It’s raining. But, I couldn’t give two hoots. I’m snuggled up in bed under the breeze of a fan, and I’ve just reached across to grab a cold beverage from the fridge. If it gets a bit chilly, I can turn the heater on. Or if I’m peckish, I can cook up some tucker without a sweat. Nothing is a problem. If I wanted to drive off, all I would have to do is stand up, press a few buttons, and jump in the driver’s seat. I don’t have to step outside.
It sounds like I’m at home, but I’m not. Normally, I’d be in a swag under an awning, looking forward to seeing the rainclouds clear. Don’t get me wrong: I love swags and their simplicity. And there are more comfortable options out there with more protection from the elements – but nothing satisfies that sense of adventure like spending a night under canvas, rain or sun.
For images and the full Unsealed 4X4 experience, CLICK HERE.
But, this trip is different. My 4X4 is at home, and I have borrowed another one. No, it’s not a caravan. It’s not a motorhome, either. Those monikers simply don’t suit it. It’s an EarthCruiser.
What it definitely is, is a 4X4. 37-inch mud terrains, triple locked, and a two-stage gear reduction giving 24 forward ratios to choose from. Bullbar, snorkel, long-range tank, winches front and rear… you get the picture.
This sort of capability normally comes in the form of a rough-and-tumble 4WD: A chopped and bobbed GQ that is built purely for competition, and probably gets trailered around most of the time. Not this thing, however. You can live in this.
We spent a week in an EarthCruiser on the road, and would have sacrificed multiple limbs to spend longer with it. All of that capability is great, no doubt; but the thing I like most about this rig is the thorough amount of thought and design that has gone into it. Everything has a place, and that place has a reason.
The 4X4 is based on an Iveco Daily 4X4 cab-chassis, which has big tyres, double reduction and lockers as standard. The powerplant is the Iveco FIC three-litre intercooled turbodiesel, which puts down 125kW and 400Nm. This runs through a six-speed gearbox. It doesn’t sound like much, but all of those 400Nms are available between 1,250 and 3,000 rpm – and the EarthCruiser does get along well enough. It’s sedate, but you wouldn’t really want to go much faster. Importantly, it will cruise comfortably at 110km/h; but we preferred sitting on 95-100km/h.
The body is all custom-built in Australia, and it’s made to the highest standards. Not once did I have any issue with the camping setup. An awning, electrically operated, deploys itself; as do the roof and the steps. So setting up for camp involves stopping the car, walking two steps, and pressing three buttons. There’s integrated lighting at all sides; and a big hatch for storage towards the back, which also acts as an outside table. We had zero dust ingress, as well.
Getting back into my Defender 130 after driving the EarthCruiser felt like it was a Lotus Elise. I thought I was going to scrape my bum on the road, and couldn’t believe how much speed I could carry through corners. The EarthCruiser is a truck, and it drives like one. Our model wasn’t terribly huge though. It can be fitted in an average carpark space – which is handy. It is tall however, which you need to keep in mind. But jeez, the forward visibility is great.
The only bad thing about the EarthCruiser (or any Daily, for that matter) is the braking power. When you’ve got a bit of load, and need to head downhill, the brakes do sometimes feel quite inadequate. You’ve got the gearing for compression braking, but better brakes would be nicer.
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION…
No, no. It’s not a million bucks. But when you rest up in your mini apartment after conquering a tough track or crossing a desert, it will feel like it…
All jokes aside, if you want to buy the EarthCruiser you see in this story, you won’t get much change out of $300,000. You can opt for a basic setup without all of the options (to decrease the price), depending on what you want. Would I? Yes, I would.
If I could.
But I can’t, so I’ll just keep hassling them for another loaner, and dream.
|Engine||3-litre, 4-cylinder twin turbo diesel. 126kW, 400Nm.|
|Transmission||Full-time 4WD. 6-speed manual gearbox,|
two-stage reduction transfer case.
|Tyres||37×13.50×17 Toyo MT,|
mounted on forged alloy wheels.
|Fuel Capacity||300 litres.|
|Price||Starts from around $260,000.|
For more information, go to earthcruiser.net.au, or call Mark on 0412 642 437.
Words and images by Sam Purcell