Hodge fifth-wheeler

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Malcolm Street


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With a length, width and weight suited to New Zealand roads, the Roadglide Panache fifth-wheeler from Hodge RV is a smooth and stylish choice

Hodge fifth-wheeler
Hodge fifth-wheeler
  • Can be towed by a "light vehicle"
  • Windows provide plenty of natural light
  • Lareg kitchen area
  • Slide-out adds interior space
  • Generous bedroom height

Like the rest of the Hodge fleet, the Roadglide Panache is designed for the ute and tray top market – with a length, width and weight well suited to NZ roads.

With a Gross Laden Weight (GLW) of 3480kg, the Panache fits in the "light simple" classification of trailers, meaning it can be towed by a "light vehicle" like a ute. Only a WOF is required, but it will need a Class 2 truck licence given the Gross Combined Weight (GCW) is going to be over 4500kg.

The tare weight of 1980kg gives a generous load capacity of 880kg – especially good given the capacity of the water tanks.

On the road, the Panache is a very smooth tower and our turbo diesel Nissan Navara with a GCW of circa 5860kg coped very well.

Fitted to the Navara tray was a Super Glide hitch, which automatically moves the fifth-wheeler away from the cab when making turns, returning the hitch and trailer to a normal towing position (ie, above the rear axle) when the turn is completed. On the road, the hitch movement is only really noticeable thanks to a slight clunk when returning to the towing position.

At the business end of the Panache, the Pin Box is galvanised and the king pin can be unbolted for easy replacement.

Chassis and construction

One of the weight-saving features of the Panache fifth-wheeler is its aluminium chassis. According to Hodge RV’s Brett Hodge, the chassis is designed for strength and to ensure a light weight, and has the added benefit of being rust-free and very low maintenance. One of the results of this design is a "clean" looking under area, with almost no cabling or plumbing visible. Adding to the clean look is the Dexter Torflex independent suspension for the tandem axles.

Above the chassis, the body is constructed with an aluminium frame for the walls that is both riveted and welded, as well as arched aluminium roof trusses. The walls and floors are vacuum-bonded with 38mm fire retardant insulation. For the external skin, the walls have a high gloss fibreglass finish, with the front nose cone being a moulded, streamlined shape. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene Monomer) rubber is used for the roof.

All the windows are glass with the lower third opening on all of them, except for the emergency exit fitted to the offside of the bedroom area.

Under the overhang the storage area is accessible from both the front and nearside, with the only occupied space taken by the deep cycle house battery. The corresponding offside locker is for the 9kg gas cylinders. An external shower is fitted by the nearside bin door and a spare wheel fitted to a bracket at the rear.

The interior

A stand-out feature of the Panache design is the offside slide-out, which comes out about a metre and adds to the interior area. Fitting into the slide-out area are both a two-person lounge and a freestanding table with four chairs. That still gives room for two leather chairs and accompanying foot stools along the rear wall.

The interior can still be used with the slide-out closed up. With an external length of 8.3m there is plenty of space for a nearside kitchen, front bedroom in the overhang and a bathroom in between.

The Panache has a good sized kitchen area. It comes with a Stoves four-burner hob, grill and oven, plus a stainless steel sink. Cupboard and overhead locker space abound, and there are plenty of drawers, mostly of the wire basket variety. Bench top area is very generous.

Under the sink area are fitted a 240V powerpoint, 12V socket, hot water heater switch and air conditioner controls.

Fitted into the offside corner adjoining the bathroom is a two-door Dometic 175-litre fridge/freezer with a microwave oven above. Above that but accessible from the step is a cupboard containing essentials like 12V fuses, solar panel regulator and 240V circuit breakers.

A separate shower cubicle is built into the offside and a toilet and corner wash basin with shaving cabinet above is fitted in opposite. The toilet area can be closed off by a concertina curtain. Both the toilet and shower areas have fan hatches for ventilation.

The Panache has a generous 1.75m head height. Our review vehicle came with a queen sized bed but single beds are available.

Large windows on either side give plenty of natural light and a ceiling hatch provides extra ventilation. Fitted around the bed head are wardrobes, a shelf and bedside cabinets. Supplied to each side of the bed are halogen reading lights, power points and sound system speakers.

Specifications

External length 8.3m
External width 2.31m
Interior height (min) 2.3m
Bedroom height 1.75m
Nameplate GLW 3480kg
Nameplate GTM 3000kg
Nameplate tare weight 2580kg
Pin weight 480kg
Frame Aluminium
Chassis Aluminium
Suspension Dexter Torflex independent
Cooktop Stoves four-burner, grill and oven
Fridge Dometic RM7851 175-litre
Toilet Thetford cassette
Gas supply 2 x 9.0kg
Fresh water tank 280L
Grey water tank 210L

 

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