Move over Magnus Carlsen, Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fisher, there is a new potential chess grandmaster on the rise in South African caravan circles, and they have just declared “Checkmate”!
While the people behind Crown Caravans have been in the caravan manufacturing business for a good few years now, they are expanding their horizons and want to take the current players head on. They have two new, conventional caravan models (non pop-tops) aimed at the upper end of the market where owners place more importance on interior space, a bigger permanent double bed, plus that of having their own exclusive shower and toilet facility. Newest dealer, Motor King and Marine in Pretoria, have just taken delivery of the latest Checkmate Knight, a single axle, 4-berth conventional caravan with a length of 7 810mm and GVM of 1 950kg.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT
The secret of seeing any new caravan is that first impression, it must imprint an image that lasts. For any newborn animal, that first view of mom is imprinted in their little minds forever, and that is how I felt about the new Checkmate Knight.
I was impressed by its stand-apart, handsome good looks, the cleanliness and simplicity of its overall design with the wide, slide-out exterior kitchen that will delight anyone on kitchen duty – it has more working space than I have ever seen in a caravan.
And, just like in most homes, the stove is electric, a Melleware induction stove, and it comes with all the bells and whistles, including a timer! If you want a four-minute boiled egg that is what you will get.
The kitchen comes fully equipped with cutlery and crockery as standard, and inside the caravan there’s a nice-size microwave. But, your prayers have been answered with the ultimate appliance; the one that keeps the beer cold, meat frozen and a capacity similar to the Sudwalo Caves. There stands a silver, two-door fridge from floor to roof height!
As a package, the Checkmate Knight is priced right at R390 000 (introductory special) while the longer Checkmate Queen costs a little more.
CLEAN STYLING / LATEST TECHNOLOGY
While the Checkmate Knight looks really sophisticated, the love of a woman’s homely touch will complement the overall interior styling and make it into a unique home-away-from-home.
The body is sleek and aerodynamic dressed in a gleaming, ultra-smooth fibreglass skin, rather than aluminium. Perhaps a slightly larger window here and there would increase its external appeal, but there are reasons why it is so, and this is due largely to the importance of creating an interior that works.
A single axle versus a double? There is a weight and cost saving here, plus easier manoeuvrability when manhandling on site, and a saving in tyres down the line with a single axle unit. A full tow test down the line will confirm this, but we are told it tows well.
Before we take a look at the interior of the Checkmate, there is more to tell, because under that durable fibreglass skin lies the latest level of construction technology that utilises high strength, long life, foam cores – and ingenuity.
So, the difference is that Checkmate models boast wood-free construction thereby eliminating any chance of wood rot from eating away at structural integrity, a reassuring fact when the caravan is eventually resold to second and third owners. There should be a premium trade-in value on caravans with this type of construction.
High-density cores provide extreme strength and rigidity, while fibreglass provides an extended lifespan – we all know fibreglass yachts ply the world’s oceans and have extremely long life expectancy! It seems the Checkmate range has followed suit.
What is also unusual on the Checkmate is the development of a very special and unique chassis. Any caravan is only as good as the chassis it’s built on and, in this case, the manufacturer has selected a tough Roadque chassis.
This chassis is well worth mentioning since it reverts back to tried-and-tested leaf spring suspension, with the addition of shock-absorbers to both cushion the ride and reduce vibration caused by unbalanced wheels. The manufacturer claims better stability with this set-up, along with hassle-free wheel alignment and a smoother ride.
Roadque have been producing a wide variety of specialised caravanning/trailer components over the years, ranging from jockey wheels to tow couplings, axles and suspensions – all specifically designed for the growing caravan and trailer industry.
First off, I have to mention the LED lighting running the length of the caravan just below the aluminium tent extrusion. At night, under the awning, this provides a wonderful vibe of subtle ambiance I associate with upmarket camping. It’s a really nice touch that will impress any friends you are entertaining in the evening.
The Checkmate’s sleek aerodynamic bodylines give the impression of being a good deal larger inside than its 7 180mm length. Perhaps the 2 420mm width and the fact that it’s not a pop-top roof is what creates this feeling of openness, space and roominess. In my opinion, the caravan was designed from the inside out so as to give it an optimal working interior rather than external visual appeal.
Externally it looks like it should have a window above the stove – but this would then allow cooking smells into the caravan!
The truth is that the inside wall is the headboard for a wonderful walk-around, island double bed. The layout is ideal for a couple who desire comfort and either have two children or would like to take the grandchildren on holiday. To do this, the aft positioned double dinette converts into a double bed.
When it comes to packing space, this caravan has more than you would ever need. Of the many impressions, the full-size bathroom is one to remember, especially for those travelling around the country following the sun. The bathroom is large and roomy and features a separate toilet and shower. The cassette toilet is state-of-the-art, and the styling competes with the smartest loo in any modern home.
For me, the full glass enclosed shower is perfection coupled with simplicity. It’s absolutely no different to showering at home. The geyser that supplies hot water to both the shower and the sink, contained in the pull-out outside kitchen, is housed in the nose cone storage area at the front of the caravan. The spare tyre is also housed in this large frontal nose cone boot. The Checkmate Knight also has a large storage area in a rear boot and this storage area allows easy access to the charging system and all the electrics for the caravan.
For those who find the Jurgens Exclusive just too long, the Checkmate will live up to its name for it offers a similar layout of front double bed, aft dinette that makes up a smaller double bed and a full width, rear-end toilet compartment and separate shower cubicle. And… it’s cheaper.
• Large upright combination fridge/freezer
• Microwave oven
• Pull-out kitchen unit that contains: kitchen basin and induction cooker
• Electric geyser
• Portable toilet cassette
• Bathroom/water closet
• Shower tray
• Island bed
• Roof vent
• Interior 12V LED lights
• USB charger plug
• Water tank 100 litre
• Exterior 12V LED lights
• Outside multi-plug
Tare: 1 520kg
GVM: 1 950kg
Length: 7 180mm
Width: 2 420mm
Height: 2 600mm
Inside Weight: 2 300kg
• Wood-free construction
• Litewood wrapped furniture
• Roadque engineered chassis
ADDITIONAL ITEMS AVAILABLE:
• Full tent
• Patio cover
• Multi room
• Air conditioning
• Automatic levelling system
• Caravan mover