TIM VAN DUYL
The first Drifter was a pop-top. Then came a hard floor, a forward fold and now a full-double fold. Impressively, the cornerstone of what makes Cub great has remained through all these variations. Setup is simple, and construction remains proudly Australian. For me these are the two biggest standout reasons why the Cub Drifter II is one of my favourite, and one of the highest scoring, campers at CTOTY 2021.
The team at Cub told us that the typical buyer of the latest iteration of the Drifter is changing. After the effects of COVID-19, a new buyer has entered the market to go with the existing legions of Cub-loyalists. Middle aged professionals are flocking to the Drifter on account of its exception build (equal highest score for Best Build Quality CTOTY 2021), spacious layout and genuine offroad ability. For a camper ready to take the family on a lap, it’s nigh-on perfect. A few small additions like a solar blanket and perhaps a bit of a diet to add in more payload would be great, but that’s nit-picking.
In terms of innovations, Drifter’s evolution from the pop-top to today’s double fold is the obvious one but it’s the subtlety behind the big steps that have kept Cub a favourite. Obvious upgrades on previous generations are the wood rack and luggage bag which add a bit of flexibility to how you use the top while travelling. Traditional innovations like the cam-lock poles for the awning, set-once internal poles and focus with key suppliers like Wax Convertors who helped Cub refine canvas options, including the camo you see here, demonstrate a passion for making the best camper possible. I see that passion as innovative in itself and something sorely missing from some brands in the market.
The Cub brand is already synonymous with quality campers, but the team have really thrown the box and dice at the Cub Drifter II. It starts underneath with the 150 x 150 x 3mm Bluescope Steel chassis (optionally hot dipped) coated with hammertone DuraGal paint. Underbody conduit for wiring and hoses is neat and firmly secured, leaving no risk of snagging over rough terrain. The independent trailing arm suspension with twin Rockshocks and eye-catching red custom springs finish the picture.
Clad in Colourbond steel panels, the Drifter II looks ready to take on the roughest back-tracks and the striking camouflage pattern of the Wax Convertors 10oz Dynaproofed canvas ensures this camper will turn heads. Available in pink, blue, grey and black, it would have been good to see a canvas colour option that better matches Australian hues. And there is room for improvement in the tropical shield that rests rather limply on the camper’s roof.
Inside, it offers a leather trim dinette couch, two queen bed pocket-spring pillowtop mattress combined with well-finished simple cabinetry. The kitchen is laid out with a quality Smev stove, sink and food grade stainless steel surfaces.
For families looking to spend time away from it all, internal storage options are conventional with a small set of mesh-front bins and some limited storage under the dinette seats. Outside is a different matter, with plenty of external lockable storage boxes, a luggage rack on the front box and tie-down points on the roof. The camper is well serviced with two 100Ah Sphere lithium batteries, Redarc RedVision TMS and 2000W Redarc inverter. For water, 180L are available spread over two separate tanks. Surprisingly for a camper in this price bracket, solar and a fridge are optional.
All in all, the Cub Drifter II is a far cry from the simple, workmanlike campers which first bore the Drifter name. For buyers looking to Cub’s trusted brand for a premium quality camper that their parents could only have aspired to, the Drifter II has a lot to offer.
The team at CUB have spent a lot of time designing the Drifter II, their first foray into the dual-fold market and while they’ve created another quality Australia camper trailer, it certainly comes with a high price tag. In achieving their goals of improved storage, manageable ball weight, reduced tare and ease of setup they’ve also ended up with the most expensive camper they've have ever produced. With added ‘packs’ that option up the camper we judged, it came in at $72K. For this amount of money, I would like some solar panels included and the safari roof needs a lot of work, as it flaps in the breeze like a pool cover in a cyclone. To me it feels like Cub has stepped out of their comfort zone and missed out by just a little.
However, the design of the Drifter II’s rear bed was outstanding and unique and something that I’m sure will be copied by the overseas manufacturers very quickly. On the rear fold beds of all the other dual fold manufacturers, the weight is held up using metal poles that attach to the camper body. Cub have developed a way of cantilevering the bed on either side using two triangulated steel cables attached to an internal tent pole which is then pulled and held down via two ratchet straps. The tension created by the wires means the floor is perfectly balanced.
The new Cub Drifter is no small package, and at 1940mm wide and 1710mm high you are well aware of its presence any time you glance in the rear vision mirror, but that doesn’t mean that it is difficult to haul around. In our driving tests, behind a Prado, it was perfectly behaved.
Of course it comes with all the standard fittings, from a DO35 hitch to the usual trailing arm independent suspension, though the respected Rox shocks provide a little more assurance than you might usually expect. The wireless rear vision camera, excellent stone guard and two healthy rear recovery points all help to ensure confidence in the package.
The 400mm extension on the drawbar does limit ramp-over angle and tight cornering in closely wooded country but it also assists with tow vehicles with fold-down or barn door rear access, as well as during reversing.
Cub has been brave with this version of the Drifter, with an added level of comforts throughout to meet a sudden demand for the top in quality and luxuries. These include the Truma gas hot water service, a space heater, and a tropical roof blanket and two Sirocco fans with clips for mounting to internal hoops to assist in controlling internal temperatures. There’s a Fusion stereo and wi-fi router, 2000W Redarc inverter and lithium power. The main bed has a pillow-top queen mattress and the secondary bed a HD foam mattress with bedroom privacy screens at each end (in mesh or cloth or both) and reading lights for each bed. The lounge seat covers are leather and there is internal floor lighting. The kitchen is finished in food-grade Rimex stainless steel, has a three-burner cooktop with included wind guard and it’s next to a 1400mm long pantry drawer and an adjacent camper-side shelf. The kitchen side of the tent rolls up and the awning is a generous 5000 x 2400mm.
It’s been difficult getting our hands on a Drifter as it’s passed through its development stages last year because Cub would not release it until they had it just right on the tent. And boy, is it right. The tent goes up without having to adjust or insert any poles, simply winch it open and cinch down either end and it’s there, finished, and ready to occupy. It’s a lesson for all camper manufacturers, local or foreign.
Ball Weight 146kg
Chassis 150 x 50 x 3mm Duragal with Hammertone finish
Body Zincanneal with the front box aluminium
Style Double fold
Tyres 265/70R17 MT on alloy rims
Brakes 12in electric brakes
Suspension Independent with coils and dual shocks
Hitch DO35 coupling
Battery 2 x 100Ah AGM with Projecta 25A DCDC charger and Projecta AC charger
Solar Unregulated solar input via Anderson plug only
Hot Water Truma Water Ultra Rapid Gas/Electric
Ensuite Thetford electric cassette toilet
Stove 3 burner Dometic
Fridge Fridge box 560 x 930 x 515mm
Awning Deluxe canvas awning
Hi Fi FM/CD Bluetooth with 2 inside speakers
Awning Full or part awning wall kits, draft skirt
Truma Gas Air Heater
PRICE AS SEEN