For the past couple of months, the Maxmo “adventure camper” on the back page of Caravan & Outdoor Life must have had readers itching to get a closer look.
Or, if you’ve been lucky enough to go to a trade show in your area, you might have seen one of these modern, upmarket, multi-purpose vehicles.
Maxmo is the brainchild of Leon Ras, and I recently had the pleasure of spending some time with their new Nevada cross-over camper.
I collected this 5,3-metre long camper at Leon’s office in Northern Pretoria and headed off down the N4 highway on my way to the Klein Paradys in Brits.
Leon is an incredibly thorough man, so before I zoomed off, he took me through every step of setting up the Nevada.
The Nevada is based on the long-wheel-base VW T6, with dual sliding doors. Standard on the Nevada is that the driver and front passenger seats are able to swivel.
The first thing you learn is how quickly the Nevada turns into a super modern camper with two single beds, a roof-top double bed, and walk-through capability from front to back.
It takes only a few brief moments to lift the base out of the two back seats, fold the backrest down and – voilà! − you have two comfortable single beds.
Add the ingenious proper fixed toilet, and you are ready to camp anywhere.
Actually, it’s even more magical than that. Leon explains: “The Nevada is actually a multi-purpose vehicle. You can use it as a normal car – Mom’s taxi, for example; but, by simply turning around the seats and popping up the roof, the family car morphs into an adventure camper with comfortable sleeping for four.”
The Maxmo conversions on these cross-over campers are done on VW, Mercedes and Ford, when the base vehicles are imported with very specific specifications to suit the conversions.
This Nevada is based on the long-wheel-base VW Transporter, and comes in four variants. For my two-night stay, I had the 103 kW variant with the smooth 7-speed DSG gearbox. The Arizona model is built on the short-wheel-base Transporters.
In simple terms, a DSG (licensed to the Volkswagen Group) is two separate manual gearboxes and clutches contained within one housing, and working as one unit. By using two independent clutches, a DSG can achieve faster shift times, and eliminates the torque converter of a conventional epicyclic automatic transmission.
The Single Turbo variant that I was driving produces 340 Nm that works very well with the smooth double-clutch gearbox. In Nevada X trim, the BiTurbo diesel 4Motion produces 400nm at as little as 1500 revs for a very enjoyable drive!
The first thing you notice when you spend some time behind the steering wheel is how easy it is to drive. I often tow rigs of various sizes, so what a pleasure it is to hum along with my home literally in the back, behind me. Added to this is how simple it was to park at the large mall in Brits: I needed to stock up with some grub for the two days of camping ahead.
That said, the Nevada can tow 2 tons and is ideal for your jet bikes, motor bikes, or even a Mobi Lodge caravan!
SETTING UP CAMP
Apart from the pleasurable drive ‘feel’, it was in the camping that this multi-purpose tourer really came into its own. It was only a matter of minutes before I had the Nevada set up for camping.
I often have to set up caravans and trailers in various places for pictures, and the Nevada was an absolute pleasure to work with. Need another location? Within minutes I had it ready and set up for another picture.
The most noticeable (and very impressive) feature of the Nevada is the Reimo pop-top roof, imported from Germany. Reimo has more than 35 years of experience in building campervan roofs, and one of the defining features of the Nevada is the ease of popping up this roof. Almost magically, it transforms your vehicle into a campervan with extra headroom and a full-size double bed with a comfortable mattress.
Leon and Claude Teague, production manager at Maxmo, visited Germany earlier this year for training and planning.
Leon says: “Reimo has a very impressive setup, and the quality of the interior cabinetry, custom seating and flip-up roofs is of the highest standard.”
The roof is made of fibreglass, with a steel structure that is fitted to the main load points of the vehicle. These conversions are installed in the Maxmo facilities in Pretoria, and are all approved by VW Germany.
Under the roof, you have a double-size drop-down bed, 2.1m long, that can be pushed upwards and out of the way during the day. The roof on the Nevada lifts in the rear, allowing much more headroom. And, with the aid of a little ladder, the double-bed on top can be reached by children and adults alike.
Lifting the roof is as simple as flipping up four catches and giving a tiny push for the gas struts to do their work. In seconds, your rooftop apartment is ready for guests.
The canvas sides of the pop-top roof are made of breathable 100% grey cotton mesh. There are three windows: two on either side, and one in front. All are able to be closed from the inside.
Mosquito nets are fitted to the side windows, ensuring good ventilation. The windows are also able to be zipped open completely.
At the time of our test, the two 3m x 2.5m manual awnings to be fitted to this Nevada were still in a container on the high seas. Leon mentioned that all orders received to date have the double awnings selected for a lovely shade area.
After you have flipped up the roof, the two front seats can swivel around to form a cosy four-seater lounge with an optional table − for dinner, or just for playing cards with some friends.
The two sliding doors with optional awnings on either side provide a surprisingly spacious feel.
The furniture in the Nevada is made of high-grade Birch laminate, and comes in a glossy white finish that looks pretty neat, although wood-lovers can choose between a Walnut or an Apple veneer instead. All cabinets are neatly cut by CNC (computer numerical control).
A lot of thought and effort has gone into optimising every little nook and cranny of this cross-over camper.
When viewing it from the rear, you will see the stand-up kitchen − in which the drawers have soft-close mechanisms and positive locks. The gas stove and basin have a neat smoked-glass top that can be utilised as a working surface when they are not in use.
Then you have a Dometic fridge on the side, with a small freezer compartment; and a small hot-water geyser is situated towards the back. Options for water tanks start at 16L fresh, and 16L grey water. In the X-Pack version, the spare wheel is positioned on a swing arm on the rear bumper, so that bigger water tanks can be fitted under the floor where the standard spare wheel was positioned.
Customers also have an option of an outside shower tent that clips onto the rear flip-up door.
On the other side of the aisle is a 12V Dometic fixed toilet with ceramic bowl. The Nevada is currently the only cross-over vehicle on the South African market with a proper fixed toilet, and the door’s design is such that you can enter the toilet from the front or rear of the vehicle. The beauty of the design is that it affords the occupant complete privacy.
Behind the toilet is a large vanity cabinet, as well as extra space to store cushions, towels, etc.
Next to the toilet is a pull-out wardrobe, and underneath that is another cabinet behind doors.
You will also find extra packing space under the two rear seats: ideal for storing a duvet and pillows.
The interior also has curtains for privacy, and an option of fly nets (fly screens?) for the two sliding doors as well as for the rear door. The control station is installed above the rear-view mirror: you have access to the external and internal temperature, the internal lighting, the charge levels on your leisure batteries, and to fresh-water levels as well as a grey-water warning.
While sitting and watching some huge carp rising from the Klein Paradys dam one evening, I thought back to when Leon was giving me a briefing on the Nevada. I remember being told that the philosophy behind the Maxmo brand is “Camp where you drive”.
Now, after this first adventure in the Maxmo Nevada, I am sure that I’m soon going to meet more people on the road who, when asked, “Where are you going?” will answer: “We camp where we drive…”
There are four variants of the Nevada:
Nevada 75Kw FWD Manual
Nevada 103Kw FWD 7Speed DSG
Nevada 132Kw FWD 4M DSG
Nevada 132Kw 4Motion DSG X (Expedition spec)
The Nevada X version features the Maxmo X-pack suspension upgrade (with under-car protection and bigger-size All Terrain tyres) that is ideal for bad gravel roads and for touring Southern Africa. It also has a snorkel and winch available, as options for the more serious expeditions. The X-Pack also includes a rear-mounted spare wheel and space for two Jerry cans, and has two recovery points and a 2-ton removable towbar.
The base vehicle specs:
It is a Nevada T53 Camper with multi-style interior and Flip-up roof
It is based on the VW Crew Bus, Long Wheel Base, with dual sliding doors
Swivel seats for driver and front-passenger are standard.
And it has:
Rough-road suspension and shock absorbers
A Single Rear Flip-up door
2.0Tdi, 103Kw, 320Nm Front Wheel Drive, 7Speed DSG
ESC (Electronic Stability Control)
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)
MCB (Automatic Post-Collision Braking System)
ASR (Anti-slip Regulation)
EDL (Anti Differential Lock)
Simora Titanium black fabric seats (Standard)
Park Distance Control – rear (Standard)
Clayton 16” Alloy Wheels (Standard)
To find out more about Maxmo vehicles, fill out the contact form below.
By Richard van Ryneveld