AL-KO introduced the Enduro trailing arm suspension family back in 2015, specifically designed variants to suit the nature of Australian caravanning. The range includes options for on road touring, semi off-roaders, right up to a long-travel version designed with serious off-road caravans and campers in mind. The Enduro range quickly became one of the best-selling independent suspensions on the market. AL-KO have taken the learnings and redefined a new, simplified-but-better-in-every-way version – Enduro X.
I was lucky enough to be asked to partake in some final testing and a photoshoot for Enduro X at the Melbourne 4X4 Training and Proving Grounds, prior to its public launch. There, I had first-hand experience of how it performed off-road and on the blacktop, and was made privy to the inside word on how it’s engineered and why.
The most obvious difference of Enduro X is its construction. Made of two pressed sections and welded into a clamshell, it looks like nothing else on the market – but it’s the work in the detailed design that really stands out.
More akin to something you’d see under a modern all-terrain vehicle, the pressed body sections of Enduro X are welded together by a robot to create a rigid structure that is lighter than the predecessor, traditional box-section iteration. It features drain-holes for water and is protected inside and out by an automotive grade eCoat, a hard-wearing finish to stand up to rigorous off-road driving.
Weight reduction & retained strength are always high on the list, the pieces that make up Enduro X’s clamshell are pressed from flat steel and then welded. One of the useful characteristics of steel is the way pressing form into flat surfaces can create strength. AL-KO’s engineers do this in much the same way as Light R, their new light-weight caravan chassis, but the clamshell design of Enduro X comes with a small difference. Instead of dimple-pressed holes like those used in Light R, the two sections of the clamshell design feature what look like peaks & valleys from the outside. These pressed forms add significant torsional strength to the design, allowing for lighter materials to be used for reducing overall weight.
OTHER KEY FEATURES
A standout for any remote traveller is the forged bolt-on stub, this makes replacement easy should things go wrong in a remote area. The biggest bonus from this is the strength that comes with forging the stub over cutting drawn steel. Forging aligns the grains of the steel for increased strength as opposed to cutting the grain with traditional methods.
Airbag options are also on the cards, with an expected release mid-2020. In place of the coil springs, the airbag will feature several control options.
Shock absorbers have had an upgrade to a heavy-duty metal casing system designed specifically with Australia’s harsh conditions in mind. A dual inline mount position is a welcome change to reduce the overall package size of the suspension. The coil springs are locally made using X5K spring-steel, which is lighter (up to 30 per cent) and AL-KO have gone with the proven success of their automotive quality, maintenance-free, polyurethane bushes which only require greasing on installation.
HOW’S IT DRIVE?
AL-KO conducted extensive durability testing, equivalent of over 150,000 real world km in testing before I took the wheel to add a few dozen more. On the black-top, there was no discernible difference to the old Enduro which is a good thing as AL-KO’s trailing arm suspension is one of the best for safe, predictable handling. On the rough stuff, the twin-shock arrangement flexed well and absorbed to suppress heavy knocks with ease.
We didn’t take it easy either, with the photographer asking for more movement and aggression from the driver but try as they might, it was hard to unsettled AL-KO’s test van.
When all the fun was over it was hard to see if any damage had been done from testing due to the amount of mud and dust, but the van towed out of the testing ground as smoothly as it rolled in and all the way back to its Dandenong home without incident.
AVAILABLE EARLY 2020
Early 2020 will see the commencement of production at Dandenong plant, AL-KO are in-market with the system now, working with manufacturers to ensure compatibility of design and aftersales support is in place for an early 2020 delivery of stock.
Should you want to upgrade the suspension on your new van, expect the stock to be thin on the ground initially so get your orders in soon if you want to be one of the first experience Enduro X.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Tim van Duyl
Coming from marine publishing Tim now oversees Caravan World and Trade-a-Boat for the Adventures Group as their Senior Editor. With experience garnered from travelling the breadth and width of his home country New Zealand in all manner of ways, his mission is to see all Australia has to offer. Having already sampled Cape York, Murray-Sunset National Park, Wilsons Promontory and the bulk of Victoria’s West, he has plans to add to the small parts of WA and NT already seen. When not on the road you can find Tim passing time at lakes around Australia or in the high country camping with his close friends and family with the Murrindindi a popular spot.