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Trakka Akuna A2M 2020 review

It’s clear when it comes to campers, there’s a world of choice almost as vast as there is for cars altogether.

At one end of the spectrum you might have something like a rooftop tent for your ute or SUV, setting you back a few thousand dollars, and at the other you have something like this: the Trakka Akuna.

A completely self-contained camper, this latest innovation by the Australian campervan specialist resides on a relatively compact mid-wheelbase VW Crafter base.

So, maybe you’ve found this review at the beginning of your search for the right camper, maybe you’re specifically looking for something as purpose-built as this, either way I took it for a weekend away to use all of its features and find out what it’s like to hopefully help you decide if it’s right for you.

Trakka's latest and greatest is a fully self-contained motor home on a mid-wheelbase platform. Trakka's latest and greatest is a fully self-contained motor home on a mid-wheelbase platform.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

First things first. This is the Trakka Akuna A2M. This means it’s a camper based on Volkswagen’s Crafter commercial van, and in this case, it is the smallest version of the Akuna, on a mid-wheelbase. There is also a long wheelbase available either with four seats or an extended bedding arrangement.

The A2M is the cheapest Akuna at $150,000 and sits above the smaller, less lavishly equipped, and VW Transporter-based Trakkadu range (which the brand is most famous for), but below the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based Jabiru.

Unlike the Trakkadu and Jabiru ranges which have lifted 4x4 drivetrains  for go-anywhere camping, the Akuna range is front-drive only.

The A2M is remarkably equipped and packaged, with plenty of Australia-specific fittings.

For the Australian climate, pretty much every window aperture has a fly screen. For the Australian climate, pretty much every window aperture has a fly screen.

On the long list of inclusions is a horizontally-placed double bed, a driving area which converts to a dining area courtesy of rotating ‘captain’s’ seats, and a fold-out bench, full dimmable LED cabin lighting, a self-contained bathroom (with shower and motorized toilet), a microwave, a fridge and freezer, drinking water filtration system, and ceramic cooktop.

Trakka calls the Akuna a ‘single fuel source vehicle’ meaning it has plumbed the Crafter’s diesel fuel tank for burners which power the hot water system and stovetop. The main advantage of this is doing away with the need to carry gas or other alternate fuel source.

On the outside there is a powered awning which is also lit with a dimmable LED. On the outside there is a powered awning which is also lit with a dimmable LED.

For the Australian climate, pretty much every window aperture has a fly screen, and there is a 200W solar system to help charge the separate lithium-ion battery pack which powers the camper’s amenities. Power monitoring and in-built systems controls are stowed away in one of five overhead lockers.

On the outside there is a powered awning which is also lit with a dimmable LED, and connectivity for water mains as well as an inlet for powered campgrounds and an exterior household-sized power outlet.

As a vehicle the Akuna has standard LED headlights, a wide angle reversing camera and commercial-sized wing mirrors, an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as cloth front seat trim and a decent, optionally upgradable, active safety suite which we’ll explore later.

There's an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

That’s not all though. The Akuna comes with a comprehensive suite of options, some of which are necessities if you’re already paying the asking price.

Our camper had the ‘Alfresco Pack’ ($3000) which includes a second drawer fridge, external table with collapsible sink, exterior heated water supply (which can double as an outdoor shower), and an extended solar system which boosts total solar supply to 440W.

There’s also the ‘VW Plus Pack’ ($6500) which bundles together a suite of VW’s options for the Crafter, including a more comprehensive safety suite and the 'Trendline' styling pack.

Finally, our car had a set of satin black Trakka alloys (to replace the standard VW steel wheels) at a cost of $2190, and the 2.0kW inverter ($1370) to add real oomph to the onboard power.

Our car had a set of satin black Trakka alloys. Our car had a set of satin black Trakka alloys.

Trakka also offers a tow kit (1400), premium upholstery ($1650-$3500) roof-mounted air conditioning ($3250) and what we’d consider necessary for reasons explained later, an induction cooktop ($540).

So, it’s certainly a pricier camping option than some others out there, and there’s a long list of optional extras, but there’s also a lot included for such a relatively compact vehicle.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

This is a van. A tall van. There are worse looking ones than VW’s Crafter, and it’s all tied together by the Trendline styling pack, LED lights, and AKUNA black vinyl graphics added by the brand.

The black alloys make it a little more distinctive than any other Crafter on the road, but perhaps the best thing about this mid-wheelbase version is how subtle it is. Unless you knew what all the extra Trakka badgework meant, it would be hard to tell from the outside exactly how capable and complete a camper this van is.

From the driver’s seat things are not only aesthetic, but pretty easy to use too. From the driver’s seat things are not only aesthetic, but pretty easy to use too.

Inside is well treated for an aftermarket fitted-out van with aesthetically pleasing light fittings, tidy trim work, and a variety of well thought out colours and textures to round it out.

Obviously from the driver’s seat things are not only aesthetic, but pretty easy to use too, thanks to the typical sensible VW layout. Our car missed out on a leather trimmed steering wheel, but Trakka assures us the A2M will normally come with one.

There's also a choice of patterns for the feature wall inside, but we’d stick with the wood-look trim our van had. There's also a choice of patterns for the feature wall inside, but we’d stick with the wood-look trim our van had.

The dimmable and individually switchable LEDs allow you to adjust cabin ambiance to your liking, and there's also a choice of patterns for the feature wall inside. We’d stick with the wood-look trim our van had though, as the 'concrete' option in the showroom looked a bit less homey.

Elsewhere the blend of real wood and plastics delivers a friendly ambiance, and hardware like the benchtop, taps, and cooktop are all tastefully applied.

How practical is the space inside?

Considering the limited space on offer, Trakka has done a brilliant job making the Akuna so seamlessly easy to operate. Drawers are tucked away neatly, the kitchenette with its flip-out bench and fold-away sink are brilliant, and extra considerations include the full-length fly screens for the main door and barn doors, as well as a double-hinged fridge which totals 90 litres of capacity.

The kitchenette with its flip-out bench and fold-away sink are brilliant. The kitchenette with its flip-out bench and fold-away sink are brilliant.

The storage area under the bed is large for the bulk of your belongings, however, given the sustainability of using the Akuna longer-term between powered campgrounds, those departing on longer journeys might still find they have to pack light.

Other campers were envious of the ease of our set-up. The Akuna is a breeze. You pull up, plug into the power, and that’s it. You’re ready to go. There’s no need to deploy parts or pop things out. The powered awning even bolts to the car to help stabilize it if you can’t be bothered to pin it down or if a breeze is blowing.

Drawers are tucked away neatly. Drawers are tucked away neatly.

The water pump and internal power are fast and easy to operate, however the diesel-powered amenities created some minor issues. The stove top took a long time to heat up, and a distinct diesel odour made its presence felt.

It also radiates so much heat that leaving plastic objects close to the business end will cause them to melt. Just get the induction cooktop option ($540). It’s worth it.

The water heater didn’t quite have the same smell issue, but did take a long time to heat up, and with a capacity of just 10 litres you’ll want to keep those showers short. Count your blessings though. It’s a wonder Trakka was able to fit an actual heated shower inside a mid-wheelbase at all.

The battery monitoring system is great and lets you keep track of how much power you have left and exactly what is drawing from it, so there’s no mystery as to where the power is going. It will last off the power with just the fridges running (full blast – they have power saving modes) for a few days.

The battery monitoring system is great and lets you keep track of how much power you have left. The battery monitoring system is great and lets you keep track of how much power you have left.

The brilliant thing about the A2M, though, is you can do almost all the normal activities you can do in a car. It’s almost three metres tall, so you won’t fit in most multi-storey car parks, but you can fit in most car-sized spots in above-ground car parks with its just-under-six-metre length.

This means you don’t have to hunt around for ages trying to find a truck-sized park when you just want to stop for groceries or a coffee.

On the capacity front, the Akuna A2M can carry 140 litres of fresh water, 10 litres of hot water, 80L of grey water, 16 litres of toilet waste, and a 75 litre diesel tank.

One thing you might want to keep an eye on is the 3550kg GVM. This means just 609kg for payload capacity which could get tight once you’ve got two weeks’ worth of supplies, two people, and maybe some leisure equipment on-board.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

he Akuna is powered by VW’s commercial 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel powerplant. It produces 130kW/410Nm.

The Akuna is powered by VW’s commercial 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel powerplant. The Akuna is powered by VW’s commercial 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel powerplant.

This engine is adequate for carrying the Akuna’s bulk, although at 2941kg it’s far from spritely. The Akuna range is front-wheel drive only via an eight-speed (torque-converter) automatic transmission.

What's it like as a daily driver?

Could you have the Akuna as a daily driver or second car? I suppose so, but I’d hardly recommend it due to its sheer size. If you plan on keeping it as a second vehicle of sorts it will get by, but the visibility out the rear is less than ideal.

With just a small portal of a window, it’s easy enough to tell if a car is behind you, but perhaps not a motorcycle.

It will also be a relatively difficult vehicle to keep, given it’s almost three-metre height will likely have it out of a standard-height garage and living on the street or on a front yard. Still, it’s much easier to move in a pinch than a camper trailer.

With just a small portal of a window, it’s easy enough to tell if a car is behind you, but perhaps not a motorcycle. With just a small portal of a window, it’s easy enough to tell if a car is behind you, but perhaps not a motorcycle.

Again, despite relatively tight dimensions for something of this capability, multi-storey car parks will be a no-no.

As you might expect, thanks to its nature, it is a bit noisy to drive around. The suspension is commercial-ready, meaning it’s quite firm, and all the fit-out makes for a bit of a rattly experience, even when it’s settled on long strips of freeway.

At any rate, at least the wing mirrors grant excellent visibility, each having a wide angle allowing you to see precisely where the rear corner and wheel of the van is.

For milling around town there are also the typical Volkswagen touch points, ergonomics, and easy-to-use features like a multi-function steering wheel, 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the relatively seamless active safety inclusions in the 'VW Plus Pack' as fitted to our vehicle.

What's it like for touring?

Once out of a city and in its camping comfort zone, the Akuna is stellar for many reasons already mentioned, and then some. The ability to quickly and easily set up at any campground makes for a stress-free arrival and departure, as does its many already described easy-to-use internal features.

One not mentioned thus far is the bedding scenario. Set horizontally across the vehicle, the bedding is more comfortable than the thin mattress might suggest, but it is built for durability, so if you’re like me and used to a softer bedding arrangement, you might want to consider a mattress topper.

I don’t quite fit length-ways on what Trakka calls a double, so factor that in if you are my height (182cm / 6.0ft) or taller.

There's a horizontally-placed double bed. There's a horizontally-placed double bed.

Indeed, other campers were notably interested in the Trakka’s compact, easy set-up and barn doors which opened up to face the ocean. The outdoor shower is a must for beachfront camping, and the extra solar makes the Alfresco option a box which should really be ticked.

The fact this camper has any active safety items at all is a huge plus, but on the long stretches of road you’ll really get the most out of adaptive cruise control.

That said, the weight of the Akuna has its toll on driveability on long freeway sections, and there will be a lot of sticking to the left on busier stretches. As mentioned though, being able to park it in most regular car-sized spots is a huge plus.

With the fridge and storage on offer, camping for weeks at a time seemed a real possibility so long as you included a site with a few amenities every so often. Storage seemed a tad limited for truly long-term camping, but if you intended on topping up supplies every few days it wouldn’t be a problem.

A final note: The Akuna is strictly front-wheel drive in all variants, so especially considering its weight, you'll need to stay well clear of any dodgy surfaces.

With the fridge and storage on offer, camping for weeks at a time seemed a real possibility. With the fridge and storage on offer, camping for weeks at a time seemed a real possibility.

How much fuel does it consume?

The commercial powerplant showed off its chops by consuming just 9.6L/100km on my camping weekend which included around 300km of driving. It’s not clear how tapping the diesel tank to power amenities affected this number, and Trakka does not provide an official figure for this vehicle as fitted out.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Crafter can be fitted with most of the active safety items from VW's passenger car range, which for a commercial vehicle is excellent.

Auto emergency braking (AEB) and driver attention alert are standard alongside dual front airbags, electronic stability and brake controls, and a crosswind assist system.

The Crafter can be fitted with most of the active safety items from VW's passenger car range. The Crafter can be fitted with most of the active safety items from VW's passenger car range.

If you’re already spending the $150K on the Akuna though, get Trakka’s curated VW Plus pack which includes the Trendline styling as well as a vastly expanded active safety suite.

You’ll get lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. That last one is a godsend for long freeway drives.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Akuna remains mechanically covered by Volkswagen’s five year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

It requires mechanical servicing through VW’s network once a year or every 20,000km. Service costs are fixed for the life of the warranty and vary between $444 and $867 per visit for an average of $640.20 per year.

On top of that, Trakka recommends a yearly service for everything involved in its fit-out, including fully cleaning out all lines and reservoirs.

While the Akuna A2M is certainly pricey compared to some camping solutions, it is outstandingly packaged, easy to use, and with just a little planning could sustain some serious touring.

You’ll need to delve several thousand dollars into the options list to get the right vehicle, and keep an eye on your height and GVM, but there was no mistaking the envy on the faces of other campers on our test weekend.

$150,000

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

4/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$150,000

Based on new car retail price

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