The first full-scale Australian campervan conversion of the new Toyota HiAce will be unveiled at the Newcastle Caravan Camping Lifestyle Expo. Frontline Campers has had the 6th Generation conversion in development for over six months. The previous HiAce model was in production for fifteen years so this model is well overdue. In fact, back in 2013, fourteen engineers from Toyota Japan, including Chief Engineer Kenichirou Fuse, visited the Frontline factory to gather insights and information to assist in building a better model HiAce. The result is a Hiace which has been totally redesigned, boasting vast improvements in safety, better cabin comfort and driving experience. According to Frontline, it’s proved to be an amazing base vehicle for a campervan.
The most obvious change for the new HiAce is the new bonnet, thanks to the engine being moved from under the seats to forward of the cab. It creates easier access for servicing and increased front end collision protection. The vehicle now obtains a 5 Star ANCAP rating and has seven air bags. It also allows for better bucket seats and a walk through cabin, which is an important feature for a modern campervan. Frontline Camper says, “The handling and smoothness of the ride are massive improvements, offering an effortless and more car-like driving experience. This drivability and good old Toyota reliability will be great attributes in the decision-making process for potential buyers.”
Cabin entry is improved with a generous step eliminating the old clamber into the cabin seats on the previous model. Another noticeable change is a generous increase in width. Although there’s less length, the clever interior design of the Frontline extracts the benefits of this increased width to more than make up for that loss in length.
The first campervan out of the Frontline factory was based on the 2.8-litre turbo diesel, auto. The new engine is a welcome improvement over the old 3-litre model, increasing power from 100kW to 130kW and 450Nm of torque. Notably the automatic has gained two cogs, (four to six). There is also a 3.5-litre V6 petrol available. The HiAce is still a rear-wheel-drive vehcle with leaf spring rear and McPherson struts up front. Stopping is now by ventilated discs all round.
Frontline spent a considerable amount of time developing the pop-up roof, which the company says offers great ventilation and standing room. A kitchen area with a fridge freezer, sink, two-burner gas cook top and storage drawers is provided to whip up those essential meals on the go. Moving down the vehicle are various storage compartment for food and clothes. A large boot is accessed by the tail gate and then inconspicuous while shut.
A battery system is charged by the engine or 240V when plugged into power. The standard battery system will run everything for two days without charge. Additional solar charging can be added for out of the way stays for more than two days. The battery runs the fridge, lights, water pump and fan. There are 12V sockets to charge devises or other 12V, low amp accessories. Curtains are provided for privacy and a table near the seating area. The seating area folds to a generous 1.9m x 1.44m bed. The water tank stores 50 litres of water for the kitchen sink and rear, external shower. Hot water is optional, but most people go with the ambient temperature unless they are camping in the colder zones, says Frontline. An opening window with flyscreen is a great feature for fresh air. At 2.065m high it should even fit in your garage or local car park making it very versatile.
Find out more about the new Frontline HiAce by getting in touch here, or visit the Newcastle Caravan Camping Lifestyle Expo between February 7-9, 2020 at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre & Showground.
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