Ever since I saw the new prototype, Jurgens Penta, late last year, I have been eager to get one for review. The older model has been a firm favourite for what seems like decades but, to be fair, this is possibly because it had very limited opposition capable of challenging it for the number-one spot. In fact, the original Penta has been around so long that it must surely be the yardstick on which all future Penta’s will be judged?
You could correct me here, but in between the original and the 138, the Penta 135 GS was launched, with GS referring to the grey and silver colour. The 135 GS was not well received and was replaced at the end of 2019 with the new Penta 138 GS. And, on face value, having a growing national dealership back-up and being manufactured in a factory that can produce quantity, it must surely have the potential to regain the top spot.
JURGENS Penta 138 GS details
- 4 berth
- Body length: 5 425mm
- Overall length: 6 425mm
- Overall width: 2 271mm
- Headroom: 2 180mm
- Tare weight: 1 220mm
- GVM: 1 460kg
- Packing weight: 240kg
- Minimum tow car tare: 1 460kg
NEW MANUFACTURE MATERIALS
The new Penta 138 is said to be completely different from the old model. Aluminium side cladding has been replaced with fibreglass, although manufacture has retained the combination of fibreglass, wood, polystyrene, and plywood vacuumed method for body construction.
The totally new shaped Penta also now features bold graphics, while recessed dark armour-plated glass windows replace acrylic that was prone to scratching and eventual cracking. The roofline is more bowed, higher in the centre to aide efficient water run-off, rather than allowing moisture to dam up and eventually rot the canvas around the soffit.
Mechanically, the old forged steel AlKo-Trailco coupling has been replaced with a more modern pressed and galvanised steel unit. This version of the coupler has a green indicator to confirm that a good coupling between tow ball and coupling has been made before one drives off, and it probably saves a few kilos in weight, which may be another advantage of its choice in fitment.
It also has new corner steadies, which look like they have been purpose-made by a designer but remain corner steadies nevertheless and not jacks for lifting the Penta off the ground.
A spare wheel is standard and stored taking up most of the space in the nose cone, along with a portable 25-litre water bottle from which cold water is pumped to the various basins. There is no need for gas; all appliances operate on 220V supplied by the caravan resort.
To complete the exterior the Penta is shod with macho-looking, wide, alloy wheels and 190/70 R15C tyres. These look good and complete a package that is fresh and exciting.
ON THE ROAD
It tows well, we hitched it up to a Ford Everest thinking that the Ford would be hard-pressed towing a caravan with a GVM of 1 460kg. With three adults aboard we set off for the Durbanville hills, and within minutes I had the impression it was time to trade-in my current tow car. There was just so much performance; easy, willing performance thanks to a 10-speed automatic transmission and the twin turbos – not to forget an onboard computer that is in full control of the right choice of gear selection.
The Penta’s balance, with the full tent under the fixed double bed towards the rear, was perfect. Depending on how you utilise the packing space and what you load where you should try and keep the towbar within this parameter. I also liked the length of the Penta, just short enough to go through the average road obstacle without dragging its corner steadies.
NEW OUTSIDE KITCHEN UNIT
The big outside change is the slide-out kitchen. This includes an upmarket looking single plate induction stove with a timer for switching the plate on and off – although one will need stainless steel pots for induction cookers. Naturally, the slide-out also includes drawers that pull out smoothly on quality sliders. Here there is space for cutlery as well as crockery. The sixth cup may be a challenge to get, as this drawer is prevented from opening fully by the hatch door locks – to release this easily.
There is also a wash-up basin moulded into the fibreglass top, as well as a flip-up draining board. The main working area here is restricted to having the crockery drawer closed and, just a point here, while the Penta is a four-berth caravan there is Melamine crockery for six; that is six plates, side plates, cups, cereal bowls, salt, pepper, and a sugar bowl.
Other conveniences include a Hisense microwave oven, a crockery and condiments tray, as well as a slideout tray, which is ideal for tinned food and preservatives storage just above the microwave. To sum up this kitchen, it is all outside, bar the fridge, and it is set at adult height to reach the stove, wash-up and in particular the microwave. So, you won’t be able to delegate any of these functions to your kids ‘cause they won’t be able to reach.
The Penta is a classic four-berth caravan in that it has a front-end double dinette/night time double bed up front and a rear end island fixed double bed at the rear.
The front bed measures 112 by 220cm while the fixed bed measures 175cm long by 132cm at shoulder width, tapering down to 105cm at the foot of the bed. It is not the widest caravan on the market but since it is really a bedroom, it does perform this function admirably. And as for packing space, there are some 22 compartments giving access to space! And just a word on the fridge, it comprises a 132-litre fridge with a separate 41-litre capacity freezer section, big enough for a camping trip.
New features include redesigned ‘H’bars for raising the roof, high-gloss fibreglass interior roof lining, table, and cupboard surfaces. We did not have the chance to use this caravan at night, but it was felt that additional interior lights might be a worthwhile aftermarket fitment.
Jurgens deviated from their normal path when considering a new Penta, they brought in groups of women to express their likes, needs, and approval before finalising this model.
We asked Corne, our female staffer, for her opinion
“I found the interior of the Jurgens well-designed. There is a basin next to the bed where you can wash your face and brush your teeth, and this is complemented by a fold-out mirror so that you can see clearly when doing your hair and makeup.
The laminated floor in the caravan is easy to clean and, paired with the headboard and cupboards, it gives this Penta a stylish look. There are more than enough plugs in the caravan (a nifty USB-point is also available to charge a phone or other devices) and I appreciate the reading-lights on each side of the bed, so you can read the latest issue of late into the night!
There is plenty of storage space in the various lockers and cupboards, as well as easy-to-access storage under the bed. Our Penta, as reviewed, featured a big refrigerator – a bonus for keeping food fresh for the family!
Looking at the finer details, such as the compact laundry bin and dedicated space under the sink to store towels, or your hairdryer, makes me feel that Jurgens has really considered the women of the family when designing this caravan. A convenient forethought is that the seat cushions are dual-use; with material on one side and pleather on the other, the kids won’t ruin the cushions with wet cozzies from swimming at the beach.
Admittedly, it doesn’t have a shower, and a toilet is an optional extra, but these are easily resolved if even an issue for you.”