
On first look the all-new T4 seems to be much longer than the Topaz, but with an overall length of just under 5.6m, or just over 18ft in the old money, there’s only an extra 200mm in it. The length is accentuated by the custom-made side glass windows that make the T4 stand out from the crowd.
The Symphony weighs 1820kg, but by the time we loaded up with 260 litres of water and threw in another seven jerry cans of fuel for the tow tug, the total weight was in the vicinity of 2350kg; not light by any means, but still well under the conservative 2500kg ATM Track Trailer deems the unit to have.
How did the T4 hybrid camper perform? This was a tough test in hot dusty conditions in a region where most people would fear to take a camper or hybrid van; certainly most van manufacturers don’t subject their new vans to such rigorous outback testing. As it was, we had passed two recently wrecked and abandoned campers along the Anne Beadell Highway, testimony of the stress and strain put on each and every rig on these outback tracks.
Apart from a couple of annoying matters, which included dust ingress through the entry door (caused by human error on our part), a shock absorber issue and a battery management problem, the T4 performed faultlessly. The shock issue was quickly resolved by Track Trailer’s engineers – and all T4 production has been upgraded – while the electronic management compatibility issue has been investigated by Track and Redarc and a fix implemented.
The new T4, despite its size and weight, towed easily behind our 200 Series tow vehicle, even in the fairly strong crosswinds we experienced on the blacktop and good dirt of the Oodnadatta Track. In the more extreme desert country, with corrugations and wash-outs, the rig towed effortlessly, soaking up all we could throw at it.
Of course, we had to be aware of the overall length of the camper in tight situations, as well as the reduced approach, ramp-over and departure angles compared to a Tvan, but other than wearing a few scratches from enclosing scrub and trees, the T4 performed off-road as good as could be expected.
Importantly, nothing rattled loose or broke off inside the T4, which was good to see … but hardly surprising considering the Track Trailer pedigree.
We never missed having an air-conditioner fitted, even though the days topped out at 46°C. The two standard fans were sufficient to keep the air circulating in the large interior and – although I’d like to see bigger sliding windows in the T4 – once the roof is raised there are screened windows all around to help with air flow.
We cooked outside every night and, due to the heat and total fire restrictions in effect, we didn’t have wood fires. The outside kitchen worked a treat, but in strong winds we would have liked a bit more height in the wind shields to stop all the heat blowing away. The inside fridge worked well, but the 40-litre drawer fridge struggled on the 45 to 46°C days.
The T4 might be an expensive hybrid camper, but it offers some great innovative design features and fabulous build quality while giving away very little to smaller units as far as performance and capability are concerned. The T4 promises, like the Tvan, to set the standard for all future hybrid campers. It certainly is one very impressive unit.
Track Trailer T4 Symphony specifications
HEIGHT (AT TRAVEL): 2550mm
WIDTH (EXTERNAL): 1990mm
LENGTH (OVERALL): 6575mm
BODY LENGTH (EXTERNAL): 5575mm
BODY LENGTH (INTERIOR): 4590mm
HEIGHT (INTERIOR-ROOF): 2070mm
TARE: 1940kg (as reviewed)
BALL WEIGHT: 170kg (unloaded)
BODY: Aluminium bonded and riveted sandwich-panel walls
CHASSIS: One-piece hot-dipped galvanised steel
SUSPENSION: Track-designed MC2-R asymmetrical link
BRAKES: 12-inch Cruisemaster electric drum brakes
WHEEL/TYRE: 16-inch alloy/265/70R16
FRESH WATER: 75L & 30L (optional 2 x 130L as tested)
BATTERY: 2 x 105amp/h AGM
SOLAR: 2 x 120W roof-mounted panels
AIR CONDITIONER: Air-conditioning optional (not fitted)
HEATING: Truma VarioHeat gas heater
HOT WATER: Truma UltraRapid 13L gas/electric
GAS CYLINDERS: 2x4kg
COOKTOP: Internal 4-burner Thetford gas cooktop with grill
FRIDGE: 130L Isotherm compressor; 40L drawer-type fridge
SHOWER/TOILET: External hot/cold shower
LIGHTING: Hidden dimmable LED throughout
PRICE: $105,220 ($118,500 as tested)
Track Trailer: Outback HQ: 1/640 Dorset Road, Bayswater North, Vic
Phone: (03) 8727 6100