Allison Watt - Caravan World Deputy Editor
Cub has been building tough offroad camper trailers for the past 55 years and has a reputation as being among the best in the business.
So, there was decades of experience to draw upon when Cub made its first foray into a full caravan in late 2022. There was much hype around the release of Cub’s C16 hybrid caravan and Caravan World Creative Director Tim van Duyl was among the first to take one out on the road for a review. It impressed us then and, after a few tweaks and changes as a result of customer feedback, it’s still as impressive and is earning a legion of fans. And as a lightweight, offroad van with an exterior kitchen — the C16 and Cub's L16 vans proudly retain their hybrid status.
Designed for an adventure-seeking couple or family, the C16 is neither big nor pretentious but, as we discovered, some of its features will literally take your breath away.
The C16 is an Australian-made timberless hybrid caravan built to tackle the toughest Aussie conditions. Despite being a relative newcomer to the caravan scene, the C16 has Cub Campers’ five decades of experience and reputation behind it.
It’s a tough offroader, but at just 16ft and on a single axle it is much smaller than some of its competitors in this class. With a tare of just 2100kg (2207kg as tested), it is lightweight, easy to tow with a mainstream SUV or dual cab ute and has a load of remote capability including 300Ah of lithium power, four 180W solar panels and a 3000W inverter all managed by a REDARC RedVision Total Vehicle Management system.
Inside is where the C16 shines with a massive ‘presidential’ sized bed, comfortable dining area, innovative bathroom with shower and toilet, internal kitchen and huge windows which bring the outside in and enhance the sense of space in this relatively compact package.
The C16 has innovation in spades. When designing it, Cub wanted it to resemble a hotel room on wheels and they certainly achieved that aim. Step into the C16 and there is an instant wow factor, from the specialised fabric walls by Zush, large windows which let the outside in and ‘presidential’ sized king bed with pillowtop mattress to the smart TV, internal and external kitchens and more.
The bathroom is a combination shower, toilet and vanity, but it is remarkably spacious for a van of this size. A large window and roof hatch provide light and ventilation, there is a soap and shampoo holder, stainless steel sink and toilet roll holder and innovative flooring which resembles the eco-type recycled decking material. It allows for better drainage, keeps the floor of the shower clean and can be easily removed when cleaning is required.
I also liked the placement of QR codes externally on both the rear and offsides for easy access to all the C16 manuals should you need quick and easy access to them.
Tim van Duyl - Caravan World Creative Director
With 200L of freshwater, a couple should see about five days of heavy usage or around seven with more considered but comfortable use. Is that enough? I think it is as you're likely to want to resupply the fridges in that period so a quick stop at the visitor information centre for a refill (remember to say thanks!) is likely. If you did find a spot you wanted to hold a bit longer, you could use jerry cans, of course.
The 720W of solar matches the 300Ah of lithium well. You should see up to 40A coming in on an OK day which over the course of five hours could see half of the capacity replenished, that's plenty. Should you choose to run the Truma AC off the 3000W inverter, expect it to draw around 750W (62A at 12V), which will allow for a few hours of running without real concern, and with only some cooking and the hot water service using gas, expect to rarely have to swap out the two 4kg gas bottles.
Wow. Cub has blown it out of the water in its first attempt at a hybrid caravan. Maybe it is because they have no heritage to follow, meaning the design really could be a true clean sheet, but it is amazing. The use of felted fabric lining on the walls adds a softness and warmth that should be more common and underneath, again, wow.
Cub builds everything from the chassis to cutting its own wall panels and it's all flawless. The use of AL-KO Enduro-X suspension is nice to see and the brakes, wheels and even tyres are good-quality items. There does not appear to be any cost-cutting in the C16.
Cub has one of the more comprehensive warranty booklets and support structures I've seen. It has dealers almost nationwide and a team in the NSW-based factory to answer calls and emails. Offering a five-year warranty on the chassis, suspension and overall structure, along with three years on the OEM components, is also towards best in the industry.
John Ford - Caravan World Editor-At-Large
When Cub moved into the full-height hybrid caravan market, it maintained the genuine offroad DNA of the tried-and-true camper range that has kept them on track in the very competitive local camper and hybrid market for more than 50 years. I deliberately emphasise ‘true offroad’ because the term is widely bandied around in the RV sector. But can you really get an oversize and very weighty van into remote spots down narrow muddy tracks where deep washaways impede progress? The answer might be yes, but only with a bit of trouble, some time-consuming recoveries and expensive repairs.
The compact footprint, narrow track, single axle and moderate weight of the C16 means it’s pretty nimble compared to a big van, so winding your way into the camp is less intimidating. The standard 2100kg tare weight can be maxed out with a 600kg payload to 2700kg, so most twin cabs and mid-range 4WDs can easily cope. Importantly, it's a perfect match for a Prado or a similar wagon-style option.
Our tow vehicle for the drive section of our review was a 200 Series LandCruiser, and it had us moving with ease up the steep mountains behind Healesville, Vic, and we saw no sway or pitching from the well-balanced outfit. We took it easy coming down, and the single-axle brakes brought us to a safe stop when needed. The light weight of the Cub also makes a lot of sense for towing over long distances because fuel usage will be less of a concern, so all in all, I gave the C16 full points in this section.
Cub entered the caravan scene late in the game, and it arrived with fresh ideas on how a van should look and behave inside. The Cub team suggested it wanted a full-height hybrid that would impress with the ambience of a quality hotel suite, and it succeeded. You move from a conservative exterior to a tasteful and very welcoming living space. The beige upholstered walls soften the impression beautifully, and I suspect they also muffle the outside noises. The two extra-large windows on each side are the biggest available, and they maximise the light and aspect for a feeling of being embedded in your surroundings.
Many who say they dislike a combination shower and toilet might be converted by this one because there's room to move and decent ceiling height. Lounges on each side are positioned to take in the view opposite, and a pair of swivel tables rotate into an endless variety of functional positions. They call the bed ‘presidential’ in the brochure, and it's not an exaggeration because it truly is roomy and comfortable. The kitchenette has the basics, with most cooking concentrated outside, but the 3000W inverter will power up induction cookers and the essentials for breakfast or a late-night cuppa.
The C16 is available in two other layout designs; a bunk layout perfect for the whole family, or single bed options that wins you an additional robe between the beds.
Malcolm Street - Caravan World Field Editor
With a price tag close to $140,000 with options, Cub Campers’ C16 is certainly not a budget hybrid van. Having an internal length of just 4.8m (16ft), it's not a particularly large van either. If valuing a caravan on the amount of interior space, a cursory glance might suggest that there's not much bang for your buck, but a closer inspection reveals something very different.
Cub Campers has been around for a long time, mainly in the camper trailer market, but there's still plenty of experience gained from that. That shows in the build quality and layout of this 4.8m (16ft) hybrid. It’s packed with features — everything from the Rimex-finished external kitchen to the different but effectively styled bathroom that works well in a relatively confined space. Only visible from the outside is the entire composite body (no timber) with fibreglass sandwich panel walls and a roof that is 30mm thick and the floor an extra 20mm thicker again. To make things neat inside, the panels are made with a wiring conduit already installed.
A feature that's hard to go past is the bed that takes up most of the front area. With large windows on both sides at bed level, it is not hard to imagine being at some remote campsite and taking in the morning view without getting out of bed. Those same windows result in excellent space perception in a relatively small area. Lifting the bed reveals a few secrets, mainly the different style of under-bed storage — optional zipped bags that keep things reasonably clean. Although the internal kitchen is relatively small, the external one easily makes up for it. When getting away from it all, there's plenty of battery and solar panel capacity for good off-grid capability.
Another factor in the value-for-money equation is the price of a tow vehicle. Given the ATM of just 2700kg and payload of 600kg, the C16 won’t require a heavy-duty tow vehicle at all. If prepared for lightweight travel, there’s no reason why a vehicle with a tow rating of just 2500kg couldn’t be used to tow this van. Just a thought.
Pinning down the X-Factor of the C16 is problematic, not because there needs to be more choice but because there's too much. I've already mentioned some of the notable features, but I could go on about the electrical capacity or the custom-made water tanks. However, the X-Factor is the C16 itself. It's different from everything else at COTY, a very distinctive van that stands out in a crowd despite its relatively small stature.
Cub C16 specs
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Internal body length||4.8m (16ft)|
|Overall length||7.53m (24ft 8in)|
|External body width||2.23m (7ft 4in)|
|Travel height||3.01m (9ft 10in)|
|Internal height||1.97m (6ft 5in)|
|Tare||2207kg (2100kg as standard)|
|Payload||493kg (600kg as standard)|
|Ball weight||216kg (175kg as standard)|
|Structure||Fibreglass composite with XPS foam insulation|
|Cladding||No, but has stainless steel wall protection|
|Chassis||BlueScope galvanised steel|
|Suspension||AL-KO Enduro X|
|Coupling||AL-KO 50mm ball hitch (free option for DO35)|
|Wheels||17 x 8.5 5/150 and 35 Black Alloy Advanti Predator 5 Red, 265/65R17 BF Goodrich Km3 M/T Tyres|
|Water||200L freshwater capacity, 100L grey water|
|Battery||300Ah lithium battery|
|Solar||720W solar generation|
|Gas||2 x 4kg|
|Sway control||AL-KO and Bosch Tow Assist – ABS and Sway Mitigation System|
|Cooking||Smev stainless steel sink with glass lid, Smev stainless steel stove – three burners, pantry, fridge box and slide, mixer tap, Ezy Clean kitchen top, external fridge storage|
|Fridge||Dometic Coolmatic CRX 110C – 110L|
|Bathroom||Centre ensuite. Internal and external shower, removable floor mat, mirror, mixer tap, roof vent – Fantastic 12V, stainless steel sink|
|Hot water||Truma Combi D6 (Diesel) heater/hot water|
Cub C16 price from $129,990
- Manual step
- Two fans
- Off-grid pack (2 x additional 150Ah lithium batteries, additional 180W solar panel, additional portable 180W solar panel)
Cub C16 price as shown $135,700
P: (02) 8838 8600
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