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Stealth Hybrid ready for the gravel

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VIEWS

After thousands of kilometres of testing, Profibre Products have launched the hybrid gravel-roader versions of their Stealth caravan.

Known as the Evolution XHR594 and XHR533, these caravans are a cross-over version of the Evo XR range of Stealth products.

The hybrid is a cross-over caravan to accommodate users that want a gravel road capable van in the Evolution (Evo) range of caravans produced under the Stealth brand by Profibre Products Pty Ltd.

The Stealth EVO XHR range was officially unveiled at the East Coast Radio House and Garden Show at the Durban Exhibition Centre, where it was on display at the Natal Caravans & Marine stand.

What’s in a name?

The H denotes the Hybrid nature of this caravan for on-road and off-road use.

For the XHR594, the 59 is the length (5.9 metres) and 4 is because it’s a four-berth caravan. The same goes for the shorter XHR533 version, being 5.3m long and can sleep three people.

Garry Coady, Managing Director of Profibre Products, tells Caravan & Outdoor Life: “The reason I emphasise the company Profibre Products is that many people are asking who makes Stealth Caravans, with some professing that it is an import.

“It’s not an import… it is manufactured and supported by Profibre Products, a company that has been around for the last 25 years and based in Pinetown KZN.

“We have previously supplied caravan bodies to a well-known South African Manufacturer for more than 10 years.

“We have a wealth of knowledge, so anyone considering purchase of a new Stealth can be assured of a company with an exceptional track record in the industry.”

Going gravel

Although the current road caravans produced under the Stealth Evo XR range are capable of limited gravel road use up to 50km in a single journey, on reasonably maintained gravel road surfaces, Garry says buyers sought a caravan more capable of extended gravel road use.

“The Hybrid is by no means an off-road product to climb Van Zyl’s pass,” he says, “…but it will be capable to get to the more remote locations, whilst offering levels of comfort offered by more traditional caravan layouts.”

Profibre Products started research and development for a gravel-road unit by testing their standard Evo XR caravan on more than 2 000km of gravel road use with varying degrees of complexity and condition.

Exterior upgrades

The first issue was dust ingress, which Stealth contained by adding triple locking systems to the entry door to ensure it seals effectively.

They made sure all points of entry into the van for wires and pipes were effectively sealed for dust.

Garry adds: “To prevent dust entering the open vents on the fridge, we added a snorkel pressurisation system in the roof.

“This is controlled by two dash-type vents. This vent system has a removable and washable filter to prevent dust ingress from the pressurisation system.”

On demanding terrain, the road caravan’s rear steadies and step-well took a bit of a beating, so protection bars have been added. The rear steadies for the off-road type have been changed to drop-down steadies, thus tucking them higher under the chassis out of harm’s way.

“Our duplex steel chassis and axle mounting system has performed exceedingly well during the testing with some minor problems on the A-frame that lead to some improvements both on the road-going caravans and the new Hybrid gravel roaders,” says Garry.

“As a precautionary measure we have increased the A-frame thickness from 2mm to 3mm on the Hybrid, thus adding 30% more strength in the area under most stress in these conditions.

“Although the current axle proved more than capable without any sign of failure, we upgraded the axle to 1.8 ton (independent rubber torsion axle with 9” brake hubs) on the Hybrid as a precaution.

“At the same time we repositioned the axle to provide greater ground clearance, so with the 15-inch alloy wheels and 215 x 15 Goodyear wrangler AT tyres it provides close to three inches of additional lift.”

Tare for the XHR594 is estimated at 1 275kg, and the smaller XHR533 at 1 225kg.

Stealth recommend deflating your caravan tyres to 1.5 bar when travelling on gravel, which will not be a problem thanks to the Kevlar side wall on the Wrangler AT tyres.

To facilitate reduction of tyre pressures the Hybrid vans come with a set of tyre deflation valves, which can be installed and tyre pressure reduced while on the move.

Garry says: “Our testing shows that high tyre pressure is enemy number one when it comes to heading off the bitumen.

“It is advisable to reduce pressures on both the tow vehicle as well as the caravan… a lesson well learnt as I had to replace three tyres on my tow vehicle due to major punctures, which was as a result of being too lazy to reduce pressure on the vehicle during some of the test stages.”

On the inside

The interior is the same layout as that of the current Evo XR caravans, with similar option packages.

During gravel road testing, not one hinge or latch failure occurred on internal cabinets. Garry says this is largely due to the fact that their cabinet doors are encapsulated inside the carcass frame, which prevents the weight of the door acting on the hinges and latches under stressed conditions.

Stealth did experience problems with the fridge and microwave mounting systems that failed, which dislodged the equipment.

The fridge was quickly resolved, and after three modifications the microwave was also all set.

All of the improvements for the fridge, microwave and A-frame supports have been done on the current XR range as well.

Pricing

Prices on the XHR533 start at R315 000 and the XHR594 at R330 000, with various option packages to choose from.

Included in the option list is Stealth’s unique annex bathroom that can be fitted to any of the Evolution range of caravans.

Owners of the Hybrid will have to have their caravan undergo a compulsory bi-annual chassis inspection and annual service by dealers.

Enquiries can be directed to their national dealer network, which has grown from four to seven dealers since the beginning of 2019, with other dealers expected to come on board later in this year.

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