As youngsters, the Bosschieter brothers, Dan and Toby, travelled through many wild places of Australia in the back of their parents' 4WD with various caravans and campers in tow. The fact that they have been to Cape York more than 20 times may indicate the thoroughness of their adventures.
This outback travel led to a business importing rugged campers and the development of locally-made trailers for mining and health initiatives. They learned a lot about design and reliability for local conditions, and the company thrived. But after six years they decided it was time to sell, and in 2014 the brothers found themselves with time on their hands to once again hit the road for an extended family adventure. During the trip, the concept for an innovative camper grew from wanting to build a better camper for their parents.
The plan was for a comfortable go-anywhere rig that was easy to tow but offered plenty of off-grid comforts. A suitable trailer needs plenty of ground clearance, but this can create access issues when camped. So, for the older folk to get into the camper and for a workable height for the external kitchen, an adjustable ride height started a long list of must-have features.
As their imaginations were set free, the pair realised they were heading towards a unique product with the potential as a full-blown adventure camper for the world market. After 18 months of research and development, the prototype EXP-6 was handed over to their parents to enjoy. This first version of a hybrid caravan was designed for a couple, but Dan realised he needed more beds for his growing family, so the bunk option was conceived.
Before long, the first production Bruder was introduced. Destined for a select group of buyers, it was a world-class, all-weather, all-terrain extravaganza of an RV with unique styling and a price to match.
Within the confines of what’s possible in a 5m-hybrid body, everything about the EXP-6 was designed from scratch to maximise travel performance and use of space.
The walls, roof, and floor are comprised of 30mm Italian closed-cell polyeothane sandwich panels, permanently epoxy bonded into a durable and well-insulated monocoque construction. All openings have efficient automotive rubber seals, but even so, there’s a pressurised dust suppression system for total protection. Even the main water tanks are internal to isolate them from extremes of temperature.
Double high-density rubber mounting points between the body and the chassis ensure a softer ride and provide freeze and heat insulation. The EXP-6 is climate rated for use in between -20 and 50 degrees.
The chassis is made from Australian box section steel that is load rated to 11,000kg. The team goes to a lot of trouble to ensure durability by sealing the chassis rails from dust and water. Videos on the website show the vans crossing deep water, and the Bruder is said to float so you can bet that owners will take travel to the limit.
To achieve the exceptional 305mm suspension travel and optimise angles of movement, the chassis rises around the suspension inside a raised box section — clearly visible from the sides but blending unobtrusively into the interior.
Each wheel rides on a heavy-duty trailing arm suspension with Firestone airbags and twin Bruder-spec remote canister shock absorbers. Tyres are high riding 33in 305x60 all-terrains on 18in alloy wheels. All the airbags operate independently from a phone or tablet, and they can auto-level the van when travelling or when camped. It can drop to near ground level for easy access at the rear entry and you can even lift one wheel to change a tyre or travel home if you run out of spares. Brakes are ventilated discs with incredible and reliable stopping power.
Suspension on the review van has been developed after a lot of testing in the outback. It was found that slow going over sandy undulating ground caused heat to build up in the shock absorbers, so the latest versions have been upgraded to a more suitable progressive rate. The shockies themselves are ventilated and have been placed further apart to provide better cooling.
The lower face of the suspension arms are designed to slide over protruding logs and rocks without getting caught up, but with a maximum of 650mm ground clearance, there shouldn’t be much that would cause a problem.
In keeping with the offroad intention, the width is kept to 1.9m for travel on narrow paths. Similarly, the wheel track can be matched to the tow vehicle so that the tyres follow over the same ground.
The EXP-6 has a look that’s best described as brutal — especially in the grey or black livery. While the white body softens the lines somewhat, there’s still a hint of military deployment somewhere in the snow-covered landscape of Siberia. In reality, the combative description is misleading, and the only danger will be the envious glances towards happy owners as they drive by.
The shape is wind cheating and aerodynamic, with large panels of matte fibreglass dominating both sides. Adding some contrast are large black windows towards the front, adjacent to the queen bed, and a couple of smaller ones towards the back on the side opposite the kitchen. I had to think about that sentence — usually I’d nominate a driver side or passenger side to describe the location. In a world market however that’s not so appropriate and, as this model is bound for a left-hand drive country, the descriptors swap over.
The EXP-6 looks well buttoned up in travel mode but quickly transforms to camping mode when you need it. Lifting a large cover along the side reveals the outside kitchen, while further forward, a slide-out with a chest fridge and storage drawers is right where you need it for cooking. The cover creates a small overhang for some shade, but an electric awning can be quickly deployed for even more shelter.
An exterior kitchen is the hallmark of a modern-day hybrid van, and they make a lot of sense for an outdoor lifestyle, but this latest version of the Bruder has a new interior kitchen layout for easier cooking inside. And because the hatch has been shifted rearward, there is a better view from the lounge inside.
Long gas struts help lift the rear tailgate to create an awning over the rear entry and this central access makes sense for safe roadside access from different driving sides. Hatches on the back wall can include a small washing machine or simply act as handy storage spaces. The fibreglass three-way Camec door looks well insulated and has an insect screen for warm weather. A drop-down step and a grab rail assist entry, and the pop-top opens electronically to offer 2.1m of head height once inside. The patented lifters are rated to cope with a fall of heavy snow and are covered in 600W of high performance glass-clad solar panels.
Light from windows at the rear and at the bed give the interior loads of natural light. If the weather is suitable, the windows of the pop-top skirts of the pop-top can unzip for an even better flow of light and air. And if the vinyl covering seems to negate the cold environment suitability of the PT version, there are double layers available for better insulation, or simply leave the roof down — there’s still ample room for most folk to walk around. A GT version has a hardtop and does away with skirts altogether, further improving extreme climate capability.
Just inside the door to the left is a compact combination ensuite with a moulded Thetford cassette toilet, fold-down sink and a shower.
To the left of the central walkway is the latest kitchen design, with an induction cooktop and stainless steel sink that are easily accessed from both sides, so it’s no longer necessary to head outside for a cuppa or a quick cook up. A 60L Isotherm drawer fridge isn’t far away, and there are good storage options in overhead cupboards.
Opposite the kitchen, a three-seater lounge is beautifully upholstered in black leather, and there’s a smallish removable table that can swing around for snacks or working on a laptop.
The lounge backrest folds up to make a set of 1850 x 560mm bunks with security nets where children would be happy to bed down, and there’s the option of a transverse double bunk that fits high above the fridge and kitchen.
Up front is a full-width north-south queen bed, and with a stargazer hatch overhead and good-sized side windows. Block-out blinds close you in for privacy, of course.
You don’t see many of the Bruders on the road here, partly because they have found homes in Angola, Mongolia, Russia, Iceland and the USA.
We were grateful we managed to snag one for an afternoon before it was packed in a container for shipment to the USA. The carrying capacity is 780kg, and that’s plenty for the gear and supplies you would need for long-term travel.
On the road, the EXP-6 tows without vice and tucks in behind for an aerodynamic ride. The drawbar is longer than usual, being designed to turn at full lock without hitting the back of the tug. We didn’t test it, but I’m assured that extreme 90-degree approach angles are also possible due to a combination of the long bar and the articulation of the 4.5T McHitch coupling.
The very idea of an expedition vehicle is to get as far away from civilisation as you can on your fuel supply, so, if ever a caravan needed to be self-sufficient, then the Bruder is it.
Up top, there’s 600W of solar feeding 400Ah Victron Energy Lithium batteries through a Victron Battery Management System. And in keeping with the latest in electronic innovation, a Garmin tablet controls and monitors all the systems through the van. A 3000W inverter will run an air conditioner for several hours and the Eberspacher diesel heater is an efficient way to keep warm.
Climate insulation is built-in, but the electronics have the added thermal protection of moderated airflow when it’s hot and a carbon neomat covering when it’s not. The standard water capacity is 170L, but the review van had an extra chassis-mounted 45L tank and a 45L grey tank for visiting national parks.
Bruder offers a worldwide warranty on the body chassis and suspension for three years. While appliance warranty is through those suppliers, Bruder finds a suitable outcome in the event of problems. There are service agents around Australia and, as appropriate, overseas.
We have talked up the appeal, quality, and exclusivity of the EXP-6, so you have probably guessed that the price is going to match — and you’d be right. The starting price is around $198,000, and the list of options is long. Our review van included extra water capacity, a couple of awnings, a leather lounge, and other options that added another $10,000. But consider this: the value of a second-hand Bruder is such that if you bought one five years ago, you will make a decent profit should you decide to sell.
For something that looks so completely cool, the EXP-6 is a serious offroad off-grid travelling companion. The brothers have delivered a remarkable RV that is the toast of well-heeled travellers around the world. If you like the idea of a compact, beautifully engineered wagon and have the wherewithal to buy one, then good on you and happy travels.
Nothing comes close to the outrageous looks of the Bruder and it has the engineering and build quality to match. There are cheaper hybrid caravans around, but this one will do the miles without falling down and will let you sleep comfortably in all extremes of weather.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 6.73m (22ft)
External body length 5m (16ft 5in)
External body width 1.92m (6ft 4in)
Travel height 2.35m (7ft 8in)
Internal height 2.1m (7ft)
Payload 780kg (calculated)
Ball weight 165kg
Cladding Epoxy bonded closed-cell composite with alloy guards and high impact protection
Chassis Bruder design fully sealed and two-pack painted
Suspension Bruder 3L auto-leveling, fully independent suspension with four heavy-duty airbags and eight remote-canister monotube shocks. 300mm of travel per wheel
Coupling 4.5T McHitch offroad coupling with 90+ degrees turning angle
Wheels 305x60 18in (33in) option 35in tyres
Water Internal 170L standard, with additional 45L chassis-mounted option fitted
Battery 400Ah Smart LiPo (standard) upgradable to 800Ah
Solar 600W roof-mounted fixed panels (standard)
Air conditioner Truma 240V powered by 3000W inverter (standard)
Sway control N/A
Cooking Portable twin induction cooktop (standard)
Fridge Internal 12V 65L Dometic upgradeable to 80L, 60L Isotherm drawer fridge fitted, External 12V 60L Engel Fridge Freezer
Microwave 240V (option as fitted)
Bathroom Thetford cassette toilet, vanity basin, shower and full-length mirror, Optional 45L grey water tank option fitted
Washing machine Optional 2L
Hot water Diesel hot water and internal heating system (standard)
PRICE FROM $198,000 inc GST (2022 model)
Grey exterior raptor coat
LHS 4.5M electric awning
RHS 4.5M electric awning
60L Isotherm drawer fridge
45L chassis-mounted additional water storage with remote water pickup
40L chassis-mounted grey water tank
Nose box storage shelf
North American electrical system
PRICE AS SHOWN $208,000 inc GST
21 Fulcrum Rd, Richlands, QLD 4077
Ph: 07 31728838