Review: Nova Pride 2011
The team heads to Bonnie Doon, in the Vic High Country, with the 2011 Nova Caravans Pride.
THERE'S ANY NUMBER of iconic travel spots across this wide brown land of ours. The beauty of the Great Ocean Road; the ancient wonders of the Red Centre; the rugged magnificence of the Eyre Peninsula - the list goes on. But Bonnie Doon holds a very special place for many Australians. While this little hamlet may not seem to have as much going for it as the more postcard-worthy places motioned above, if its peace and serenity are good enough for The Castle's Darryl Kerrigan, that's good enough for me.
With those thoughts in mind, Editor Max and I set off with the latest offering from Melbourne manufacturer Nova, the 2011 Pride. As part of the company's core range of vans, the Pride is a tried and tested unit, and the new 2011 model, which debuted at February's Adelaide caravan show, is no exception.
Perhaps the most striking upgrade on the latest model is the new, patented "Nova Grey" cladding. Rather than the more industry-standard white, the new Pride stands out with its markedly darker cladding and orange decals. Wrap-around black checkerplating adds to the unique appearance and gives the van a more 'rugged' look.
STEADY AND TRUE
Driving along the winding Goulburn Valley Highway, I was struck by the van's stability under tow. With a length of 7.5m (24ft 7in) and an ATM of 2971kg, this is a sizeable van, but it always felt under control, a picture of composure.
While our hefty LandCruiser had something to do with the smooth towing, it wasn't the only reason. Underneath the Pride is its 150mm drawbar, which tapers to 100mm trailing arms and 50mm risers above the Al-Ko Rocker Roller suspension. Sitting on top are 150mm main members.
At the pointy end are two 9kg gas cylinders, which are protected underneath by a mesh stoneguard. A large front boot has more than enough room for two batteries, plus the jockey wheel and any number of smaller items.
SPOILT FOR CHOICE
This van is great for exterior living, and as the evening breeze washed over us we found ourselves confronted with a range of entertainment options.
The front slide-out barbecue and large fold-down picnic table are perfect for comfortable al fresco dining, not to mention hosting happy hour. A couple of exterior speakers pump out tunes from the AM/FM/CD player, while a pair of slick LED strips provide more than enough light. There's a Dometic awning for a little extra protection from the elements, plus the welcome addition of an exterior mount to accommodate a flatscreen TV.
External storage is generous. In addition to the large front boot, there is a good-sized space at the rear nearside, as well as a three-quarter tunnel boot at the front offside.
Stepping inside is a breeze thanks to a fold-away Techno-Step under the rear door, as well as exterior and interior grab handles.
The interior layout is the popular rear ensuite, mid kitchen/dinette, and front bedroom layout, and there's a lot to like inside this van. The first thing you notice is the dark hue of the ply. While some may argue that darker colours limit the sense of space, it's nice to see something different - it's a sophisticated touch.
The ensuite is also a little different, with an angled bathroom door. This helps make it feel more like a separate room, as opposed to just the end of the van with a wall across it. Inside, the bathroom has a roomy shower cubicle and an offside Thetford cassette toilet. Ventilation is provided by a fan in the shower and a window above the toilet. A top-loading washing machine (which closes for extra bench space) sits on the nearside.
The real attention grabber in here is the new vanity. It features a large floating sink in front of a gorgeous - and huge - round mirror. There's excellent storage above and below the vanity, as well as a cupboard to the right. The bathroom is lit with a mix of LED strips and downlights.
At the other end of the van, the bedroom is a light and airy space with large windows all-round and a skylight directly above the queen-size bed. Bedside cabinets with drawers, deep wardrobes, corner cupboards and some extra shelves and railings above the side windows provide more than enough storage. Gooseneck LED lights sit on either side of the bed and there are a number of downlights in the ceiling.
As far as caravan kitchens go, this is an excellent one. It's well-stocked with appliances, storage and bench space. The nearside houses a stainless steel sink and Swift four-burner cooktop/oven/grill, which has a lid for more bench space. There's a built-in chopping block on the main bench - a great idea - but it doesn't sit flush with the rest of the bench and can't be moved. A microwave sits above, while a very welcome Omega dishwasher sits underneath to the right of the sink - you know you're in a top-end van when there's a dishwasher on board.
Opposite the kitchen bench is the 184L Dometic fridge/freezer, which is raised up off the floor, affording easier access. Next to that is the café-style dinette. I'm particularly partial to this style of dinette, and the extra cushions against the wall and versatile tri-fold table only strengthen this one's case. There are the usual under-seat drawers, plus a double powerpoint and 12V outlet under the table (another 12V outlet is located to the left of the entry). Fold-up footrests sit at the end of each side.
There is some real comfort here, handy when it comes to viewing what is perhaps the van's slickest feature: the slide-out TV. It's great to have a flatscreen TV in your van, but storing one when under tow can be a problem. Not so in the new Pride: the TV is housed in a narrow cupboard at the far end of the kitchen bench. It slides out and swivels on an arm that faces either the dinette or bedroom. This gets an enthusiastic tick.
Much like the outside, storage here is especially generous. The kitchen has several drawers, and a number of deep lockers sit above the kitchen and the dinette.
THE BOTTOM LINE
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the RV lifestyle is taking in your backdrop and spending time outside the van. With its raft of external features, this 2011 Nova Pride is perfectly suited to making the most of our beautiful Australian surroundings. That is not to say the van isn't comfortable on the inside. From its large ensuite to its especially well-equipped kitchen and dinette, it has all the interior qualities that will suit some extended time away from home.
Its large size and weight will not endear it to everyone, but couples looking for a very comfortable, high-spec van would do well to consider the new Pride.
Thanks to the management of Bonnie Doon Caravan Park for their hospitality and flexibility during our photoshoot.