I met up with the Pannunzio family from RV Sales Australia to check out the Carrera iVenture III. RV Sales Australia is a Melbourne-based dealership selling brands such as Opal Caravans, Regal Motorhomes and RP Caravans. Tucked down the end of a laneway in an industrial area, the dealership is a bit of a hidden gem with a number of vans on display in an undercover showroom. Here you will find examples of the Carrera range which has a special place with the Pannunzio family as it is their own brand where they have full control of the design and manufacture.
George and Carmen have owned and operated the business for eight years and sons, James and Jack, are actively involved. George explained to me the Carrera brand is positioned to be of the highest build quality with a real attention to detail on the little things without a high-end price tag.
The Carrera range is made up of two series. The couples vans are designated as Trekseeker with single-axle and twin-axle variants. The single axle is available as an offroader and the twin axle as semi and full offroaders. The twin axle-only family vans bear the moniker iVenture III and sport a full offroad spec. Drilling down further the iVenture III is available in standard format and a premium version iVenture III-X. The key difference between the models is increased ground clearance, upgraded Victron battery management system, additional solar panel and larger lithium battery capacity. The iVenture III-X also includes a Dometic 224L compressor fridge, Truma gas ducted heater and Dometic dust reduction system as standard.
James took me out for a spin in the iVenture III based on the standard format but with a bunch of options built in, which we will go through.
There are no surprises in the way this van is built. Carrera relies on tried and tested materials and construction techniques. Looking at the body, working from the floor up, Carrera uses a multi-piece 12mm marine grade ply floor. James explained they prefer the multi-piece approach to mitigate the risk of cracking that can occur with one-piece floors. At the top of the classic list is the meranti frame, which has been used for decades. Proponents of this material point to the ‘flex’ characteristics of timber that can take the punishment of corrugated roads for extended periods. A close second on the classic list is the checkerplate that clads the lower sections of the walls. It’s popular for a reason, with great stone protection and rugged good looks. A somewhat more contemporary material is the 3mm composite aluminium sheet cladding the upper sections of the walls. It has been almost universally adopted by the savvy meranti-style caravan builders over the past decade, so you can see it is a pretty safe bet. The sheet has thin but tough coated aluminium surfaces on both sides with an LDPE core. It produces a sleek, smooth finish and is available in white and silver. James told me they strongly encourage their customers to choose lighter exterior colours because they make a huge difference in keeping the van cooler when exposed to the radiant heat of the sun. The silver/grey livery of this van with understated decals was quite to my liking.
The roof is a one-piece fibreglass skin fitted to a meranti frame. As with all vans, correct selection and application of silicones and adhesives makes the difference between a trouble-free van owner experience and a water leaking disaster. The Pannunzios are all over this. George explained to me they go to the trouble of educating their customers on the need to monitor and replace silicone over time where various openings are cut for air conditioners, windows and the like.
The traditional design theme continues with a Road Runner chassis manufactured from Australian steel with 150mm A-frame and main rails. Connected to the chassis is the OZ Trekker trailing arm independent suspension with dual shocks and coil spring. The setup looks a lot beefier than most of the tow vehicles with which it will end up being matched. The 16” alloy rims are the uniform size for this style of van and the matching mud tyres are as heavy duty as you will ever need, and are often as much about the rugged aesthetics as they are about performance. The reality is all terrain tyres are probably perfectly adequate for the vast majority of driving conditions. The offroad theme is rounded out with a Cruisemaster DO35, which has become the coupling of choice for many van manufacturers.
There is a lot to like about the layout because it has proven over many years to be a very functional setup that uses space well. We will start at the rear because it’s the bunks that define this as a family van. The iVenture III comes in a double and triple bunk version and we had the latter. The bunks run along the offside with the bathroom across the way, each bunk bed is a considerable 2m long which is great for lanky teenagers. The triple bunk set up obviously affords less headroom for the kids than the double version but if you are carting three kids that’s the price you pay. You can also accommodate a visitor as the seating can easily be converted into a single bed with the provided cushion.
Across the way is the bathroom with separate shower and toilet. Along the back wall is some functional storage for the kids with a few shelves and a drawer. There’s even a front-loading washing machine in the lower space to reduce hassle of using caravan park washing machines.
The mid-section has the kitchen on the offside and seating on the door side. There’s good useable workspace thanks to the bench surface continuing over the top of the Swift cooktop with three gas burners and one electric. The cooker has a combination griller with an oven available as an option. The cooking appliances are rounded off with a NCE 20L microwave and Swift rangehood. One storage compartment in the kitchen is gobbled up with the hot water service on the triple bunk version. The hot water service fits under the lower bunk in the double bunk version.
Interior comfort is enhanced with a number of useful appliances. The Dometic IBIS 4 reverse cycle air-conditioner is a proven performer. Heating is boosted with the optional Truma gas ducted heater mounted under the main bed. Another handy option fitted is the Dometic Dust Reduction System, which creates positive pressure to minimise dust ingression.
The main bedroom area up front is another classic setup with wardrobes and drawers on either side of the bed. The wireless and USB charger integrated into the bedside drawers is a nice touch. The two lockers above the bed are a good size and the latches, as per the rest of the van, are user friendly.
I am overusing the word classic, but it best describes the decor. The light-grained timber look with silver doors and grey upholstery on a white backdrop with black accessories is timeless and hats off to Carmen on her styling.
Two 190W solar panels is a good collection area to feed the two 120Ah lithium batteries. The BMPro DC to DC charger enables you to power up the batteries with the tow vehicle’s alternator while driving. And the BMPro smart shunt completes the trifecta allowing you top up from 240V before and after you head into the wild blue yonder. On the power delivery side, a 2000W Voltech inverter is intended to give you enough to power a coffee machine, microwave, toaster or even hairdryer.
The 220L freshwater supply along with 100L of grey water storage and two 9kg gas bottles is right on par for a van of this nature.
TOW KNOW HOW
George and I had a long chat about van weights and car towing configurations. The team has a good understanding of the variables and a healthy respect for safe towing. An example of prioritising good weight distribution is this – Carrera has one spare wheel on the back and no jerry carry can holders to avoid excess weight on the rear. RV Sales Australia also works with customers to educate them on van loading and matching suitable tow vehicles taking into account variable such as towball ratings and gross combination mass. George said the simple concept of understanding that just because you have a specified payload, it doesn’t mean you need to use it all is an important lesson to remember, and can also make a big difference to staying within GCM limits.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Under the custodianship of the Pannunzio family the Carrera is a safe bet. The brand represents a solid example of traditional manufacturing techniques and sensible design. The iVenture III is well appointed for a family of four or five with decent creature comforts delivered through reputable brand appliances. Combined with a nice array of off-grid features there’s nothing holding you back exploring our great country.
HITS AND MISSES
- The Carrera embodies tried and trusted design and manufacturing
- Classic, classy looks
- Heavy-duty chassis and suspension
- Hot water service gobbles up a bit of room in the kitchen storage
CARRERA iVENTURE III OFFROAD 21'6" FAMILY RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY
You’ll be hard pressed to find better overall value in this current market
To be fair, our towing was brief and sedate but it behaved well and the specs are good
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Ticks a lot of the boxes of what a family expects in a contemporary van
The Carrera stacks up well among its peers
It’s a winner for three kids in tow!
Above average spec with 2000W inverter and DC to DC charger on board
A one-year manufacturer’s warranty is on the low side but there is also a conditional four-year warranty provided through an insurance company
The Carrera stakes its claim on tried and trusted methods rather than cutting edge technology
May be a little lacking in the wow factor but it makes up for it in well-considered design and construction execution
CARRERA iVENTURE III OFFROAD 21'6" FAMILY SPECS
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||6.6m (21ft 6in)|
|Overall length||9m (29ft 6in)|
|Width external||2.5m (8ft)|
|Ball weight at tare||237kg|
|Frame||Meranti timber, fully insulated|
|Cladding||3mm aluminium composite sheet|
|Chassis||Road Runner 150mm main rails and A-frame|
|Suspension||OZ Trekker trail arm, dual shock and coil independent|
|Brakes||12in electric drum|
|Wheels||16in Primal black alloy|
|Water||2 x 110L freshwater, 100L grey|
|Battery||2 x 120Ah lithium|
|Solar||2 x 190W|
|Air-conditioner||Dometic IBIS 4 reverse cycle|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Sway control||AL-KO ESC|
|Cooking||Swift cook top with three gas burners, 240V hotplate and gas griller|
|Fridge||Dometic 224L, three-way|
|Bathroom||Ensuite with separate shower and toilet|
|Hot water||28L Swift gas and 240V|
Carrera iVentureE III Offroad 21'6" Family price from $101,550.00 (2-Bunk); $102,550.00 (3-Bunk)
- Truma gas ducted heater
- 2000W Voltech inverter and BMPro smart shunt
- Dometic Dust Reduction System
- External TV entertainment box
- Timber bench top laminate
- Anti-fingerprint matte grey cupboards
- Black Pack – includes black handles, map reading lights, Sirocco fans, sinks, taps, shower flick mixer, shower doors, towel rail and toilet roll holder
Carrera iVentureE III Offroad 21'6" Family price as shown: $112,465.00 drive-away
THE NEXT STEP
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