When it comes to testing a camper, nothing beats going with the manufacturer to take the unit for a day of hard driving (and loads of fun) in the dunes!
We joined father-and-son team JW and Jurie Swart (of Infanta 4×4) to test the new Inkunzi 4×4 off-road camper out on the dunes in Atlantis in the Cape.
We met in the parking lot at the entrance to the reserve in the morning, and it wasn’t long before we were churning up soft sand.
Hein Burnett from Burnco 4X4 manufacturing was also in attendance, as he is all too familiar with the Atlantis dunes and spends a lot of time driving at precariously steep angles on the sides of large dunes, always seeming to avoid a rollover at the last second. That sort of driving comes from experience, and knowing just how far you can push the boundaries of the soft sand underfoot. And Hein really put the Inkunzi through its paces.
After a good few hours in the dunes, it was clear that this 4×4 campervan is built exceptionally well.
Building the Inkunzi was accomplished after two years of intensive planning and work, coupled with about 120 000kms of off-road testing.
The Inkunzi is built on the Toyota Land Cruiser chassis with a manual V8 single turbo diesel motor that has some serious grunt. The load box is removed from the basic pickup (a reduction of about 150 kg) before the camper unit (which weighs 644 kg packed with all the accessories) is fitted.
Jurie Swart says: “4×4 campervans need to be built by campers themselves. If you are a camper, you know exactly where certain things should be, how accessible things should be, and the general ease-of-use and setup that is needed.
“The easier and quicker the campervan setup is, the better.”
And that is what the Inkunzi delivers: Lift the roof at the push of a button, pull out the extendable bed, open the push-button lock-latch storage hatches and kitchen areas with ease, and you can be completely settled at your campsite in a matter of minutes.
On the passenger’s side of the vehicle, there are five hatches. The hatch that houses the kitchen is situated directly behind the cabin area, and folds down to create a work surface on which a two-plate gas burner has already been installed, on the left.
Behind this hatch, there is storage space for cutlery, crockery and glasses – all neatly housed and strapped away to stop anything from being dislodged during off-road jaunts. There are numerous other storage compartments for all those important things such as braai spices and the like.
Above the kitchen on the left, there is a small hatch which opens upwards to reveal a small two-shelf storage compartment. To the right of this is a permanent mounting for your recovery tracks.
Below the kitchen, next to the wheel, there is another small hatch. Behind this you’ll find space for your gas bottle.
The 90L National Luna fridge/freezer is situated at the rear of the unit behind the biggest of the four hatches, which folds up to reveal the interior of the Inkunzi. The fridge is installed inside the camper, but is accessible from the outside. There are two more shelves for storage to the right of the fridge/freezer.
Below the fridge there is another small fold-down hatch with some storage space, and access to the fridge’s monitor panel. A wash-basin can be rigged next to this hatch, fitting onto a steel housing at the back.
There is a cleverly designed pull-out table that slides into the space between the cab and the rear living area, and is held in place by sturdy clips. Just below this, there is a tap that offers drinking water.
Looking for some shade? A 270-degree fold-out awning is fitted to the roof on the passenger side of the Inkunzi.
Entrance to the camper is from the back of the Inkunzi. The door opens in two parts: The bottom, which folds down to create a step, and the top (on which the spare wheel is mounted) which opens to the right. The inside of the door has canvas storage pockets for tools and gear.
On the driver’s side at the back, there is a fold-up hatch that reveals your shower room. A mesh-type shower curtain is attached to the hatch and folds down easily. There’s a shower nozzle that offers hot and cold water, a mirror, mesh storage compartments, a flip-down basin, and various hooks for your toiletries.
To the right of the shower hatch, behind the cab, is a slide-out section with a window – this is the sleeping area on the inside. A shovel is housed on a permanent mount below the window.
Three hatches below the slide-out section provide access to some of the electronics and the battery, as well as more storage space for camping gear such as an extension cord.
As has been mentioned, entrance to the Inkunzi is from the back. When you step in, the fridge/freezer is to your left, and to your right are a few storage compartments behind zippered canvas doors.
Directly in front of you is the double bed. The sleeping area pulls out in one smooth movement from the side of the campervan, thus increasing the space inside the van.
There is storage space under the bed, and the side hatch serves as a window to the exterior when opened.
The roof of the Inkunzi lifts electronically at the press of a button, hinging up from the front.
A Porta Potti is installed on a slide-out rail below the bed, on the right.
The Inkunzi handled the dunes with ease, and the V8 under the bonnet supplies ample power to drive the vehicle over some very difficult dune-inclines. I didn’t find the body roll of the vehicle to be excessive, even on some of the more hair-raising parts of the course.
There was a lot of “boiling the balonies” (spinning the tyres in the soft sand) but that is understandable considering the soft conditions the powerhouse that lies under the hood.
The vehicle was put through its paces, even bottoming out on occasion, and the groan of the off-road tyres clipping the underside of the wheel arches could be heard whenever the vehicle came down heavily on its suspension after having flown off the top of a dune. The Inkunzi is built tough; a beast, that’s for sure.
As J.W. Swart says, “The Inkunzi is built to take on the mighty Namib Desert and everything else you can throw at it.”
Infanta say that they chose this name for the camper cruiser − it means “bull” in Xhosa − because the combination has the personality traits of a bull: it is stubborn, strong-willed and maybe a bit belligerent.
They have certainly done their homework on the Inkunzi to allow its proud owners access to the toughest and most inhospitable areas that Africa can throw at their off-road campervan. To be the lead bull, you need to be able to put your head down, rake up the dust with your hooves and give a loud V8 snort to let your competition know that butting heads with an Inkunzi is futile.
By Stuart Reichardt
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